Water temperature is a VERY important factor when it comes to caring for your axie.
So in today's post we're going to try to answer some common questions on the topic.
Keep reading to learn more!
Best Temperature for Axolotls?
For most situations in the home aquarium, the recommended temperature range to keep axolotls is between 55-68F, with around 64F being the sweet spot.
At temperatures above 75F, axolotls can start exhibiting clinical signs of stress.
Some of these signs can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Pale patches developing on the skin
If you live in a place where it is on the warmer side, there are many approaches to keeping the temperature in this range for your axolotls.
You can see this post for tips on keeping their water cool.
Do Axolotls Feel Cold?
When we are exposed to the cold, we become very uncomfortable after a while as our body struggles to retain heat.
We start to shiver to retain heat, our nose starts running and our skin feels numb... we start complaining and looking for somewhere warm to go.
Even just a degree drop in temperature is immediately detected by your body.
Axolotls are cold-blooded animals.
Because they are amphibians, they don't feel cold the same way people do.
Their body temperature remains at the same temperature of their surroundings.
This means that they can only sense temperature sensations when it changes suddenly, quite a bit.
Gradual changes are undetected by them.
How Cold is too Cold?
When dealing with very cold temperatures...
The water must be deep enough to be kept from freezing solid, and an area created where oxygen exchange can take place at the surface if ice forms.
In winter weather temperatures, axolotls slow down their blood flow and take in more oxygen through their skin.
More than 20 days at temperatures below 40F can be fatal.
If the temperature hits freezing, that is also fatal to the Mexican water dragon.
Freezing crystallizes the cells of the animal's body.
As the animal tries to move, these crystals damage the internal cells.
It is very very important that changes in temperature don't happen too quickly.
Which brings me to my next point:
The Importance of Temperature Acclimation
Gradual acclimation to changes in temperature is very important.
Drastic changes or big swings in temperature can prove fatal.
It might not be that the final temperature was too cold or too hot, just that it was changed too much... too suddenly.
Axolotls need time to adjust to changes in temperature.
There are many biological process that have to slow down or adapt to a very cold temperature to ensure the systems keep functioning properly.
Cold shock (when an axolotl is quickly exposed to much colder water than it was used to living in) can stop organs from being able to function properly and actually kill the animal.
Think about in nature.
Changes in temperature generally take quite a while, such as the onset of winter over the period of several weeks.
It doesn't usually go from summer to winter overnight.
On a smaller scale:
The same is true for when you get your axolotl in the mail.
If the water is much warmer or much cooler in your aquarium, it is important to gradually adjust them by floating the bag for at least 20 minutes to acclimate them to the temperature of your aquarium water.
Still better is drip acclimation, which allows them to gradually adjust to not only the new temperature but the difference in water chemistry.
Even if the original water your axolotl lived in was similar to yours...
... The parameters can change quite a bit as the axolotl remains in the bag during transit.
Ammonia and TDS levels can spike quite a bit.
Drip acclimation is used by fishkeepers who acquire fragile species such as shrimp or discus.
Benefits of Cold Water
There are benefits of keeping axolotls at very cold temperatures (below 50F but above 32F), at least for a while.
Obviously, axolotls are cold-water animals and will exhibit stress from heat, so in that sense cold water is usually a layer of protection.
Cold water can help to "buy time" if the lotl is doing poorly.
Colder water also reduces the animal's need for food, which is beneficial to you as the owner if you are wintering your axolotl outdoors or in a very cold place as it requires less feeding.
The immune system continues to function normally at low temperatures but the metabolism slows down.
The reproduction of harmful pathogens (such as bacteria and fungus) is greatly slowed down.
(Hence, why fridging can be beneficial when an animal is mildly sick.)
For healthy axies?
Many breeders report that their animals will grow larger when exposed to a season of winter as opposed to those that have constant moderate temperatures year-round.
According to some sources, colder water speeds up wound healing for axolotls than normal water...
"Strangely, wound healing seems to occur more rapidly at lower than normal temperatures. One would assume that the relatively higher metabolic rate caused by a higher temperature would result in faster healing, but this doesn't seem to be the case in axolotls." (Source).
As a side note, the biological filter stops functioning as temperatures drop below 62F.
So while the need for feeding is reduced (which reduces ammonia output from the animal), the water can become toxic from any uneaten food if it is not periodically changed.
Testing the water for ammonia frequently is a good idea.
Can Axolotls Be Kept in a Pond?
Yes, provided the water temperature does not get too warm in the summer and doesn't freeze solid in the winter.
The winter also shouldn't be too harsh or long.
(Remember what was said earlier about prolonged exposure to very cold water.)
Consideration will also need to be made for protecting the pond from predators.
It is not recommended to keep them in a pond with fish that can nip their gills and cause them stress.
Egg Incubation Temps
The recommended incubation range for eggs is from between 60-72F, with mid-sixties being the common mark.
Warmer water will cause them to hatch faster than cooler.
As a side note:
This is interesting...
Temperature tolerance in axolotls may have some connection to the incubation temperature of the eggs.
Some anecdotal reports are that eggs incubated at tropical temperatures may result in heat-tolerant axolotls.
The same may be true for eggs incubated in very cold temperatures (below 50F).
However, there may be a risk of harming the eggs at more extreme temperatures.
Axolotls are very adaptable creatures.
When it comes to temperature, give them what they need and you will go a long way in taking good care of your axie.
Thanks for reading!