Axolotl Food: What They Can Eat (And What They Shouldn’t)

So, you are thinking of one day owning an Axolotl! Great choice! I, too, would one day like to own an Axolotl. Like the good pet owners you and I are, we want to make sure that our Axolotls are getting the right nutrients that they need in order to live the best lives possible. I’ve done some research to find out what those nutrients are, and summarized them here.

Axolotl food can be divided into three main categories:

  1. Live Food
  2. Frozen Food
  3. Pellets

When an Axolotl is first born, their first instinct with food will be to lick and snap at anything that is alive and moving. If your Axolotl is young, you start by feeding them live food. Older Axolotl’s can start moving on to frozen food and pellets.

One thing for you to always remember…wash your hands every time before you begin feeding your Axolotl!

1. Live Food for Axolotls

To begin, if your Axolotl has just hatched, you need to wait 24 hours before feeding. Your baby Axolotl will still be consuming their egg sack during this time.

After this 24 hour period, for most Axolotl owners, live food is the way to go. Most Axolotl owners tend to go with Live Worms. This may range anywhere from Nightcrawlers to Red Wiggler Worms.

Whatever your choice may be, chances are your Axolotl’s natural instincts will take over and they will snap it up!

Live Worms

When purchasing your live worms, try to steer clear of places online or other areas such as Walmart, as their worms may not always be the freshest.

Instead, to avoid making your Axolotl sick, go to your local pet store if you are interested in feeding your pet live worms.

Before feeding your Axolotl, grab a pair of tweezers to pick up a worm from the container of dirt. Make sure you fully wash off any of the loose dirt on the worm as you do not want to get any of it in your Aquarium. It could make your pet sick!

Using the tweezers, slowly lower the worm into the tank and in front of your Axolotl’s face.

It may take your Axolotl a while to actually eat the worm. This is because their teeth are meant for grinding, rather than shredding. You may see the worm go in and out of your Axolotl’s mouth a few times before they are fully able to get it down.

Daphnia

These small crustaceans can make an easy treat for your pet Axolotl while they are in the larval stage. They can be inexpensive too if you decide to go the home-cultured route with them.

Daphnia will supply your Axolotl with fatty acids, lipids and vitamins. All essential nutrients for your growing baby Axolotl! Try feeding these to your fully grown pet and he or she will most likely turn it down.

However, if not home-cultured, there is still the slight chance that your Daphnia may cause disease in your Axolotl. Use caution when feeding these to your pet.

2. Frozen Foods for Axolotl Pets

Bloodworms

Bloodworms can be purchased from your local pet store. This food comes in two different shapes: sheets or cubes. Depending on which one you buy, be sure to make sure that they do not get stuck in your Axolotl’s gills while eating. If this happens, your Axolotl will not be able to breathe and will drown!

Make sure that bloodworms do not get stuck in your Axolotl’s gills while they are being fed!

Bloodworms tend to be a popular choice with most Axolotl owners because they are fully loaded with vitamins and proteins that will help your pet while he or she is still growing.

To feed to your Axolotl, you should first start by placing the Bloodworms in water to thaw them out a bit.

When you are done thawing, use a pair of tweezers or tongs to place the Bloodworm in front of your Axolotl’s face so that they can easily reach their food.

However, as popular a choice as this food may be, there is one thing you should keep in mind when feeding these to your pet. Bloodworms leave behind a small microscopic organism that will take over your tank if you are not carefully cleaning out your water.

These organisms are not harmful to your Axolotl, but will act as a nuisance and get caught in their gills often. When you are cleaning out their tank, move your decor around as well and try to clean as best you can.

Brine Shrimp

Another popular choice with Axolotl owners, Brine Shrimp are very flavorful and are loaded with fatty acids, lipids. and vitamins for your Axolotl. They can be ordered online, or found in your local pet store.

This choice of food only comes in cube shape and should be mixed with water to thaw it out a bit.

When you are ready to feed to your Axolotl, try loading a Turkey Baster with the Brine Shrimp to help the food reach your Axolotls cute little face.

Brine Shrimp can also be hatched and home-cultured! So, if you would prefer to feed these to your Axolotls as a live food option, rather than frozen, that is perfectly acceptable as well.

Earthworms

There is some debate on this one. Some Axolotl owners swear by frozen earthworms and the health benefits that they bring to young Axolotls. It has been discussed to some point whether or not this is the only thing that should be fed to baby Axolotls.

However, other Axolotl owners do not like to feed their Axolotls frozen Earthworms because after the Earthworms unthaw, they have a tendency to become cold and mushy.

If you are thinking of feeding earthworms to your baby Axolotl, try buying a container full of worms of a variety of sizes. Your Axolotl should be happier this way as they age and can eat bigger worms.

You could also order your earthworms in bulk in some places online. This can sometimes be a cheaper option than to keep buying small containers from pet stores over a large period of time. Just be sure you are buying them from a reliable website first.

3. Pellets for Axolotl Food

Chances are, pellets will be the easiest food for you to find at your local pet store or any exotic pet store. When choosing a type of pellet, make sure you are checking the back of the label for the ingredients.

Try to choose a pellet that is high in protein and low in fat. A good rule is to look for something that has about 40% in protein or higher.

There are two main kinds of pellets that can be fed to your Axolotl:

Sinking pellets

For larger Axolotls, Slow Sinking Pellets are probably the best. You may already have noticed that Axolotls are very happy when they can just sit and hide at the bottom of their tanks.

As such, Axolotls are not like fish in the sense where they will come up to the very top of the tank to get their food at the surface of the water.

This is what makes sinking pellets so great – they sink to the bottom of the tank!

Smaller Pellets

Small pellets are best for your younger Axolotls who would have a hard time eating regular sinking pellets as their mouths are too small.

Just like an adult Axolotl, your Juvenile Axolotl will like to spend most of his or her time at the bottom of their tank. This makes things a little more difficult for you when you want to feed them small pellets.

Small pellets actually have a hard time sinking. So here’s what you need to do:

Using water, go ahead and wet the pellets that you want to feed to your Axolotl. Next, fill up a Turkey Baster with the wet pellets and squeeze the baster so the pellets fall down in front of your Juvenile Axolotl’s face.

The pellets should have an easier time sinking now that they are wet, and your Axolotl will be able to eat them happily at the bottom of the tank.

What Not to Feed Your Pet Axolotl

For the most part, Axolotls are very happy eating whatever food you give to them. However, there are a few exceptions to that rule.

For example, Axolotls can also easily mistake the gills and tails of other Axolotls as live worms, or anything else of the sort and have been known to bite off the limbs of other Axolotls from time to time.

Here are the Top 3 Foods to stay away from if you own an Axolotl:

Anything with a Hard Exoskeleton

Most crustaceans or shellfish, such as Krill are not recommended food for your Axolotl. With such a hard exterior meeting your Axolotl’s teeth, chances are something will end up coming out whole, rather than fully digested.

For example, Mealworms are often seen being fed to other exotic pets, but they should not be fed to your Axolotl. Mealworms contain Chitin, which is actually very difficult for an Axolotl’s stomach to process and digest. This Chitin is actually what makes up that hard exoskeleton, making things difficult on your Axolotl’s stomach.

Preserved or Processed Meats

I believe this one should speak for itself. Especially considering the effects these foods have on humans in small quantities.

Any food that has been through a processing plant is loaded with chemicals and preservatives that can lead to some pretty serious health implications for your Axolotl.

Feeder Fish

I know there are some Axolotl owners out there who may disagree with the inclusion of this one, but there are many valid reasons you should stay away from feeder fish.

So, if you are thinking about keeping your Axolotl with other animals such as fish, think again.

If the fish you are placing in the Axolotl tank are intended to be Feeder Fish, you should stay clear of this idea as they can transfer diseases and parasites when eaten. (If you are really wanting to feed live fish to your Axolotl, make sure you have quarantined the fish for at least 30 days.)

Long exposure and including this as a staple of your Axolotl’s diet can also lead to the development of a Vitamin B Deficiency.

Not getting your Axolotl’s Vitamin B levels up can lead to further issues such as Anemia.

Good Treats for Axolotls

Just like any other pet, you will want to spoil your Axolotl with treats every once in a while.

A few good treats for Axolotls may include the following:

  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Prawn Meat (Be careful to avoid the shell)
  • Tubifex Worms
  • Guppies (if properly quarantined)
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Whiteworms
  • Daphnia

It is highly recommended that Axolotl owners stay away from feeding their pets “human food”. Instead, you should be sticking to what your Axolotl would be used to eating in the wild when feeding them treats.

And remember, a treat is just that – a treat! Don’t give in to the temptation of spoiling your Axolotl every day. You may just miss out on many of their dietary requirements.

Review

So, let’s review everything really quick!

Axolotl’s can be fed three different categories of food

  • Live Food
  • Frozen Food
  • Pellets

There are two main types of pellets, small and large. Which one you are feeding your Axolotl will depend on their size.

Make sure that you are avoiding anything that may have a hard exoskeleton, as well as anything that could be considered “people food” as it will be rather difficult for an Axolotl’s stomach to digest.

When giving your Axolotl treats, make sure that you are not incorporating it into your pet’s every day diet. Doing this could lead to certain deficiencies and other illnesses.

Lastly, if you are planning on hand feeding your Axolotl, make sure that your hands are clean and free of any outside material that could make your Axolotl sick.

You should also be rinsing off any live worms that you are planning to feed your pet too. Doing so will get rid of any excess dirt that would make your pet sick or make your tank messier.

You could also do well to invest in a pair of tweezers or a turkey baster to bypass directly feeding your Axolotl from your hands.

Related Questions:

How many bloodworms should I feed my Axolotl? Most Axolotls owners follow a protocol called “The Two Minute Rule”. This means that you should be feeding your Axolotl about however much it can eat it two minutes. However, some people stretch out this feeding period to as much as five minutes to an hour.

How long can you go without feeding an Axolotl? If an Axolotl has been well fed, they can go up to three weeks without eating any food. However, this is definitely not highly recommended. If your Axolotl is still a baby, you should be feeding them about once a day. Once it is fully grown, you should be feeding your Axolotl about once every two to three days and following the “Two-Minute Rule” to prevent overfeeding. Your Axolotl’s abdomen should be about the same size around as its head.

What live fish can Axolotls eat? I would highly recommend that if you are thinking of feeding your Axolotl feeder fish, you should be quarantining the fish for 30 days before. Otherwise, you will end up making your Axolotl very sick, and no one would be happy then!

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