Axolotls are very curious, silly, and playful critters to have as an aquarium pet. Contrary to some people’s opinions, axolotls do recognize and interact with their owners. One of the keys to getting your axolotl to interact with you is to feed it by hand, so how do you hand feed an axolotl?
To hand feed an axolotl, hold the food gently between your fingers and slowly lower it into the water. The axolotl will quickly inhale or suck in water to get the food into their mouth. It is a very quick movement so if you hold the food gently, the axolotl should be able to suck the food from in between your fingers.
Hand feeding your axolotl can open the door to completely unlocking your axolotl’s personality and create a lot of interaction between you and your axolotl! Let me explain in more detail and you will have your axolotl eating out of your hand and even doing tricks for food in no time…
Always Feed Your Axolotl by Hand
People who simply drop the food in the axolotl tank and walk away will never know the true joy of owning an axolotl and interacting with them. If you just drop the food and leave then your axolotl will be shy and panicky whenever you approach.
If you make your axolotl eat from your hand and spend time with them, they will associate your appearance with food and whenever they see you, depending on your axolotl’s personality they will be silly and exuberant to try to get food from you.
Hand feeding your axolotl can be very fun, is a way to spend time together and is a great way to monitor their eating habits and make sure they are eating all of the food that you feed them. Axolotls are messy poopers, so you don’t need uneaten food floating around the tank in addition to their poop.
The less waste in the water, the better. It is easier to keep your axolotls’ water clean.
Will Axolotls Bite You?
One negative to hand feeding your axolotl is that they will probably bite you, especially when you first start feeding them. They are carnivores, so they may even try to eat one of your fingers even if they aren’t holding any food.
They are carnivores so they like to eat. This is nothing to be alarmed about. An axolotl may even latch on to one of your fingers in self-defense. They may just do it in a playful manner. Who really knows what is going on in an axolotl’s head?
Anyways, there teeth are either too small or they are not strong enough to break your skin. It is actually funny to some owners when their axolotl latches on to their finger because it doesn’t hurt. All you have to do is wait until they realize they can’t eat your finger and spit it back out.
I promise you, you will just feel suction or a pricking sensation, but it will not hurt. It may take some getting used to for some people.
If this bothers you too much, you can purchase a feeding rod to feed your axolotl. They will still recognize you as their feeding source and begin to interact with you more. Okay, lets get back to the process…
Leave Your Axolotl No Choice
As stated above, just make it a regular routine that your axolotl eats from your hand. Just hold their food gently between your fingers as you lower it into the water so they can suck from between your fingers.
They will usually grab the food from your fingers right away, even when you first bring them home. If they don’t, just wait an hour or two and try to feed them again. Make sure to wiggle the food if they don’t grab it right away.
The motion may cause them to attack and grab the food. They react to movement when they are feeding, just wait for the attack and let them take the food. If they still don’t, just wait until the next day even if it takes two days.
Eventually, your axolotl will get hungry enough that it will eat from your hands.
Not All Axolotls are Alike.
Axolotls are not machines. They do have personalities, so they are not all going to react the same to eating from your hand. As stated above, some will take the food right away while others will wait until they are starving.
Axolotls are not shy when it comes to eating. They are generally aggressive, but some are shyer than others when it comes to interacting with humans.
Once your axolotl begins to eat from your hand, some axolotls are going to seem quite exuberant when they see you.
You can use the axolotl food to make them swim a certain pattern before you feed them. You can also get them to float to the top of the tank before you feed them.
Some axolotls will tap on the glass when they see you to get your attention. They will start swimming back and forth along the tank glass, following your movements. Some will even appear to sit on their hind legs and watch your movements in anticipation of getting their food.
Some axolotls will let you gently rub their heads in the water and even chase your fingers back and forth under water in a playful manner.
However, just like humans there are always the boring axolotls out there that would rather just get their food and aren’t very sociable. Some axolotls will continually hide most of the time rather than interact with you, but most axolotls will go crazy for food.
When you feed your axolotl by hand every time they will interact with you more than if you don’t.
What to Feed Your Axolotl by Hand
Its best to feed your axolotl a daily diet of what we call staple foods. These are foods you can feed them every day that will give them the nutrition they need to be healthy.
These worms are very small and thin. They are a great choice for younger axolotls because they are easy to swallow. Worms are a good food to feed by hand because they are easy to grab from your hand.
Blackworms have enough nutrients tb be a daily staple food for your axolotl. It is best if you raise your own blackworms or buy them from a pet store to avoid parasites.
Earthworms are many axolotl owner’s choice as a staple food because they are loaded with nutrients. They are also very large for a worm, so it doesn’t take as many worms to feed your axolotl.
You should purchase these worms from a pet store as well or make sure they come from an organic garden to avoid parasites and chemicals.
Bloodworms are also loved by axolotl owners. They are considered larvae, but they look like worms. They are also packed with nutrients for a staple food.
Bloodworms can be purchased alive, dead, and frozen. The little frozen cubes work great for younger axolotls. Again, it is always best to purchase through a pet store to make sure the bloodworms don’t have any parasites that can get in your tank.
Some people don’t like blood worms because the red blood color can get in the tank water and make it look a bit dirty.
Pellets provide plenty of nutrition to use as a staple food and you won’t have to worry about storing or feeding live foods. You can purchase salamander or fish pellets, just make sure they are high in protein and vitamins. Make sure the protein content is around 45% and no higher than 20% fat content. This can all be found on the package.
Make sure with a grown axolotl that the pellets aren’t bigger than 5mm and with a young axolotl that the pellets aren’t bigger than 3 mm.
Treats You Can Feed by Hand
You can give your axolotl a treat every time you feed them. I would recommend giving them a small treat towards the end of their feeding to make sure they get their nutrients first.
Also, if you find they are turning down food to wait for their treat then don’t give them a treat every feeding.
You can feed them whiteworms, beef heart, frozen brine shrimp, turtle food, meal worms and grubs. Grubs are the best treat because they have nutrients and antioxidants. Mealworms should be avoided or kept to a minimum.
Mealworms skeletons are left in the water after feeding and need to be removed so they can be rather bothersome.
If you just want your axolotl at home to look at then hand feeding is not a big deal. You can still toss the food in and hang around the tank while they are eating so they get used to your appearance.
If you have your axolotl because you want to interact with it also then hand feeding is very important. When you hand feed your axolotl, you can teach it to do tricks and interact with you more as we described above.
Enjoy your axolotl!