Taking care of Axolotls in captivity, keeping your pet happy and healthy

Cute, not so cuddly but curious little creatures, axolotls are definitely taking a bigger share of the exotic pets hobby than ever before, and therefore information about how to care for them is becoming more and more important. If you are thinking about getting one, learning how to take care of them is the first step.

Axolotl habitats

First of all, it’s important to remember that despite your little buddy’s friendly face, axolotls don’t tend to get on with other species too well, and are best kept separately. This is partly down to their external gills, which to grazing fish look a little too much like food! This is the same with newts and even other younger axolotls if they are kept within the same environment without enough space.

Of course, you may want to keep pets of different sexes separately to avoid the obvious complications.

With adults reaching up to 35cm in length, you need to think about aquarium size next, ensuring your pet can move around with ease and not feel cramped at full size. A 45cm aquarium is about right for a single pet (around 45 litres), or bigger. It is important to get a mesh lid for your aquarium too – don’t forget, they have feet and can escape!

Getting your filtration system right

Axolotls create a lot of waste in their environment that needs to be removed so they can use their gills easily, just like fish. You can get around this without using a filter system if you are prepared to do a lot of water changes, however the easiest and most hassle free way is to use a hang-on filter.

Get one that can handle the size of tank you are using and you should be fine. It needs to be able to handle the ammonia produced by your pet which can burn the skin and inhibit breathing if found in large quantities in your water. Its also good to use a spray bar or a stone to distribute the filter’s outflow more peacefully to reduce water flow rate in the tank itself.


Usually, larger inert gravel is best for axolotls, but bare in mind that you don’t actually need any at all (although a bigger filter might be needed to aid filtration). Some pets have a habit of eating smaller gravel substrates and becoming impacted, so the bigger, the better.

Lighting and Heating

The good news here is, unlike many reptiles and fish, these little guys don’t need any specific lighting, although some people do use a little UV light to simulate sunlight for vitamin D. Temperature is easy to – around 10-20 degrees is just fine, and you should monitor this with an aquarium thermometer to make sure. Too low or two high, and their metabolism could be negatively affected.


Decorating your pet’s habitat is easy. While live plants can be used (although usually with the correct lighting system), you can make a beautiful home using high-quality, artificial décor. Try some faux-plants and make sure you give them a cave or hide to sneak away in to give them a secure and safe feeling. Use inert materials that won’t effect your water quality.


Axolotls are carnivores – meat eaters, but can’t bit too well and so their food is swallowed whole. Speak to your local pet stockist or call Swell on 0161 3514700 to speak to our experts on the most up to date diets suitable for your pet.

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