Home Aquaria Pet Axolotl Tank Size, How to Set Up +Accessories

Pet Axolotl Tank Size, How to Set Up +Accessories

An axolotl is a unique and rare amphibian often mistaken to be a fish considering their overlapping characteristics. Their genetic factors make them slightly different from other amphibians. Their life span varies between ten to twenty years. They live their entire lives in water and never emerge on land. Provided constant water flow and the right temperature, they are easy to care for creatures. Having information about their aquarium and how to set it up is critical especially for those who desire to breed them as pets.

The recommend minimum tank size for one adult pet axolotl is 1.5ft  by 1.5ft (45cm by 45cm) aquarium that can take up to at least 10 gallons of water. However, a larger tank is a safer option owing to they produce a huge amount of waste. Baby axolotls, depending on their size and number (population), will need much smaller space of not more than a 5 gallon tank.

Read on to find out more on how to set up the tanks for both baby and adults, ideas & accessories you will need plus frequently asked habitat questions.

Tank Size for Pet Axolotls(Baby & Adult)

An axolotl is a fascinating creature which requires a homeowner to set up a tank before acquiring one. They start as small creatures but develop in due time therefore it is recommended to purchase the largest tank one can afford.

They are swimming creatures therefore it is advisable to purchase a wider tank as opposed to a tall tank. Upon maturity, they grow to between 8 to 14 inches and thus implies that pet owners need more space in case they need to house several axolotls.

The recommended fish tank or aquarium minimum size for one axolotl is 45cm long(1.5ft), however, the bigger the space, the better.

These amphibians prefer floor space and a tank that carries not less than about 10 gallons (38 liters) of water. An additional axolotl should translate to an additional foot or another ten gallons of water. This means that for two, you will need at least 20 gallons of water in tank size of at least 2ft.

For baby axolotls, the tank or container size will depend on the size of the baby. Most breeders will 1gallon container for a single baby measuring 1.5 – 2 inches. This size will make it easy for axie to find its food and will also provide enough room for swimming.

If you many babies you will need more room for instance if have 5 of about 2 inches in length, you will need at least 5 gallons.

Factors that determine the size of a tank

Following are the factors that will determine the how small or big your pet axolotl tank will be.

Number of axolotls in the tank

More axolotls require more space. If you are planning to acquire more than one make sure you buy a bigger tank.

Size of the fish

A small axolotl requires a small aquarium. It is, however, advisable to purchase the recommended size at once to prevent incurring future additional costs.

Other species that coexist with the axolotl

Other species that coexist with the axolotl also affect the tank size. More species in the tank would require one to set up a larger tank.

Available space in the room

One should also consider the shape of the room the axolotl is to be placed. The tank can take the shape of the room and the parameters of the room affect the size of the tank to be placed in the room.

Axolotl Tank Setup Step by Step

Required Equipment

An Aquarium

Picking the appropriate tank size is an essential step to housing an axolotl. A 20-gallon aquarium is suitable for a single axolotl. A long tank is preferable than a tall one. To accommodate extra axolotls, an extra ten gallons is recommended for an additional axolotl.

A Filter

All aquariums need a water filter. When picking one for an axolotl tank, one should keep in mind that strong water flow is not appropriate for axolotls. Most axolotl keepers prefer sponge filters since they are effective and reduce water flow in the tank.

Filter pump
Water filters

Air Pumps

An air pump comes in handy with the sponge filter. One should acquire a high-quality pump to enable proper filtration. The air pump serves to provide oxygen in the aquarium considering the axolotls breathe and require a constant supply of oxygen. One should acquire a low noise pump; some are known to be quite loud.

Water Heater

Axolotls are cold-blooded creatures and happen to be intolerant to extreme temperatures. A powerful heater is essential if a pet owner intends to keep the amphibians.

The pump is recommended for preventing temperature variations during the day and at night especially if the aquarium is located near doors and windows where temperature swings all the time.

Water Test Kit

A liquid water test kit is essential in this project.  The test kit has tests for nitrite, nitrate, ammonia and pH content in the water. This test kit measures these parameters and enables the pet owner to monitor water quality and ensure it is suitable for axolotls.


An axolotl owner should spend time and acquire suitable light for axolotl tanks. Other aquarists prefer strong light to enable plant growth, this is unsuitable for axolotl aquariums.

adding aquarium lights axolotl tank

Bright light and powerful lamps often stress out the species, one should set up a lighting system that enables an axolotl owner to see them without scaring them, forcing them to hide.

Sett up an Adult Axolotl Tank Steps

Setting up an axolotl tank is crucial in providing a suitable habitat for the creatures as opposed to purchasing a ready-made aquarium from a store.  Placing an axolotl in an uncycled aquarium can prove to be disastrous. These are steps to setting up an axolotl tank:

Step #1 Cycling the Aquarium

Once all accessories are ready, a pet owner should get a cool room in the house that lacks temperature variations, to prevent stressing the axolotls, and set up the aquarium. The aquarium should be filled with water and accessories such as water filters and heater set up. Decorations also can be placed in strategic areas in the aquarium.

Cycling means that a pet owner allows the aquarium time to accumulate useful bacteria around the filter and substrate regions. The bacteria make the tank habitable for axolotls. To achieve this, one adds ammonia to the aquarium. Unscented ammonia is preferable to prevent creating a household mess. While adding ammonia at recommended times, it is crucial to test. This sets the tank levels at desirable levels.

Axolotls develop in a desirable range of temperature and water values. The following parameters are recommended by professionals to provide a suitable habitat;


It is recommended that an aquarium should be around 640F to provide suitable conditions for the growth of axolotls. Lower temperatures pose little problems to the amphibian, it will only slow its metabolism. Heat is a dangerous factor and temperature rising above 750 F should be avoided. High temperature stresses axolotls and results in disease or death of axolotls.

Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates

Ammonia and nitrite levels should be zero at all times since they are hazardous to the axolotl. Nitrate levels are only acceptable in low quantities but should not rise above 15. In case the nitrate level rises above 15, water change should be done to the aquarium to reduce the levels.


The acidity and alkalinity can be tested using a pH test kit. Axolotls find a range of pH values to be habitable. A pH of between 6.5 to 8 is an acceptable range while that between 7 to 7.5 is considered ideal for their development.

Water Hardness

Axolotls prefer hard water to soft water. The ideal water hardness varies between 100ppm to 200ppm.

Step#2 Pick a Substrate

Considering axolotls to be bottom dwellers, attention should be placed on the kind of substrate used in the aquarium. Most enthusiasts prefer sand to other substrates. Carib Sea Super Moonlight sand seems to be the most preferred substrate. Bare-bottom set-ups are also used to reduce maintenance costs but this, however, creates a stressful environment for the axolotl. In case the pet owner prefers the bare-bottom option, they should place a tile at the bottom of the aquarium, this provides grip to the axolotls.

Gravel and marbles should never be used in an aquarium. The amphibians consider everything to be edible and could consume marbles or gravel. This can cause compaction or death so it should be avoided at all costs.

Tank Decorations

Axolotls like hiding and some decorations could provide a hospitable environment. There are plenty of aquarium decors available to cheer up axolotl life, some include:


Plants look good and help maintain stable water parameters for axolotls. On should pick plants which are of sturdy species although axolotls are known to uproot and smash plants.

Marimo moss balls are mostly preferred for axolotl tanks since they tolerate variable water temperatures, require little light and are easy to keep. Other plants suitable for axolotl aquariums include Java Fern, Anubias Nana, and Water Wisteria.


Well placed driftwood pieces on the aquarium create a great natural look as well as preferred hiding spots for axolotls. Chunky driftwood that lack sharp edges are the best. Care should be taken to prevent placing chunks in which axolotls could swallow and get stuck on their throats. Cholla wood is an example that looks presentable and works well.


The hardscape can be completed using either river rocks or dragon stones. The rocks used should never contain calcium or metals since these leaches tanks. One can also use store-bought rocks.


Natural hides are plenty in the market which one can use to decorate an aquarium. Hide can as well be a suitable hiding spot for an axolotl. Ceramic pipes, pleco bleeding caves and cichlid rocks are perfect hides suitable for aquariums.

Step #3 Get some creatures to live with the Axolotl

After placing the axolotl in the aquarium, it is crucial to provide tank mates. Some creatures suitable to be axolotl tank mates include:

Mini Snails

These snails are bottom feeders and can feed on bacteria. They are suitable since they can keep harmful bacteria growth at a minimum. They also get rid of left-over food left behind by the axolotl.


These are also bottom feeders and can get rid of an axolotls’ leftovers.


These are fish that are known to be generally gentle hence are suitable tank mates for an axolotl.

A video on how to set up a tank/aquarium for pet axolotls

Baby Axolotls Housing

Axolotl Aquarium Care & Maintenance Ideas

  • The axolotl aquarium should be thoroughly cleaned with hot water. Accessories should also be regularly cleaned since harmful bacteria might be in the tank. When purchased as a second-hand aquarium care should be taken and it should be thoroughly cleaned since harmful bacteria might be lurking around.
  • Water temperature in the aquarium should be maintained to around 640 F. High temperature stresses axolotls and even cause death.
  • In cases where an axolotl has lost or damaged a limb, it is advisable to separate the axolotl from the rest. The amphibians can regenerate several body parts such as gills, tails, and legs. Once regenerated, the axolotl will live normally.
  • One should get rid of uneaten food left behind by the axolotl to keep the tank clean.
  • Axolotls are clumsy and can easily be harmed by aggressive predators. They should be left to interact with such harmful creatures.
  • Their stomachs can carry a lot of food although their exoskeletons can easily cause impaction. Small portions of food should be given to the axolotl at a time.
  • In the wild, axolotls consume crustaceans, small fish, amphibians and snails. In the aquarium, it is recommended that they are fed on bloodworms and homebred worms such as black worms and earthworms.
  • Ancient Axolotl books recommended feeding them with animal meat. This is however no longer recommended by professional hobbyists. They should also never be fed with goldfish since they don’t contain suitable nutrients to enable axolotls’ development.

Frequently asked questions

What do Axolotls need in their tank?

They need a relatively cool place away from bright light. They also need to be fed on bloodworms and homebred worms such as black worms and earthworms.

Can you have more than one Axolotl in a tank?

Yes, more than one axolotl can dwell in a tank provided an additional ten gallons of water is provided for any additional axolotl. Extra room should also be provided to prevent stressing the amphibians.

Can you keep an axolotl in a 10-gallon tank?

A 10-gallon tank can house a single axolotl. As mention this the minimum size. However, considering the huge amount of waste produced by the amphibians, it is recommended that a larger tank is used

What size tank do I need for 2 Axolotls?

At least a 2ft by 2 ft tank(at least 20 gallons)is highly recommended considering a single axolotl occupies at least one feet tank size.

Do Axolotls need a heater?

Yes, they need a heater. They are cold-blooded animals that are affected by temperature variations. Temperature in the aquarium should be maintained at around 640 F

What do you put in an axolotl tank?

A substrate is picked most preferably sand, considering axolotls to be bottom dwellers. Decorations such as plants should also be placed in an aquarium given that they like hiding. Tankmates such as mini snails should be included in the aquarium that gets rid of unwanted bacteria.

Can Axolotls have sand in their tank?

Yes, sand is the most preferable substrate to be used in a tank considering axolotls are bottom dwellers.

Do Axolotls need a cycled tank?

Axolotls need a cycled tank. Cycling means that a pet owner allows the aquarium time to accumulate useful bacteria around the filter and substrate regions. The bacteria make the tank habitable for axolotls. This is achieved by adding ammonia to the tank.

Can you have two Axolotls in the tank?

More than one axolotl can be placed in a tank as long as the pet owner ensures safety parameters are considered and that the tank is a hospitable environment for all the axolotls.

What’s the best filter for an axolotl tank?

Canister filters are the best filters since they have a high capacity and occupy little space in the tank.

How often should you clean your axolotl tank?

Cleaning should be done at least three to four times a month but cleaning generally depends on the type of water filtration a pet owner has installed. Ineffective water filters would require regular water filters as opposed to more effective filters.

More on Fish Tanks & Aquariums


  • https://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=ijzr.2006.362.368
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axolotl
  • http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Care-Sheets/Frogs-Amphibians/Axolotl/
  • http://www.axolotl.org/housing.htm


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