Axolotls – environment

Housing requirements for axolotls.

Aquariums must provide sufficient space for axolotls to move around and participate in normal behaviours. The aquariums must also be able to hold a sufficient amount of water and be located in an appropriate position in the room.

  • 60 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm is the minimum space required for a pair of adult axolotls
  • Water must be at least 20-25cms deep
  • Water must be conditioned prior to use with all chemicals and residues removed
  • Water pH must be between 6.5 and 8
  • Water temperature must be 15-18°C and must never exceed 22°C
  • A high level of hygiene and cleanliness must be kept at all times
  • Dim lighting is preferred and dark areas must be provided
  • Faeces accumulations must be removed regularly
  • Water circulation must be kept to a minimum
  • Normal diurnal pattern of lighting must be provided with periods of dark
  • Air surrounding aquariums must be of acceptable quality with respect to dust, chemicals and smells
  • All animals must be observed moving during daily inspections.

Axolotls should not be kept in aquariums with other species.


Aquariums must provide a minimum area of 60 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm per full-grown pair of axolotls. The water height should be 20–25 cm.


This is the most important component of the axolotl’s environment. Never house them in extremely soft or distilled water. Remove any chlorine, chloramines or ammonia that may have been added as part of water treatment. Commercial preparations are available for this purpose or water can be aged. Keep the pH between 6.5 and 8.0.


Axolotls thrive at cool temperatures. The optimum range is 15-18oC. They should never be kept above 22oC.. To prevent overheating, never house axolotls where they are exposed to direct sun. During heat waves a damp towel can be draped of the aquarium with a fan blowing air across it.


Axolotls prefer dim light. Normal indoor lighting, without aquarium lights, is sufficient. If the tank is brightly lit for the benefit of live water plants, then darker areas must also be established.


An aquarium lid is not necessary if the water surface is at least 7 cm lower than the top. The tank should be aerated as axolotls extract oxygen from the water through their gills. In laboratory settings, a mesh or other suitable cover may be appropriate.


Rapidly circulating water is stressful to axolotls. If filtration is used, the rate of circulation should be as slow as possible.


A clump of water plants or a rocky overhang provides a refuge from bright lights and from other axolotls. Where brighter lights are used to promote plant growth, it is very important to provide dark areas for animals to retreat to.


Weekly partial water changes, involving removal of about 25% of the water, is recommended, using conditioned water of the same temperature. Regular removal of solid waste is necessary. Bacterial scum that grows on the aquarium must be removed regularly as it can affect the axolotl’s skin and cause toe loss. Once the water has been removed, the tank can be cleaned safely with a scour pad dipped in a mixture of baking soda and salt at a 2:1 ratio. Rinse the tank gently and fill with conditioned water. Prior to disposal of the wastewater, Add a bleach solution of one part bleach to five parts water. Pour the water down a toilet bowl. Untreated water should not be discarded into storm water drains or septic tank systems.


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