Axolotls make good aquatic pets because they are friendly, interactive, and easy to care for.
These peaceful members of the tiger salamander are not particularly social animals. So, if you want to keep tank mates for your axolotl, there are not many options.
Axolotls do just fine when they are left on their own. These cold water-dwelling critters are carnivores, so they devour smaller aquatic creatures.
Some others, if kept as tank mates, can cause discomfort for your axolotl.
It is important to be careful when choosing axolotl tank mates, because they may not be good for your little monster.
In this post, we are going to recommend 6 tank mates with whom your axolotl can live peacefully. After reading this post, hopefully you will be able to make an informed decision.
Do Axolotls Need a Buddy?
Axolotls are not social creatures, and they do not actually get lonely. Some species of axolotls devour smaller fish, and some fish nip at axolotls.
While these salamanders are capable of regenerating lost body parts, it is a good idea to prevent hazards. If you keep other axolotls as tank mates, they may display cannibalistic tendencies.
Therefore, it is recommended that you raise axolotls in separate enclosures. In general, axolotls are peaceful, but they do not cringe when humans watch them.
There are very few aquatic animals that can be kept as tank mates for axolotls. We have done some research and come up with the top 6 options.
Before we introduce them, let’s see what factors should be taken into consideration when choosing tank mates for axolotls.
3 Factors to Consider When Choosing Tank Mates for Axolotls
Before you keep an animal in the same tank, make sure the animal is safe for your axolotl and itself.
Again, axolotls live in cool water, so adding tropical fish to the tank is not a good idea. Let’s dive a little bit deeper into these factors.
Safe for Axolotl
Axolotls are peaceful, and do not go well with aggressive, large, and territorial fish. Aggressive fish can bully and attack your axolotl, even try to eat it.
So, the first rule is to avoid strong fish. Even if the fish is remotely aggressive, steer clear of it. Also, do not add any bottom-dwelling fish because it will compete with your axolotl.
Black-lined loach, badis, horse face loach, Chinese false gudgeon, mini dragon loach, panda loach, ring loach, and zebra loach are some direct competitors.
Safe for Tank Mates
Before you put a fish or other aquatic animal in the same tank, make sure the animal is safe from your axolotl. There are many species of fish that can fall prey to axolotls.
Siamese tiger perch, Eyespot gourami, and Spanish toothcarp are some examples. The tank mates you choose should be fast enough to run away from your axolotl.
Live in Cool Water
Warm water creatures are not capable of living with axolotls because axolotls live in cool water.
So, steer clear of tropical fish, especially the ones that live in water over 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Look for cool water creatures that meet the other criteria mentioned above.
6 Best Axolotl Tank Mates
There are not many fish species that can be considered safe as axolotl tank mates.
To help you make an informed decision, we have done some research and found six creatures that make great mates for axolotls.
We have taken all relevant factors into consideration when choosing these options. Here they are:
|Options||Do they eat axolotls?||Do they get eaten by axolotls?||Do they live in cool water?|
|#1 Other axolotls||No||Yes||Yes|
|#2 Guppy fish||No||Yes||Yes|
|#3 White cloud mountain minnows||No||Yes||Yes|
|#4 Zebra danios||No||Rarely||Yes|
|#5 Apple snails (as adults)||No||Sometimes||Yes|
|#6 Small shrimp||No||Yes||Yes|
- Other Axolotls
If you think you must choose a tank buddy for your axolotl, another axolotl is the best option out there. However, there are some things to consider about this pairing.
You may keep axolotls of the same gender, or you may decide to keep a male and female gender together. In the latter case, chances are that you will end up with more axolotls!
How do you know if your axolotl is a male or a female? Well, look at the opening under the tail. In males, it protrudes a bit. In females, it is almost flat.
Do not keep a fully matured axolotl with a smaller one. The matured one may show dominating tendencies toward the smaller one.
Do not keep juvenile axolotls together, because they may show cannibalistic tendencies, eating each other’s limbs and gills.
If you notice any of these problems, consider keeping your axolotls into separate aquariums. When left alone, an axolotl does not feel lonely.
Also read: Can Axolotls Live Together?
- Guppy Fish
Guppies pose no risk to axolotls, and make great tank buddies. Axolotls can take a culinary interest in guppies, but that is not always the case.
Guppies breed fast, and the tiny ones can serve as snacks to axolotls. However ,it is important to note that large numbers of guppies can overwhelm your axolotl.
Another reason why guppies can co-exist with axolotls is that guppies are cold water fish. The ideal water temperature for axolotls is 60-64°F.
For guppies, the ideal temperature is between 74 ° and 82 ° F. This slight difference does not cause any problem for guppies. They are quite fast, so they can escape axolotls.
While large guppies pose no serious threats to axolotls, they often carry diseases and tend to nip the gills of axolotls.
So, before you introduce guppies to the aquarium, make sure they are quarantined.
- White Cloud Mountain Minnows
White cloud minnows make amazing tank buddies for axolotls, in part because minnows are cool water fish, peaceful in nature.
Minnows have no shells or spines, and therefore axolotls find them easy to eat.
The ideal water temperature for white cloud minnows is 57°F to 72°F. pH level should be somewhere between 6.0 and 8.5. For these creatures, water should not be hard. Around 10 to 15 KH is ideal.
It is important to note that minnows do not pose a threat to axolotls, but are bound to fall prey to axolotls.
They are better off if you keep them in separate tanks. But if you are okay with the fact that your axolotls will devour the minnows, go ahead and keep them in the same tank.
- Zebra Danios
Zebra Danios are peaceful cool water fish that make great tank mates for Axolotls.
While they run the risk of falling prey to axolotls, they are very agile and therefore stand a chance to survive in the aquarium.
The ideal water temperature for zebra danios is between 65 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. They do pretty well in moderately hard waters. Ideally, the pH level should be 6.5 to 7.2.
- Apple Snails (As adults)
Adult apple snails also make great tank mates for axolotls. Your axolotls will not be able to eat the snails because they are not very small.
Ramshorn snails and juvenile bladder snails are also fairly good options because they have soft shells.
Adult snails can be risky, because axolotls will swallow them but have a hard time digesting them.
However, in general, apple snails are a pretty good option. They are not aggressive, so they will not pose a threat to your axolotls.
For apple snails, the ideal water temperature is 75°F. Water hardness should be 6 to 12 dH. Ideal pH range is 6.5 to 8.
These creatures are pretty adaptive. So, do not worry if the water parameters in your tank exceed these ranges.
Also read: Can Axolotl and Snails Live Together?
- Small Shrimp
The ideal water parameters of axolotls are suitable for most shrimp. Shrimp, just like axolotls, enjoy heavily planted tanks and keep to the substrate.
Shrimp are peaceful, and can peacefully coexist with axolotls. However, shrimp do not consume the same food as axolotls.
Therefore, for the shrimp, you will have to provide different types of food items such as dead and living plants, algae, and worms.
Technically, shrimp are hunters, but they are not large enough to eat axolotls. When attacked, shrimp can be aggressive. But axolotls do not usually attack shrimp.
The ideal water temperature for shrimps is 64°F to 76°F. Water hardness should be 4-6dH. The ideal pH range is 6 to 7.5.
So, in terms of water parameters, shrimps have the same requirements as axolotls.
Also read: Can Axolotl and Ghost Shrimp Live Together?
3 Fish Are Not Compatible with Axolotls
There are some fish species that may seem perfect tank mates for axolotls, but actually they are not. They include goldfish, leeches, and all types of warm water fish.
Apart from them, there are many other fish species that are unsuitable for being kept as axolotl tank mates. But most people seem to go wrong with these three options.
Let’s see why they can’t live with axolotls in the same tank.
Although goldfish are cold water fish, they are at their best when the water is not that cold.
For fancy goldfish, the optimum temperature is 68° to 74° F, which is not suitable for axolotls. As we have stated, the ideal water temperature for axolotls is 60-64° F.
Goldfish get big enough to harass axolotls, and that is another cause for concern.
Goldfish also have a bad reputation for producing lots of waste, and your axolotls may get stressed and overwhelmed with so much waste. It is also bad for the overall well being of your little salamander.
Goldfish may nip at the gills and fins of your axolotl but that may not be a problem in the long run because gradually your axolotls will learn how to deal with the situation, and the goldfish will also stop doing that.
If you are still willing to keep goldfish and axolotls in the same tank, consider investing in a large tank in which they will be able to live together without making a mess.
- Most Loaches, Catfish and Cory Catfish
Bottom-dwelling fish that include most loaches can cause stress for your axolotl.
Therefore, it is good to stay away from loaches such as kansu loach, horse face loach, black-lined loach, panda loach, zebra loach, ring loach, and peacock loach.
Due to their sharp spines on the dorsal fins, cory catfish are not good tank mates for axolotls. If your axolotl makes an attempt to swallow a catfish, the fish may end up injuring your axolotl.
Cory catfish are bottom-feeders, and that means they will directly compete with your axolotls for food.
- Any Warm Water Fish
Do keep any tropical fish as tank mates with axolotls. Axolotls require cool water, which is too cold for warm water fish.
If you are living in a hot region, you may need an aquarium chiller to keep the tank water cool.
Axolotls are peaceful, sensitive and fragile, and there are not many options for axolotl tank mates.
When choosing tank mates for axolotls, choose small, peaceful, non-aggressive, cold water creatures. We have tried to provide a simple guideline, and we hope your axolotl will be fine with any of the 6 tank mates.