Freshwater Axolotl

Unique marvels – Add some variety to your aquarist hobby with an Axolotl.

Walking fish or axolotls are actually not fish at all, but a specific species of salamander. Most salamander species will feature the iconic frill-like external gills in their juvenile years, but later shed them and develop lungs. Read more
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Axolotls however will retain their gills for life. Decades of selective breeding in axolotls has resulted in various colours and markings being available. They may grow as large as 20 cm (9”) and live as long as 20 years, though around 10 years is more common.

Axolotl Care

Axolotls aren’t exactly a low maintenance fish, but they aren’t particularly difficult to care for either. There are a few simple rules to follow when it comes to keeping your walking fish healthy and happy, so be sure to peruse this guide to ensure you are up to the task. You may have heard about their ‘Deadpoolesque’ regenerative powers, but unfortunately, this does not mean that they are immune to infection. The bulk of infections suffered by axolotls are bacterial, which means a clean aquarium is paramount to their health. Axolotls are a specific species, but some colour variation is available. Most commonly you will find albino, leucistic (albino with dark eyes), wild type (mottled dark grey) and melanoid (lighter grey).

Natural Habitat

Axolotls are endemic only to Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in Mexico City. Unfortunately, due to the expansion of the city, Lake Chalco no longer exists and Xochimilco is barely fit for the survival of the creatures in the wild. Now considered critically endangered in the wild, axolotls may soon only survive in captivity.

Behavior/Compatibility for Axolotl

Axolotls are fairly placid animals that can co-habit with other axolotls quite happily as long as there is no overcrowding. Unfortunately, they are opportunistic carnivores with external, worm-like gills. This means they will probably try to eat anything that can fit in their mouths and their gills will be a serious target for anything that can’t fit in their mouths. Their need for cold waters also removes a lot of possibilities for warm-water tankmates and their bottom-feeding tendencies will create too much competition with bottom-feeding fish. Axolotls are a single-species creature, but you should also take care not to mix juveniles with adults and consider separating pairs that don’t get along.

Housing Axolotl and Tank Set-up Tips

  • Tank

    Axolotls can get relatively large and are relatively active, which are both good reasons to opt for a larger tank. However, waste is the main reason you will require a large tank. Axolotls produce an ungodly amount of waste, which will mean constant water changes in small tanks. While 76 litres (20 gallons) is usually recommended for the happiness of your axolotl, a 136 litre (30 gallons) will mean far less frequent maintenance. This will be ideal for one axolotl, though you should upgrade your tank size with each subsequent axolotl. It should be noted that 2 axolotls seem to be the optimum amount, as larger groups may lead to aggression.

    Recommended Max Axolotl Count Tank Volume
    1 Axolotl 136 litres (30 gallons)
    2 Axolotls 181 litres (40 gallons)
    3 Axolotls 227 litres (50 gallons)
    4 Axolotls 272 litres (60 gallons)
  • Base

    There is some conflicting consensus of opinions when it comes to using gravel for axolotls. While axolotls have been observed swallowing pieces, some believe this is accidental and will cause impaction in the intestine, others believe this is purposeful and helps control buoyancy. To be safe, you should consider a sand substrate, larger stones or even no substrate at all for ease of waste clean-up.

  • Foliage

    While plants are not in danger of being eaten by your axolotls, their sheer bulk and clumsiness may uproot and destroy live plants in your aquarium. Aquatic plants with roots that grow in open water are ideal as they will not be impacted by uprooting. Anubias is the preferred species as it will also provide plenty of shade. Plastic plants are also a great option as long as they are firmly secured. Be sure to also include driftwood, pots or decorations that can be used as caves.

  • Water

    Axolotls require quite cool water in the ranges of 16-20 C (60.8-68 F), with gentle fluctuations and never reaching 24 C (75.2). This means you will need to keep your aquarium well out of direct sunlight and, depending on your local climate, may need to consider insulation or even a water cooler.

    Your Ph should be 5.5 – 7.8 and you should aim for a hardness of 5 - 15 DGH. To ensure your pH and hardness are suitable you should invest in a testing kit. You will need a powerful filter that creates little water movement.

    You should also filter the substrate and remove waste regularly. Adjust the chemistry of any tap water you use to top your tank to remove chlorine and fluoride. You may do this with one of our many water conditioning products.

Feeding and Care

Axolotls are carnivorous creatures that really enjoy live foods. They are quite voracious and unfussy eaters, though their relatively small mouths and teeth will limit their diets. Juveniles enjoy blood worms, daphnia and brine shrimp, while adults will also enjoy earthworms and sinking pellets. Check out our fish food range to find something suitable for your axolotls.

Great reasons to keep Axolotl in your freshwater aquarium

  • • Axolotl make excellent companions.
  • • They are vastly different to all other creatures in the aquarist hobby.
  • • You will help to preserve a critically endangered species in the wild as all of out Axolotl are bred in captivity.

Discover why axolotls are one of the most popular exotic pets in the world today. Check out our range of colours below and we will deliver your new companion to your door post haste!

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Walking Fish (Axolotl)

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