The Best vs Worst Axolotl Tank Mates – Guide [2022]

Axolotl Tank Mates

Setting up the perfect axolotl tank can be rewarding and fulfilling, especially if you’re attempting to get your new enclosure to closely mimic the real-life habitats of these adorable amphibians. There are a lot of considerations when choosing the layout of your new axolotl tank such as the need for axolotl tank mates. 

Axolotls are mysterious creatures, and while they look perpetually happy and relaxed with their dopey smiles, a lot goes into keeping your axolotl happy. Whether you add tank mates to your axolotl tank or not is a personal decision, but it’s important to pick the right tank mates, too.

In this guide, we’ll go over the best vs worst axolotl tank mates. We are also looking at how to set you and your axolotl both up for success when adding other livestock to your axolotl’s living space. 

Even though axolotls are solitary creatures, adding other axolotls or different kinds of aquatic animals can still add lively excitement to your aquarium. So, let’s check out everything you’ll need to know about axolotl tank mates. 

Do Axolotls Get Lonely?

There aren’t many amphibians or reptiles that get lonely or want to live with others, but since axolotls are commonly housed together, and don’t seem to mind it at all, it’s led some potential owners to wonder if axolotls can get lonely. The truth is, axolotls don’t really care if they have tank mates or not!

No, axolotls don’t get lonely. They are solitary animals, and in the wild, would only come together to reproduce. Axolotls can live together under the right circumstances, but they are just as happy living alone. 

In fact, some axolotls are aggressive around other axolotls and will need to be kept alone throughout their entire lives. This doesn’t mean they are lonely or unhappy! Axolotls are happy living alone as long as they are properly cared for. All in all, loneliness isn’t an emotion that axolotls feel.

Can Axolotls Live Together?

axolotl tank mates

While axolotls are usually solitary creatures, that doesn’t mean they can’t be kept together. As long as you have an appropriately sized tank and make sure to get the right axolotls to live together, cohabitation should work just fine.

Axolotls can live together as long as they are adults and are roughly the same size. If the axolotls are juveniles, or if one is significantly larger than the other, there is a good chance the smaller of the 2 will be eaten by the larger one. 

It might come as a shock to some axolotl fans that these adorable salamanders can be cannibals. In order to prevent this cannibalistic behavior, the axolotls need to be fed high-quality diets so they don’t go looking for protein elsewhere, like their tankmates. 

To find out more about the perfect axolotl diet, head over here What Do Axolotl Eat? – The Perfect Axolotl Feeding Schedule [2022]

Axolotls will try to fit most animals that are smaller than themselves into their mouths, which is why it isn’t safe to house baby axolotls with adults.

Axolotl tank mates, including other axolotls, will ensure that you need a bigger tank than the minimum 20-gallon tank that a single axolotl can be kept in. A good rule is just to double the size of the tank for every additional axolotl. If you started out with a 20-gallon, you’ll need a 40-gallon when you add your next axolotl. 

How Many Axolotls Can You Have In One Tank?

It isn’t recommended to keep more than 3 axolotls in a tank together, especially since 3 axolotls would require a 60-gallon tank as a minimum. Axolotls also need their own places to hide, so for 3 axolotls, you would need at least 3 hides. 

While axolotls should live peacefully together if all their requirements are met, the more axolotls you add to a tank, the more possibility there is for stress and turmoil among them. When axolotls become aggressive with each other, they can nip at each other’s gills and legs. Sometimes even biting them off completely, which is very traumatizing for them. 

Before attempting to keep 3 or more axolotls together, start out with keeping 2 in a tank so you can get used to exactly what they need to thrive while cohabitating. 

What Tank Size For 2 Axolotls Do I Need? What About Tank Size For 3 Axolotls?

The tank size will continue to go up the more axolotls you want to keep. A good rule to go by is 20 gallons per axolotl. 

  • 1 Axolotl- 20 gallons
  • 2 Axolotl- 40 gallons 
  • 3 Axolotl- 60 gallons

Can Axolotls Live With Fish?

axolotl tank mates
Axolotl and Guppy Fish

Now that we know that axolotls can live with other axolotls– although sometimes they would prefer to be alone– we can look at other types of axolotl tank mates. For the most part, axolotls would prefer to live alone, but what about living with fish?

Axolotls can technically live with fish, but there are a few reasons why it isn’t advisable to add fish to your axolotl tank. Axolotls will eat fish that can fit into their mouths, and may try to eat fish that don’t, which can cause them to choke. Some fish can also nip at the axolotls’ delicate, frilly gills.

So, while on the surface it might seem like fish are the perfect axolotl tank mate, both the fish and the salamander might prefer to live elsewhere.

Can Axolotls Live With Goldfish?

Axolotls and goldfish aren’t ideal tank mates for one another, even though they like similar temperatures in their water. Also, goldfish can become too big and might nip at the axolotl’s gills.

Goldfish aren’t considered to be smart fish, and they can easily be caught by an axolotl. As goldish can grow to be big and round they are a choking hazard for axolotls.

Can Axolotls Live With Betta?

No, axolotls can’t live with betta because of how territorial and aggressive betta fish are, regardless of the axolotl being much bigger than the betta. 

Bettas don’t care about the size of their opponent; they are ready to fight at all times. Because of this, they can seriously injure an axolotl, and if the salamander fights back, the fish will be injured grievously, too. 

Can Axolotls Live With Guppies?

Guppies are more suited to living with axolotls, since they are small with no spikes on their body or fins, and they will breed quickly enough to maintain their numbers even when some of them are eaten. 

On the other hand, an axolotl can accidentally gorge themselves on a large number of guppies and become impacted. There are also cases where the guppies will breed so quickly that their numbers overwhelm and stress out some axolotls, making them less than perfect axolotl tank mates. 

Can Axolotls Live With Koi Fish?

In large setups, koi can sometimes peacefully live with axolotls, but they usually prefer warmer temperatures than the axolotl needs.

Koi are big enough to not become an axolotl lunch, and they aren’t avid hunters themselves, so they won’t consider your axolotl lunch. If you have a large enough aquarium to house both a koi and an axolotl, they may live peacefully together.

The only problem is that koi are tropical fish, and while they can withstand the cold temperatures axolotls need, it isn’t warm enough for them to truly thrive. 

Can Axolotls Live With Frogs?

Even though frogs and axolotls are both amphibians, they can’t be kept together.

Certain diseases can be passed from the frogs to the axolotl, the axolotl may try to eat the frog, becoming injured in the process. Also, most frogs need warmer temperatures than axolotls. 

Can Axolotls Live With Turtles?

No, axolotls can’t live with turtles because their temperature needs are vastly different. Axolotls need water that is 68°F or under, while turtles require basking areas of 90-100 °F.

Although some fish can live at the colder temperatures that axolotls need, the difference in temperature needs between axolotls and turtles is just too great to overcome. 

Can Axolotls Live With Shrimp?

Yes, axolotls can live with shrimp. Ghost shrimp and neocaridina shrimp can survive and maintain a breeding population in heavily planted axolotl tanks, but will be quickly eaten in more bare tanks.

Axolotls don’t do well with most other species as tank mates, but shrimp are relatively harmless. If your axolotl is able, it will try to eat all the shrimp, but with proper hiding places and lots of vegetation, your shrimp can have a fighting chance. 

Best vs Worst Axolotl Tank Mates – Summary

Although axolotls usually do best on their own, it’s tempting to add more species of animals to the tank for a more natural, entertaining experience. Other animals can be added as axolotl tank mates as long as you’re careful. It’s important to note which animals are suitable and which are not.

Here are the best and worst axolotl tank mates!

The best axolotl tank mates are:

  • Other axolotls
  • Guppy
  • Shrimp

The worst axolotl tank mates are:

  • Frogs
  • Betta
  • Turtles

To read more about how to set up the perfect axolotl tank, head over here The Perfect Axolotl Tank Set Up – Step By Step Guide [2022]

Final Thoughts

If you’re new to keeping axolotls, it’s probably best to just keep one of these adorable salamanders and focus on making their environment as attractive and natural looking as possible.

The best axolotl tank mates are other axolotls or shrimp and the worst tank mates are frogs, turtles or betta fish.

Housing axolotls with other animals is best left to experienced keepers, and even then, an axolotl tank mate might not work out. 

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What Is An Axolotl Personality Like?

Axolotls are curious salamanders that are more active when they are young. They will quickly begin to recognize and interact with their owners.

Axolotl personality can vary. Some might be more active and curious whilst others quieter and shy. 

Are Axolotls Easy To Take Care Of?

If you have a general knowledge of cycling tanks and caring for aquatic pets, axolotls are relatively easy to care for.



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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