majority of all common health problems are related directly
or indirectly to tank or pond conditions. These include poor
maintenance of water quality, inadequate frequency and volume
of water changes, inadequate quarantine of axolotls and plants,
overfeeding, and misuse of chemical medications.
1. House in freshwater between 15o-20oC with non-iodinised
salt (eg rock or sea salt) added at a concentration of ½
to 1 gram/litre of water.
2. Amphibians may be more toleratant of nitrates but nitrates
lead to bacterial and fungal infections and are mainly removed
in tanks by doing 15-20% water changes per week- as aquariums
dont have enough plants to utilise the nitrates especially
since axolotls dont usually allow plants to survive in their
Use a low flow filter, preferably external, and a gentle flow
3. Over cleaning filters, tank accessories and the sides of
the tank removes beneficial bacteria. Lightly scrape with
an algae scraper and gently rinse in old aquarium water.
very sensitive to aerosol sprays and tobacco smoke.
4. A source of ultraviolet light, either through exposure
to unfiltered, natural sunlight, or an artificial UV light,
is necessary to help prevent Vitamin D deficiency and skin
and bone disorders. Remember to replace the light regularly
(every 6-12 months) as it will lose strength, even though
the light still works.
1. Never overfeed your axolotl.
Uneaten food will spoil and increase the amount of faeces
produced leading to a high bacterial load and poor water quality.
2. Feed small amounts once to twice daily. Only give as much
food as can be consumed within a few minutes.
3. Axolotls should be fed a balanced selection of bloodworms,
mealworms, shrimps, small whole fish (cut into pieces) and
4. Axolotls will eat anything that looks like food so avoid
using small rocks and gravel in your tank.
5. The pellets available in Australia are generally of unknown
quality and should only provide 10-15% of your axolotl’s
1. A minimum quarantine period of 4 weeks is recommended for
2. Plants may also carry disease in the form of parasites
and should be quarantined separately from axolotls for a similar
period of time.
1. Worm every 6 months.
2. Book a yearly health check to check faeces and detect general
health problems eg parasite infestations and bacterial infections.
3. Annual blood screening &/or bacterial cultures are
recommended for certain pet axolotls.
4. One very common problem is
“new pond syndrome”. Ammonia,
produced as a waste product by amphibians, is normally utilised
as an energy source by bacteria found in the water and on
the surface of filters. In this process it is converted to
nitrite which, if allowed to accumulate in the tank, is toxic
to amphibians. In an established tank, other bacteria convert
the potentially harmful nitrite into nitrate, which is tolerated
by most amphibians or is taken up by plants. New tanks and
ponds require several weeks for this bacterial population
to become established and during this time high levels of
all these products can occur.
new tanks and ponds must not be overstocked and numbers should
be built up gradually.
The same problem can still occur in established tanks if the
bacterial population is depleted through water changes of
greater than 20-30%, filters are over cleaned, or the stocking
density of the tank is too great. Routine monitoring of water
quality in terms of pH and the levels of ammonia, nitrite
and nitrate is therefore essential. A variety of home test
kits are available and are generally quick and easy to use.