Your pet axolotl will be happiest and live longest if you get the water parameters right. Axolotl prefer temperatures of low to mid 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You can skip ahead to learn more about axolotl water temp, or keep reading to find axolotls preferred parameters for PH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate..
Checkout the new water parameters log!
Make sure you cycle your tank before introducing your axolotl to the water. Then check the water parameters once per week ( you can do this before each water change )
Axolotl Water Test Kit
Water can be tested with API Freshwater Master Kit; this kit is highly recommended as it tests all the necessary water parameters and is highly accurate. The water test kit comes with easy to read instructions, test tubes, can perform eight hundred tests, and includes a color chart for easy to understand results.
Ammonia and Nitrite need to be ZERO parts per million (PPM) as they are toxic to axolotls.
Nitrate should read between 5-20 PPM. If the nitrate level is too low the cycle breaks down. If it is too high it is toxic to axolotls.
PH should ideally be between 7.4-7.6 on the PH scale. Axolotl can tolerate a PH level 6.5-8, however water outside the ideal ph parameters can lead to ammonia toxicity.
Jump to how to adjust water parameters.
Here we’re checking the water parameters of the axolotl tank using easystrips.
Use the free axolotl water parameters log! Built to be used with the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. Just click the color you get when you test your water, and keep track. Graph shows last three months of changing water parameters for each of the five parameters.
Axolotl Water Temperature
As mentioned above, axolotl prefer temps of low to mid 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures up to 68 are well tolerated. Temperatures above 74 degrees will lead to stress, lost appetite, and may even lead to death. Keep it cool. Keep the tank away from windows that get direct sunlight as much as possible.
Tank chillers are available. These cost hundreds of dollars. Just make sure you are able to provide a water temp within an axolotl preferred parameters, and make sure you can do it consistently! If you live without central air, or some other form of thermostat controlled environment, then an axolotl may not be the pet for you. Some people do keep bottles of water in their freezer, and one in the tank. Then just keep an eye on the frozen water bottle in the tank, and when it’s melted switch it out with one from the freezer.
Axolotl water temperature is important. You want your axolotl to be comfortable because you care, so it makes sense to give as close to the same temperature as the natural habitat. If you’ve ever put your toes down to the bottom of a shady creek, you know it’s not room temperature right?! Well that’s the water temp axolotl love. Think of their natural habitat, that’s what you want to replicate.
Fish tank thermometers come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s just a few bucks to get a thermometer sticker to put on the outside of your axolotls tank. Keep an eye on that thermometer and do what you can to get that happy axolotl water temp.
How to Adjust Water Parameters
If your axolotls tank water has too much ammonia it can kill your axolotl, so do not slack on testing to keep an eye on it. After you’ve cycled your axolotl tank it’s best to test the water frequently ( every 1-2 days ) to make sure the nitrate levels are properly established. Once stabilized you can test once per week.
If your parameters enter the danger zone you should tub your axolotl, changing the water in the tub once per day, until the tank cycle is established. But.. If your ammonia level is going up but isn’t yet dangerously high, do a 50% water change to remove some of that ammonia. Be sure to use dechlorinated water or water that’s simply chlorine free. Using activated charcoal can also help keep ammonia levels down, though this is not a reliable method.
Nitrites are naturally created as Ammonia is broken down by a bacteria called nitrosomonas. The ammonia is a result of organic matter such as waste, uneaten food, etc ( aka bio load ) breaking down. Anyway, nitrites aren’t good for axolotl either ( remember the goal is ZERO nitrites in the tank ), so good thing a different bacteria called nitrobacter consumes the nitrites and releases Nitrates. I know it get’s confusing, especially since nitrites and nitrates are such similar words, but the tank water is okay with the later, and not okay with the former, so take a minute and get it straight! It’s worth it.
If your nitrite parameter is too high you should also consider tubbing your axolotl, because it means your water cycle isn’t properly functioning. The cycle can stall if nitrite levels are too high, before it even gets to the life / death danger zone for your axolotl. If this happens you should do a 50% temperature matched water change to bring nitrite levels back down.
All of this is made well by the beneficial bacteria’s mentioned above being established in the tank. It’s important to change the filter periodically ( yes it does get too dirty ), but a gently used tank filter can help you get those bacteria into your cycle. That’s about the best shortcut to getting that cycle established. There’s also products you can buy like Fritz TurboStart 700, but make sure you tub your axolotl before you get the cycle established or as you’re re-establishing the cycle.
If your pH drops too low it can crash the cycle, though the cycle can cause a higher pH to drop.
If your pH is too high, it can actually make the ammonia more toxic. You can lower pH with tannins. Add an Indian almond leaf to the tank ( they contain tannins ), and depending on your tank size you may want to add two or three. Adding java moss to the tank can also help keep pH levels from rising too high, as does adding driftwood ( which doubles as great tank décor ).
If your tap water pH levels are messing up your tank parameters, try using spring water instead.