Do axolotls like bubbles?
The answer is...
Some axolotls really love bubbles.
They will even play in them for hours, sometimes hovering over them for a relaxing aquatic massage.
Like a bubble Jacuzzi!
Others can become stressed by the current.
The Benefits of Bubble Stones
1. Increased Oxygen
For the axolotl tank, bubbles offer some very worthy considerations.
The first being, it creates oxygen exchange at the surface of the water.
Contrary to popular belief:
The bubble stone does not make oxygen by putting bubbles in the water - it is the movement of the water around the bubbles, particularly at the top, that oxygenates the water.
The finer the bubbles, the more efficient this process is.
2. Biofilm Breakup
In tanks without circulation, biofilm is prone to accumulate on the water surface over time.
Injecting bubbles in the water stops this from happening.
There are other ways of dealing with biofilm.
But the bubble stone is a quick and easy one.
3. Combat oxygen restriction
Tanks that have a lid on may have significantly less oxygen exchange.
This is also true of tanks where floating plants cover most of the water surface (source).
Oh, and get this:
The warmer the water, the less oxygen it can hold.
Do Axolotls NEED Air Stones?
Oxygen deprivation is rarely an issue for axolotls...
- If you have just about any kind of an electricity-powered filter, that right there will usually generate plenty of oxygen exchange and water movement - you just can't see it.
- If you have a planted tank, plants alone can create quite a bit of oxygen boost in the water.
- If you do regular water changes, that reintroduces a fresh supply of oxygenated water
- Sponge filters and other air-driven filters are essentially airstones already. Aquariums with sponge filters
- If the water is kept sufficiently cool
Again, axolotls are incredibly efficient at getting enough oxygen.
They absorb it through their gills, skin and even rudimentary pair of lungs to gulp breaths from the water's surface.
Very few aquatic animals have that many ways of uptaking oxygen, or being so efficient at it.
Keeping them in cold water only increases the levels of oxygen, far beyond what most fishkeepers have in their tropical tanks.
If you have an axolotl who has had its gills damaged for whatever reason, that may be a different story.
Such an animal can be struggling to get enough air without the filamentous surface of the gill tissue present, and an airstone can be very therapeutic.
Think of it like an oxygen tank for an elderly person with compromised lungs.
That said, some people like to keep them in the tank simply for the amusement of their pets.
Which is not a bad thing :)
Unless you have the following combination...
Bubbles and Planted Tanks
In planted tanks, bubble stones are not commonly used because they gas off CO2.
(CO2 is the biggest factor in helping aquatic plants grow.)
However, oxygen levels naturally rise in the daytime and go down at night in a planted tank due to photosynthesis.
For this reason, those who use CO2 systems often turn them off at night.
The reason being, is that the CO2 levels naturally rise at night, which can result in too much of that building up in the water.
While that is not bad for plants, in excess it can harm the fauna of the tank - including the axolotls.
In a planted tank without injected CO2, a bubble stone may not be necessary at all, especially if there are natural sources of CO2 for the plant growth.
CO2 injection is not commonly used in planted axolotl tanks.
However it can be done, provided the levels are kept within the safe ranges for the animal.
Plants are generally a good thing for your aquarium.
They are a natural way to produce oxygen without creating any significant current.
Some of the more water oxygenating plants are:
- And other fast-growing stem plants
The Importance of Minimizing Current
What axolotls do NOT like is a lot of current.
The problem is if the bubbles move the water column too much, this can create a fast-moving, river-like condition that the animal is not fond of.
In the wild, the axolotl would live in a lake, not a fast-moving river.
This lake has very calm waters.
While some species of fish are well adapted to stream life...
... This is not so much the case for the axie.
This is one of the reasons they have these amazing, beautiful gills.
These gills are incredibly efficient and dealing with environments that contain lower levels of dissolved oxygen.
By flicking the gills back and forth, it swirls the water around and disperses oxygen across them.
It is a very efficient way for them to breathe.
Having too much current can cause stress on the animal.
Some seem to be more sensitive than others.
It's always a good idea to observe your own pet for any signs of stress or discomfort.
But generally, looking back to what the natural habitat of the animal would be in the wild is the best way to set up the tank.
It can be disastrous to combine an aquarium with a very strong power filter with an airstone.
It may turn your tank into a tornado!
This can lead to considerable stress of the axolotl to the point where it loses its appetite.
If you want to use an airstone?
Making sure there are still areas of the tank where your axolotl can go and rest if it wants to is a very good idea.
You may also consider just using the bubble stone at certain times for fun, rather than around the clock.
But it is up to you, if you feel like your axie really wants it all the time good for you :)
Bubbles + axolotls does not always have a predictable outcome, but hopefully this article helped shed some light on the topic.
Thank you for reading!