Guide On Axolotl Tail Damage – Tail Curl, Tail Rot and Tail Turning Red (with Pics)

Axolotl Tail Damage

Axolotls are fragile creatures that can suffer with variety of health problems. One body part that is very prone to damage and problems is the axolotl tail. Axolotl tail damage is often caused by stress or bad conditions and the symptoms include tail rot, tail curl, tail turning red.

This article will help you determine what’s the cause of your axolotl tail problems and how to treat it.

What Causes Axolotl Tail Damage?

As already mentioned, axolotl are fragile animals. Their body is very sensitive, especially the axolotl tail.

The main causes of axolotl tail damage include:

  • Injury from swimming or catching it on sharp edges from decorative plants, hide places or any sharp edge in the tank
  • Lack of nutrients in their diet can result in axolotl tail damage
  • Spike in nitrate/ammonia
  • Incorrect water temperatures
  • Poor cleanliness
  • Stress

Although, axolotls’ recovery and regeneration skills are incredible, it’s not the actual injury that can cause the damage but the infection that can develop on the site of the injury.

Now, let’s take a look at more specific cases of axolotl tail damage – what causes it and how to treat it.

Axolotl Tail Curl And Wavy Tail

axolotl tail curl

Axolotl tail curl is one of the more common axolotl tail issues that owners research.

The cause for axolotl tail curl is stress. However, it’s not that simple as axolotl can be stressed due to various reasons such as:

  • Incorrect tank parameters such ammonia/nitrate spike
  • Water temperature too high
  • Water temperature varies and not maintained the same
  • Tank mates
  • Incorrect diet
  • Poor cleanliness
  • The water is too lively. Axolotls live in calm waters
  • Illness such as fungus or gas bubble disease

Axolotl Tail Curl – How To Treat It

As already mentioned, axolotl tail curl or wavy tail appearance is caused by stress. Therefore, to treat axolotl tail curl, first you’ll need to establish what is causing the stress and then, remove it from their environment.

To determine what is the root of your axolotl’s stress, follow these steps:

  • Check the tank parameters using a testing kit like the one linked below
  • Check the nitrogen cycle
  • 90% water changes must be done once a week. A rule of thumb is that too much water change is always better than too little
  • Check your axolotl’s body for any injury
  • Check for any white cotton like fuzz growth on your axolotl’s gills

Ideal Tank Parameters

For your axolotl to be healthy and not have any tail issues, you need to maintain the following tank parameters:

  • Water temperature should be at 59°F to 65°F and maintained the same without any sudden changes as that can stress your axolotl
  • Ammonia levels should be 0
  • pH levels. The ideal pH is 7.4-7.6
  • Nitrite levels should be 0
  • Chlorine is harmful for axolotls. Therefore, the water in their tank must be either dechlorinated or left to stand for 24 hours before adding it
  • Water hardness. Axolotls prefer water that is slightly hard. This means that they need a good concentration of dissolved salts in their water. Hard water ensures healthy gills and healthy slime coat production

You should be testing your axolotl’s water at least once a week. It only takes 2 minutes of your time. Use the test kit linked below.

The Nitrogen Cycle

The nitrogen cycle is a natural process is when decaying matter such as waste, old food and plant start to break down. This process produces ammonia and nitrate build up which is toxic for your axolotl and can result in axolotl tail damage and many other health problems.

That’s why cycling your tank is so important for your axolotl’s health. A well cycled tank is when a good amount of beneficial bacteria is present in your filter (it can be either a hang-on-back filter or a canister filter) that will consume ammonia and convert it to nitrites.

Check out this step-by-step guide to make sure that you’re cycling your tank correctly.

Axolotl Tail Rot – Tail Disappearing And Getting Thinner

axolotl tail rot

Axolotl tail rot is a very common problem that owners have to deal with. Normally, axolotl rot is caused by infection and/or fungus. As that can easily spread to other body parts such as their hands, feet, mouth, gills, it’s essential to act quickly and treat.

If your axolotl tail disappearing and rotting is because of fungus, there will be other symptoms such as:

  • Fungus is the white cotton fuzz like growth on axolotl and the most obvious symptom of the illness
  • Axolotl scratching like a dog the infected fungus area
  • In severe cases, the infection can spread to the axolotl’s internal organs, and it will appear on the outside as red streaking all over the axolotl’s body

Axolotl Tail Rot – How To Treat It

If your axolotl tail rot is the result of fungus and/or infection, treating the actual fungus is as important as treating the cause of the fungus.

Normally, fungus can be caused by:

  • Lack of water cycling
  • Build-up of feces or waste. An unbalanced environment with too much dissolved organics may lead to outbreaks of fungus
  • Warmer water temperatures that can result in ammonia/nitrate spike in the tank
  • Lack of strong microbiome. Most common with tanks that have a bare bottom or sand only
  • Contamination of the enclosure with disinfectants, soaps, or detergents

To treat the actual fungus, the first thing you’ll need to do is get the water perimeters right and lower the water temperature. This on its own should strengthen your axolotl’s immune system and they should be able to fight off the infection on their own. However, there are other treatments that you can try such as tea baths and fridging.

Treatments such as salt baths and/or antifungal antibiotics should only be used as a last resort and in severe cases as they are considered aggressive treatments.

To read the full guide on axolotl fungus and how to treat it, head over here White Cotton Like Fuzz On Axolotl? Axolotl Fungus – Causes And Treatment

Axolotl Tail Turning Red

axolotl turning red

Another common axolotl tail problem is when the tail is turning red. Normally, your axolotl tail turning red aswell as the skin or their feet it’s caused by a bacteria known as “red leg.” The other possible cause for your axolotl tail turning red is ammonia spike in the water.

On the other hand, if your axolotl tail is turning red only during activities such as eating or swimming, it’s nothing to worry about. As axolotl’s skin is quite transparent, you will be able to see the blood rush when they are active. However, this is most visible in their gills and torso.

Red Leg Bacteria

If Red Leg bacteria is the reason for your axolotl tail turning red, you should keep an eye for any accompanying symptoms to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Anemia
  • Lethargy
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Open sores on the skin, nose, and toes that do not heal
  • Ascitis (collection of fluid in the abdominal cavity)
  • Scratching the red spots

To treat Red Leg bacteria, you should fridge your axolotl and use antiseptic to relieve the symptoms of the infection. Another thing that you can use to relieve the symptoms are tea baths.

Lastly, you can use an antibiotic therapy to prevent secondary infection.

Axolotl Tail Up

axolotl tail up

Normally, axolotl tail up means they are impacted. Axolotls can become impacted by any of the following:

  • Swallowing rock
  • Gravel. If you have gravel in your tank, it can cause serious blockages and even kill your pet
  • Tank decorations
  • Indigestible food or the wrong foods. Blockages can be caused by chitin as the result of consuming mealworms or other insects with a chitinous exoskeleton. One owner has reported that feeding their axolotl black shell shrimp has resulted in constipation
  • Overfeeding
  • Air bubbles

If you suspect that your axolotl tail up is because of constipation/impaction, keep an eye on the accompanying symptoms:

  • Floating tail up
  • No poop
  • Refuse to eat
  • Bloat

Axolotl Tail Up – How To Treat It

If your axolotl tail up is a symptom of constipation, you’ll need to treat the constipation by following these steps:

  1. Start feeding your axolotl earthworms rather than bloodworm. Earthworms are the perfect food as they are nutritionally balanced, and they wriggle which your axolotl will love!
  2. Remove anything that your axolotl can swallow from the tank such as gravel, rocks that are the same size or smaller than your axolotl’s head, decorative plants with removable leaves or parts
  3. Fridging
  4. If fridging doesn’t work, it’s likely that the blockage it too big to pass and surgery might be necessary

To read the full guide on constipated axolotl, head over here Constipated Axolotl? What Causes It and How To Treat

Final Thoughts

Axolotl tail damage is a common health problem that axolotl owners have to deal with. There are various problems that can affect the axolotl tail such as tail thinning and rotting, tail curving, tail turning red and tail pointing up.

The most common causes for axolotl tail damage include:

  • Injury
  • Incorrect tank parameters such as spike in ammonia/nitrate
  • Water temperature too high
  • Stress caused by tank mates, incorrect diet
  • Poor cleanliness
  • Illness such as fungus or infection

Regardless of the problem, the two most important things that you need to do to help your axolotl are address the cause by eliminating it from your pet’s environment and apply the correct treatment. If you just treat the symptoms, the problem will return.

Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

Can Axolotls Regrow Their Tail?

Lizards can regrow their tail endless number of times. Axolotls being a Mexican species of salamander means they can also regenerate, repair, or replace arms, legs, tail, lower jaw, brain and even heart.

It takes between 2 to 3 weeks for the axolotl to regenerate a limb.

What Are The Signs Of A Stressed Axolotl?

Axolotls are fragile animals that can get easily stressed. If your axolotl is stressed that can quickly lead to other health issues.

Therefore, it’s important to know what the signs of a stressed axolotl are, so you can immediately find the root cause and fix it.

With that said, the signs of a stressed axolotl to keep an eye out for include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Gills curled forward
  • Curled tail tip
  • Frequent gulps of air
  • Floating
  • Frantic swimming



My name is Iliyana and I'm a passionate animal lover and pet owner. As there is significantly less information online about unusual and exotic pets, I decided to found this website and recruit expert writers to help pet owners.

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