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5 Amazing Axolotl Tank Mates (With Pictures)

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By Lindsey Stanton

axolotl inside the tank

The axolotl, also known as the Mexican walking fish, is definitely a cool creature to have in the aquarium. This part-fish, part-salamander hybrid looks about as amusing as it gets. That being said, you may want to keep an axolotl with tank mates.

Keep in mind that these are some of the most sensitive and fragile creatures you can have at home. Therefore, the selection of  ideal axolotl tank mates is very limited. Let’s get to it and take a quick look at the five best axolotl tank mates and answer some commonly asked questions.

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The 5 Ideal Tank Mates for Axolotls

What really needs to be stressed here is that there are only a few tankmates which are truly ideal for Axolotls. Once again, axolotls are very peaceful, they can be shy, and they don’t like confrontation.

1. Other Axolotls

Image Credit: Jeffrey Lagmay, Shutterstock

The best option for a tank mate is actually another axolotl. Now, axolotls are actually very solitary creatures and will only engage with each other during mating season. Other than that, they like to keep to themselves. That said, axolotls can live peacefully with each other, especially when provided with enough space so that each axolotl can live comfortably.

2. Shrimp

ghost shrimp
Credit: Pavaphon Supanantananont, Shutterstock

Most shrimp can survive in the same water conditions and parameters as axolotls. Moreover, shrimp like to keep to the substrate and they enjoy heavily planted tanks, just like axolotls.

Shrimp tend to be very peaceful and they won’t usually start fights with the axolotls, which is also true for the other way around. These creatures usually won’t start fights with each other. Sure, shrimp are bottom feeders and scavengers, just like axolotls really. However, shrimp and axolotls don’t eat the same foods, so they won’t eat each other’s food.

Moreover, although shrimp are technically hunters, axolotls are too large for them to try and go after. On the other hand, shrimp can be aggressive when attacked, which is exactly why an axolotl won’t cause a shrimp any trouble either.

3. Guppies

lots of guppies swimming
Image: underworld, Shutterstock

Guppies make for a rather perfect tank mate choice, one of the few fish that does. The reason for this is because guppies will usually swim in the center of the water, or, in other words, in the middle of the tank, thus leaving the bottom of the tank free for the axolotl.

Yes, axolotls and guppies both do just fine in the same water conditions and water parameters, plus they both like heavily planted tanks too. Moreover, we already know that axolotls are peaceful, timid, and shy, which is perfect because they won’t ever get into fights with the guppies. At the same time, guppies are small, they are peaceful and timid, and they aren’t super fast swimmers or big hunters, either.

4. Snails

Two snails Ampularia yellow and brown striped glass aquarium
Image credit: Madhourse, Shutterstock

The next tank mate that is great for an axolotl is the snail. Snails are, of course, about as peaceful as it gets when it comes to an aquarium. They slither and slide around on the rocks, the substrate, the plants, the tank walls, and anywhere else their slimy path will take them.

Of course, although they are technically hunters, they eat microscopic creatures, algae, dead plants, and uneaten fish food. There is no way that a snail of any kind is ever going to try and eat or attack an axolotl in any way, shape, or form. Even if you did have an aggressive snail, it’s not like it would be fast enough to pose any kind of threat to the axolotl.

Also, axolotls are in no way interested in eating snails. These two creatures will live together in perfect harmony.

5. Minnows

Image Credit: Erni, Shutterstock

The other good tank mate for the axolotl is the minnow. Minnows are very small and peaceful, so they won’t cause trouble for your axolotls.

Axolotls don’t go for live fish, so that should not be an issue either. Also, minnows stick to the middle of the tank and won’t invade the bottom. Therefore, the axolotls and the minnows will not invade each other’s territory. Of course, both of these creatures can survive just fine in the same water conditions and water parameters.

There is absolutely no reason why axolotls and minnows can’t get along and live in the same tank.

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The 5 Fish Types That Are Not Compatible With Axolotls

As you may have noticed by now, there are not all that many fish that are compatible with axolotls. Here are all the fish that need to be avoided putting in axolotl tanks. Keep in mind that there are so many incompatible fish, that we are not about to list all of them. Instead, we are talking about types of fish, not specific species.

1. Any Warm Water Fish

Kuhli loach
Image Credit: Roberto Dani, Shutterstock

Axolotls are cool water creatures, which means that you cannot keep any warm water creatures with axolotls. Any tropical fish which require the water to be over 64 degrees Fahrenheit cannot be kept with axolotls.

2. Bottom-Dwelling Fish

Something else you want to avoid putting in the same tank with axolotls is any bottom-dwelling fish. Sure, shrimp and snails are fine, but other than that, no bottom-dwelling fish, like plecos or cory catfish, should be used as tank mates.

Bottom-dwelling fish will encroach on the territory of axolotls, eat their food, and just generally be in the way.

3. Aggressive & Territorial Fish

clown fish
Image Credit: Alex Stemmer, Shutterstock

Axolotls are very peaceful and non-territorial. Any large, aggressive, and territorial fish is out of the question.

Axolotls can be easily bullied and picked on, with the most aggressive fish even attacking them and trying to eat them. Any fish that is remotely aggressive is not a good fit for an axolotl tank.

4. Highly Active Swimmers

Axolotls are some very slow-moving creatures, and if they are surrounded by fast-moving fish, they’ll get stressed out. Therefore, any super active and quick swimmers will not make for good tank mates.

5. Voracious Eaters

Colorful of ornamental fish, African cichlids, Malawi Peacock in fish tank. Aulonocara maylandi is endemic to Lake Malawi. it is freshwater fish, an African cichlids in Cichlidae family.
Image credit: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock

You should also try to avoid putting voracious eaters in the same tank with axolotls. Any fish that will eat all of the food you drop into the tank before it sinks down to the axolotls is going to prove problematic. Voracious eaters will cause your axolotl to starve.

Can an Axolotl Live With a Betta?

No, you should never put a betta fish in the same tank with an axolotl. Betta fish are aggressive, territorial, and are often bully fish. Betta fish will pick on and attack axolotls, so they are absolutely out of the question.

Can an Axolotl Live With a Turtle?

Several turtles swimming in the aquarium tank
Image By: julialine, Shutterstock

No, turtles should not be kept with axolotls. For one, turtles require very warm temperatures because they are cold-blooded reptiles, whereas axolotls require very cool conditions. Moreover, turtles can actually be very aggressive given the right circumstances. It would not be the first time that a turtle kills an axolotl.

Under no circumstances should turtles and axolotls be kept in the same tank. The axolotl will not survive for long.

Can Axolotls Live With Frogs?

No, frogs should also not be kept with axolotls. For the most part, frogs require fairly warm conditions and will not be able to survive in the cool conditions which axolotls require. Moreover, frogs can carry diseases and parasites which axolotls can easily contract. These are not ideal tank mates.

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The bottom line is that axolotls are fragile, sensitive, slow, and peaceful. This means that there are not many good axolotl tank mates.

If you do plan on making a community tank with axolotls, be sure the tank mates are small, non-aggressive, peaceful, light eaters, don’t enjoy the bottom of the tank, and do fine in cold waters.

Image Credits: Tinwe, Pixabay

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