The Fish Guru

The Ultimate Guide to Setting up and Maintaining an Axolotl Tank

Setting up an Axolotl Tank

If you are looking for a unique pet, an axolotl could be the perfect addition to your household. With their fascinating appearance and behavior, these amphibians have gained popularity as pets in recent years.

However, before you decide to bring one home, you need to know how to create the perfect living environment for them. Here are the essential things you need to keep in mind when setting up an axolotl tank.

Tank size and shape

Axolotls are not tiny creatures, and they require a spacious tank to swim freely. A single axolotl should have a tank size of at least 20 gallons, but larger tanks are always better.

A 40 to 50-gallon tank is suitable for two axolotls. It is essential to keep in mind the dimensions of the tank, as well.

A long, low tank is better than a tall, narrow one, as axolotls are not strong swimmers and need a wider base to move around.

Tank temperature

Axolotls are cold-water amphibians, meaning they cannot survive in high temperatures. The ideal temperature range for axolotls is between 60F to 64F.

Anything above 68F can cause stress and illness, and the axolotls metabolism would speed up, leading to shortened lifespan and poor health. It would help if you used a thermometer to ensure your tank’s water temperature remains in the appropriate range.

Water filtration system and tank water changes

Axolotls are sensitive to changes in water quality, and stagnant water can cause diseases and other health problems. Therefore, a proper and efficient water filtration system is essential in an axolotl tank.

The filtration system should be able to match or exceed the tank size and the number of axolotls in the tank. An ideal filter type is the canister filter, as it is efficient and does not create strong water flow, which can stress axolotls.

Besides a proper filter, you will need to conduct regular water changes to maintain the water quality. Water changes should be done every one to two weeks.

During water changes, remove 20% of the water, and replace it with fresh, conditioned water of the same temperature as the tank. This method ensures that there are no sudden and drastic changes in the water parameters that could cause stress or harm to your axolotls.

Tank Accessories for Axolotls

In addition to the tank’s essential components, you can enhance your axolotls living environment with various accessories. Here are some must-have accessories for your axolotl tank.


Substrates provide a natural environment for axolotls and also improve the tank’s overall appearance. However, not all substrate materials are appropriate for axolotls.

Gravel is not advisable, as axolotls can accidentally ingest it and cause an impaction, which can be fatal. Ideal substrate options include sand, bare-bottom, or moss carpets.

Ensure that the substrate is free from chemicals and is appropriately cleaned and conditioned before adding it to the tank.


Axolotls are sensitive to light, and bright lights may stress them out. However, they still need some light to distinguish between day and night.

A low-wattage ambient light or LED light strip can provide adequate light and also make your tank visually appealing. It would be best if you kept the lights on for eight to twelve hours a day.


Axolotls prefer to hide and feel secure in their environment. To cater to this natural behavior, provide them with hideouts, such as caves, plants, or half-coconut shells.

These hideouts provide them a space to retreat and make them feel safe in their tank.


Airstones provide additional oxygen and water flow to the tank, improving the oxygen supply for your axolotls. Placing the airstone near the filter’s output can improve the tank’s water circulation.

It also enhances the aquarium’s aesthetics, creating beautiful bubbles that add a touch of intrigue to the tank’s ambiance.


Live or fake plants add aesthetic value to the axolotl’s environment and also serve as a hiding spot. Live plants also aid in filtering the tank water as they absorb nitrate and carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

Examples of ideal live plants for an axolotl tank include Anubias, Java fern, and water sprite.

Moss Balls

Moss Balls are beneficial accessories to an axolotl tank. These balls help to absorb nitrates and other excess nutrients from the tank water, reducing the need for frequent water changes.

Axolotls love to play with and on the moss balls, and they can also serve as a hiding spot.

Driftwood and rocks

Driftwood and rocks add a natural look to the tank’s environment and create a natural habitat for your axolotls. Ensure any driftwood or rocks added to the tank are appropriately cleaned and boiled before being added to the tank.


Setting up an axolotl tank can be challenging, but understanding your pet’s needs and providing them the right environment can help them thrive and live healthy lives. Ensure that the tank size is suitable, the water is filtered and appropriately conditioned, and the temperature is maintained within the recommended range.

Also, adding appropriate accessories can provide your axolotl with an aesthetically pleasing, natural environment to call home.

Maintaining Axolotl Health and Well-Being

Axolotls are captivating and unique pets that require specific care and attention to ensure their well-being and health. To maintain your axolotl’s overall health and happiness, you must maintain appropriate water parameters, temperature, and aquarium conditions, provide appropriate lighting, and monitor your axolotl’s behavior to notice any changes in their health and well-being.

Here is an in-depth look at how to maintain your axolotl’s health and well-being.

Water parameters

Axolotls are sensitive to changes in water parameters, and even slight fluctuations can lead to severe health problems. The optimal parameters for axolotl water are pH: 6.5-7.5, ammonia: 0 ppm, nitrite: 0 ppm, and nitrate: below 40 ppm.

Ensure that you use a reliable test kit to check the water parameters regularly. Water changes are crucial in maintaining the water parameters in the recommended range.

Changing 20 to 25% of the water every week or two is ideal.

Cooling the axolotl tank water

Axolotls are cold-water amphibians and require cooler water temperature than most other aquatic pets. However, maintaining cooler water within the recommended range can be challenging, especially in warm climates.

Here are some tips for cooling axolotl tank water:

– Keep the tank away from direct sunlight or areas with high heat and humidity. – Use fans or air conditioning to maintain cooler room temps, which will help reduce water temperature.

– Use a chiller to lower the water temperature. Chillers are expensive but offer the most effective way of controlling water temperature.

Suitable aquarium for axolotls

Axolotls need ample swimming space to swim around, so a suitable tank size is essential. The minimum tank size for one axolotl is 20 gallons, and 40 to 50 gallons is ideal for two axolotls.

Also, consider the tank’s shape, as axolotls need longer and wider swimming space than a tall, narrow tank. The tank’s bottom and sides should be smooth and free from sharp edges to prevent injuring your axolotl’s sensitive skin.

UV Light for Axolotls

Axolotls require some sunlight or UV light exposure to maintain their health. UV light helps the axolotl’s body produce vitamin D, which is vital for strong bones.

If your axolotl’s tank is not exposed to natural sunlight, providing artificial UV light is crucial. Axolotls require eight to ten hours of UV exposure a day, which can be challenging to achieve in an indoor environment.

A UV lamp with an output of 2-5% is ideal for axolotls.


Bare-Bottom Aquariums for Axolotls

Bare-Bottom Aquariums are suitable for axolotls, and they have some advantages over substrates. A bare-bottom tank makes cleaning and maintenance more manageable and helps maintain consistent and stable water parameters.

Also, bare-bottom tanks prevent the risk of the axolotl ingesting substrate, which can cause impaction-related issues.

UV Light for Axolotls

As discussed earlier, axolotls require UV light for proper health and bone development. A UV light with output between 2-5% is ideal for axolotls.

However, too much UV light can be harmful to axolotls, causing skin damage, stress, and eye problems. It is essential to provide a balance to ensure your axolotl’s well-being.


Plants for Axolotl Tanks

Axolotls require plants in their tanks to improve their environment’s overall quality and aesthetic appeal. Ideal plants should be able to thrive in cold water and should not require too much light.

Some suitable plants for axolotl tanks include Amazon swords, Java ferns, and hornworts. Ensure that any live plants added to the tank are healthy, free of pests or disease, and are not treated with any chemical or pesticide.

Axolotls are fascinating pets that require specific care to maintain their health and well-being. Ensure that the axolotl tank size is appropriate, maintain water parameters within the recommended range, provide suitable lighting and aquarium conditions, and monitor your axolotl’s behavior to notice any changes in their health and well-being.

Additionally, using bare-bottom aquariums, providing artificial UV light, and adding suitable plants to the tank can enrich your axolotl’s environment. Remember, maintaining proper care for your axolotl is essential for their overall health and happiness.

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