Frequency: How Often Should you Feed an Axolotl?
As you can see from the chart above, the mealtime schedule you follow depends largely on the size of your axolotl.
Generally, the younger the animal is, the more often it needs to eat.
This is because they are still growing and needing several smaller, more frequent feedings rather than one large one.
If your axolotl is a full grown, mature adult that has stopped growing, too much extra food can actually tend to make the animal overweight and unhealthy.
Hatchlings should ideally be fed twice a day, though some might get away with once a day.
They are so hungry at this stage that if they aren’t well fed, they may start to cannibalize their siblings in an effort to fuel their rapid growth.
We don’t want that!
Young axolotls grow an inch a month for the first 6-8 months of their lives.
No wonder they’ve got the “munchies” 😀
Little babies can’t be fed too often.
By being kept away from their siblings, this helps prevent them from developing nipping habits.
Once they get a little older, they should be separated and fed twice a day to keep them healthy and growing.
Juveniles can go a little longer between feedings, with only once a day being sufficient, though some owners still choose to feed 2x per day until the animal reaches subadult/adult stage.
When the axolotl is around the 6-8″ mark, it’s time to start dialing back the portion frequency to just once a day as the animal does not need so much.
Sometimes they will start refusing meals on their own, which is another signal it’s time to reduce the servings.
Then when they start refusing to eat one day, that can signal it’s time to switch to only 1x every other day or every 3 days.
Axolotls live in cold water and don’t need to eat nearly as often as people do.
Too frequent of feedings can result in issues such as constipation, floating and bloating.
How Much Food is Best at a Time?
Until the animal reaches the juvenile to adult stage, most breeders recommend feeding as much as they will eat at a time.
The animal should be continually offered more food until it refuses, then all uneaten food should be removed at the end of each feeding.
This strategy helps the axolotl to grow to its maximum potential.
If you haven’t been feeding as often as you want to, ramp up the food amounts gradually to avoid making the axolotl sick when it’s not used to a large amount of food.
Figuring out exactly how large your axolotl’s portion size should be is something you will learn through experience with your own animal.
Eventually you’ll start to catch on when they lose their appetite and about how much food that is.
As the animal grows, the amount of food it gets each time will need to increase to maintain a healthy weight.
What Kind of Food Does an Axolotl Eat?
Axolotls eat primarily two kinds of food, which are worms or pellets.
Some people also feed gel food that has been molded into a worm-like shape, like Repashy grub pie.
They get little trays (used for making gummy worms) to pour the mix in before it solidifies.
The gel food can be a bit iffy, some won’t take to it while others love it.
A quick warning on some foods…
- Feeding live feeder fish to your axolotl can be done, but you should always properly quarantine the fish before feeding them to your axie. Ideally, do not use fish from pet stores to feed your axolotl, but feed only fish you’ve bred in your own tanks. This helps reduce the spread of disease.
- Feeding tubifex worms should be strictly avoided. Tubifex worms are known vectors for very nasty and dangerous diseases such as whirling disease.
- Feeding other kinds of pellets such as cheap trout pellets or food intended for other kinds of fish should be avoided, as it can lead to nutritional imbalances.
Is My Axolotl Overfed or Underfed?
As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended that the width of the body at its widest point be the same as the width of the head when viewed from above.
Some axolotls run a little thinner, especially males.
And some can be very picky eaters.
On the flip side, some females are naturally heftier due to carrying eggs, and in fact can get quite rotund.
So there is a little wiggle room with this “rule,” it’s more of a useful guide.
An overfed axolotl is at a much greater risk for developing disease, as well as living a shorter life.
Overfeeding an axolotl is also much more dangerous than underfeeding as overfeeding can result in deteriorating water quality in addition to health complications.
Axolotls are generally pretty good at regulating their own food intake, but some of them can tend on the piggy side of life.
Hence, where you as the food moderator come in. 😉
How to Feed an Axolotl
Your method of administering the food depends largely on exactly what you are trying to give your animal to eat.
Whatever you feed…
… Remember the axolotl has very poor eyesight, and relies more on sense of touch and vibrations in the water than on sight.
How to Feed Pellets to an Axolotl
Pellets are a convenient way to feed your lotl, as they can be within reach and don’t require the hassle of live or frozen foods.
There are multiple ways to feed them.
Some people use tongs – but the pellets have to be big enough for that to work.
Others will drop it over the top of the axolotl’s head and hope they grab it when they feel it float by their head.
They don’t usually get all the pellets in one go.
But over time, the axolotl learns to forage on the bottom and snap up the uneaten pellets it missed the first time.
That said, some people don’t like the mess they make.
I have a secret for you.
A feeding dish helps contain the crumbs from the axolotl and prevent the pellets from making a mess in the substrate.
Axolotls can be trained to eat out of the feeding dish like a dog, and it is quite cute, as well as convenient for the aquarium owner.
How to Feed Worms to an Axolotl
Worms are packed with protein and make a great food source for axolotls, though they can be a bit more of a hassle to deal with.
To feed chopped or whole earthworms or red wiggler worms to an axolotl, you can do like with the pellets.
You can either drop them over their head and hope they sense it…
… Or you can use a pair of feeding tongs to wiggle the worm around their mouth.
The latter method has several advantages.
In addition to many other benefits, it generally helps the axolotl to find the food better, as well as makes it easier for you not to have to touch it.
If your axolotl misses it, it is easy to retrieve the worm and try again.
To feed bloodworms to your axolotl, you will want to grab a bunch of washed and defrosted bloodworms with the tongs and wiggle them in front of the axolotl’s mouth.
It will usually grab the entire clump – if it is big enough – all in one tremendous gulp.
What if My Axolotl Isn’t Eating?
Axolotls can lose their appetite for various reasons.
Sometimes it is due to an underlying disease, or improper environmental conditions such as too warm of a temperature or water quality problems.
If your axolotl is refusing food and you have ruled out the above, it may be the animal is wanting a change in its type of food.
You can try to switch things up by offering a different type of food than what your axolotl has been eating.
When an animal is refusing food, it is often a good idea not to feed, as that only fouls the water.
Wrapping it All Up
Feeding your axolotl encourages bonding with your pet and allows you to enjoy one of the most fun parts of being an axolotl owner.
I hope this axolotl feeding guide helped to point you in the right direction for when it comes to feeding your water babies.
Thanks for reading 🙂