What Do Axolotls Like In Their Tank?

6 min read

Axolotls can be rather demanding about their living conditions and when setting up their tank at first.” Once everything is settled, they barely require any attention. However, until then the owner has to organize the aquarium precisely and up until the last detail. If any of the conditions axolotls require to survive are not met, then the Mexican walking fish may have a fatal end.

PetAquariums What Do Axolotls Like In Their Tank?

What do axolotls like in their tank? Typically, axolotls like lots of plants, stones and caves as well as the right water temperature for them and tank size. Axolotls need places to hide and they do not need very much light in their tank if any. You can keep your axolotl entertained if you change out the hiding places in their tank regularly. In nature they inhabit the dark and shady places of the cool waters of two Mexican lakes, avoid sunlight and like to hide.

Axolotls also like being by themselves in the tank and do not require any companions. This unusual salamander is a rather lonesome creature that prefers solitude. Therefore, you do not have to provide other aquatic companions.

In this article we are going to explore in detail what stuff axolotls like in the tank and why.

The Tank.

First of all, let’s start with the tank itself. The aquarium is just as important as its interior later on.

The Size

Axolotls spend their time walking on the water bottom and almost never float or swim. That is why they have four limbs and that is also why the tank must be spacious enough for your pet to move freely.

A 10 gallon aquarium is not enough to keep an axolotl for too long. For a single adult axolotl, a 20 gallon aquarium is good. Do not forget also that the length is more important than the height.

The Filter

A filter is necessary to be installed for every aquatic animal kept in captivity, regardless if it is an axolotl or not. The role of the filters is very important for the survival of the tank’s inhabitant.

A filter can be combined with a bubbler or an air pump. Sometimes the filter itself acts as a bubbler or an air pump.

In nature, rivers, lakes and seas supply themselves with oxygen from the natural movement of the water. Fish need oxygen to survive and oxygen particles are brought inside the water by the natural picking up of oxygen from the air. Whenever there is a wave, a stream, a waterfall, wind, water splashing into stones and anything alike, oxygen particles are being collected from the air and placed in the water. The fish pick them up and breathe.

Since water in tanks is still and there are no natural stimulators to cause movement, an artificial supplier of oxygen must be provided.

A bubbler or an air pump is usually installed. The devices literally collect air and bring it back into the water. The end result is seeing bubbles coming out from one end and thus movement and oxygen supply are being provided.

The same functions could be provided by a filter as well. However, the filter has another function, just as important as aeration.

Any living being produces natural waste that gets washed away naturally by the same movement of water as described above. The axolotl does exactly the same. Since it is kept in captivity, the water cannot clean itself naturally. If not cleaned, the waste eventually piles up in large quantities. As a result big amounts of the toxic substance ammonia are created. Ammonia is a poison that eventually kills the axolotl.

When you provide a filter, the device cleans the water from the harmful substances, turns them into healthy ones and maintains a healthy balance between the chemicals contained in the water. Thus, the axolotl is of no risk of poisoning. A filter is one the elements axolotls absolutely need in its tank!

A filter is highly recommendable to install, especially if you are a beginner. If you choose not to provide a filter then you will have to change the tank’s water every day, which can be tiresome and time-consuming even if you are an experienced hobbyist.

Tip: Buy a test kit. The test kit will allow you to check the chemicals in the water regularly and prevent any fatal contamination of the water.

Tip: If the tank has a lid, remove it altogether and always keep the tank open. This will provide additional aeration and oxygen supply.

The Tank’s Location

It is a must to place the tank in a cool and shady place, away from sunlight. Axolotls do not like warm waters or bright light. It is best to place the tank on the floor, is possible.

The Tanks Interior.

The Tank’s Water

Axolotls are very particular about the temperature of the waters they inhabit. They detest warm and cold and that is why the perfect water for them is cool. The water in the tank must be 16 degrees Celsius the lowest and 18 degrees Celsius, the highest. Any other variations will affect the axolotl’s good health and energy levels.

If the temperature is too low, your pet will start losing its natural color and will appear more lethargic because it will try to save its strength and energy. If the water is too warm it will begin swimming frantically, which in the end will result also in energy loss. Axolotls are very sensitive creatures and any change to their environment may affect them severely.

Tip: Buy a thermometer or a thermostat.

A thermometer will allow you to constantly follow the temperature of the water and you will be able to take proper measures, if anything changes.

A thermostat will let you regulate the temperature in the room, which will maintain the same water temperature much easier.

Think carefully, if you are able to provide the right water temperature, if you live in a warm climate all year around.

Tip: Do not install a heater. Your axolotl does not need it.

The Tank’s Bottom.

Now it is time to talk about the actual decoration of the tank. You want to provide an environment as close to nature as possible. However, with axolotls it is easier to just keep a bare bottom tank.

Axolotls have bigger poops than fish do so it is easier to clean it off a bare bottom tank. I have heard several horror stories of axolotls pooping and then walking over it and smashing it. When they do this it gets crushed and smeared into the sand or gravel if you use these for substrate.

If you do decide to go with a substrate, then you should use fine sand. Axolotls have a habit of swallowing a lot of their substrate. If it is fine sand, the grains are small enough to pass through their digestive system with out getting it clogged up as it would if the substrate were gravel.

This is an area of debate amongst axolotl owners, but it is safest to go with bare bottom or fine sand. Some people believe that axolotls swallow some pieces of gravel, which stay in their stomachs and help grind their food for digestion. I know it sounds crazy, but it is what it is, that’s why we just use bare bottom or fine sand.

The Interior Decorations.

Axolotls are fearful creatures that prefer solitude and quietness. They like hiding and the feeling of being protected. That is why they like having hiding places in their tank:

Both items will create the impression of the availability of caves and your lovely pet will have hiding spots. Remember to sand them down and cover all sharp edges. Axolotls have a very sensitive, thin and fragile skin and any cut may lead to severe consequences.

You can also place any other stone-like decorations available as long as it is safe and licensed for aquariums.

The Plants.

Here is a list of the best plants your axolotls will sure enjoy in their tank:

All of these plants are a perfect fit for an axolotl’s tank. They are easy to plant and take care of, tough and resistible. By all means, arrange a hornwort as it is a rootless floating plant that will provide additional shade and prevent the access of sunlight.


To sum up here is a list of all items that axolotls like in their tank;

1. 20-gallon spacious tank.

2. Cool, shady location.

3. Filter.

4. Bubbler/air pump.

5. Pebbles.

6. PVC pipes.

7. Terracotta pots.

8. Floating and root plants.

Remember to buy a test kit to regularly measure the healthy chemical balance of the water and a thermometer to check up on the temperature.

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Pet Aquariums

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