Last update: April 21, 2021

How to Set Up an Axolotl Tank: Quick Guide

Axolotl might not be a highly common pet, but definitely, it is a unique one.

They are a type of salamander & can be found in different colors such as gray, black, gold & white.

However, unlike many salamanders, they hardly undergo the process of metamorphosis from their larval to an adult form where the breathing instantly changes from gills to their lungs. Thus, they stay aquatic their whole life. 

Thus, they are not just petting that you handle. They are very much entertaining to watch. The axolotl is relatively easy to care for & hardy, making them well suited for beginner pet owners. Additionally, their dietary requirements are hardly straightforward.

However, as they live their whole lives in water, their owners should be able to provide them with an adequate axolotl tank, which must be kept at the correct temperature for this particular animal to thrive. 

Axolotl Behavior & Temperament

axolotl habits and nature

While the axolotls are hardy to slight fluctuations in their surroundings, they even have a soft, delicate body with permeable skin.

Moreover, mainly their body contains cartilage instead of bones. It means you should not handle them until it is necessary. Those who require moving the axolotls out of their aquarium tank should ensure to do with a fine-mesh net as it would prevent entangling of any of their body parts. 

Once you get their housing setup the right way, you usually require spending a few hours every week cleaning and feeding them. Axolotls generally tend to get pretty bold & are perfectly content to move in their axolotl tank while humans enjoy watching them peacefully. Few just come up to the edge of their tank when any individual is closely observing them. 

However, they are not social animals & do not need any tank pals. They must not be kept with any other animal or species as axolotls tend to eat pet fishes, and sometimes fishes may nip at them even. One also must be cautious regarding housing them with various other axolotls.

Child axolotls are cannibalistic towards their counterparts; thus, they are best if raised in a completely separate enclosure. Adult axolotls, in some cases, can be housed together; however, ensure to watch for cannibalistic tendencies. If any of their body parts are bitten away by their tank mate, the axolotl has the potential of regenerating it with time. However, to avoid such situations is best. 

What Size Tank Do I Need For An Axolotl?

axolotl in tank

For an axolotl, at least 15 to 20-gallon fish tanks are advised. Ensure that the tank has a completely secure lid, as it is not uncommon for such species to try and jump out of their enclosures.

For such aquatic species, the tank’s land area is nothing but unnecessary. At the minimum, the water depth should be a little more than the axolotl’s length. However, adding in additional depth would assist with water quality & endow animals with adequate room to freely move. 

Ensure to keep the tank in a completely cool room and mostly away from bright sunlight with a water temperature of 57 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit or between 14 and 20 Celsius. Ensure the temperature does not get over 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 Celsius. 

They do not require any special lighting; for them, a dark hiding spot, laid beside their side or any aquarium castle would be best. Few of the owners generally leave the bottom of the tank bare, while others think this may stress them if they cannot get an adequate foothold on the smooth bottom.

In case gravel bottom is used, it should be coarse gravel, which is bigger than the head of the axolotl. Fine gravel may be ingested by them that may create obstruction. 

Tap water treated with aquarium water conditioners that eliminate chloramines and chlorine is best for axolotls. Avoid using distilled water and ensure the water’s pH stays from 6.5 to 7.5. Most owners usually find the filtered aquarium is simpler to maintain as unfiltered water requires constant changing to eliminate the waste.

However, for those who opt for filters on their axolotl tank, the filtration rate must be slow. A powerful filter that creates extremely strong currents can be stressful for axolotls. 

For the filtered tank, cleaning generally consists of 20 percent water change every week and siphoning waste from the axolotl tank’s bottom.

You should conduct a 20% water change regularly every day for those not using filters. Avoid doing complete water change as it can alter water chemistry differ drastically & stress your animal. 

What Type Of Aquarium Do I Need?


Aquarium for axolotl is a matter of great preference, but specific problems must be noted. Small and young species can be kept at the standard 10-gallon aquarium. Note that adults should be kept in larger tanks. 

They specifically are nocturnal. Thus, bright lighting with minimal or few hiding places would be stressful for the axolotl. They like to be in areas where they can easily hide in the daytime. Aquarium thus should consist of a hiding shelter such as PVC pipes, stacked rock, hollow ceramic decorations, & even hollow ceramic rocks utilized for cichlids make a good hiding spot for axolotls. Various other decorations are just optional.

However, anything in the tank must be smooth with zero hazardous rough edges or sharp points. There must be more hiding places than other species in the tank. It enables them to avoid each other easily & can assist prevent their aggressive behavior that can lead to missing limbs, stress, and even death in the worst-case scenario. 

What About Filters?

Filtration can be way tricky when considering axolotls as few fish rules do not apply. Axolotls prefer slow-moving water & high flow, which can prove very stressful.

Sufficient filtration to keep the tank clean is crucial for water health and quality, but water flow should be kept low. One of the great options is sponge filters, as they cater to effective filtration when creating a relatively low flow compared to other power pumps and filters. Also, they are good as they assist increase oxygen levels and aeration. 

In case any other filter is used, it is crucial to ensure that axolotls cannot get stuck to intake & that filter does not create much flow. Excessive stress from the high flow is evidenced by those axolotls that hold their gills curved way forward than usual. 

What Is The Best Temperature For Axolotl?

temperature for axolotl tank

Captive care for such animals is way easier. However, few specific problems are way crucial for their long-term health. One such critical problem is when it is about their care temperature.

Axolotls are thoroughly cool water species and are thus stressed by relatively higher temperatures. It might seem very odd as such animals are from Mexico and are intolerant to heat.

The lakes they belong to are of higher altitudes and thus are way cooler than low altitude climates of similar latitude. Usually, temperatures of over & around 75 degrees Fahrenheit are stressful, and for an extended period, such temperature can instantly result in death and illness. 

A temperature lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit and those between 70 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit is problematic.

The warmer the water, the lesser is the need to hold the oxygen. Adequate aeration can make a vast difference between the unhealthy and healthy axolotls in this kind of borderline temperature situation. 

Fish Mates for Axolotl

Compatibility is a highly debatable topic about any aquatic species. And axolotls are not at all an exception.

Most of the keepers of axolotl make sure not to keep them with any other kind of animals for plenty of reasons. One such reason is their external gills & slow nature makes them easy and swift targets for other fishes. Even the slow fish find the external gills very tempting & have an urge to make it their meal. 

The next problem is axolotls are by nature nocturnal & can make an easy meal for those sleeping fishes during the night. Thus, it is nearly difficult to get an acceptable tank mate that is neither very small to get eaten or very aggressive to make a meal of axolotl’s gills.

Can Two Axolotls Live Together?

axolotls together

Axolotls are not at all social animals, so they do not require any pal for entertainment purposes. It is ideal for the house axolotls to be together if they are a rough or similar size.

If one of the axolotls fits easily into one another’s mouth, there are high chances one of them may end up getting smacked. Generally, axolotls evolve into the cannibalistic phase once they develop four limbs. However, some may retain those instincts.

Also, note if you house a female and male axolotl together, they most likely may end up breeding. Young larvae may not be simple to take care of.

Do Axolotls Like to Be Touched?

Axolotls are very delicate species and do not like being touched very often.

Though you can touch them, you must keep certain things in mind before doing so. The initial thing is to properly wash your hands before touching them and then touch them gently.

Moreover, avoid forcefully touching them; first, bring your hand forward and allow them to touch first to make a move. 

Ian Sterling

I've been keeping fish for over 30 years and currently have 4 different aquariums – it's an addiction. I'm here to teach you everything there is to know about fishkeeping.

I also use this site as an excuse to spend lots of money on testing and reviewing different aquarium products! You can find my reviews here.

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