Axolotl Water Change: Vital Information

6 min read

You didn’t bring your pet axolotl home to get sick, did you?

No! You brought your pet axolotl home because you are hoping you got one of those rambunctious axolotls that tap on the glass when it sees you, lays in your hand, and lets you pet it once in a great while.

If you want to keep your lively axolotl around, you’re going to have to learn everything you need to know about an axolotl water change.

You need to change 20 percent of your axolotl’s water 3 times per month and change 50 percent of your axolotl’s water once per month, replacing the old water with dechlorinated water. You change your axolotl’s water to keep harmful bacteria and ammonia levels down.

The water change is the most important thing you can do right to keep your axolotl healthy and happy, so let’s dive in and explore it in more detail.

Do I Have To Take My Axolotl Out For A Water Change?


This is really up to you and your axolotl. If you research online, you will find a lot of different answers. I like to use for advice because it is a forum with experienced axolotl owners.

It is about 50/50 with owners that take their axolotl out or leave them in a tank.

I haven’t found many people that use a net because they are worried about their axolotl getting caught in the webbing.

So, if you do take your axolotl out during a water change, it is better to use your hands. This is easier if you let your axolotl lay in your hand in the tank a lot because it will be easier to catch them.

Some axolotl owners leave their axolotls in the tank for smaller water changes but take them out for the monthly big water change, which we will discuss later.

If you try to take your axolotl out and it gets way too stressed then just leave your axolotl in the tank during the cleaning. Your axolotl will get used to staying in the aquarium during cleanings.

Expert Tip

If you do take your axolotl out, fill a container with some of the aquarium water and make sure it is aquarium safe, meaning it has never been used for anything but your aquarium and has never been washed with soap or chemicals.

How Often Should I Change My Axolotl’s Water?

As stated above, you normally will change 20 percent of your axolotl’s water three times per month and 50 percent of your axolotl’s water once per month.

However, some people check the water parameters in their axolotl tank before every water change because occasionally, you may need to change 50 percent of your axolotl’s water twice per month.

The reason for this is that axolotls have big sausage-shaped poops that are much bigger than what a fish poops. Sometimes the poop can get smashed and turned into poop dust that spread through the water.

Sometimes more poop gets smashed during the week than the previous week so you can just do a 50 percent water change instead of 20 percent.

You can use test strips to measure your axolotl’s water parameters before water changes and if they are reading way too high, then you should just change 50 percent instead of 20 percent.

2023 05 11 18 04 08 PetAquariums Axolotl Water Change: Vital Information

Here are the water parameters for an axolotl from veterinarians at

  • The”ideal” water pH is 7.4-7.6.
  • Nitrite poses a risk at levels above 0.5 mg/L and can be lethal when it exceeds 2 mg/L.
  • The nitrate level should be kept below 50 mg/L.
  • Most aquarium test kits measure “total alkalinity”. The desired KH for axolotls is 3–8°.

Can I Use Tap Water For My Axolotl?

You can use tap water for your axolotl as long as it is dechlorinated.

The best product out there to use is called Prime.

Seachem Prime Fresh and Saltwater Conditioner - Chemical Remover and Detoxifier 16.9 fl. oz

It’s important to follow the instructions and put the required amount per gallon into your tank before you pour the new tap water in.

Expert Tips:

  • Make sure when you put the de-chlorinator in your tank you use the amount required for the entire amount of water in your tank and not just for the amount of water you are replacing.
  • You can refill your aquarium with distilled water, so you don’t have to worry about chlorine or other chemicals(which are more expensive).

Can You Change All The Water In An Axolotl Tank?

You should never change all of the water in your axolotl tank. This is because your tank has good bacteria in it called beneficial bacteria.

Ammonia enters your tank from axolotl poop and uneaten food. Beneficial bacteria break this ammonia down into nitrites and nitrates.

Nitrites and ammonia are bad while nitrates are good. However, even nitrates can get too high per volume of water.

When you do a water change, you automatically put a large volume of clean water back into your tank that automatically lowers the volume of the bad guys.

A water change lowers the good guys too but most of your beneficial bacteria are in your filter and on solid surfaces like your glass or gravel.

The reason you don’t want to change all of your water is that you want to keep plenty of beneficial bacteria in your tank.

How Do I Change The Water In My Axolotl Tank?

To change the water in your tank, you need what is called a gravel vacuum. A gravel vacuum will come with instructions, but it works like a siphon.

With a basic gravel vacuum, you put the wide tube-shaped end underwater and tip it up sideways to let it fill with water. The other end is draining into something like a bucket.

Once it is full sideways, you tip the vacuum back down to create a suction. If you have sand or gravel in your axolotl tank, which isn’t recommended, you just get the tube close enough so you suck up poop and uneaten food without sucking up the gravel or sand.

If you have a bare bottom tank, which is recommended for axolotls, you just suck up the poop and waste.

While you are cleaning the waste you are also draining water from your tank. After all of the poop and waste is cleaned you just continue to drain water until you get 20 – 50 percent out of your tank depending on whether you’re doing a weekly or monthly change.

Expert Tips

  • Wipe the sides of the aquarium with an aquarium-safe safe cloth to get rid of residue. An aquarium safe is a cloth that hasn’t been used for anything but your aquarium.
  • When you refill your aquarium, you can use distilled water, so you don’t have to worry about chlorine or other chemicals.

A lot of people are using a vacuum called Python that connects to your sink so you can use the suction from your sink to remove water from your axolotl tank and then just turn the sink faucet on since the Python is already connected. Here is a great video showing it for axolotls:

When the poop, debris, and 20 – 50 percent of the water are gone you can replace the water. As described above, you can use tap water.

Just use a de-chlorinator and follow the instructions to make sure the water you replace in your tank is chlorine-free.

One Last Hurrah!

Don’t worry! When you first change your axolotl’s water it may be awkward but just take your time. As with most things the more you do it the less awkward and easier it will get.

Keep a test kit or test strips on hand so you know what your water parameters are and make sure you keep the chlorine out!

It’s not so hard so just dive in and get your hands wet, it gets easier and easier!

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Pet Aquariums

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