Axolotls – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding

Keeping axolotls is probably one of the best things that can happen to any pet lover. Its incredible features can make anyone fall in love with them.

In as much as you will get to enjoy having an axolotl in your home, there are things you also need to do. One of the things is getting an in-depth comprehension of the lives of the axolotls.

To help you navigate through the world of this amazing creature, here is a complete guide.


Axolotls and salamanders have a few things in common. That is part of the reasons why they are referred to as the “salamander that never grows.” For instance, just like salamander larvae have external gills, so do the axolotls. Furthermore, both of these creatures possess caudal fins.

Normally axolotls grow to about 9 inches. Sexually active adult axolotls are a bit bigger; they can even grow to 18 inches.  Axolotls usually have wide heads, and their eyes have no lids. Their limbs are usually underdeveloped with long thin digits at the front.

Just like many water creatures, axolotls also come in various colors. It is because of this that they are categorized on four different categories namely,

  1. Leucistic – these axolotls are pale pink in color. They also have black eyes.
  2. Melanoid – these axolotls’ body is all black.
  3. Albino – these axolotls are golden in color. They also have gold eyes.
  4. Axanthic – these axolotls are grey in color. They also have black eyes.

Differentiating between males and females axolotls is a bit tricky, but if you are keen, you can get the hang of it. If you want to check if axolotl is a male, just look at the cloacae. If it has a swollen cloacae lined with the papillae, then that is a male. Females, on the other hand, are identified by their wide bodies that carry their eggs.


Axolotls originate from the valley of Mexico. Specifically, they are believed to come from Lake Xochimilco. Apart from Lake Xochimilco, axolotls were also in Lake Chalco. Nowadays, they no longer exist there because the lake was drained as a flood control measure.

One of the reasons why they like these lakes is because of the favorable temperatures of 20 °C and below. Also they are high altitude bodies of water surrounded by risky terrestrial space.


One of the most notable things about axolotls is their mode of feeding. Axolotls have poor eyesight, and thus, they use their sense of smell to feed. They are carnivorous eaters, and they prefer feeding on chunky foods like earthworms.

When feeding them in your home, make sure that you only feed only one worm at a time and make sure it is close to the axolotl. This ensures that it does not get lost in the substrate at the bottom.

You can also give you axolotls sinking pellets food and lean red meat. When giving lean red meat, you need to be very careful and do it once in a while. This is because too much consumption of lean red meat causes health issues in axolotls.

You need to feed your axolotls once a day or every other day. Once you are done feeding them, make sure that every uneaten food is promptly removed.

Water and Tank Requirements

One thing you need to know is that axolotls can get quite large as they age. This then means that you need to have a tank large enough to accommodate them as they grow older. The recommended size is about 15 to 20-gallon fish tank.

The tank’s water temperatures should be between 14 and 20 °C at all times. Moreover, you should always keep the tank away from direct sunlight. This ensures that the temperatures do not rise above the required level.

It is also important to note that axolotl’s tanks should not have any special form of lighting. If you choose to place gravel at the bottom, make sure that it is coarse gravel. This is because axolotls are known to consume fine gavel and cause an obstruction.


Having tank mates for your axolotls is a very tricky thing. This is due to so many reasons, some of them include;

  • They are not social creatures, meaning they will conflict with other aquatic beings.
  • They are normally targeted by other fish and aquatic life. Basically, you will find animals like newts nipping away on axolotls gills. This usually happens during feeding times.
  • Axolotls are known to eat practically anything. Therefore, even if you bring in smaller fish, the axolotls will feed on them.

So what should one do?

  • The best thing to do is to avoid adding other aquatic life to axolotl’s tanks.
  • Younger axolotls should not be housed together. This is because they will nip on each other’s gills and feet.
  • You should only place adult axolotls in the same tank/environment.


In axolotls, spawning is initiated by the male species.  What usually happens is the male axolotls deposit 5-25 spermatophores around the tank.

When the breeding season comes on, the makes then raise their tails. This then sends a signal to the females who are then lead to the areas with spermatophores by the males.

The female then picks up these spermatophores, and fertilization takes place.  Within a few hours, the female axolotl will lay fertilized eggs in different parts of the tank.

You may find some on top of rocks, others on plant leaves, and even at the bottom. The number of eggs ranges from between 100 to 1000 eggs. After about three weeks, the eggs hatch, and the larvae emerge.


If you are planning on getting axolotls, following these guidelines will help you a lot. Other than that, axolotls, just like any other living organisms, can get unwell.

Therefore, you need to research on various signs and symptoms of axolotls’ infections. The early diagnosis and treatment of such cases can go a long way in saving the life of your precious pets.

Updated: March 18, 2020

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