Why Would I Put My Axolotl In The Fridge?

Despite being hardy pets and relatively easy to care for, axolotls get sick from time to time.

In particular, axolotls tend to suffer from a handful of recurring illnesses such as:

  • Impaction
  • Fungus growth
  • Peeling slime coat.

To err on the side of caution, it is worth taking your axolotl to see the veterinarian if it’s showing signs of illness.

However, if you’re an experienced axolotl keeper, you know what your axie is suffering from, and believe it can benefit from “fridging”, then this guide is for you.

Table of Contents

What Is “Fridging”?

Fridging is a practice whereby you put your sick axolotl in a refrigerator in order to help it with its recovery.

Colder temperatures and a dark environment can help the axolotl to relax, slow down its metabolism, and enter recovery mode.

Even if fridging doesn’t completely heal your axolotl, it can sometimes slow down the progression of the problem and give you enough time to see a vet.

Why Would I Put My Axolotl In The Fridge?

Why Do Axolotls Like Cold Water?

Native to high-altitude freshwater lakes fed by melting glaciers, axolotls have evolved in cooler climates.

Axolotls naturally prefer cooler water, which is why their recommended tank temperature is between 60 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit or 16 to 18 degrees Celsius.

At these temperatures, their bodies function at peak performance – which is exactly what’s required if they’re trying to overcome an illness or injury.

When Should I Fridge My Axolotl?

Fridging should only be used in the case of certain illnesses or injuries. Here are some examples of cases when fridging may be beneficial to an axolotl:

  • It’s suffering from constipation or impaction and its intestines need to be emptied.
  • It’s battling a fungal infection (also check out salt baths).
  • It’s overheating and its tank can’t be kept cool (e.g. heatwave).
  • It’s injured and a wound is trying to heal.
  • Its slime coat is peeling.

Keeping a sick axolotl confined in a tiny hospital tub with daily water changes is often sufficient to help it recuperate from the most common infections and injuries.

How Does Fridging An Axolotl Work?

At lower temperatures (such as those supplied by fridging), sickness or fungus progression has been proven to be slowed or even halted.

This is due to the axolotl’s metabolism slowing down naturally at lower temperatures, allowing the owner more time and options for addressing their axolotl’s health issues.

Giving your axolotl a salt bath in combination with fridging to cure fungus or other skin disorders, for example, can help slow the advancement of the condition in between salt treatments.

When cold-blooded species are kept at low temperatures, their bodies strive to expel any food or waste that has been collected within.

Fridging is especially successful in the case of axolotl impaction. This is done to prevent food from deteriorating in the intestines after it has been digested. If your axolotl has eaten stones or is otherwise impacted or constipated, fridging can help it clear its system out naturally.

“Fridging” should only be done till the disease is completely gone. Keeping an axolotl alone in a dark fridge for more than a month may start to affect the mental health of your axolotl. Although they may not require strong light, all living things require adequate vitamin D (natural sunshine).

How Do I Fridge My Axolotl?

Step 1: Set Refrigerator Temperature

Set the temperature inside the refrigerator to a range of 41 to 47 degrees Fahrenheit or 5 to 8 degrees Celsius.

To check if the temperature is right, you can place your tank thermometer in a tub with water inside your fridge. Leave it for an hour or so and then check regularly until the temperature has stabilized.

Adjust the temperature settings on your refrigerator accordingly, in order to achieve the target temperatures above.

Note: Make sure your refrigerator isn’t any cooler than 41 degrees Fahrenheit or 5 degrees Celsius as below these temperatures your axolotl may get a shock from the cold.

If it’s practical and safe to do so, remove the bulb from inside the regierator. This way your axolotl won’t be disturbed by the bright light every time you open the door.

Step 2: Find A Suitable Container

The next step is to find a container with a lid that’s big enough to allow your axolotl to lie in it with its tail fully stretch out. You also want to give it a little wriggle room, i.e. an inch or so to either side of its body.

You also want the tub to be deep enough that the axolotl is fully submerged in water, the gills in particular.

Finally, the container must have a lid into which you’re going to pierce as many holes as you can. Make sure to remove any byproduct from the drilling, such as small bits of plastic, and file away any rugged or sharp edges.

Step 3: Fill The Container

Fill the container with clean, dechlorinated, and conditioned water. Always prepare more water than you’ll need for a single container, and keep it in the fridge (you’ll need it in step 5).

The water should not yet be at refrigerator temperature. Indeed, you do not want your axolotl to suffer a thermal shock, which could occur if it’s transferred into cold water directly.

Step 4: Transfer Your Axolotl

Once the temperature of your refrigerator is right, and the tub is ready and filled with water, transfer your axolotl into the container and close the lid. Then, place the container in the refrigerator somewhere safe.

If you haven’t managed to remove the bulb from the fridge, cover the container with a light, breathable, dark cloth to mask out the bright fridge lights. Ensure you don’t stop the flow of air in and out of the container so your axolotl doesn’t suffocate.

Step 5: Monitor Daily

Monitor your axolotl at least once a day. Opening and closing the fridge door will also allow fresh air to come in and stale air to escape.

Check the container for waste (poop), and remove it with a turkey baster or a net. You’ll also need to replace the water with the extra dechlorinated water you prepared in step 3 and kept in the fridge.

Note: While your axolotl is being fridged, don’t feed it. A) the cold will have caused its metabolism to slow down, so it likely won’t be hungry and B) it will allow your axolotl to empty its intestines (which is the aim if it’s suffering from impaction).

Step 6: Return Your Axolotl To Its Tank

Once your axolotl has recovered or healed, it’s time to return it to its tank.

Your axolotl may spend anywhere from a few days to a few weeks in the refrigerator. If in any doubt, always consult with a vet.

Do not return your axolotl directly to its tank as it might also suffer a thermal shock. Instead, remove the container from the fridge and let it sit in the room where the axolotl’s tank is. After a few hours, the water temperature inside the container will match that of the axolotl tank. It’s then safe to gently return your axolotl to its tank.

Remember that your axolotl won’t have moved much during its time in the refrigerator. It’s going to be a bit stiff and lethargic when it gets back into its tank.

So, It’s best to turn off any bubbler if you have one, so it doesn’t get swept away by the current. It’s also preferable that your axolotl’s tank mates are separated from him, so they give him time to readjust.

Step 7: Monitor After Fridging

For the first few hours and days after returning your axolotl to its tank, make sure to monitor its health and behavior.

If the fridging was effective, your axolotl will be feeling much better. However, if the treatment was ineffective, or only partially effective, then the condition your axolotl was suffering from may still be present.

If this is the case, seek immediate veterinary attention.


Hello and welcome to Pets From Afar. I'm Glen. My daughter Siri and I are mad about axolotls. I created this website to document our findings and experiences, as we learn more about these amazing amphibians. Follow along and enjoy the fun!

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