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So you’ve brought your smiley axolotl home? Things would be fascinating for you, for sure!
Now let’s talk about the basics, i.e., axolotl food.
In my previous post, I emphasized the importance of incorporating a protein-rich diet (approx. 30% – 60% protein) in Axolotls food.
Today, I’m going to make things easier by listing down the best natural and commercial axolotl food options.
Here we go!
Axolotl Food Types
The Axolotl food is divided into several categories. However, it is imperative to know that axolotls eat almost everything they can find in their ecosystem since they are carnivorous.
In their natural habitat, you will find axolotls munching on small insects, including worms, fish, larvae, mollusks. However, in captivity, it’s best to feed your axolotl nightcrawlers, blackworms, daphnia, raw meat, brine shrimp, and pellets.
Now, before we move further, let’s first discuss the various categories of axolotl food:
The best nutritional food you could ever find for your exotic pets is is the reptile live food, which includes several varieties of worms.
Nightcrawlers (Large Earthworms)
Hold your horses; the Internet might suggest that nightcrawlers are the most convenient food choice for your axolotls.
But I will discuss some of the minor downsides of nightcrawlers here.
Nightcrawlers are undoubtedly the most nutritious and staple axolotl food in the market. Also, they are easily accessible everywhere.
In my best experience, I’ve noticed axolotls love munching on nightcrawlers the most.
The common nightcrawlers for axolotls include Canadian Nightcrawler, European nightcrawler, and red wigglers.
Among these, the Canadian and European Nightcrawlers are the most popular in terms of nutritional value.
On the other hand, red wiggler worms are more common since they are easy to breed and smaller in size than other nightcrawlers.
- Very healthy and nutritious
- Excellent diet for adult axolotls
- Easily accessible
- Highly affordable
- Red wigglers excrete a foul, stinky substance that many axolotls don’t like
- Not suitable for baby axolotls
- Requires thorough cleaning
My years of experience in aquatic animal keeping also suggest that axolotls that feed solely on nutritious food such as nightcrawlers never develop any signs of dangerous diseases and are always wholesome health-wise.
A great source of nutrition for Damselfish and Bettas. Works great with Selcon for added vitamins
Blackworms are an excellent substitute for nightcrawlers for young axolotls.
Like nightcrawlers, blackworms are also easily available everywhere and are a great source of protein.
However, I still don’t recommend them because they create a real mess in your aquarium and require regular thorough cleaning. The leftover blackworms create havoc in the tank, making your axolotl aquarium a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Excellent choice for younger axolotls
- Easily available everywhere
- Turns your tank into a mess
- Requires regular cleaning
Bloodworms are a popular choice among many axolotl owners. They can be fed as the larvae of flies or marine worms. Whatever the form may be, bloodworms are not as nutritionally healthy as other worm varieties.
Therefore, I recommend feeding bloodworms as an occasional treat to adult and juvenile axolotls.
Also, bloodworms create a lot of mess in your axolotl tank, developing fungus if kept in water for too long.
To cater to this, I suggest that you keep bloodworms in a nice, big jar. This way, the worms would not spread in the whole tank and pollute the water.
Make sure the jar is big enough to accommodate your adult or juvenile axolotls.
- Axolotls’ favorite diet
- Can be kept frozen
- Catch fungus real quick
- Turn the water foul and smelly
- Requires thorough cleaning
I always advise feeding axolotls live daphnia in their juvenile years.
Daphnia is rich in fatty acids, lipids, and other essential vitamins that help in the healthy growth of your larval or baby axolotls.
Though adult axolotls also enjoy eating daphnia, chances are they will not provide your axolotls with enough nutrients, keep them hungry, and always wanting for more. This results in frequent feedings and a compromised diet.
However, live food, such as Daphnia and worms carry diseases and parasites and this might cause potential harm to your axolotl. Therefore, I recommend getting your pets’ food supplies from reputable sources or home-culture on your own.
- Ideal and highly nutritious for baby axolotls
- Can be home-cultured using starter kits
- Cheap source of protein
- Clean unwanted bacteria from your tank
- High in fatty acids, lipids, and vitamins
- Doesn’t suffice the needs of adult axolotls
- Wild daphnia might carry disease and parasites
Live Brine Shrimp
If, for some reason, live daphnia is unavailable for your baby axolotl, add brine shrimps to the diet.
They are highly nutritious and provide vitamins, lipids, and fatty acids to your axolotl.
However, sometimes, the baby brine shrimp doesn’t reach your smiley little axolotl. For this, I recommend using Turkey baster and your axolotls would be good to go.
Be sure to remove any wasted brine shrimps or dead naupilen, the newly-formed larvae, that leaves a foul smell and makes the water cloudy.
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.
Like live daphnia, brine shrimps can also carry infections. Therefore, it is imperative to get them from reputable stores or breed at home.
- Nutritious and cheap
- Easy to buy and make at home
- Excellent source of food for baby axolotls
- Die quickly in water, leaving behind diseases
- Creates mess
- Alter water hardness since they contain salt
Add ghost shrimps to your tank, and you’ll thank me later!
Not only they are healthy and nourishing but they help in maintaining your tank’s ecosystem.
The little ghost shrimps munch on the leftover food and biofilm from the aquaria. And thus, help in tank cleaning.
Ghost shrimp serve as a great snack for your baby or adult axolotls. Since they have soft, smooth shells, they pose no potential danger to your pet axolotl.
However, ghost shrimps are a rather uncommon and expensive food choice for your axolotl.
- Easily available at the local pet store
- Help to clean tank and water
- Easily cultured
- Excellent for an occasional snack
- Difficult to breed in freshwater
- Need to be quarantined for at least 2 weeks
- Not a whole meal
Frozen Food for These Pets
Sometimes, the live food is not available. That’s when frozen food comes in handy.
You can find frozen food from any local pet store at reasonable prices. The best-frozen food for axolotl include.
Even though experienced aquarists believe frozen bloodworms lack nutrients for the adult axolotl, they still seem to enjoy it.
Frozen bloodworms come in mainly two different forms; frozen sheets or frozen cubes. Whatever the form may be; make sure to carefully feed your axolotl. Sometimes, they get stuck in the gills, causing breathing problems, and eventually drowning.
Personally, I believe frozen bloodworms are an active source of proteins and vitamins, especially for your juvenile axolotl. However, for adults, it lacks nutrients.
Hence, not suitable for the main food for your adult axolotl.
- Source of protein and vitamins
- Economical and easily available
- Axolotl’s favorite food
- Messy; disturbs your tank chemistry
- If not cleaned properly; they leave microscopic organisms that might stick to your axolotl’s gills
Frozen Brine Shrimp
Frozen brine shrimps are one of the most available foods for your axolotl.
While live brine shrimps are an excellent food source for juvenile axolotls, adult axolotls would love the frozen cubes.
Also, please note that frozen brine shrimp comes in cubes form only that need to be kept in water to thaw it out a bit.
- Rich in vitamins, fatty acids, and lipids
- Excellent and cheap food choice
- Can be kept frozen for a few days
- Affordable food option
- Requires meticulous cleaning
- Tank gets very messy
Pellets are by far the easiest food choice you’ll ever find in your local pet store.
And there is a diverse range of pellets available for your axolotls. Invert Aquatics Soft Pellets and Salmon Pellets are what I prefer for axolotls.
However, I’ve noticed that many axolotls that are accustomed to eating worms, don’t enjoy pellets.
There’s no harm in trying, right?
But, here’s the catch.
Pellet food is not 100% natural and may contain chemicals or fillers that you won’t appreciate. Therefore be wary to read the product labels before buying pellet foods.
For pellets, I suggest looking for options that have at least 40% protein content in them and low fat. Also, sinking pellets usually work the best for axolotls, but you can explore your options. The pellet I mentioned above do not have harmful chemicals or fillers and are safe to feed to your axolotl
Types of Pellet Food
There are two types of pellet foods available in the market.
- Sinking pellets; excellent for larger axolotls
- Smaller pellets; ideal for young or juvenile axolotls
Best Commercial Food for Axolotls
Personally, I believe live foods like Earthworms will suffice for an adult axolotls in general.
However, I understand that it’s not humanly possible to keep it on hand always. Therefore, in dire times, it’s best to shift to commercial food as long as the manufacturers are reliable.
Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of the best commercial diet for axolotls that are a powerhouse of nutrients for your valued Mexican walking fish.
1. Invert Aquatics Soft Pellets
Made in the USA with raw quality ingredients. This food is specially designed for Axolotls!
Hands down the best pellets you’ll ever find!
These pellets are specially manufactured for small amphibians like axolotls that are nutrients and moisture-rich, enabling your axolotl to feed without stress.
The salmon-flavored pellets are protein-rich and suitable for young to mature axolotls. As mentioned before, the pellets comprise 45% protein and 18% fat content, ideal for axolotls’ diet.
The only downside is, it can turn your tank messy, if not properly cleaned. Therefore, remember to feed carefully and remove the leftovers as soon as your axolotls are done munching.
2. A Lotl Pellets
This pellet food is designed for larger Axolotls 4" or larger
A high-protein food that is an excellent substitute to live earthworms!
If your axolotls enjoy earthworms, chances are they are going to love A lot Axolotls pellets.
These pellets are protein-based and are an excellent source of nourishment for all aquatic carnivores. Though they are easily digestible, it is suggested to use them for axolotls 4″ or larger.
3. Organically Grown Earthworms
Earthworms are one of the best live foods you can feed your adult axolotls
A bag of 50 live organic red wigglers for your axolotls? Yes, please!
These organically grown worms are often used as fishing bait or compost for garden or waste, but you can use them to feed your adorable axolotls of all sizes and ages.
The bag comprises 50 farm-grown earthworms that are healthy and thriving. The best part?
You can add these worms to your existing worm farm and feed them to axolotls when needed.
A small group of unlucky reviewers received a bag of worms that did not survive through transit. Past this, happy customers were thrilled to find large numbers of live worms.
4. Blackworm Cubes
A great source of nutrition for Damselfish and Bettas. Works great with Selcon for added vitamins
All-in-one nutritional diet that your axolotls would love!
If you’re being indecisive about feeding the right food to your axolotl, I recommend these blended blackworm cubes.
They are an assortment of Tubifex worms, Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp Cubes, Freeze Dried Beef Heart Cubes, California Blackworm Small Cubes, California Blackworms & Beef Heart California Blackworms & Mysis Shrimp, California Blackworms & Plankton California Blackworms & Color Bits, California Blackworms & Spinach.
Since they can be big enough, I suggest breaking the cubes into smaller pieces and feeding your axolotl from the top of your tank.
5. Salmon Pellets
Nutritious and flavorful to axolotls. This is an excellent pellet food to add to their diets
Reviewers rave over these pellets as their axolotls can’t stop loving them!
And I’ll tell you why!
These pellets are nutritious and flavorsome, leaving your axolotls wanting more. Also, they are ideal for juvenile to adult axolotls. However, if your axolotls are smaller than 5 inches, I recommend crushing the pellets before serving, and you’ll be good to go!
My concern is the mess that it makes, but considering the nutritional value and zest, axolotl owners can adjust.
What do they eat naturally?
In the wild, axolotls eat everything they can find and swallow, including insects, small crustaceans, worms, fish, and other small amphibians.
The main point of focus is a protein-rich diet. Therefore, in captivity, it is recommended to feed your axolotls foods that are high in protein and low in fats, such as live brine shrimp, live daphnia, bloodworms, blackworms, and nightcrawlers.
Should I feed this pet every day?
You should feed young axolotls daily. However, adults need to be fed every 2-3 days a week.
What should I not feed my pet?
Avoid feeding them
1. Hard exoskeleton animals, including shellfish, mealworms, and crustaceans.
2. Processed/preserved meat
3. Feeder fish
How often do you feed them?
Feed your young axolotls frequently as they require more energy for better growth than adults. On the other hand, observe the stomachs of your adult axolotls, if they are of the same size as their head, then that’s enough. If the stomach is larger or bloated, hold back on the feed for a time being.
Can I feed it cooked chicken?
No, you cannot feed your axolotl cooked chicken. Instead, you should avoid any human food and stick to their natural diet.
Do you have to hand feed them?
You can hand-feed your axolotls. But I won’t recommend hand feeding if the axolotl is new to your tank. To hand feed your axolotl;
1. Hold the food between your finger just above the pet’s nose
2. As soon as the axolotl smells the food, it will snap at it
You can hand-feed bloodworms, earthworms, blackworms, and pellets to your axolotls easily.
It can be overwhelming to get a new pet, let alone an exotic pet.
However, feeding axolotls is easy as a breeze. Just remember to incorporate protein-rich food into their diet and avoid feeding hard prepared food. A balance food plant will maximize your Axolotl’s lifespan.
Also, it’s imperative to consider the age of your axolotl before feeding or buying the food. Always remember a happy axolotl is a healthy one.
Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping – both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.