Axolotls are seeing a huge spike in popularity right now and although they have been seeing a steady increase in the number of people getting an axolotl as a pet over the last five to ten years, over the last year or two, their popularity has exploded and shows no signs of slowing down. Due to this, we have noticed more and more people reaching out and asking questions based on how they are able to make sure they are offering their axolotl the best care possible. Our regular readers will know that we love to see responsible pet owners and have no problem publishing articles to help our readers with any questions they have.
Over the last two to three months, we have lost count of the number of people reaching out and asking for a dedicated axolotl tank size guide or an axolotl tank setup guide so we have decided to combine the two into our ultimate guide. Our hope is that we are going to be able to help any of our readers who are considering getting themselves an axolotl and ensure that you are able to offer them the absolute best care possible. Keeping an axolotl is a little different than most people think but provided you take the time and effort to plan their tanks ahead of time, they can be great pets to have.
Keep in mind though, this is just general advice that is ideal to aim for when it comes to your pet axolotls tank. Depending on your location, some of our recommended products may not be available in your area so you may have to go off and look for a suitable alternative that you are able to easily source. That said though, the vast majority of things that we are going to be mentioning in this article are mass-produced and with most of our readers being from North America, Europe, and Australia, you should easily be able to source the items we recommended.
What Is The Minimum Tank Size For A Single Axolotl
As a minimum, we usually recommend that our readers house a single adult axolotl in a tank that is at least 30 inches long but the longer the better. As axolotls are bottom dwellers, a high tank is almost always wasted real estate and potentially a waste of money so we always recommend that our readers go with a long tank for their axolotls. If you are planning on having more than one axolotl in the same tank, we usually recommend that you add around 10 inches per additional axolotl in the tank after the initial 30 inches but again, the longer the tank the better.
If you are only planning to get yourself one axolotl then an Aqueon 20 Gallon Long is an ideal tank size coming in at 30.25 inches long with a width of 12.75 inches and a height of 12.5 inches. This is the absolute minimum length that we would ever recommend to our readers for an axolotl but like we mentioned, for each additional axolotl kept in the tank, you should be trying to add around an additional ten inches of length to the tank so something like the Aquatic Fundamentals 30 Gallon may be suitable with its length of almost 38 inches.
Provided that you avoid tall tanks and make sure that you are sticking by the 30 inches plus around ten inches per additional axolotl in the tank, you should be fine and not have any issues with housing your pet. In addition to this, a longer tank also makes it easier to add the various plants and hides to the aquarium that axolotls require for a comfortable and happy life.
Can I Keep An Axolotl In A 10 Gallon Tank
We have lost count of the number of times that we see this question asked and there is a lot of misunderstanding about what this means but the vast majority of the time, the answer is no, you should never keep an adult axolotl in a 10-gallon tank. To our knowledge, this initially started from two different YouTubers who keep axolotls as pets in two different videos a few months apart from each other.
The first video specifically said that they were only using a 10-gallon tank for their juvenile axolotl and would be moving it to a 40 gallon 50 inches long aquarium when it was older. The second YouTube video was a little less clear but they were referring to a custom build 10-gallon aquarium that has been specifically designed for one of their axolotls. As we touched on earlier, axolotls are bottom dwellers, and more often than not, verticle space in the tank is not required. Their custom builds 10-gallon aquarium had been designed to be a long and shallow tank that only required 10 gallons of water but was 42 inches long and 15 inches wide.
Other than a very specifically built tank such as that, you should never keep a fully grown axolotl in a tank so small. A 10-gallon aquarium is a common place holder for a baby or juvenile axolotl when people first get them as many people want to shop around and find the perfect tank for when their axolotl matures but as soon as it becomes an adult, your axolotl needs to be moved to a tank with an appropriate size.
How Many Gallons Does An Axolotl Need
As we just touched on, gauging an axolotls tank by its gallon size is not an appropriate way to find a suitable tank. The different dimensions of the tank will play a larger roll in if the tank as a suitable size for an adult axolotl or not and is why we recommend that anyone wanting to keep axolotls as pets go with a 30-inch tank initially and then try to add around 10 additional inches per additional axolotl in the tank as a minimum. A width of 12 to 15 inches will be common for a long tank and are fine but make sure that you don’t go with a tank size with a width less than 10 inches unless it makes up for the lost space in length.
Keep in mind that a large number of people who do keep axolotls as pets will keep them in a custom build aquarium rather than an off the shelf solution. This can lead to come conduction online as we touched on above with the custom-built 10-gallon aquarium. In our opinion, these longer tanks are easier to maintain took and can make your life a breeze when it comes to water changes.
Tank Essentials For An Axolotl Tank
No axolotl aquarium would be complete without having some of the essential aquarium accessories in it and we would recommend that you make sure you have the following in the tank as a bare minimum. Creativity is endless when it comes to aquariums though and we have seen some absolutely epic axolotl tanks on social media where the owner has gone all out.
A high-quality substrate is an essential part of your axolotl’s tank as it acts as a base layer for everything else to be built upon. Unfortunately, due to the substrate essentially being the bottom of the tank, some people often overlook it and will go with a gravel-based product and this is a mistake! For some reason, axolotls seem to just eat the gravel if you do use a gravel-based substrate so this should be avoided at all costs.
The vast majority of axolotl owners will use a sand based substrate and in our opinion Caribsea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand is one of, if not the best commercially available substrate on the market for your axolotl’s aquarium right now. Not only does it have an excellent reputation amongst the wider aquarium enthusiast community but it also has a ton of excellent independent reviews too with many of them having been left by other axolotl owners that are well worth reading.
A hide acts as the housing for your axolotl in its tank and is an essential part of the tank in our opinion. As you should be going for a longer tank for optimal axolotl care, you usually have plenty of real estates available to place multiple hides in the tank so your axolotl can change things up as it sees fit. We have seen things as basic as PVC tubes being used as hides for axolotls to random rock-based creations to the commercially available hides on the market.
We try to discourage the homemade rock hides in case they give way with your axolotl inside them but there are some great commercially produced hides that have great reputations with the axolotl owning community and will comfortably sit in the water of your tank. Here are our three recommended hides for your axolotl tank and it is usually recommended that you try to get at least two different hide types for your axolotls aquarium:-
Water Test Kit
Picking up some water test kits is essential as you need to try and keep the pH of your aquarium to a suitable level for your pet axolotls. Our recommended water test kits linked above are very budget-friendly and can help ensure that the water in your axolotls tank is suitable for them to be happy. A pH of 7.4 to 7.6 is usually recommended for axolotls but a pH of 6.5 to around 8 can be used if needed.
A filter is an essential element in your axolotls tank as the filtration of the tanks water is essential. That said though, there is a wide range of different filters on the market that you are able to use with their own budgets relative effectiveness. That said though, if you are on a tighter budget, something like the Uxcell Biochemical Sponge Filter will likley be a good starting point as it is very budget-friendly and used by other axolotl owners without issue.
If you have a larger budget available then something like the Marineland Canister Filter is ideal and had a large number of axolotl owners using it at their go-to filer option for their pets aquariums. It does everything you could ever want to your tanks water and is also a much better option for larger tanks so if you are planning to get more than one axolotl, a canister based filter system is going to be your primary option.
Although lightning is not an essential element of the tank for your actual axolotls, lighting is often ideal for a display tank and is an essential element of a tank that contents some types of live plants. As it is highly recommended that you have live plants in your axolotl’s tank, you require a lighting solution by default. That said though, as the lighting unit is actually for your plants rather than your axolotl, we would recommend you source a light suitable for your plants of choice.
Most people usually just go with a regular aquarium lighting solution based around a hood fixture with a fluorescent bulb. That said though, some of the more specialist live plants that are often kept in display tanks due to their unique looks require specialist lighting so be sure to keep this in mind too.
Suitable Live Plants For An Axolotl Tank
As we touched on earlier in the article, we would highly recommend that you add plenty of live plants to your axolotls tank and as we mentioned in the hides section above, due to going with longer tanks for axolotls, you have plenty of space to put a number of plants in your tank. As we mentioned under the lighting section, there are a number of different live plant options that you can use in your tank but be sure to use appropriate lighting for them.
Many axolotl owners tend to add Marimo Moss Balls to their axolotls tank as it acts as some greenage in the water and some axolotl also like to eat the moss balls or even play with them. Java Fern is another commonly used plant for axolotls with many people also using fake plant to help fill out their aquariums and add additional cover for their pets.
Suitable Tank Mates For An Axolotl
When it comes to recommended tank mates for axolotl it can be a total pain to find something that requires the same habitat, water temperature, and pH levels as your axolotl so most people just go with adding another axolotl to the tank for company. Many fish species that are usually classed as peaceful can accidentally harm your axolotl’s external gills so this is another thing to be wary of too.
Snails should be avoided as tank mates at all costs for two reasons. The first is that your pet axolotls may eat the snails in its tank and their hard shells can lead to impaction and the second is that they can potentially carry parasites that could be harmful to your axolotl. Some snails can also contaminate the water of the tank too leading to additional issues.
Axolotl can also easily eat smaller fish that some people often put into their tanks too. Countless guppies and minnows have been eaten by axolotls due to owners thinking that their pets are too slow to catch the fish but axolotls can be sneaky and if given the chance, will definitely eat small fish species in their tank. We have seen some people report that they have successfully added guppies to their axolotls tank and that they are often fine due to longer tanks giving the guppies notice that your axolotl is coming close but they will usually end up being eaten eventually.
That brings our article going over what we feel is the ideal tank size and initial tank setup guide for any of our readers who are considering purchasing an axolotl as a pet. Once you get your initial sizing and setup complete, things such as water changes, water flow, cleaning up uneaten food, and maintaining the required water quality of the tank are much easier than most people think. We hope that our readers have found our article helpful and that you have found it helpful in finding the right aquarium size and setup for your pet axolotls.