Axolotls are salamanders that live in freshwater and are unique to Mexico. These amazing and unique animals have a large range of requirements when it comes to their diet.
With the rise in popularity of Axolotls as pets, more and more information is available on their feeding and care. Unfortunately, not all of it is correct. The following feeding guide for Axolotls was written to address some of the most commonly asked questions.
Before you get an Axolotl, you should do extensive research on their diet so you can be sure you are able to provide for them properly. So, what should your Axolotls eat to stay healthy?
What Can I Feed My Axolotls?
Adult Axolotls can eat earthworms, red wigglers, pellets, or night crawlers as their main diet. Red wigglers can secrete a bitter substance that may test gross to Axolotls. Some Axolotls may outright refuse to eat them because of their bitter taste.
Red wigglers and night crawlers should be chopped up before being given to your Axolotls. Blood worms and ghost shrimp are only good as snacks. My Axolotls love blood worms the most out of all their food choices.
Hatchling Axolotls eat brine shrimp and daphnia. Feed them as much as they will eat in a few minutes and remove any excess food. These foods can also be given to your adult Axolotls as a snack.
Staple Foods for Adult Axolotls
Pellets can be sealed in a plastic bag at room temperature. I love using pellets because of the convenience but you will need to remove the remaining food after feeding time. Soggy pellets in your filter can be worse than cleaning your filter normally.
The pellets won’t hurt your filter, but the pellets can turn into a bad smelling slime situation in your filter.
The general guideline is that you feed as many pellets as your Axolotls can eat within a few minutes and then remove whatever is left over. The number of pellets just depends on the size of the Axolotl. I’ve seen many Axolotls have 2-3 pellets per day. Some Axolotls will not like pellets and will only eat live food.
For people who prefer live food, I would recommend night crawlers. Night crawlers are usually easy to find in stores which make them a great staple for your Axolotl’s diet.
Nightcrawlers are also extremely easy to farm because they do not require food. They can last a few months in a container with ventilation holes and soil. Just remember to keep the soil moist.
When feeding time comes, cut up the night crawlers and give them to your Axolotls. You can feed your Axolotls a half of a Night Crawler per day. Remember not to feed your Axolotls random worms from your back yard because these worms may be covered in pesticides!
Red wigglers are easy to farm, but they do require food, and not all Axolotls like them. The red wigglers secrete a bitter substance that is safe to eat but may make the food taste bad. You can swish the worms in the water before dropping them to your Axolotls to get rid of some of the bitter slimes. You only need to feed your Axolotl 1 red wiggler a day. If your Axolotls refuse to eat their food, try switching up their diet.
To farm red wigglers, you can use one large bin. Cut air holes into the bin. Make sure that the bin is large enough that if one side of the bin becomes inhospitable, the worms still have plenty of room to explore on the other side.
You can deposit your food scraps into the bin for the worms, so they are generally easy to feed. They can also eat a variety of different things that are easy to come by – like eggshells.
Egg shells contain calcium and can help with worm reproduction. If you add eggshells, be sure to clean them before they are added to your bin. The whites of the eggs may carry diseases that will hurt your worms.
Tip: It easier to remove the membrane if you boil and roast them in an oven or microwave for 5 – 10 min to completely dry out.
You can also feed your red wigglers fruit peels but only those that do not come from citrus fruits. Citrus fruits have too much acid and can harm your red wigglers and possibly the Axolotls. You can also add coffee grounds and pieces of bread.
Avoid adding any meats or poultries because these foods will attract extra pests and make the compost bin smell horribly.
For bedding, you can use shredded cardboard or newspaper. The worms also love decaying leaves but they do not hold water well so they can’t be the only bedding in the bin. Make sure that the bedding is always moist.
Snack Foods for Adult Axolotls
Blood worms can be frozen or freeze dried and are not as nutritious for Axolotls as these other foods. They should be given as a treat or in addition to another food for extra nutrients.
Despite this, some hobbyists do give their Axolotls blood worms for their main diet. Your Axolotls would survive on this diet, but it is the equivalent of feeding them fast food every day. You can feed your Axolotl one blood worm cube as a treat.
You can also feed your Axolotls brine shrimp. Brine shrimp are usually frozen, and these little guys can’t be the only thing that you feed your Axolotls. Axolotls do love them though as a snack.
The shrimp are tiny! I read about brine shrimp before feeding them to my Axolotls, but I had not realized just how small they are. I doubt that my Axolotls even noticed the first time that I dropped brine shrimp into my 20-gallon tank. That’s how tiny they are. You can feed your Axolotl one cube as a treat.
You can also house ghost shrimp with Axolotls but expect them to become a yummy snack for the Axolotls. Axolotls may appear scared of the shrimp at first due to their translucent nature. That will only the keep the Axolotls from eating the ghost shrimp for so long.
Where Can I Buy Frozen Food for Axolotls?
You can buy frozen blood worms and brine shrimp at some local pet stores in their freezer sections. My local Pet Smart store has the frozen food located in a freezer near the back of the store by the live fish for sale.
You can find blood worms and brine shrimp in larger packs with 120 individually packaged frozen blocks. Some stores also sell smaller packs of 30 individually packaged cubes.
Feeding Your Axolotls Frozen Foods
Allergy Warnings for Blood Worms
People react differently to handling blood worms. Blood worms can cause a mild to severe allergic reaction in some individuals. I directly handle the blood worm cubes with my hands or use tweezers to remove the blood worms from the packaging.
I have never had an allergic reaction to blood worms. However, in the past I had my friend watch my Axolotls because I was out of town. When feeding time came, he developed swelling on his hand from handling the blood worms.
It is important to note that an allergy to blood worms can also be developed by handling blood worms often. The severity of the allergy also differs among individuals. Individuals with mild allergies may not notice an allergic reaction unless they swallowed the worms.
If a person is extremely allergic to blood worms, they can react badly just from skin contact with the worms. Any of the symptoms below can develop with an allergic reaction to blood worms.
Symptoms of a Blood Worm Allergy
- Itchy Skin
- Itchy Eyes
- Red Eyes
- Swollen Eyes
- Swollen Skin
- Runny Nose
- Breathing Difficulties
How to Feed Frozen Foods
An important step of feeding your Axolotls frozen food is letting the food thaw. You wouldn’t feed your kids a frozen meal that hasn’t been microwaved for dinner and it is the same concept. I use condiment containers and put the cubes in the containers with some water.
The containers are small and do not take up much space, so they work perfectly for me. If I am preparing the food for the next day, I will put the containers in my fridge and the food will gradually thaw. If you need the food immediately, you can put the frozen food in a container and add warm water which will cause the ice to melt faster.
What Should I Not Feed My Axolotls?
Freeze Dried Foods
You may see online or in-stores that you can buy freeze dried blood worms. When I heard of freeze-dried blood worms, I thought that it was a great solution for Axolotl owners that do not want to keep frozen blood worms in their freezer.
However, you should not feed freeze dried foods to your Axolotls. When food goes through the process of being freeze dried, the food loses most of the nutrition that it contained before. The Axolotls would not receive enough nutrition from the food. I would not even feed my Axolotls freeze dried foods as a snack.
I have had many people call my Axolotls fish because they live in the water. Axolotls are not fish. They are aquatic salamanders. Fish flakes are usually targeted towards certain species of fish and they are not aimed towards amphibians. Overall, fish flakes would not be a good food source for Axolotls.
Creatures with Hard Exoskeletons
Axolotls cannot digest exoskeletons. If they are unable to digest the exoskeletons, they will need medical attention. Axolotls have died from being unable to digest their food. Meal worms have exoskeletons that are hard to digest and should be avoided.