Axolotl Care Sheet

Here is a quick overview of axolotl care requirements for beginners. If you’re an experienced aquarist, scroll down for a full list of precise parameters, straight from the veterinarian!

Basic Requirements

Min. aquarium size: 15 gallons recommended for the first axolotl, +10 for any additional axolotl (go bigger if you can — here’s why)
Temperature range: 15 to 21°C (a fan or other cooling method is required for those summer heat waves!)
Filtration: a properly cycled filter with biological media and gentle flow is a must
Substrate: keep it bare or see this article for safe options
Maintenance: 25 to 50% water changes weekly (rinse sponges every time, using old aquarium water)
Diet: see this article for options
Decor: at least one place to hide and one floating item to provide cover and shade (nothing small enough to be eaten!)

Testing Cheat Sheet

This is the chart that comes with the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. I’ve added emojis to help you keep track of which parameters are safe and which aren’t. For precise values, see the parameters list below.

Precise Parameters

Min. aquarium length: 24″ (60 cm)
Floor space:
2 ft2 for the first axolotl + 1 ft2 per additional axolotl
Water volume:
15 gal for the first axolotl + 10 gal per additional axolotl recommended (min. 5 gal per axolotl for short-term tubbing)
Temperature range: 15-21°C acceptable, 16-18°C preferred (breeding range), 4-23°C tolerated (short periods only towards the ends of the range)
Ammonia: 0 ppm (can tolerate 0.25 ppm for short periods or in ammonium form)
Nitrites: 0 ppm (can tolerate up to 0.5 ppm for short periods)
Nitrates: 0-10 ppm ideal (can tolerate up to 110 ppm, short periods only for anything higher)
pH: 7.4-7.8 (can adapt 6.5 to 8.0 — it’s usually safer not to try to adjust pH)
General hardness (GH): 7 -14° (125.3-250.6 ppm)
Carbonate hardness (KH): 3-8° (53.7-143.2 ppm)
Oxygen saturation: 70 to 100% recommended (can tolerate lower, susceptible to gas bubble disease if higher)
Salinity: salt is not required but 20-40% Holtfreter’s or John’s solutions are recommended (can tolerate up to 15 g/L salt for short periods)