Axolotls are fantastic pets to keep, but what should they eat? Continue reading to learn 8 foods your axolotls may enjoy!
Below are some of the common axolotl foods:
- Red worms
- Brine shrimp
- Blood worms
- Feeder shrimp
Axolotls should be fed a primarily live diet, mostly consisting of worms. Frozen and pelleted options are available to supplement live offerings, but should only be given to mature axolotls. Axolotls should never be fed human food or live caught insects as this can cause severe illness or even fatality.
An axolotl’s diet should be varied and well rounded, never just one kind of food. Baby axolotls’ nutritional needs differ from adults and should be fed only fresh, live food until they are fully grown. Frozen and pelleted options are available for older axolotls and make good supplements to live offerings. What foods are available to best meet an axolotl’s feeding requirements?
The main source of food for your axolotl should be live worms, with pellets being fed sparingly as a treat or supplement.
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Earthworms are a widely available live food source and are easy to cultivate for a casual keeper. They provide a huge amount of nutrition for an axolotl and are a favorite meal for many. Earthworms are considered to be a staple food for axolotls. It’s important that the earthworm is the right size for the axolotl and should be no bigger than the mouth of the animal. This means you may have to prepare the earthworm for your pet by cutting it into smaller pieces before offering it up. Offering food that’s too big for your pet can result in choking, indigestion, impaction, and even death. Make sure to rinse off the worm before preparing and feeding to your pet. Leftover soil can cause issues for the animal if ingested and introduce harmful microorganisms into the tank’s ecosystem.
2. Red Worms
Much like earthworms, Red Worms provide a lot of nutritional value to an axolotl. These worms tend to be smaller in size but still may require preparation to be safe for your pet. Sometimes you can find frozen red worms, but most often they are available as live bait for fishing.
3. Brine Shrimp
Brine shrimp can be found live, frozen, and even freeze-dried. Brine shrimp are a popular choice for axolotl keepers due to their wide availability. Frozen brine shrimp can be found in pre-portioned cubes, meant to be thawed and fed to the axolotl via pipette. Live brine shrimp can be found in small bags at local aquarium stores or can be hatched at home from freeze dried brine shrimp eggs. Keepers can also purchase freeze-dried adult brine shrimp that are supposed to be rehydrated before offering.
Crickets are widely available in live and freeze-dried form. Axolotls should only be given small, live crickets. They are not recommended as a staple food and should only be offered occasionally. Make sure the crickets come from a reputable source and that they are not hard bodied or spiny crickets. Softer bodied insects and worms are the best to feed axolotls and are easier for them to digest. Crickets bite, so there is always a risk of your axolotl being bitten when feeding.
Crickets do not provide a significant source of nutrients on their own, so some keepers decide to supplement the crickets before feeding to the axolotl. Calcium dust is available to cover the crickets, but most of it washes off in the water before reaching the axolotl. It’s recommended to gut load the crickets so the nutrients within the cricket are passed on to the axolotl. This is accomplished by feeding the crickets a nutrient rich food. There are many kinds of cricket food available in pet stores and online. Be sure that any supplements given to the crickets are safe for the axolotl as well.
5. Blood worms
Blood worms are a great source of nutrients and readily available in frozen form. They are available in pre-portioned frozen cubes and should be thawed before offering to an axolotl. Much like brine shrimp, they should be offered in a pipette directly to the axolotl. Proper care should always be taken when feeding an axolotl with a pipette so the food does not get sucked up by the axolotl’s gills. Blood worms are a great choice for a baby axolotl as they are soft and size appropriate for most babies.
Daphnia, or water fleas, are small crustaceans that can be found live at local pet stores or online. They are a fine source of nutrients for baby axolotls, but can carry parasites. Some keepers take advantage of daphnia’s short reproductive cycle and farm them to feed clutches of baby axolotls. Axolotls can eat a surprisingly large amount of these tiny creatures. Some baby axolotls are given constant access to daphnia in their habitats to ensure they are never hungry during their early development.
7. Feeder shrimp
Feeder shrimp are not a single kind of shrimp, but refers to any kind of live shrimp sold with the purpose of feeding another animal. Very small feeder shrimp without hard pincers are acceptable offerings for axolotls. It’s important that the feeder shrimp is the appropriate size for the axolotl and does not have a thick exoskeleton as this can make it difficult or dangerous to digest. Feeder shrimp can be offered occasionally, but since they can be hard to digest may not be the best choice as a regular meal.
Any pellets offered should be very small, sinking, premium meat-only pellets. Pellet food should only be offered as a treat if offered at all, as it’s processed and full of fats/protein. Some axolotls will not consume non-moving offerings, so pellets are not an option for all.
Safely Feeding Axolotls
When sourcing the next meal for your aquatic friend make sure you’re seeking out reliable retailers. Food for your pet should not be wild caught as this poses a risk of parasites and pesticide exposure. Also, axolotls should never be fed human food as it’s processed and can make the animal very sick. Many keepers decide to farm live food themselves or use primarily frozen food as it can be difficult to come by high quality insect offerings in their area.
Ground beef and other human food should not be fed to axolotls. Some insist it’s a safe alternative, but there are risks of bacteria and parasite transmission as well as digestive issues. Processed foods, raw meat, and anything containing spices are not safe for your axolotl. It’s best to feed them what they eat in the wild- worms and insects.
Since they have poor eyesight, captive axolotls need their food to be offered directly to them. Keepers can accomplish this with little fuss by using a variety of tools. Worms and insects can be offered using tongs. For brine shrimp, blood shrimp, or other small prey, a pipette put directly in front of the face should do the trick. The axolotl’s feeding instinct will kick in once it senses movement in front of its face, and it will suck up the offering. Axolotls grab large food using small teeth but because they are suction feeders, there is not much chewing involved. Instead, the axolotl grinds the food until it can be swallowed.
It’s imperative that all food is appropriately sized for the animal’s mouth to ensure it does not experience distress while consuming or digesting the meal. It’s also important that food offered in a pipette is not taken into the axolotl’s gills while it feeds. Accidental inhalation of food can be avoided by being very careful while feeding and not over saturating the area around the axolotl with food. Patience is necessary when feeding an axolotl.
Baby Axolotl Feeding Tips
Feeding for a baby axolotl includes offering a selection of live food daily until reaching maturity. A baby axolotl will feed on the yolk of its egg for the first day to 72 hours after hatching. After that, live food should be offered at least once a day to properly stimulate the feeding instinct and nourish the hatchling axolotl. Be sure food is size appropriate and there is no substrate or gravel that the baby could choke on. Frozen and pellet offerings should be reserved for mature adult axolotls. An exception to this is Blood Worms, which are a fine frozen option for small baby axolotls.
Axolotls should be given a variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs. These offerings include fresh, frozen, and freeze-dried prey. Bloodworms, brine shrimp, and small earthworms are good to start with since they are modestly sized and easier for young axolotls to consume. Since they have poor eyesight, captive axolotls need their food to be offered directly to them. Keepers use tongs to offer worms and insects and a pipette to carefully offer frozen shrimp/worms to axolotls. It takes patience to feed an axolotl, as you must be careful not to cloud their area and risk food inhalation into the gills.
Wild caught worms and insects should not be offered as they carry risk of parasites and pesticide exposure. Feeder fish and wild daphnia are not recommended as they can cause issues in the axolotl’s habitat and digestive system. Once the axolotl is mature, it can begin sampling some frozen versions of food it already likes and also graduate to bigger live offerings. Human food, especially products like sausages or chicken, should not be offered to an axolotl. Non-natural foods are very bad for axolotls. Axolotls are carnivores who really enjoy having a variety of foods offered to them.
Hi! I’m Katie, an animal keeper from the United States. I have been caring for turtles, tortoises, amphibians, and other species for over 15 years. This is my rescued Sulcatta Tortoise, named Reggie.