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Axolotl breeding, part 1: genetic and health considerations

Selecting a female

Female axolotls can lay up to 1000 eggs at once, which is exhausting for the female. She does not get a break to recover afterwards — her body immediately resumes gamete production, which comes with a high energy cost. For this reason, repeatedly beeding a female can be detrimental to her health. Breeding her too early can also interfere with her growth. Please be mindful of these considerations when choosing a female to breed — choose a female who’s fully grown (at least a year old) and has a healthy appetite and appearance, with a big round belly. Keep in mind that the same female should only be bred a maximum of three times in her lifetime, with a long break in between breedings. Personally, I try to breed females only once, unless they have exceptional characteristics. I also never breed females more than once a year.

Selecting a male

When it comes to choosing a male, the most important thing to consider is genetics. You’ll want to make absolutely sure that your male has no family relation with your female — this would lead to genetic defects in the offspring that can be quite dramatic. Beyond that, it helps to be familiar with how genes combine to create different morphs (phenotypes). Personally, I like to select males with traits that match the female’s best characteristic: for example, my “K” line is all about cute round faces, whereas my “B” line is all about blue gills.

Traits to avoid

You should never, ever breed axolotls with obvious genetic defects, such as:

  • dwarfism [article coming soon!]
  • short toes syndrome
  • “mini” features
  • any physical deformation that isn’t due to regrowth after nipping
  • a tendency to float frequently (especially upside down)
  • other recurrent health issues (e.g. very prone to fungus)

In case of accidental breeding

If you’ve accidentally kept a male and a female together and ended up with eggs, it may seem like the kind choice to keep them and raise them… But in reality, it’s the self-indulgent route that should be avoided in most cases. If the two parents are genetically related (e.g. brother and sister), or if one or both parents have genetic defects, you really wouldn’t be doing the larvae a favor by attempting to raise them. Not only would it compromise their quality of life, but it also poses a risk that the genetic issue will be passed on to future generations if those axolotls also end up getting bred (accidentally or otherwise).

Avoid this rookie mistake!

Another important point to consider is: how many of the eggs can you afford to keep? Raising larvae requires time, effort and space. They are also complicated and expensive to feed, compared to adults. If you are breeding axolotls for the first time, I wouldn’t recommend keeping more than 10. If you keep more than you are able to care for, you will be stretching your resources thin, and the quality of your care will suffer. Trust me — don’t try raising hundreds of axolotls on your first try. You have plenty of time to try your hand at raising more after you’ve brought these first 10 to maturity. You’ll be better prepared to tackle higher numbers once you have a clear idea of the challenges involved.

How to get rid of unwanted axolotl eggs

Freeze them. This will cause the larvae to go into hibernation mode, dulling their sense of pain before vital functions shut down. They will be unconscious before ice crystals begin to form. Once they are frozen solid, you can dispose of the eggs in the compost or trash.

Happy responsible breeding! : )

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Shipping, DOA and refund policies

Live animal shipping

I ship live animals to all Canadian provinces where Canada Post’s Xpresspost and/or Priority services are available. Note that, as per Canada Post’s regulations, live animals can only be shipped from April 1st to October 31st. Additionally, I cannot ship axolotls to provinces where axolotls are illegal to own (i.e. BC and PEI).

DOA policy

In case of death on arrival, please send pictures within two hours of delivery and I will send a replacement at no charge. In case of live eggs shipping, hatch rate is not guaranteed.


Unopened dry food items may be returned for refund within 30 days of delivery. Please include your invoice number. Live and frozen food sales are final.

Other items may be returned for refund within 30 days of delivery as long as they are still in their original condition. Please include your invoice number.

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Privacy policy

It bothers me that so few companies take the necessary steps to protect your personal information online. I strive to be better. Here’s how:

I don’t track you

I don’t use Google Analytics or any other metadata collection tool or tracker. Those things are useful, but creepy. I can manage without them.

I collect as little data as possible

I only collect the information I need to invoice, ship and refund orders as necessary. You don’t even need to create an account in order to buy from me. Incomplete transactions and inactive accounts are purged regularly, and if you delete your account, it will be deleted for real. That’s actually a rare thing, believe it or not!

I’m picky with third-parties

I’m using WordPress to power this website, but I keep it on a tight leash. I use the minimum amount of plugins necessary to keep this website functional. This includes the components needed to keep this shopping cart working, a cache plugin to prevent my server from getting overwhelmed, and font and language support. I use the strictest possible settings to limit these plugins’ abilities to access and retain your information. I also do my best to keep them up-to-date to prevent security exploits, and take steps to keep my WordPress tough to hack. It pays to date a systems administrator! ūüėČ

I encrypt everything

Even if my website ever got hacked, everything on it is encrypted from start to finish. You will never be asked to login in order to activate encryption, or be made to bounce between encrypted and non-encrypted sections. The services I use to process your transactions, which are WooCommerce and Paypal, also encrypt everything on their end. Any local backups I keep are encrypted as well.

I don’t force you to go through social media

I hate when sites do that! I do have a Facebook page and an Instagram account, because a lot of people prefer to contact me through there, and they allow me to share pictures easily and keep in touch with other breeders across the country. That being said, you absolutely do not need to use these services in order to contact me or buy from me.

If you do choose to use Facebook or Instagram, know that any information that transits through their services is subject to their ever-changing, morally dubious privacy policy. I go over the privacy settings often and select the most restrictive permissions possible, but using your personal information for profit is Facebook’s entire business model. If you have a problem with that, I do too. That’s why I made this website!

I don’t target you for advertising purposes

I’ve worked in advertising, so I’m acutely aware of how annoying, pervasive and potentially damaging it is. Beyond updating my Facebook and Instagram pages once in a while, I don’t really advertise at all. I trust that my reputation will be enough to do the job. If you need me, you’ll find me. It may seem like a weird business model in this day and age, but it works for me so far.

I will never spam you

Ever! I don’t even have a newsletter. Your inbox is safe with me : )

Any questions?

I aim for transparency. If there’s anything you’d like to know that isn’t covered here, feel free to drop me a line.

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Common axolotl myths

Myth #1: Bare bottom tanks cause axolotls to slip and become stressed

If your axolotl is slipping on the glass, your water flow is too strong. Your axolotl should be able to walk along the bottom of the tank without sliding or slipping.

Myth #2: Sand causes impaction in adult axolotls

The use of sand may be risky for axolotl larvae, but there are no documented cases of impaction caused by sand in adult axolotls. However, impaction cases caused by gravel ingestion in adult axolotls are frequent. Which brings us to…

Myth #3: Gravel is a safe substrate for axolotls

Absolutely not! Remember: if it’s smaller than their head, they will ingest it; if it’s larger than their poop, they won’t be able to pass it!

Myth #4: Goldfish are acceptable tankmates for axolotls

Although they both enjoy similar water conditions, these two species are not a good match. Axolotls are not very good at catching fish, but given the chance, they will eat any fish that fits in their mouth. Goldfish aren’t safe for axolotls either, as they tend to nip at their gills. Their bones can also cause impaction due to their size.

Myth #5: You don’t need to feed your axolotl as long as you keep fish in the tank

Again, axolotls are not good hunters. If live fish are the only option on the menu, they will most likely starve.

Myth #6: Frozen bloodworms are an acceptable staple food for axolotls

Bloodworms are a fatty, low-protein snack. Think of them as the french fries of the aquatic world. Axolotls who are fed nothing but bloodworms for an extended period of time become emaciated and tend to bite off their tankmates’ limbs.

Myth #7: Indian almond leaves and black tea work as painkillers for axolotls

Unfortunately, indian almond leaves and black tea have no effect on pain. The tannins they release do have mild antibacterial and antifungal properties, however.

Myth #8: If you see fungus on your axolotl’s gills, you should pull it off or remove it by rubbing it with a Q-tip.

Please don’t do this! By pulling out the fungus, you are literally ripping out living flesh, which is extremely painful. Just allow the fungus-infected gill tissue to necrotize and fall off on its own.

Myth #9: It’s okay to use fish antibiotics on axolotls as long as you use half-doses

First of all, you shouldn’t use antibiotics on an axolotl unless you know which bacteria you are fighting against. If you suspect that your axolotl has a bacterial infection, please ask a veterinarian how you can send in a sample for identification.

Secondly, there is no guarantee that a fish-safe medication will be safe for axolotls. Unless a scientific article or veterinary account confirms that a medication is safe to use on amphibians, please assume that it isn’t!

Finally, by reducing the dose of the antibiotic, you run the risk of creating new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. When treating with antibiotics, always follow dosing instructions and administer the treatment for its entire duration, even if the symptoms are gone.

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How to Cycle Your Aquarium

This article details the safest and most efficient aquarium cycling methods, and highlights some common cycling issues. If you’re not sure what cycling means, please read this article first: Introduction to the Nitrogen Cycle (Or, Why You Killed That Goldfish When You Were Little).

Seeded media method

This is the easiest, fastest and safest cycling method. “Seeded” filter media is any porous material that has been previously used in someone’s filter and still contains active nitrifying bacteria.

Step 1: Obtain the bacteria

If you have an established aquarium and are trying to set up a new one, simply transfer some of the biological media from that filter to your new one. Otherwise, you can ask a friend or your local fish store to give you some of their used filter media. (If you’re in the area, come see me and I will give you some of mine!) Once the media is in place, simply start your filter and let the bacteria do their work.

Step 2: Feed the bacteria

To keep the bacteria alive in your filter, you will need to provide them with a source of ammonia. Follow the ammonia or live-in methods from this point on. Note that the live-in method will be stressful for your animals. Using seeded media shortens the cycling process, but it could still take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Ammonia method

This is the method I recommend if you have a brand new aquarium with no living animals in it. You can buy small amounts of pure ammonia from my shop, or find some in the cleaning section of most hardware stores. Some people prefer to let fish flakes or a raw shrimp decompose in their aquarium to create a source of ammonia, but this makes the process a lot slower and can introduce harmful pathogens to your tank. It’s also unreliable, as the amount of ammonia produced this way is extremely variable. Using pure ammonia allows you to control the exact concentration of ammonia that ends up in your tank.

Step 1: Obtain the bacteria

Aside from ammonia, you will need a source of bacteria. You could take your chances and wait for them to occur naturally in the water, but using bottled bacteria will speed things up considerably. You can obtain some from my shop or any pet store that sells fish. Any brand of bottled nitrifying bacteria will work. Pour them into the water and they will cling to whatever surface they find. The more porous surface they have to inhabit, the better. The vast majority will end up inside your filter, as they require a lot of oxygen to thrive. So make sure you have porous material in there, and always keep the filter running!

Step 2: Feed the bacteria

You’ll want to start with an ammonia concentration of 2 to 4 ppm. To get to this concentration, add 2 to 4 mL of pure ammonia per L of aquarium water (~1/2 Tbsp to 1Tbsp per gallon). This single dose should be enough to keep your bacteria fed for the entire duration of the cycling process.

Step 3: Monitor the parameters

Follow the instructions in the monitoring section, starting from step 2.

Emergency live-in cycling

If you already have animals in your aquarium and you’re unable to relocate them to a different, well-established tank while their current tank cycles, you may need to do an emergency live-in cycling. It will be stressful for your animals, but with careful monitoring and quick interventions, you can prevent chemical burns and secondary illnesses.

Step 1: Obtain the bacteria

Ideally, you’ll want to use seeded media for this, as it truly is the quickest and safest way to get your bacteria established. If that’s not an option, I highly recommend getting your hands on a bottle of Tetra SafeStart. This is, in my experience, the fastest and safest product on the market. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to find in Canada. I would definitely carry it in the store if I could find a supplier!

If you do manage to get your hands on a bottle of TSS, you’ll want to do a big water change, then dump the entire contents of the bottle into your tank and leave it alone for two weeks. Note that you won’t be able to use conditioner during that time, as it interferes with TSS’s mechanism, according to Tetra. You’re not supposed to do water changes either, but obviously if your animals show signs of distress, you’re allowed to bend the rules a little. Just try to keep it to a minimum (you can do spot cleanings with a turkey baster, and refill to counter evaporative loss). Aside from that, just cross your fingers and wait.

If you can’t find TSS, just use any brand of bottled nitrifying bacteria. You can still keep your animals safe — it’s just going to be more work.

Step 2: Feed the bacteria

Your animals will take care of this step for you. Moving on!

Step 3: Monitor the parameters

If you’re using Tetra SafeStart:

Every two days or so, test the water for nitrites. If you detect 2.0 ppm of nitrites or more, do a 50% water change to prevent stalling (see the troubleshooting section for details). Make sure to use dechlorinated water — remember, you’re not allowed to use conditioner!

After two weeks, test the water for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. If you detect no ammonia or nitrites, but nitrates are 40 ppm or more, congratulations! Your aquarium is cycled. Do a final water change and you’re done.

If you’re still getting ammonia or nitrites, start doing 50% water changes and adding conditioner once a day. You will need to do this until the tank is fully cycled — yes, it’s a pain, but it’s the only way to keep your animals safe! Start monitoring your cycle as described in step 3 of the monitoring section below.

If you’re using a different product:

Start doing 50% water changes and adding conditioner once a day. You will need to do this until the tank is fully cycled — yes, it’s a pain, but it will keep your animals safe!

Follow the instructions in the monitoring section below, starting from step 1.

Monitoring the cycle

Most guides have you testing ammonia, nitrites and nitrates with liquid test kits every single day until the aquarium is fully cycled. That is a lot of work! Here is what I recommend instead:

Step 1: Ammonia

Test for ammonia once a day until you get a reading of 0.25 ppm or more. Then, move onto step 2.

Step 2: Nitrites

Test for nitrites once a day until you get a reading of 0.5 ppm or above. Then, move onto step 3.

Note: if nitrites shoot up to 2.0 ppm or above, add conditioner. This will help prevent your cycle from stalling (more details in the troubleshooting section).

If you don’t record any nitrites for two weeks, consult the troubleshooting section.

Step 3: Nitrates

Test for nitrates once a day until you get a reading of 40 ppm or above, then test ammonia and nitrites. If they are both at zero, congratulations! Your aquarium is fully cycled. Do one last water change and you will be good to go.

If you’re getting 40 ppm nitrates or more, but are still registering ammonia, consult the troubleshooting section.

If ammonia is at zero but you are still getting some nitrites, you probably just need to wait a bit longer. Give it a couple days and test again.

Cycle troubleshooting

Problem 1: You’re not getting the first ammonia spike (all parameters are at zero)

You didn’t add enough ammonia to start the cycle. Are you trying to cycle your tank with fish flakes, raw shrimp or using animals who don’t produce much waste (e.g. snails)? Don’t do that. Use one of the methods described above, you’ll have a much easier time.

Problem 2: Ammonia is not converting into nitrites (high ammonia, no nitrites, no nitrates)

You don’t have enough nitrifying bacteria in the water. Add bottled bacteria, that will kick-start the process. Make sure your filter is equipped with biological media so they will have a space to colonize, and don’t forget to keep your filter running at all times.

Problem 3: Your cycle is stalled at the nitrite stage (little to no ammonia, high nitrites, no nitrates)

Your nitrites are too high. To avoid a bacterial die-off, you should be keeping the levels below 4 ppm. You can control the amount of nitrites by doing water changes (don’t forget to add conditioner!) A 50% water change will cut the amount of nitrites by half. If that’s still too high, do another 50% water change to cut that amount by half again. Don’t just change all the water at once, though — you want to keep some nitrites in the tank so that your nitrobacters don’t starve.

If you worry about water changes removing too much ammonia from your tank, you can use Seachem Prime to neutralize the excess nitrites instead. One dose will neutralize 0.5 ppm of nitrites for 24 hours. You can safely use up to 4 doses, even if there are live animals in the tank. Try to keep some nitrites for your nitrobacters to munch on, though! You don’t need to neutralize all of it, just enough so that it doesn’t reach 4 ppm. I recommend trying to stay below 2 ppm, just to be safe.

Problem 4: The cycle never seems to end (low ammonia, low nitrites, high nitrates)

You don’t have enough filtration capacity for the amount of ammonia that is being produced in your tank. Perhaps you are overstocking, are not using enough biological media, or your filter is inadequate.

Problem 5: Your cycle suddenly crashed (high ammonia, little to no nitrites, low to high nitrates)

Something killed off your nitrifying bacteria. Maybe your filter stopped running for too long (e.g. during a power outage). Maybe you forgot to dechlorinate the water. Maybe you treated your tank with an antibiotic. Whatever it is, you will need to restart the cycling process. If you’re lucky, some of the bacteria survived the ordeal. Follow the steps for live-in cycling and hope for a quick recovery!

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Est-il l√©gal de poss√©der, d’acheter ou de vendre un axolotl au Canada?

Puisque les axolotls sont en voie d’extinction (soup√ßonn√©s d’√™tre d√©j√† √©teints dans la nature), il faut un permis sp√©cial pour les importer ou exporter hors du pays. √Čvidemment, il est aussi interdit d’en attraper dans la nature, mais de toute fa√ßon, vous n’arriveriez pas √† en trouver!

Heureusement pour la survie de l’esp√®ce, il n’y a pas de loi contre l’√©levage des axolotls ayant grandi en captivit√©. Il est l√©gal d’acheter, de vendre ou de poss√©der des axolotls partout au Canada, sauf en Columbie-Britannique (qui consid√®re encore l’axolotl comme un animal sauvage) et √† l’√éle-du-Prince-√Čdouard (qui interdit tous les amphibiens, et confond l’axolotl avec sa cousine, la salamandre tigr√©e). Si vous habitez dans l’une de ces r√©gions, je vous encourage fortement √† vous impliquer en politique! ; )

Avant de vous procurer un axolotl, vous devriez √©galement v√©rifier qu’il n’existe pas d’interdiction particuli√®re au niveau municipal; certaines villes ont des r√©glements plut√īt farfelus! Heureusement, ici √† Montr√©al, tous les amphibiens non-venimeux sont permis. Curieusement, il nous faut un permis pour poss√©der un chat ou un chien!

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Is it legal to buy/sell/own axolotls in Canada?

Since axolotls are critically endangered in the wild, it takes a special permit to import/export them in and out of Canada. Obviously, it’s also illegal to catch them in the wild (assuming there are any left!) But luckily for the survival of the species, axolotls breed readily in captivity.

Selling, buying, owning and breeding axolotls is legal through most of Canada — the notable exceptions are British Columbia and Prince-Edward-Island, due to BC’s erroneous classification of axolotls as wildlife, and PEI’s blanket prohibition of all amphibians (and confusion of axolotls with tiger salamanders, which are cousin species!) If you live in those areas, I encourage you to petition your local governments to have axolotls exempted from those restrictions.

Aside from this, you should check your city’s regulations before purchasing an axolotl. Some cities have weird pet regulations, and some restrict exotic animals altogether. Luckily, here in Montr√©al, all non-poisonous amphibians are allowed. Strangely enough, we need a permit to keep a cat or a dog!

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SAM Super Auction

I was at the SAM Super Auction yesterday! It was my first time participating. I had a blast! Raked in quite a nice loot, too. Aquarium societies are a great place to get animals and plants that aren’t sold in stores. I finally got my hands on a live moina culture!

It was really nice to meet so many other hobbyists. I think I might have to squeeze the monthly meetings into my schedule. That means something else is gonna have to come out. Ehh, who needs sleep, am I right?

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Axolotl Diseases

This is a quick reference list of common health issues, as well as axolotl-safe treatments. I will add to this article little by little. If you’d like me to talk about one illness in particular, please email me.

Ammonia poisoning

Deformation of the caudal fin and bleeding due to ammonia poisoning.

Early symptoms:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Curling, atrophy of gill filaments
  • Irritated skin (some redness visible on axolotls with pale skin)
  • Veins becoming more visible (also on axolotls with pale skin)

Advanced symptoms:

  • Whitening, curling, atrophy of gill stalk tips
  • Prounounced red patches on the skin (visible on axolotls with pale skin)
  • Loss of gill filaments
  • Deformation of the caudal fin
  • Erosion of the tail tip and fingertips
  • Bleeding
  • Death

How to diagnose:

In the presence of some or all of the above symptoms, test ammonia levels. If any ammonia is detected, the animal is almost certainly suffering from ammonia poisoning.


Ammonia poisoning is either due to new tank syndrome or improper husbandry (infrequent water changes, overcrowding, overfeeding, or using inadequate filtration).


If the cause is new tank syndrome, follow the treatment instructions listed below. Otherwise, you will need to find the cause of the problem and fix it. Daily 50% water changes and the addition of conditioner every 24 hours will keep your animals safe until the issue is resolved. Keep testing the water for ammonia every 24 hours until no more ammonia is detected. To prevent the situation from reoccuring in the future, I highly recommend testing ammonia once a week.

New tank syndrome

Early symptoms:

  • Gradual loss of vitality, typically within the first month following the introduction of the axolotl to a new aquarium
  • Red patches on the skin (visible on axolotls with pale skin)
  • Curling, atrophy of gill filaments
  • Lack of appetite or inability to chew or swallow food
  • Change in gill color (paler or more brownish)

Advanced symptoms:

  • Whitening, curling, atrophy of gill stalk tips
  • Loss of gill filaments
  • Erosion and/or deformation of the caudal fin
  • Bleeding
  • Death

How to diagnose:

In the presence of some or all of the above symptoms, test ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. You can assume that the animal is suffering from new tank syndrome ammonia and/or nitrites are detected and one or more of the following statements are true:

  • Nitrates are absent or very low (~10 ppm or less)
  • The animal has been living in the aquarium for less than two months
  • The filter is brand new, or the filter media has been completely replaced recently
  • The filter stopped running (e.g. during a power outage) for three hours or more
  • You have recently treated the tank with an antibiotic
  • You have been refilling your aquarium with tap water, without adding conditioner

If ammonia and/or nitrites are present but nitrates are also high (>40 ppm) and none of the other conditions apply, a more likely diagnosis is ammonia poisoning and/or nitrite poisoning due to improper husbandry (infrequent water changes, overcrowding, overfeeding, or using inadequate filtration).


Uncycled aquarium (lack of nitrifying bacteria in the filter) leading to ammonia poisoning and/or nitrite poisoning.


Daily water changes and addition of conditioner as needed until the aquarium is properly cycled. The addition of seeded filter media or a bacterial additive is strongly recommended.

Nitrite poisoning

Early symptoms:

  • Very pale gills
  • Frequent breathing at the water surface
  • Crowding near the water inlet or air stone

Advanced symptoms:

  • Gills turning brown
  • Uncontrolled floating
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of interest in food
  • Gill damage, gill loss and/or saprolegniosis
  • Eventual death


In the presence of some or all of the above symptoms, test nitrite levels. If any are detectable, you can assume that the animal is suffering from nitrite poisoning.


Frequently occurs as part of new tank syndrome or as the result of a cycle crash (e.g. after a power failure). May also be due to overstocking, the presence of something rotting in the tank, or infrequent water changes.


Daily water changes and addition of conditioner as needed until the aquarium is properly cycled. The addition of seeded filter media or a bacterial additive is strongly recommended. Make sure the tank isn’t overstocked and that partial water changes are conducted at least once a week.

Saprolegniosis (winter fungus)

Early signs of saprolegnia.

Early symptoms:

  • Raised white or grey lesions that have a soft appearance, like cotton wool. Typically start as small circles on the axolotl’s head or gills, then grow larger and merge as the disease progresses.

Advanced symptoms:

  • A fuzzy growth, reminiscent of a dandelion puff, typically on the axolotl’s gills — may appear white, grey or tan to brown as debris accumulate
  • Partial loss of gill stalks
  • Death, if internal organs are affected


Compromised immune system due to stress, reducing the animal’s natural resistance to saprolegnia (a fungus whose spores are naturally present in virtually all water sources). May appear as a secondary infection if the axolotl is already battling another illness.


The visual cues are usually pretty obvious. In the presence of some or all of the above symptoms, your veterinarian may conduct a skin scraping to identify Saprolegnia’s hyphae (a root-like structure) under a microscope.


Eliminate potential stress causes such as improper housing conditions, poor water quality (especially in an uncycled aquarium), high temperatures, aggressive tankmates or strong water flow. If the axolotl is on the verge of laying eggs or recovering after egg-laying, it may help to isolate her and lower the temperature slightly to help her recuperate. The same applies to an axolotl who is in the process of regrowing a limb. In advanced cases, salt baths are recommended.

Short Toes Syndrome

Axolotl suffering from short toes syndrome. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous breeders take advantage of this painful and deadly condition by marketing the afflicted animals as “dwarf axolotls”. Buyers beware! Photo: Amanda Gomes

Early symptoms:

  • Unusually short limbs and toes
  • Inability to regenerate missing limbs
  • Shortened/missing bones and bone joints

Advanced symptoms:

  • Signs of pain and distress (forward gills, mouth hanging open, arched spine, lack of interest in food, lack of movement)
  • Internal bleeding
  • Skin blisters
  • Hemorrhages
  • Extreme swelling and bloating


Short toes is caused by a genetic mutation, which results in skeletal, renal and urogenital malformations. The afflicted animals have shortened lifespans, eventually suffering from painful edema and kidney failure.


The shortened toes are a sufficient cue.


Unfortunately, not much can be done to alleviate the issues caused by the mutation. Studies suggest Holtfreter’s solution may help for a time, but it may be kinder to euthanize the animal to spare it further suffering. Alternatively, you may consider donating your axolotl to a university, as short toes axolotls are important to limb regeneration research.

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Introduction au cycle de l’azote (ou, comment est mort votre premier poisson rouge)

La plupart des gens qui ach√®tent un animal aquatique pour la premi√®re fois doivent en faire le deuil au cours du premier mois. Ce ph√©nom√®ne est d√Ľ au fait que les boutiques qui vendent ces animaux ne prennent g√©n√©ralement pas la peine d’enseigner le cycle de l’azote √† leurs employ√©s, ni √† leurs clients. Or, il s’agit d’une composante essentielle √† tout √©cosyst√®me aquatique. Ce bel exemple de commensalisme (une relation symbiotique qui b√©n√©ficie √† tous les participants) est l’√©l√©ment qui permet aux animaux de survivre en milieu aquatique.

La premi√®re chose qu’il est important de r√©aliser, c’est qu’un aquarium n’est pas qu’un bac rempli d’eau; c’est une r√©plique miniature de l’√©cosyst√®me qui permet √† la vie de s’√©panouir dans nos rivi√®res et nos oc√©ans. L’eau est remplie de microorganismes, et certains d’entre eux jouent un r√īle extr√™mement important.

Voici les héros du monde aquatique : les bactéries nitrifiantes.

Dans votre aquarium tout comme dans la nature, les excr√©ments d’animaux et autres mati√®res organiques en cours de d√©composition rel√Ęchent de l’ammoniaque (NH3) en permanence. L’ammoniaque est extr√™mement toxique; la plupart des animaux aquatiques n’en supportent pas m√™me une trace. Heureusement, des bact√©ries telles que les nitrosomonas (ou plus rarement nitrosococcus, que j’ai √©t√© trop paresseuse pour dessiner ici) parviennent √† utiliser l’oxyg√®ne pr√©sent dans l’eau pour convertir les mol√©cules d’ammoniaque en nitrites (NO2‚ąí).

Les nitrites sont moins toxiques que l’ammoniaque, mais ils ne sont pas sans danger pour les animaux aquatiques. √Ä mesure qu’ils s’accumulent dans l’aquarium (ou dans tout autre cours d’eau), ils peuvent causer des br√Ľlures, maladies et m√™me entra√ģner la mort. Par chance, les nitrobacter sont l√† pour intervenir! Ces bact√©ries convertissent les nitrites en nitrates (NO3‚ąí), qui sont beaucoup moins toxiques que les deux autres mol√©cules.

Dans la nature, les nitrates n’ont pas vraiment la chance de s’accumuler de fa√ßon dramatique, car les plantes et les algues les consomment pour leur croissance. Si vous mettez des plantes dans votre aquarium, elles ¬ę mangeront ¬Ľ une partie des nitratres pour vous.¬† Les restes serviront de nourriture aux algues; c’est pourquoi vous pourriez remarquer une prolif√©ration soudaine de l’algue dans votre aquarium si vous n’avez pas chang√© l’eau depuis trop longtemps.

Si les nitrates continuent de s’accumuler plus rapidement que les plantes et les algues ne peuvent les utiliser, vos animaux pourraient finir par tomber malades. C’est alors √† vous d’intervenir! Peu importe le type d’animal, il faudra changer une partie de son eau au moins une fois par semaine. Il est recommand√© de tester les niveaux d’ammoniaque, nitrites et nitrates de temps √† autre afin de vous assurer que ces pr√©cieux microorganismes sont pr√©sents et continuent d’accomplir leur travail.

Voil√† donc pourquoi un aquarium encore neuf pose un risque particulier! Un environnement aquatique trop propre n’est pas s√©curitaire.

Plus sp√©cifiquement, le probl√®me se trouve au niveau du filtre. Lorsque vous achetez un nouveau filtre, il ne contient pas de bact√©ries. Cela signifie que vous devez les installer vous-m√™me et leur donner le temps de se b√Ętir une colonie avant de pouvoir ajouter des animaux √† votre aquarium en toute s√©curit√©; c’est ce que l’on appelle le rodage ou ¬ę cyclage ¬Ľ de l’aquarium. Roder (cycler) un aquarium est un processus long et ennuyeux, et la plupart des gens qui d√©marrent un nouvel aquarium ne compl√®tent pas cette √©tape faute de patience ou de connaissances. Puis, √† mesure que l’ammoniaque s’accumule dans l’aquarium, leur animal se met √† d√©p√©rir. Ce ph√©nom√®ne est si commun qu’on l’appelle le syndr√īme du nouvel aquarium.

Maintenant que vous comprenez l’importance du rodage, voici comment le faire correctement.