Axolotls: Primeval Aquarium Inhabitants

With its extraordinary appearance, it triggers a wide variety of reactions in us humans: the axolotl! You can find out where this aquarium inhabitant comes from and a lot of useful information about keeping axolotl here.


  • Scientific name: Ambystoma mexicanum
  • Class: amphibians
  • Associated family: cross-tooth newts
  • Age: Can be between 12 and 20 years old, individual cases up to 28 years
  • Weight: 60 to 200g
  • Size: 15 to 45cm
  • Occurrence in the wild: Endemic to Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco near Mexico City
  • Special features: spend their life in the gill-breathing larval stage, have the ability to regenerate
  • Acquisition costs: Depending on the type and age, between 15 and 30 €, suitable aquarium from around $200

Things Worth Knowing About Axolotl

The unusual name of the animals comes from the Aztec language Náhuatl. It is made up of the words Atl (= water) and Xolotl (= name of an Aztec deity) and means something like “water monster”. In the great outdoors, you will only find axolotl in a few places. The cross-toothed newts come from far away from Mexico and can only be found there at two lakes, Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco near Mexico City. These two lakes are the last remnants of a huge water system, which nowadays only consists of small canals. Axolotls love the oxygen-rich freshwater found in the lakes and live at the bottom of the water. In 1804, axolotl was brought to Europe by the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, where they were then presented to people as a curiosity in the Paris Natural History Museum. It was also Humboldt who began to carefully research the new types of aquatic life.

The results of the research that started there are still more than astonishing and pose a mystery to researchers from all over the world: axolotls have the ability to regenerate. But unlike many reptiles, the axolotl is able to restore entire organs and even parts of its brain. Another unusual feature of these amphibians is the fact that they do not leave their larval stage for their entire life. The reason for this is a congenital thyroid defect, which makes the metamorphosis necessary for development impossible.

The Perfect Axolotl

Axolotls are very exotic aquarium inhabitants, but they are enjoying increasing popularity among aquarists. The axolotl posture is relatively easy, but there are a few things to keep in mind. It is very important to keep axolotl only with conspecifics. Socialization with other animals is not advisable, as the amphibians will always regard them as food. Despite their legs, axolotl are pure aquatic animals, which is why their housing can be completely filled with water. The water should have a temperature of 15 to a maximum of 21 ° C, higher temperatures would damage the immune system. Note this when choosing the location, a sunny place or a place next to a heater are rather unsuitable. Axolotls mainly spend their time on the bottom of the aquarium, which is something that you should definitely pay attention to when designing.

The aquarium itself should have a minimum size of 80x40cm, the pH value of the water is ideally 7 to 8.5. A very important factor to which you should pay a lot of attention when setting up an axolotl aquarium is the choice of the right substrate. The cross-toothed newts often swallow parts of the soil when they eat, which is why it must not contain any substances harmful to the axolotl. Such pollutants include, for example, iron, zinc, and copper. You should completely avoid these substances in the axolotl posture. In addition, the substrate should have a grain size of 1 to 3mm and not be sharp-edged, as otherwise, injuries could occur if it is taken up while eating. Substrates such as sand and uncolored aquarium gravel in the correct grain size are suitable for keeping axolotl in the aquarium.

How does the aquarium have to be set up?

As in every aquarium, a well-functioning filter is particularly important here, which ensures perfect cleanliness in the tank. However, you have to make sure that the filter does not cause an excessive current, as axolotl prefers calm water. However, heating and lighting are not absolutely necessary. Slight heating cannot do any harm, however, since many plants that are suitable for the animals require a certain amount of light radiation from UV lamps. However, it always depends on which plants you choose for an aquarium. Suitable plants are, for example, hornwort, java moss, and duckweed. There are almost no limits to the general design of the pool. The amphibians love it in the shade, which is why many different hiding spots, bridges and caves can beautify the aquarium.

Feeding in the axolotl basin

Axolotls are considered to be ambulance hunters, which means that they will eat anything they can snap and fit in their mouths. Their diet includes smaller fish, insect larvae, worms, shrimp, and other crustaceans. So that Axolotl feels good, the diet should be very varied, because this is the closest thing to natural food intake in the wild. Since the animals are on the ground most of the time, their food should also sink and not swim to the surface. Live food that swims past the animals is also suitable.

Pellet feed can also be fed, especially if it contains a lot of protein. Pellets can have a wide variety of flavors such as salmon or trout and often contain ingredients that ensure rapid growth or weight gain, for example. The correct dosage of the feed always depends on the age of the axolotl. Adult animals can survive a period of 10 to 14 days without food without any problems, but they should still be fed regularly. Depending on their age and size, they get their food once or twice a week.


Axolotls are extraordinary animals that have fascinated and inspired both researchers and keepers for many decades. Amphibians are becoming increasingly popular in pet ownership. The axolotl attitude is if a few things are observed, very simple and yet versatile, as they are very multi-faceted animals with their very own character.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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