An axolotl will lose sight as it matures; however, they are not born blind. An adult axolotl’s eyes will be covered by the skin, which makes them seem like they have no eyes at all!
It is because the eye needs air to see correctly – unlike humans, born with functioning lungs, must learn to see through practice.
Axolotls don’t need their sight to swim or find food. They can also sense the difference between light and dark, which helps them to find food in the dark when they are young.
An axolotl’s body is famous for its’ gills,’ a nasal chamber leading to the mouth’s outside. The gills are used to extract oxygen from the water, and they create a sticky mucus that traps particles.
This waste product of photosynthesis goes into the water and creates all kinds of exciting colors in the tank.
However, axolotls also have huge, separate eyes that feed on light, making them sensitive to dim light in tanks with plants or sand at the bottom.
There is evidence that axolotls can see well over a foot away and distinguish shapes. Axolotls are very alert and may be nocturnal.
Axolotls are a type of neotenic salamander, meaning they have the same general body plan and level of development as a juvenile salamander, but they don’t grow into adults.
Neotenous usually look much different from their juvenile and adult counterparts. Axolotls will not fully develop limbs suitable for walking or running, retaining their larval state for life.
They will retain the gills needed to breathe underwater in their aquatic environment. However, some axolotl varieties have developed the ability to take oxygen through the mouth via the second set of lungs.
Are Axolotls Sensitive to Light?
There’s no evidence that the lack of light seems to have any effect on the axolotl’s ability to navigate.
Most people say they probably can’t see in complete darkness; they don’t know it because they have never been able to find out.
They also say that you don’t need to provide as much light for axolotls as you would for other animals such as aquarium fish because they don’t need it.
Some fish owners have tried to bring up other fish with their axolotls without giving them any light, and some of their fish survived fine without light.
These results are inconclusive, as the fish were only observed for a short time and may have died from other factors. Other aquarium owners offer their axolotls a small light at night that is dimmer than the tank lights.
There’s rarely any reputable evidence that axolotls go blind from low light in their tanks, but on the other hand, there aren’t many cases of people observing a blind axolotl either.
For example, the Axolotl.org Axolotl Encyclopedia is silent on this topic. One pet owner has written that his axolotl’s eyes seem okay after many years of captivity, but it is difficult to tell from photographs if he had evidence for this claim.
Many claim it does not matter if the axolotl is kept in total darkness because they are ‘blind’ anyway and say you don’t need a light for the axolotls to do well.
The main issue with keeping axolotls in high-intensity lighting disrupts their circadian rhythms.
It impacts their feeding and water quality and can cause problems such as fin rot or weak shell growth.
A study by Bernal et al. (2015) showed that axolotls exposed to fluorescent lights at night decreased the length of shell growth, which they could recover from in several months if they were switched back to natural light after this period of darkness.
For this reason, it is recommended to keep your lighting schedule consistent. You can provide a light for nighttime that does not disturb the axolotl’s sleep cycle.
If your axolotls are healthy and showing good growth, they should have no trouble surviving without an artificial light source at night. It is better to use natural sunlight through windows than a low-intensity aquarium lamp during the day and at night.
The amount of light your axolotl needs depends on the number of plants and other critters in his tank and the kind of water you have.
Many axolotl owners put no light source in their tanks, and others still give it a small amount of light. If you are worried that your axolotl has lost its sight, ensure the water quality is excellent and mix some food or another object into the tank to see if your axolotl can see.
You could test its eyes over time to check for improvement or deterioration. Still, this approach can be complex for someone who does not have experience with vision problems in amphibians.
Some people keep their lights on at night because they believe the axolotls need them for digestion. It isn’t accurate, but it can lead the owner to believe that there is some benefit to lighting at night.
How Do Axolotls Find Their Food?
Axolotls are carnivorous creatures, and they hunt for tadpoles and worms in the wild. The diet of an axolotl is not well defined, but there is evidence that you can feed them a variety of worms, minnows, fish fillets, and small crustaceans.
They are just as happy with life as well as dead food so long as it is chopped up into small pieces. It may be possible to get your axolotl to accept freeze-dried shrimp or other meat substitutes if you want to go for a vegetarian or vegan diet for them.
When an axolotl eats, it moves food around with its tongue and keeps it near the water’s surface while they try to break it down a little bit. If they cannot eat a piece of food in one go, they continue to bring it into their mouth until they can.
There is no evidence that axolotls can taste their food or distinguish between different types, but you don’t have to limit them to one type of food when feeding.
If you want your axolotl to grow into a big robust specimen, then the best meal plan for the species you want to keep is found on the internet.
Many people have observed that axolotls fed on live foods have larger bodies and a longer lifespan than those that only eat dead food.