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Exotic Pets: Axolotls

What they are and where to find them.

By KiwiPublished 7 years ago 4 min read
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Have you ever been interested in these cute little creatures that have seemed to take over parts of the internet? Here is some information about Axolotls, how to care for them, where to find them, and other general information.

What are Axolotls?

Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) are commonly known as Mexican salamanders, or Mexican walking fish. They originate from Mexico, where, until recently, they were only found in two lakes in the whole country. Recently, one of these lakes has been ruined by pollution and other environmental factors, and they are confined to one lake in Mexico. However, people found these amazing creatures, started bringing them home, and you can now buy them as pets from many different people, and even in some pet stores, all around the world.

Care & Tank Requirements

I live in New York, so I bought my two original axolotls from a breeder in Corning. I didn't know too much about them, but I found them on Craigslist and immediately started doing research. I was taken back by the amount of work that goes into caring for these sweet little creatures.

Axolotls grow quite large (on average, about 9 inches in captivity) and can live for 15 years with excellent care, but the average is about 10 years in captivity. As a result of this, they need quite a bit of room. A single axolotl should be housed in nothing smaller than a 20 gallon tank, especially at full size. If you wish to house more than one axolotl, this is possible, as long as they get along. The general rule is about 20 gallons for one axolotl, and an additional 10 gallons for each additional. (30 for two, 40 for 3, and so on.) However, most people would not recommend housing more than four in a tank at a time.


Axolotls require dechlorinated water. This can be achieved by adding Prime (water conditioner) to the water you are using for your tank. It is also important to have a filter in your tank, as this reduces the amount of water changes you must do. (If you choose not to use a filter, you should change about 20% of your tank water daily.) If you are using a filter, it is important to let it cycle for about two weeks before adding an axolotl. This allows the filter to create the microbes needed for a healthy tank & filter system. This can be sped up by adding guppies or feeder fish to the tank while cycling the filter.


Axolotls are opportunistic eaters, meaning they will typically eat whenever there is something in front of them that they can eat. Because of this, it is important to use sand as a substrate in your tank, not gravel. If you want to use rocks, they MUST be larger than your axolotls head, but this is typically advised against all together. Sand is a perfect substrate for axolotls, as long as they're about 5-6 inches or larger. Play sand or aquarium sand is best for a tank, but (especially with play sand) you must rinse it thoroughly.

Ammonia Levels

When fed regularly, axolotls produce a lot of waste. They can produce up to 2-3 pieces of solid waste per week, which must be cleaned out as soon as it is noticed. If left, axolotl waste produces high levels of ammonia, which is fatal to an axolotl. Ammonia will burn an axolotl, resulting in red, burned skin, loss of gill filaments, and eventually death.

Water Parameters

Axolotls require specific water conditions to live. It is important to check your water parameters often. I would suggest buying a master test kit to check the levels of the following things in your water: pH, nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia. I would also suggest checking your water parameters every week or so, more often if a problem arises, to know that your axolotl is not in danger. Listed below are the levels which these parameters should be:

  • pH of 6.5 to 8.0 is acceptable, but 7.4 to 7.6 is ideal
  • Ammonia levels should be less than 1.0, and 0.0ppm is ideal (around or above 1.0 could be deadly)
  • Nitrite levels should also be around 0.0ppm.
  • Nitrate levels should be around 20-40ppm.

Water changes will help to keep these parameters at their required levels.

Where to Find Them

As I said above, I found my first two axolotls on Craigslist from a breeder, but there are other places you can look. Not everything you find on Craigslist is 100%, like most places on the internet, but it's a good first place to look. You can also join pages and groups on Facebook, like Everything Axolotl. If you join this group, you will find that there are many breeders across the US, in the UK, in Canada, and elsewhere looking to sell axolotls. It is illegal to ship them across borders, and they are not legal to have as pets in New Jersey or California*, but they can be shipped within legal parts of the country. Many of these breeders have live arrival guarantees, and have excellent reviews. I've gotten two other axolotls from two different breeders in this group, and everyone is doing great.

*Axolotls are illegal in NJ and CA because there is concern that people will illegally breed them with local salamander species.

Get One!

photo by Rate My Fish Tank

If you would like to buy an axolotl, feel free to join the group Everything Axolotl on Facebook. For more information, you can find tons of information on websites such as, or you can join and post in forums at

These creatures take a lot of work, but they are so cool. I urge any pet lover to get one and see for themselves!

exotic pets

About the Creator


Hi! I'm 23 years old. I was born in California, grew up in New York, and am currently living in Florida. I love to write about a lot of things. I write a lot of poetry. I just want to share what I've got to say!

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