Axolotl -scientifically known as the Ambystoma mexicanum – is a salamander species that is native to Mexico and is used as an aquatic pet. It is also known as the Mexican Walking Fish because it has legs that it can use to walk on land and swim in the water. Its body is similar to other salamander species, but its coloration is different. This is one of the amphibian species, which means it can survive outside the water as well. It has lungs and specialized structures that allow it to breathe outside of the water. This is a common trait that is also found in amphibian species.

The appearance of this species is very charming and that is why it is loved by everyone. It is not a fish, but it is kept in the fish tanks as a pet species. If you are buying an Axolotl, you should learn about its care first. Axolotls do not need extreme care, which means they are suitable for everyone. But having some knowledge and experience in fishkeeping and taking care of Axolotl would be helpful. It can help you take better care of your Axolotl and can help you extend their lifespan. The article below provides complete information and care guidelines that you need to keep the Axolotl as a pet.

Basic Facts Table

Lifespan15 years
SizeUp to 18 inches
ColorsDifferent colored and Albino morphs are available
HabitatWater and Land
Care LevelMedium Level
CompatibilityFreshwater Aquariums

Tank Companions

You should not keep the Axolotl with any type of fish, snail, or shrimp species because they are carnivorous and cannibalistic species. That means they will fight any tank mates that you put in their aquarium, even if they belong to their species. Axolotls are also known for being highly aggressive and that is why keeping them with any type of tank mate is not a great idea. They will fight to the death with their tank mates or hurt themselves in the process. For that reason, it is important to keep them separate and away from any other type of fish, shrimp, snail, or other Axolotls.

Species Overview

Axolotls are some of the most amazing creatures in the amphibian family as they have traits that make them different from most of the other members. Also, they are very beautiful and easy to care for, and they can be kept in smaller containers. This makes them a perfect choice for many fish keepers and pet lovers. Axolotls are known for regenerative properties as they can regenerate their whole limbs and body parts including the parts of their brain. So, if your Axolotl gets injured somehow or loses a limb, you should not worry as it will regenerate a new one. Because of their regenerative abilities, they are a subject of scientific research. Also, they are one of the most famous pet species in the amphibian family.

Most species in the Amphibian family have a life cycle that involves living in a water habitat at first as their Larvae and young members do not have gills that allow them to breathe outside the water. Once they reach maturity, they develop these breathing structures and move out of the water. But in the case of Axolotls, they do not develop these organs and spend most of their life in the water habitats. They make for a great pet inside the aquariums because they are highly active, and beautiful. Their bodies are different from most of the common fish species that are found in aquariums as fish do not have legs to walk.

Axolotls are called the Mexican Walking Fish because they have legs and they are native to Mexico. Some owners consider them fish as they live in freshwater habitats, while some consider them a reptilian species because they have legs. But in reality, they are amphibians and do not belong to any of the above groups. They are salamanders, but unlike most salamanders, do not go through the metamorphosis process, which forces them to spend their lives in aquatic habitats.


The Axolotl is some of the most beautiful and versatile species of salamanders that you can get for your aquariums. They have long cylindrical bodies, a very long tail, legs, gills, and small eyes. As they never go through the metamorphosis process, their appearance remains the same throughout their lifespan. An adult Axolotl looks similar to what a baby salamander would look like before the transformation. Unlike other amphibian salamanders, their gills do not degrade, which helps them keep breathing in the water. When it comes to the color, and size of the Axolotl, it depends on the morphs that you have. There are five different morphs that you can get from the market. Below are the appearance details of each of these.

  • Albino: Albino Axolotls are very common in the aquarium trade, you can easily find one for yourself. These are the ones with pale color pigmentations in their bodies. They have pale white bodies and pinkish gills.
  • Melanoid: Melanoid Axolotls are also some of the most common morphs. It is one of the morphs that has a dark black appearance. In some cases the whole Axolotl is dark, but in rare cases, the body is colorless, while the gills are dark black. They can also have mild red, black, orange, pinkish, or golden gills depending on the breeding.
  • Leucistic: It is also one of the most sought-after morphs of the Axolotls as it has a white-gold body and pink gills. This morph has a similar body shape, and size, but a very different range of colors that are not seen in any of the other Axolotl morphs.
  • Green: Green Axolotl has Green Fluorescent Protein. This causes them to reflect a different range of colors under normal light and blacklight conditions. If you are looking at them under daylight conditions, they would appear normal, but in blacklight conditions, they would appear dark green.
  • Green Albino: This is a morph of the Axolotl that has a yellowish body and pink gills. It has specific proteins that make its body look yellow. The depth of the color depends on a few factors such as the quality of water and the chemical content of the water habitat.

These were some of the common morphs of the Axolotls that you can find in aquarium markets. All of these are derivatives of the original species that lived in wild conditions. But due to environmental factors and the introduction of predatory fish species, they no longer exist in the wild conditions. But they are bred in captivity and that has helped in maintaining their population.

Size and Weight:

In wild conditions, they can grow up to 18 inches or longer but in captive conditions, they need perfect care to grow beyond 16 inches. The average size of Axolotls in captive conditions is between 9 to 12 inches. The average weight of an Axolotl is about 9 ounces, however, they can easily reach 12 ounces. You need to maintain parameters for their growth perfectly to help them grow longer. If conditions in their tank are not perfect your Axolotl will not reach its potential weight and size averages. So make sure that your tank has perfect living conditions.


Axolotls are native to Mexico, and they were found in many areas. At first, they were discovered in Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco, where they were found in large numbers. But over time, their population started to decline and now they are extinct from Lake Chalco and are only found in Lake Xochimilco in the Valley of Mexico. To prevent them from going permanently extinct in the wild, efforts have been made but their population is still declining. But in captivity, their numbers are growing quickly which is helping replace the species pool in native habitats. They were a part of the Aztec culture and cuisine.

They are on the red list for conservation, but their population in the wild areas is currently under threat because of various reasons including the rapid expansion of populous cities near their habitats. Also, there are some fish species such as Asian Carp, which are non-native to these areas but have developed the ability to survive in these areas and are also posing a threat to the remaining population of the Axolotl in the wild.

Natural Habitat

Most amphibian species can live in both water and land conditions, but the axolotl, however, can only live in water conditions because they never go through metamorphosis. So, their natural habitat needs to be a freshwater aquarium with the right conditions. The axolotl is capable of living in a variety of conditions, but if these conditions are not maintained properly, it can lead to several health-related issues.

Axolotl Lifespan

The average lifespan of Axolotl is about 10 to 15 years, but they can live longer if you provide them with excellent care. In some cases, they have lived longer than 20 years. The reason behind this varied lifespan is that they are sensitive to changes. It means you will have to maintain the water conditions and parameters perfectly in their tank to make sure that they survive longer. Otherwise, their health will deteriorate and they will die.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

The Axolotl need a freshwater aquarium habitat, moderate temperature, and neutral pH level to live. So, when you are making an aquarium habitat for them, you will have to accommodate the needs of this creature. At first, you will have to start with the size of the tank, and then the tank setup that is suitable for them. After that, you will have to work on creating perfect living conditions in the water habitat for the Axolotl. This is how you create a perfect habitat that can support life, and provide Axolotl space to grow. Below is a complete guide about making a tank/aquarium habitat for the Axolotl.

Tank Size

You can keep them in smaller containers, but it is important to consider their size as they can grow very large. Smaller and younger Axolotl can be kept in tanks that are about gallons. Make sure that the tank is tall and wide. This will provide the young Axolotl space to grow, move and explore the tank. But as Axolotl ages, it will need more space. For that reason, it is better to use a large container of 20 gallons or more. If your Axolotl is larger than 12 inches, then you should use a larger container, otherwise, it will be too small a creature this size.

As mentioned above, you can use smaller containers of 10 to 15 gallons, but in those cases, the maintenance of Ammonia and other chemicals in the tank will become a headache. Also, fitting the proper equipment in the tank will be difficult as well. Using a 20 or 30 gallons capacity tank is better. Large containers would provide more room for the Axolotl to explore, and it will be easy to maintain them. When you are selecting an Axolotl, you should focus on three major factors, which are age, size of Axolotl, and the maintenance needs of the tank.

Tank Setup

The next step is creating a tank set up inside the tank you have selected for the Axolotl. The tank setup includes decorations and important equipment that you will put inside the tank. For example, you will have to put a filtration system inside the tank to maintain parameters and filter the water. When you start making a tank setup for Axolotl, you should start from the bottom layer. This is because these creatures have legs, and they dwell in the bottom of the tank for most of their lives.

You should put soft sand and a substrate layer of about 2 to 3 inches in the bottom of the tank. Also, add some plants to make it look more natural. There are a lot of varieties of aquatic plants and grass that you can use in the tank of Axolotl, but make sure that the plant you are using will not occupy too much space. After that, put some stones and decorations in the bottom layer such as driftwood, caves, and toys.

After that, you should start putting in important equipment such as temperature monitoring and controlling devices. They will help you know what the temperature is in the aquarium so that you can maintain it within a specific range that Axolotl can tolerate. Another piece of equipment that you will have to put in a filtration system as mentioned above. It will cycle the water and clean harmful chemicals and maintain the water quality in your aquarium. Other important things include aquatic lights and a cover for the tank.

Water Conditions/Parameters

Here is a list of water conditions and parameters that you need to maintain to keep Axolotl healthy.

  • Temperature between 60°F to 64°F.
  • the pH of the water should be kept neutral.
  • Water hardness should be maintained at around 7 to 9 dKH.

It is very important to maintain these parameters in the tank of Axolotl. If you fail to maintain these parameters, water conditions will become hostile for the Axolotl. This will not only impact the health of your Axolotl but in severe cases can kill them too. You will need a temperature monitoring device to know the temperature of the water in the tank and if the temperature rises above the recommended limit you should use ice cubes to bring it down.

If the temperature is too low you may have to use a water heater to maintain the temperature within the given limit. The pH of the water and water hardness is maintained using a filtration system. You can test the pH of the water anytime using the standard pH test kit. If the water is alkaline or acidic you will have to use standard procedures to maintain the neutral neutrality of the water.

Water Source

Axolotls need clean water, and you can use water from any nearby source, including tap water, Reliance river, lake water, etc. Water source is not very important in the case of axolotl but it is very important to make sure that the water you are using is clean and contains no contaminants such as Chemicals or bacteria. Because contaminated water can lead to health concerns, such as diseases and the death of your axolotls. For that reason, you should test the water before using it. if your water contains any contaminants it is better to use an RO filtration system to filter it.

Behavior and Temperament

Axolotls are known for being highly active. They will move from one end of the tank to another. Axolotls are creative and intelligent creatures. Some owners have reported that their Axolotls can identify them and play with them when they go to feed them. Also, they become extra active when someone is watching them. But they are also known for being aggressive, and cannibalistic, that is why you cannot keep them with any other tank mates. They like fighting, attacking, and killing anything that is put inside their tank. You should avoid putting them in a community tank because it can lead to the death of your fish, or severe injuries to both fish and Axolotls.

Breeding Axolotl

It is an egg-laying species which means it Lays multiple eggs after courting. As mentioned above it is very hard to keep 2 axolotls in the same tank. You should select healthy males and females and pair them in the same tank and observe their behavior. If they appear to be aggressive towards each other, remove them from the tank otherwise, allow them to court. Male members are known for producing sperms that they spread in the bottom of the tank. females collect the sperm and lay eggs.

Female axolotls become mature enough to produce eggs after 12 months of being born. Male counterparts, however, may take more time. It is extremely hard to keep two letters in the same tank without worrying about them fighting. That is why breeding them is tricky and you have to keep an eye on them round the clock. There are sometimes when females are not interested in courting at all. In those cases, you should allow the male to produce sperm, and release them. After that, remove the male and put the female in the tank to collect the sperm.

Once the eggs are laid, they will take a few days to hatch and become larvae. It is important to remove the eggs and larvae from the tank as the Axolotls are known for eating their larvae and babies in some cases. After the babies are born, you should feed them liquid food for a few weeks. Once they are large enough, you can start feeding them normal Axolotl food.

Diet of Axolotl

Axolotls are known for being carnivorous and cannibalistic. That means they only eat other animals, insects, and invertebrates that they can find in the water. Their cannibalistic nature indicates that they also eat other Axolotls. For that reason, it is recommended to not put them in the same tank and keep them separated from each other. You can feed them bloodworms, shrimps, snails, and frozen meat.

Diseases of Axolotl

Here is a list of the possible illnesses of Axolotls.

  • Ectoparasitic diseases: Several types of ectoparasitic diseases can attack axolotls. All of them are treatable using medicines. But it is better to take precautions and avoid them. These precautions include keeping your time clean and using filtered water.
  • Stress-related Deterioration of Gills: Stress-related deterioration of gills is also a common disease in Axolotls. It can lead to the degeneration of gills. In some cases, they automatically regenerate, but if the stress conditions are not resolved, it can lead to serious issues and even death. You can prevent this by keeping the tank clean and maintaining all the parameters perfectly.
  • Bacterial Diseases: Some bacterial diseases can attack these creatures. But you can prevent this from happening by maintaining proper hygiene in your tank.

What is the Ideal Size For The Tank?

The ideal size for the tank of Axolotls is a 20 to 30 gallons capacity tank. A tank of this size will have enough space for them to grow and explore. Also, it is easy to maintain parameters in a larger tank as compared to a smaller tank.

Axolotl Saltwater or Freshwater Species?

Axolotls live in freshwater habitats. They were initially found in Freshwater lakes near Mexico Valley. But the rapid expansion of the valley has driven them to extinction. Now most of them are found and bred in captivity.

Conclusion – Is Axolotl Suitable For Your Aquarium?

Yes, axolotls are a perfect choice for your aquarium because they are small, beautiful, and very active. Also, they respond to human presence near their tank, so it will be good for you to have them in your tank. They do not require extreme care which means anyone can keep them in their tank including expert fish keepers and occasional pet owners. You just need to know the basic parameters, tank setup, and feeding habits to keep them healthy in your aquarium. Based on these arguments it can be said that Axolotls are suitable for your aquarium


Question: What do Axolotls eat?

Answer: Axolotls are carnivores, which means they eat other animals and insects, including bloodworms, snails, and shrimps. You can also feed the frozen meat.

Question: How long do Axolotls live?

Answer: Axolotls have a very long lifespan, and some can live for more than two decades. In captivity, the average lifespan is about 10 to 15 years. But if you provide them excellent care, you can extend their lifespan in your aquarium.

Question: Are Axolotls intelligent?

Answer: Yes, Axolotls are very intelligent and responsive, especially to human presence. For example, they become hyperactive when you visit their tank. This shows their ability to identify the human presence and react according to that.

Leave a Reply