Axolotl Tank Setup: Tips & Ideas for A Healthy Habitat

Sharing is caring!

Axolotls are intriguing creatures with unusual behaviors and physical traits. They require a specific environment to thrive in confinement since they are native to Mexico.

Keeping axolotls as pets requires a significant amount of responsibility and effort, but the joy and fascination of having these unique creatures make it all worth it. One of the most essential aspects of providing a perfect habitat for axolotls is setting up a suitable tank.

Axolotl Tank


Aquatic animals like axolotls have specific needs that must be satisfied in order to maintain their well-being. This article will cover lots of axolotl aquarium setup ideas to assist you in providing your pet with a safe, inviting, and engaging environment.

From tank size and shape to water quality and filtration, substrate, and decorations, to lighting and heating, we will provide you with tips and recommendations to help you set up the perfect axolotl tank.

What Type of Aquarium Do You Need for An Axolotl?

Axolotl in a tank

Axolotls require an aquarium that is spacious, well-filtered and has a large surface area for oxygen exchange. The size of the axolotl and the number maintained in the aquarium will determine the ideal tank size for that particular species.

It is advised to provide 10 gallons of tank space for every additional axolotl, with a minimum advised tank capacity of 20 gallons for one axolotl.

Axolotls are big aquatic creatures that need a lot of room to move around. The bigger the aquarium, the better for axolotls it is. More water in a bigger aquarium helps to dilute toxins and give the axolotls a more secure habitat.

It’s important to note that while a 20-gallon tank is a minimum size recommended for one axolotl, a larger tank is always better. If space and budget permit, it’s advisable to provide a 40-gallon tank or larger for one axolotl, or a 75-gallon tank or larger for a pair of axolotls.

The ideal tank form for axolotls is rectangular because it offers more surface area for oxygen exchange and easier movement.

Moreover, the tank should have a tight-fitting top in order to stop axolotls from escaping or jumping outside, as they are known to be great escape artists. Axolotls can be injured if kept in tanks with sharp corners.

What Is the Ideal Tank Temperature for An Axolotl?

Axolotl swims in an aquarium

The ideal temperature range for axolotls, which are cold-water creatures, is between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (16 and 18 degrees Celsius). As higher temps can lead to stress and other health issues in axolotls, the temperature shouldn’t rise above 75°F (24°C).

As sudden temperature shifts can stress and damage axolotls, it’s crucial to keep a steady temperature inside the axolotl tank. It is advised to frequently check the water temperature and modify it as necessary using a reliable thermometer.

If the tank temperature frequently falls below 60°F (16°C), a heater can be used to keep the water temperature within the desired range. However, it’s crucial to pick a heater that is appropriate for cold-water species and to stay away from heaters that can increase the water temperature unpredictably or too rapidly.

The type of heater typically found in axolotl aquariums is a submersible aquarium heater. To guarantee that it can manage the temperature needs of the axolotl tank, choose a heater intended for a tank size bigger than the actual tank.

A 100-watt heater is adequate for a 40-gallon tank, but a 150-watt or 200-watt heater maintains a consistent temperature in the tank better. Additionally, it’s crucial to select a heater with a guard or glass that won’t break to keep the axolotls from coming into contact with the heater and hurting themselves.

How to Keep the Axolotl Tank Water Cool?

It becomes essential to take measures to keep the axolotl tank water cold in warm settings or during the hottest times of the year. Following are some ideas for cooling the water in the axolotl aquarium:

  1. Room Temperature: Place the axolotl tank in a room with a lower temperature or an air-conditioned space. Keeping the water at the appropriate temperature can assist.
  2. Frozen Water Bottles: Fill disposable water bottles with water and place them in the freezer. Put the frozen water bottles in the axolotl tank to help cool the water.
  3. Aquarium Fans: Using aquarium fans to blow cold air over the water’s surface can assist to reduce the water’s temperature. There are fans made expressly for aquariums that can be attached to the tank’s rim with clips.
  4. Cooling System: The water temperature in the axolotl tank can possibly be regulated within the range that is optimal by installing a chiller or cooling device. These devices operate by flowing chilled water throughout the aquarium.
  5. Partial Water Changes: Perform partial water changes with chilly water to bring the tank’s overall water temperature down. Make sure the water you add to the tank is purified and devoid of any dangerous substances.

Importance of Water Filtration System and Tank Water Changes

axolotl with Water Filtration System
Source: @upanosuke_

Water filtration and regular tank water changes are key for maintaining the good health and well-being of axolotls. Here’s what you need to know about water filtration, water changes, and water parameters:

  1. Water Filtration System: To maintain the axolotl tank’s water’s cleanliness and well-being, a top-notch filtering system is required. To remove hazardous contaminates and physical waste, an effective filtration system must include both mechanical and biological filtration. For tanks housing axolotls, a canister filter or a hang-on-back (HOB) filter is typically advised.
  2. Water Changes: To keep the water in the axolotl tank in good condition, periodic partial water changes are required. Depending on the size of the tank and the number of axolotls, a 25–30% water change should be done once per week or twice a month. The old water should be siphoned out and fresh, conditioned water should be added during the water change.
  3. Water Parameters: Water parameters should be monitored frequently to guarantee that they stay within the right range for axolotls. The following water conditions are advised for axolotls:
  • Water temperature: 60-65°F (16-18°C)
  • pH: 7.4-7.6
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: below 40 ppm
  • Hardness: 7-14 dGH (General Hardness)

It is advised to use a water testing kit to do routine water parameter checks in order to keep the water parameters within the desired range. If the water parameters are outside the ideal range, corrective measures such as a water change or adding a water conditioner can be taken.

Axolotl Tank Accessories

Setting up an ideal tank for axolotls involves more than just providing them with a habitat to live in. Here are some axolotl tank setup ideas to create a comfortable and stimulating environment for your aquatic pets:


substrate for an axolotl aquarium
Source: @franky_the_axolotl

The best substrate for an axolotl aquarium is sand or fine-grained gravel. To avoid harming the axolotl’s fragile skin, the substrate should be gentle and smooth. The use of rough or pointed substrates should be avoided since they might result in bacterial infections or cause injury.

A substrate made of fine-grained sand is advantageous because it enables axolotls to engage in natural foraging behavior by sifting through the sand. Additionally, it makes the cleanup of any leftover food or debris simpler.

However, sand can be prone to compaction, which can lead to anaerobic pockets and foul-smelling gases. Regular sifting of the sand and partial water changes can help prevent this.

A fine-grain gravel substrate can also be utilized as an alternative; this gives the tank a more natural appearance. However, it might be more difficult to clean and would need to be vacuumed after water changes to get rid of any waste or debris.


Axolotl inside fish tank

Axolotls can live and grow without specific lighting, which they don’t need. But a low-intensity light or a light on a timer can assist mimic a natural day and night cycle, which can be advantageous for their general health and well-being.

If you opt to use a light, make sure you choose one with a low intensity because axolotls have trouble adapting to intense lighting. An axolotl tank should have lighting that has a color temperature between 5000 and 6500K.

The light it provides is white and natural without being too bright. It’s also worth noting that axolotls are heat sensitive, and lighting may elevate the temperature of the water.

Overheating in the aquarium might create stress and health issues for the axolotl. If controlling the temperature of the water in the tank is required, it is advised to employ a cooling fan or other techniques to prevent this.

Hideoutsaxolotl hideouts


Hideouts are an important accessory to include in an axolotl tank setup. Axolotls are nocturnal and spend most of their time hiding and resting during the day.

Providing them with plenty of hiding spots can reduce stress levels and help them feel safe and secure in their environment. There are a variety of hideouts that can be used in an axolotl tank setup.

PVC pipe or a piece of PVC split in half are two common alternatives that create a tunnel for the axolotl to swim through and rest inside. Additionally, hideouts made of huge ceramic objects or clay pots might provide axolotls with an environment that resembles nature.

It’s critical to check that any hideouts utilized in the axolotl tank are secure and free from dangerous elements like sharp corners or uneven surfaces that might harm the axolotls. Any new decorations should be cleaned and sanitized before being placed in the aquarium to prevent the introduction of dangerous germs or chemicals.


Axolotl tanks can benefit from having an airstone since it helps to aerate the water and enhance water quality. The right airstone should be used to prevent causing excessive water movement, which can stress axolotls out and interfere with their breathing.

A fine bubble airstone is typically the best choice for an axolotl tank, as it produces a gentle and consistent stream of bubbles without creating too much water movement. The airstone can be powered by a tiny, low-output air pump; however, it’s essential to watch the airflow rate since this might lead to excessive water movement.

An airstone can contribute to the aeration of the water as well as the appearance of a more natural environment for the axolotls by adding aesthetic appeal.

For example, by placing the airstone under a piece of driftwood or a cave decoration, the bubbles can create a “volcanic” effect, which is both interesting to watch and provides additional hiding spots for the axolotls.

Silk or Live Plants

axolotl with Silk or live plants
Source: @aqua_lowtech

Better water quality, lower stress levels for the axolotls, and a more natural-looking habitat are just a few advantages of adding plants to an axolotl tank. However, it’s crucial to pick plants that are suitable for axolotl tanks and can flourish there.

Silk plants are a popular option for axolotl aquariums since they are simple to take care of and are available in a range of sizes and forms. Additionally, they are unlikely to die or degrade in the water, which might be crucial for preserving water quality.

The axolotls can be hurt by sharp or rough surfaces in silk plants; therefore, it’s crucial to pick high-quality ones that are free of these hazards.

Live plants are additionally a good choice for axolotl tanks, as they provide natural filtration and can help to maintain water quality. Some good options include Java fern, Anubias, and Marimo moss balls, which are all hardy plants that can thrive in the low-light and low-temperature conditions of an axolotl tank.

It’s important to refrain from utilizing any plants that are dangerous to axolotls, like pothos, which can be poisonous if consumed. It’s necessary to check that live plants are well rooted and fixed in the substrate before placing them in an axolotl aquarium to avoid the axolotls uprooting them.

Furthermore, it’s crucial that you refrain from adding any fertilizers or chemicals to the tank since these substances may injure the axolotls and have a detrimental effect on the water’s quality.

Moss Balls

axolotl with Moss Balls
Source: @volkarium

Moss balls, also called Marimo balls, are a popular decorative accessory for axolotl tanks. They not only add visual interest to the tank but also provide natural filtration by absorbing excess nutrients and organic waste from the water.

When choosing moss balls for an axolotl tank, it’s important to select high-quality, aquarium-safe Marimo balls. These can typically be found at pet stores or online aquarium retailers.

It’s imperative to avoid buying moss balls from non-aquarium stores, as these can be treated with chemicals or may not be safe for aquatic use.

When adding moss balls to an axolotl tank, it’s important to ensure that they are properly cleaned and rinsed before use. It makes it easier in cleaning off any dirt or debris that may be on the moss ball’s surface.

It’s also advised to lightly squeeze the moss ball before placing it in the tank because doing so helps to release any trapped air bubbles.

Moss balls can be placed directly on the substrate of the tank, or attached to decorations such as rocks or driftwood. They can also be used in conjunction with other plants or decorations to create a natural-looking environment for the axolotls.

Driftwood or Big Rocks

axolotl with Big Rocks
Source: @renatarangelg

Driftwood and rocks can be great additions to an axolotl tank as they provide hiding spots and create a more natural environment. However, it’s important to choose appropriate types of driftwood and rocks to ensure the safety and health of your axolotls.

It’s crucial to pick driftwood that won’t leech dangerous chemicals into the water when choosing driftwood for an axolotl aquarium. Woods that are harmful to aquatic species, such as cedar and pine, should never be used in an axolotl tank.

Alternatively, select driftwood that has been cured and is recognized as being secure for use in aquariums, such as Malaysian or mopani driftwood. It’s crucial to use non-toxic rocks that won’t change the water’s chemistry or pH when choosing rocks for an axolotl aquarium.

If possible, stay away from using rocks like limestone or shale that are known to contain toxic minerals or chemical compounds. Instead, pick rocks like slate, granite, or basalt that are noted to be safe for aquarium use.

Boiling or soaking in a bleach solution can also help sanitize them and stop the entry of harmful bacteria or parasites into the aquarium.

Also Read: How Much Are Axolotls?


Can an Aquarium with No Bottom Be Used to House Axolotls?

Axolotls could be housed in bare-bottom aquariums, which makes cleaning and maintaining high water quality effortless. You can add substrate to make a more natural habitat and to enable living plants to be anchored.

Do Axolotls Need UV Light?

Axolotls do not need UV light because they are predominantly nocturnal and cannot synthesize vitamin D from UV radiation. But supplying low-intensity UV light can aid in promoting plant development and creating a more natural atmosphere.

What Kind of Plants Can I Add to My Axolotl Tank?

Axolotls like low-light plants with the capacity to endure colder water temperatures, like Java fern, Anubias, and mosses. Avoid involving any plants, such as certain lily species, that might be poisonous to axolotls.

Can Axolotls Live in Tap Water?

In order for axolotls to survive in tap water, it is important to remove any harmful chemicals such as chlorine and chloramines with a water conditioner.

What Kind of Water Conditioner Is Safe for Axolotls?

Water conditioners that neutralize chlorine and chloramines and also contain slime coat protectants are safe for axolotls. It is important to follow the dosage instructions carefully.


Axolotl is a unique and interesting aquatic species that demands extra care and consideration while putting up a tank. To maintain a healthy and cozy home for these interesting animals, every part of the tank setup should be considered, from the optimum tank size and temperature to the proper water filtration system and lighting.

The right substrate, accessories, and water chemistry can all make a significant difference in the well-being of axolotls. By providing proper care, owners can enjoy the company of these unusual pets for many years to come.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment