Axolotls are carnivorous, so their diet will need to have a good deal of meat and protein in it. They actually do have small teeth, but they are mainly for gripping prey while they work on using their suction feeding powers to swallow them whole.
Adults axolotls will eat live or dead food, but for young or freshly hatched axolotls the movement of food may be a needed stimulus to get them to go for it. A tip that will save you a lot of time is to feed your axolotls in a separate cup or bowl (filled with tank water or treated water!). They can be messy eaters, and food leftovers can quickly spoil and dirty up your tank water.
Growing axolotls need to be fed daily, but once they reach adulthood feeding them once every other day should suffice. As they grow you will get a feel for how often to feed them based on whether they start to reject food or not.
A healthy axolotl has a stomach about as wide as its head, so based on how it looks you can make the judgement of whether to give it more or less food.
Axolotl Diet Options
Pellet food is formulated to meet all the basic nutritional requirements of your axolotl, and serves well as a good staple food. They also have the benefit of being much less messy than other feeding option. When buying it’s better to go for sinking food over floating food, and axolotls prefer soft pellets over hard. Some examples of good pellet options are:
Frozen food is another efficient option for feeding your axolotl, although once the cubes of food come unfrozen they can be a bit more messy than pellets. Because of this, it’s best to give your axolotl frozen foods in a separate feeding container to save yourself time and mess. Popular options are:
- Frozen Bloodworms
- Nutritionally complete option, plus even the pickiest eaters will go for them.
- Brine Shrimp
- Nutritionally complete option, has pretty much everything your axolotl needs.
- This one you can get at the grocery store, but make sure to go for freshwater tilapia instead of saltwater, as saltwater tilapia can have higher concentrations of salt and minerals. Great as a treat, but not a staple.
- Beef Heart
- Used to be considered a staple, but due to high fat content is no longer widely recommended. Good as a treat only.
Like all food, human or otherwise, fresh is always optimal. Fresh bugs and worms can be bought online, at the pet store, or even raised at home. However, water-based live foods (i.e. fish) are risky, as they can be a source of disease or parasites. For this reason, we don’t recommend eating water based foods unless they are frozen. Some examples of good live food are:
- Nutritionally complete, has pretty much everything your axolotl needs.
- Easy to grow at home in an earthworm box.
- Make sure you do not gather earthworms from ground treated with pesticides or other chemicals.
- High in fat, good if you’re trying to get your axolotl to put on weight (especially after illness)
- Not that great except as a rare treat. Axolotls cannot digest the shell that covers the bugs, and the undigested shells have been known to clog up filters.
Keep Reading: Axolotl Care Sheet
- Tank Size and Requirements
- Filter and Water Temperature Requirements
- Starting a Nitrogen Cycle
- Substrate Requirements
- Hides, Plants, and Decor
- Tank Cleaning and Water Chemistry
- Diet and Nutrition – Current Page
- Illness, Injury, and Treatment
- Additional Reading and Resources