How to care for a pet Axolotl: Tank setup, size requirements & more

If you are looking for an aquatic pet, the good news is that you have a comprehensive list of options to choose from.

But none of these aquatic pet options can compare to an axolotl.

It is a cute aquatic animal with many characteristics that make it a perfect pet.

But this pet also has specific care requirements that you need to follow and make sure you meet.


This is necessary to ensure a long and happy life for the little animal.

And if it enjoys a healthy life and is happy, you will be able to enjoy its company and friendship for a longer time.

What to do now if you want to take an axolotl as a pet? You do not know what these care requirements are and how to meet them.

Should you give up on having one as a pet because of this impediment?

No, not at all.

We are here to show you all the things. You need to know about this aquatic animal to give it a healthy and happy life. Here’s the ultimate guide on how to care for a pet Axolotl, including the tank setup and size requirements.

What is an Axolotl?

Axolotl in an aquarium

Let’s start with the beginning and determine what an axolotl is.

When referring to an axolotl, many people prefer to use the name “Mexican walking fish.”

From a biological point of view, these animals represent a specific type of salamander.

Their place of origin is represented by a small area located in the eastern part of Mexico.

If you want to own such an aquatic animal as a companion animal, then it is good to know the following about it:

  • It lives best in an aquarium as a pet.
  • The water must be cold or at room temperature.
  • These animals should not be exposed to too much light.

If you don’t want your pet to feel lonely, you can bring some friends of the same species to play in the aquarium.

But to make sure that they will get along and that they will not quarrel with each other in the aquarium, certain conditions must be met by you.

You need to make sure that there is enough space inside the aquarium for all the pets.

You must provide at least 10 gallons of water inside the aquarium for each axolotl that lives there.

In this way, these animals can live in small groups peacefully and trouble-free.

When it comes to the equipment you need to take care of an axolotl, it is not a complex one.

A good pump should be enough to take care of this animal in optimal conditions and give it a happy life.

Unfortunately, it has a certain degree of sensitivity to the conditions presented by the water in which it lives.

Therefore, you must maintain the aquarium inhabited by these animals or a small group represented by these creatures clean. It’s done through constant and regular cleaning cycles.

Can you have an axolotl as a pet?

Axolotl in water

Many aquatic enthusiasts keep an axolotl as a pet due to the following unique characteristics of this type of animal:

  • Its rare and cute features.
  • The fascinating biology that its body presents.
  • Its long life span.

Although an axolotl baby may be pretty tiny, its size may increase dramatically at maturity.

An adult can reach lengths of over one foot.

Also, the lifespan of this animal is quite long.

An optimally maintained axolotl can reach the age of up to 15 years.

These things should be considered by anyone willing to buy one as a pet.

Due to the considerable length, it can reach, such an animal will need a large aquarium.

And such an aquarium can be a costly investment.

And due to its long lifespan, this animal will require long-term care.

This long-term care will also be a substantial financial investment and a significant time consumer.

These facts need to be considered before deciding to have one as a pet.

It can be considered a pet with a not very active lifestyle.

This type of pet spends most of its time at the bottom of the aquarium where they live.

Hence their name of “walking fish. “

A single axolotl can quickly turn a 15-gallon-long aquarium into a home where it can live happily ever after.

For this quiet life to be achieved, the aquarium must have at least 6 inches of water in which the animal can swim and move freely.

Although it does not seem at first glance, this type of pet can be considered a ferocious carnivore.

In the wild, the behavior of these pets has been closely observed.

And it has been determined that these animals try to eat any creature that moves and that is smaller in size than them.

From this, you can easily deduce that these animals should never be allowed to coexist in the same aquarium with other species of fish or amphibians.

Among the live animals that an axolotl usually eats are the following:

  • Earthworms
  • Bloodworms
  • Blackworms

Those who have an axolotl as a pet have noticed that this type of animal can consume the following without problems:

  • A beef heart that has been cut into small pieces.
  • Raw fish.
  • Brine shrimp.

This animal can be kept as a pet, and it can even live a long and healthy life if properly maintained.

An axolotl that has lived in optimal conditions can reach an age of up to 15 years.

Unfortunately for these unique animals, they can be stressed. Their way of life can be affected by many variables that need to be taken into account.

The following living conditions can be stressful for an axolotl’s health:

  • Exposure to increased light.
  • Living in an aquarium full of water with too high of a temperature.
  • Living in water whose quality is precarious.
  • Exposure to strong currents.
  • Handling by people.

How to take care of an axolotl

Mexican walking fish

An axolotl can be a perfect pet to make your days happier and keep you company.

But it requires a certain degree of care on your part to live a healthy and happy life and be able to stay with you for a very long time.

When it comes to the care conditions of this animal, the following variables need to be considered very carefully:

  • Caring for the aquarium in which he lives.
  • Regular aquarium and water cleaning cycles.
  • The quality and parameters of the water in which the animal lives.
  • Its diet.

For a person who has had an aquatic animal as a pet in the past, caring for an axolotl should not be a difficulty.

But for an inexperienced person in aquatic animal care, owning and caring for an axolotl could be a challenge.

But providing the necessary living conditions for this animal becomes much easier if you know some tips and details that can help you.

To give an axolotl a long and happy life, we recommend that you follow the following tips on methods of care:

How to take care of an axolotl

  1. Ensure that the water in the aquarium where the pet lives and swims is cold or at room temperature.

  2. Try not to expose the animal to too much light.

  3. Make sure that there are at least 10 gallons of water for every axolotl in the aquarium.

  4. Pay attention to the diet of these ferocious carnivores.

    These pets are considered carnivores.
    The foods they often eat include the following:
    – Earthworms.
    – Bloodworms.
    – Blackworms.
    – Small pieces of beef heart.
    – Raw fish.
    – Brine shrimp.

  5. Avoid letting an axolotl live with other fish or amphibian species.

    Being a ferocious carnivore, an axolotl will try its best to eat any moving animal that is smaller than it.

    That is why it is recommended to avoid adding other fish or other species of amphibians to the aquarium where an axolotl already lives.

  6. Make sure the water in which an axolotl lives is clean.

    An axolotl has a very high degree of sensitivity to the following substances, which are often found in water:
    – Ammonia
    – Nitrates
    – Nitrites
    To avoid any health problems, it is recommended to ensure that the water in which this animal lives is always clean.

    This is the safest way to ensure that water does not contain any substances that could cause health problems for your pet.

  7. Try as much as possible to avoid taking an axolotl out of its aquarium and holding it in your hands.

    An axolotl cannot breathe and survive for a long time if it is taken out of its water-filled aquarium.
    This is because their grills must be in constant contact with water to allow them to breathe.

    Also, their body is covered with a thin layer of mucus that plays a protective role for their skin and their health.
    Maybe you handle them carelessly for a long time. Your hands may rub against their sensitive skin and remove this thin layer of protective mucus.

    By doing this, their sensitive skin may suffer from a bacterial infection.
    Due to these risks to the health of this animal, it is recommended to avoid handling it as much as possible.

Tank setup ideas


When it comes to organizing the contents of an aquarium for an axolotl, many people prefer to leave its bottom empty.

Leaving the bottom of an aquarium empty makes constantly changing the old water with a new one a straightforward process.

If no substrate is placed on the bottom of the aquarium, then there is no risk of it being sucked during the cleaning process of the dirt.

You can simply suck any dirt on the bottom without worrying that you will suck by the substrate layer.

Also, the lack of a substrate layer on the bottom of the aquarium is accompanied by other advantages.

In an aquarium that does not have a layer of substrate on its bottom, the development and evolution of anaerobic bacteria cannot be achieved.

Because these anaerobic bacteria need a substrate to grow in.

If the substrate does not exist, its evolution and development will not be possible.

This can be very beneficial to the health of your pet.

Unfortunately, the presence of an aquarium bottom without any substrate is not without its disadvantages.

These disadvantages can harm your pet’s health.

An empty aquarium bottom can cause a certain stress level in your axolotl.

This stress level is due to the fact that this animal can slide on a bare aquarium bottom surface.

In addition to this stress, an axolotl can also present the appearance of wounds on its fingers.

These injuries are caused by their constant attempt to grasp the surface of the tank bottom with their fingers.

In addition to these disadvantages of a clean aquarium bottom that can affect the health of an axolotl, there is one that can affect its psyche.

An empty bottom can be a significant reason for boredom in this animal.

A bare bottom can prevent an axolotl from realizing some deeply rooted habits in its nature.

Achieving these habits is a powerful method by which an axolotl avoids boredom.

One of these natural habits is represented by digging.

You can avoid them being bored by placing a substrate on the bottom of the aquarium where it lives.

One of the most used and best substrates is sand.

Placing a layer of fine sand on the bottom of an aquarium is a perfect way to avoid the following:

  • The appearance of wounds on the fingers of your axolotl.
  • It’s constant sliding on the empty surface.
  • The appearance of a feeling of boredom in your pet.

The presence of a layer of fine sand on the bottom of the aquarium where this animal lives will allow it to develop its natural digging reflexes without problems.

And by developing these natural reflexes, an axolotl will be able to avoid getting bored quickly.

And you don’t have to worry that your animal will swallow sand and get sick from it.

The fine sand particles are small enough to pass through their digestive tract and be eliminated without problems if swallowed.

However, it is recommended to avoid using fine gravel as a substrate on the bottom.

The fine gravel particles are pretty small and can be easily swallowed by an axolotl.

But their size is not small enough to allow them to pass through the digestive tract of the axolotl without causing health problems.

Another material that should not be used as a substrate for the bottom is coarse gravel.

Fortunately, the coarse gravel particles are not small enough to allow your animal to swallow them.

But they can affect your pet’s health in other ways.

Coarse gravel particles can rub against your pet’s sensitive skin and cause irritation and injury to your pet.

Tank décor

Adding decorations to the aquarium where your aquatic pet lives are ideal for beautifying it.

And these decorations can have another role in addition to giving a touch of style.

The ideal decorations can also have a beneficial role that your axolotl can enjoy.

The decorations we recommend you buy for your animal aquarium are as follows:

  • Driftwood
  • Rocks
  • Plants

To better understand the practical and design advantages these decorations offer, we will present some details about each one.

Axolotl looking at you


Driftwood can be a perfect choice as a decoration for the aquarium where an axolotl lives.

If you are going to use such decoration to style where your aquatic pet lives, you have to keep one thing in mind.

For the safety and health of your pet, make sure that the driftwood you are going to use as decoration does not have sharp edges.

If it has a sharp edge, the axolotl may scratch and injure its sensitive skin against it.

You can create the most exciting and beautiful aquatic landscapes with the help of driftwood.

Also, you can create some perfect hiding places for your animal with the help of this type of decoration.

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This is gorgeous at the bottom of a tank.


Adding a few rocks to the aquarium where an axolotl lives is always an excellent idea. It’s great if you want to add a touch of style and beauty.

They can also play a valuable role from which your animal can benefit.

With the help of simple river rocks, some unique and exciting structures can be created. It includes the following:

  • Tunnels
  • Caves

Your axolotl can enjoy these structures and can get rid of its boredom with them because it:

  • Can swim through the tunnels created.
  • Can hide in the new caves in its aquarium.

To increase the personality rating of the aquarium, you can purchase these river rocks in several different colors, such as:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Green


Another decoration that can give an extra touch of style to an aquarium is the addition of live plants.

An axolotl produces a lot of waste during its lifetime.

But fortunately, this waste is not entirely useless.

It can be taken up by beneficial bacteria that live in an aquarium and transformed into nutrients.

And these nutrients can be easily used as fertilizers to stimulate plant growth.

And if the plants use these nutrients as fertilizers, they will remove many nutrients from the water.

By removing these nutrients from the aquarium water, the plants contribute to the constant cleaning of the water.

Without the help of plants, these nutrients would have continued to accumulate uninterruptedly in the aquarium water.

And the accumulation of these nutrients would eventually turn into the trash that would pollute the water.

The best choice for the aquarium of an axolotl is represented by plants that do not require a considerable amount of light to survive.

This is because an axolotl is an aquatic animal that prefers to live in a darker environment.

Maybe the aquarium in which it lives is constantly exposed to a small amount of light. It must be equipped with plants that can survive these conditions.

Also, live plants have the following characteristics that make them the ideal choice for the aquarium in which an axolotl lives:

  • An increased degree of flexibility.
  • Their surface is soft.

Thanks to these properties, you can add live plants to an aquarium where an axolotl lives. It can be done without worrying that it will get hurt because of them.

These features allow your aquatic pet to swim past live plants freely, without scratching or clinging to them.

It is recommended to choose java ferns as plants.

Here’s the one we recommend.

What makes this type of plant the ideal choice is that it prefers to cling to an aquarium ornament and grow on it.

These plants do not prefer to grow from a substrate at the bottom of the aquarium.

This type of plant is ideal where an axolotl lives because this pet loves to dig.

And it will dig up any plant rooted in a substrate and remove it from it.

Fake plastic plants represent another option that you can choose but are not recommended.

These usually have sharp edges that can hurt your pet’s sensitive skin.

Also, these fake plants do not benefit your pet or the water in which it lives.


The natural habitat of these creatures is original in some lakes located in the highlands of central Mexico.

The lakes in which these aquatic animals lived were supplied with water that flowed from the water sources located in the structure of the mountains.

This water was of high quality, clean, and had a low temperature.

That is why it is necessary now to make sure that the water in the aquarium where an axolotl lives is clean and cold.

Because they have become accustomed to living in waters with such characteristics over time.

The water in the lakes where these animals lived was devoid of the following mineral substances:

  • Ammonia
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites

Due to non-contact with these substances throughout life, an axolotl has a high degree of sensitivity to these substances.

That is why it is necessary to ensure that the water in the aquarium where your aquatic pet lives are free of these irritating substances.

Tank setup & size requirements: How big of a tank do you need?

When it comes to the aquarium in which it lives, this animal cannot be considered a pretentious pet.

The aquarium in which it lives does not have to meet many requirements to be considered a comfortable home.

An ideal aquarium will contain a water pump that ensures clean water.

Here’s the one we definitely recommend. It’s a great mixture of affordable, yet a great size.

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We really love this model.

To achieve even better conditions, it is optimal for this pump to be equipped with a spray bar to reduce water currents.

An axolotl is quite sensitive to strong water currents.

That is why he could welcome this additional endowment.

It would help if you also made constant water changes in the aquarium to ensure your pet’s healthy and happy life.

One of the only pieces of equipment you will need for water care is a water pH test kit.

The purchase of this kit is necessary to maintain the pH of the water at an optimal level.

It lives best in water with a pH between 6.5 and 8.

With the help of this water pH test kit, you can make sure that it stays within normal limits for your pet.

As for the size of the aquarium, you will need an aquarium that has a capacity of 15 gallons.

If you choose to buy more aquatic pets, you will also need to purchase a bigger aquarium.

Increasing the aquarium’s capacity by 10 gallons is necessary for each additional axolotl purchased.

In the case of an axolotl, a longer aquarium is a better choice than a taller one.

That’s why it’s a good idea to try to buy a taller aquarium.

Tank mates

Unfortunately, not every creature can live with an axolotl.

Being ferocious carnivores, these pets can attack and eat any creature of another species that is smaller than them.

But some animals can still live with these pets.

Some of these are:

  • Small shrimp
  • Guppies
  • White cloud minnows
  • Mini soft-shelled snails

Some of the animals you should avoid putting in the same aquarium with an axolotl are the following:

  • Goldfish
  • Cory catfish
  • Cichlids
  • Otocinclus catfish

Water temperature

They live best in an aquarium filled with water between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

The aquarium where your pet lives should be kept with no exposure to a large amount of light.

It is also recommended to keep the aquarium away from any ventilation holes in your home.

The temperature in your home may not be low enough to keep the aquarium water at an optimum temperature.

In this case, you can purchase a water cooling system. Do so to ensure that the water is constantly maintained at an optimal temperature.

Life cycle

At the beginning of life, an axolotl is born as an egg.

The axolotl will emerge from the inside of the egg when it reaches a size of about 11 millimeters.

Once it hatches, it will be just a tiny larva without limbs.

In this stage of life, the larva will be transparent in the first weeks of development and evolution.

After two weeks, the animal’s front legs will begin to develop.

After their development, the hind legs will begin their development process.

At this point, the axolotl will look like a smaller plush toy that looks a lot like its adult version.

They will reach its maximum growth size in 18 months or two years.

The maximum size it reaches will depend very much on its living conditions and diet.


An axolotl is a ferocious predatory animal that attacks and eats any living creature that is smaller than it and moves.

Within their natural habitat, these animals prefer to consume the following types of animals:

  • Aquatic insects
  • Worms
  • Small fish
  • Larvae

The method by which they hunt their prey is unique and exciting.

They open their mouths quickly around the prey to generate a suction force.

With the help of this suction force, they can catch the prey in their mouths and eat it.

You may feed a domestic axolotl any of the following foods:

  • Bloodworms
  • Red wigglers
  • Live nightcrawlers
  • Mysis shrimp
  • Small pieces of raw beef heart


Can you hold an axolotl?

It is recommended to avoid holding them in your hands for a long time, as this can cause many health problems. They cannot breathe for very long if it is out of water.

A thin layer of mucus also protects their sensitive skin. Handling this animal makes it possible to remove this layer of protective mucus, leading to many skin infections.

Due to these facts, it is recommended to avoid holding one in your hands.

Where can I buy an axolotl?

There are several places where you can buy an axolotl, such as:
– Pet stores.
– Aquarium stores.
– Reptiles expos.
– Online.
Usually, you can find this animal for sale at a young age or when it is at an age when it can already be considered a young adult.

Before buying it, it is recommended to check if it is legal to have one in the state or the country you live in.

How long can axolotl be out of water?

An axolotl can survive outside of a water source for a short time.
This animal needs to be kept in a water source constantly.

This is necessary to allow it to breathe normally.
They can only survive for a few minutes if they are taken out of a water source.

If this short period is exceeded, they can suffer serious injuries or even death.

How much does an axolotl cost?

Typically, the purchase price of an axolotl will be between $30 and $80.
This purchase price may vary depending on the type you wish to purchase and its age.

Are axolotls easy to care for?

The care requirements presented by an axolotl are minimal.
They need an aquarium that is not exposed to too much light and contains low-temperature water.

They also prefer the water to be clean and not present any currents.

What does an axolotl need in its tank?

Apart from a good aquarium pump, an axolotl does not require too much equipment in the aquarium in which it lives. It could also benefit from adding extra decorations to the aquarium. It gives it an extra touch of style and other practical roles.

You can also add a substrate layer to the bottom due to its benefits.

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