Written By : M Samy

12 Best Live plants for axolotls [+53 safe ones] 

The best live plants for axolotls tank are those that can thrive in relatively cold water, with little light, that are less than 12 inches tall, not poisonous and that do not require gravel as substrate. 

Although I strongly recommend that you read the whole article, to summarize, here’s the list of 12 living plants from which you can safely choose to decorate your axolotl tank:

Java Fern

java fern live plant for axolotl tank

 Anubias Nana

anubias nana for axolotls tank


jungle Vallisneria for axolotls tank

Java Moss

java moss for axolotls tank



Water Lettuce

dwarf water lettuce for axolotls tank


Anacharis live plant for axolotl freshwater tank


Duckweed for axolotl tanks

Amazon Sword 

Amazonian Sword freshwater live plant for axolotl tanks

Devil’s Ivy

Devil's Ivy or live Pothos for axolotls tank

Amazon Frogbit

amazon frogbit for axolotls tank

Hygrophila Pinnatifida

Hygrophila Pinnatifida for axolotls tank

The Best Live plants for axolotls Tank 

Live plants should be part of your axolotl tank when setting it up , that’s why I have picked out the best live plants for your axolotl tank and put in bold the ones that most axolotl owners have and have had good experiences using in their tanks, but all the live plants included in this list are safe and can be used in an axolotl tank.

1- Best Background plants for axolotl tank

1- Waterweed (Elodea densa)

2- Cryptocoryne usteriana

3- Echinodorus uruguayensis

4- Water Snowball (Gymnocoronis spilanthoides)

5- Water Stargrass (Heteranthera dubia)

6- Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)

7- Hygrophila salicifolia

8- Dwarf Ambulia (Limnophila sessiliflora)

9- Ludwigia needle leaf (Ludwigia arcuata)

10- Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea) and Hornwort

11- Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus)

12- Myriophyllum mattogrossense

13- Western water-milfoil (Myriophyllum scabratum)

14- Jungle vallisneria (Vallisneria gigantea)

15- Narrow leaf eelgrass (Vallisneria nana)

best live plants for axolotls tank

2- Best Midground Live Plants for Axolotls Tank

16- Grassy-leaved Sweet Flag (Acorus pusillus)

17- Ammannia Praetermissa

18- Anubias Nana

18- Aponogeton crispus

19- Brazilian Bacopa (Bacopa myriophylloides)

20- Disk Water Hyssop (Bacopa rotundifolia)

21- Water Trumpet (Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia)

22- Narrow-leaf anacharis (Egeria najas)

23- Anchored water hyacinth (Eichhornia azurea)

24- Salts sweet ear (Hedyotis salzmannii)

25- Hygrophila odora

26- Hygrophila spec Rosanervig

27- Creeping Rush (Juncus repens)

28- Ruby ludwigia (Ludwigia repens ‘Rubin’)

29- Creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)

30- Needle Leaf Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus ‘Minor ’)

31- Trident java fern (Microsorum pteropus ‘Trident)

32- Nuphar japonica 

32- Pothos Plant

33- Sphaerocaryum malaccense

3- Best Foreground Plants for axolotls tank

34- Japanese Rush (Blyxa japonica)

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35- Bolbitis heteroclita ‘difformis’

36-  eight-stamen waterwort (Elatine hydropiper)

37- Three-stamen waterwort (Elatine triandra)

38- Small mud-mat (Glossostigma elatinoides)

39- Helanthium tenellum

40- Lilaeopsis mauritiana

41- Micro sword; copragrass (Lilaeopsis novaezelandiae)

42- Shoreweed (Littorella uniflora)

43- Dwarf Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis ‘Mini ’)

44- Manatee mudflower (Hemianthus glomeratus)

45- shade mudflower; baby tears (Micranthemum umbrosum)

46- Saururus cernuus

47- Utricularia graminifolia

4- Best live Floating Plants for Axolotls Tank

48- Amazon frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum)

49- water lettuce; shellflower (Pistia stratiotes)

50- Crystalwort (Riccia fluitans)

51- Azolla caroliniana

52- Duckweed

53- Guppy Grass

5- Best Carpeting live Plants for axolotls

When you buy a large and suitable axolotl tank , you can add some carpeting live plants , but they usually need a lot of light to thrive, you can try dwarf hair grass or Java moss but remember that axolotls usually prefer not to be exposed to light.

Using carpeting plants in an axolotl tank will make it harder to clean the substrate especially if you don’t have other tank mates like shrimp that will help keep the bottom of the tank clean.

Personally I suggest you avoid covering your tank floor with carpeting plants even if you find a solution for lighting, a fine substrate, preferably sand with some big rocks are all you need for your axolotl tank.

Why Do Axolotls Need Live plants ?

Axolotls can live in a tank without live plants but these plants have many benefits for axolotl tanks, here are some of them:

  • Live freshwater plants help to keep the tank water clean
  • They contribute to the nitrogen cycle by filtering the water of food and other organic waste and excess minerals like potassium and iron 
  • These plants will support the good bacteria that process ammonia.
  • Live plants will release oxygen into the tank water which will help your axolotl to breath much better
  • Live plants as carpeting plants will create a walking surface and serve as a soft and smooth surface on which your axolotl will rest and rest its fragile legs 
  • These plants will create shade and shelter for your axolotl
  • Adding live plants to your axolotl’s tank will not only make it more beautiful but also make it look like a natural pond, thus more welcoming for the axolotl.
  • These freshwater live plants will serve as hiding places and living space for probable axolotl tank mates like shrimp, small fish, snails, and other crustaceans.
  • Live plants can also serve as a nesting ground for female axolotls to lay their eggs

What to look for when choosing live plants for an axolotl tank ?

  • You need a plant that is hardy, resilient and relatively easy to care for
  • You need a plant that can thrive in cold water (64.4°F / 18°)
  • A plant that can be floated or be grown on hard surfaces like rocks and driftwood or a substrate that is safe for axolotls like sand or large stones ( avoid plants that require gravel substrate ).
  • You need plants that can not be swallowed by your axolotl ( avoid small Moss Balls) , they might choke on them)
  • You need plants that do not alter the water structure by releasing toxic chemicals 
  • You need plants that are not too robust and that do not grow too fast and too high and risk to be used as a ladder by which your axolotl will get out of the tank
  • Non toxic plants if your axolotl swallows a leaf by accident or just by curiosity
  • You need indoor plants that can tolerate dim conditions and don’t need too much light to thrive
  • You need a plant that doesn’t require a lot of fertilizer and CO2 injections to avoid crashing the nitrogen cycle
  • The plant or its leaves must be safe for your axolotl
  • Low maintenance plants

How many live plants to put in an axolotl tank?

The number of live plants you can put in your axolotl tank will depend on the size of the tank and how many axolotls you put in it.

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You can put as many background plants and carpeting plants as you can, but avoid covering the entire tank’s water surface with floating plants and leave some free water for your axolotl to swim and explore.

The bottom of your axolotl tank should not be loaded with plants and decorations, leave some space to feed your axolotl and for him to walk on the bottom too (we call him: the walking fish anyway!)

How to keep plants alive in axolotl tank ?

Usually you don’t need fertilizers to keep your plants alive and thriving in an axolotl tank. In fact, these plants will get all the nutrients they need such as nitrogen and phosphorous from your axolotls organic waste and from its food leftovers as well as from the substrate , the rocks and the water column for the floating plants.

If you notice that your plants are not growing normally, you can remove them with a little water in a container and help them for a few days with a liquid fertilizer or root tabs, rinse them well with a pretreated water before putting them back in the tank.

But most of the plants suitable for axolotls are slow growing and do not need extra fertilization, they will get all their nutrients from the tank water.

Do axolotls eat live plants?

Axolotls are carnivores but may nibble on these live plants from time to time because they will prey on anything that moves in the tank but they often do this out of curiosity and sometimes even accidentally swallow a bit with a pellet or while catching an earthworm.

Usually, the plants recommended for axolotls tanks are not poisonous, your axolotl risks absolutely nothing if it tears off a piece and swallows it, but the risk of choking is not excluded as in the cases where axolotls swallow small Moss balls or a whole leaf that has fallen off and caught by the axolotl because it took it for a small fish due to its bad sight.

Toxic plants for axolotls

Some plants are only going to be contaminated by parasites like anchor worms or fungus but there are also toxic plants that should never be put in a freshwater fish and especially in an axolotl tank because they are more sensitive and can get quickly sick , here are the live plants to avoid putting in an axolotl tank because they are also toxic for other freshwater fish:

  • Peace Lilies (poisonous roots)
  • Devil’s Ivy and Philodendron( they contain insoluble calcium oxalates , toxic for axolotls and fish )
  • Water Hemlock (contains cicutoxin which can lead to the sudden death of the axolotl)
  • Dumb cane ( it contains calcium oxalate crystal )
  • Hygrophila balsamica (Releases toxins into the water)

Can you plant Sweet potato in an axolotl tank ?

I would advise you to avoid this kind of experimentation when it comes to an axolotl tank. Sweet potato can grow in fresh water and give long stems but this plant is not recommended for tanks, avoid plants that have bulbs, the risk of rotting is too high and your axolotl can be injured if it accidentally hits the bulb which is not completely smooth not to mention the base on which you have to put the potato which is also a risk for your axolotl every time it rises to the surface of the water.

Is Lucky Bamboo good for axolotls tank ?

Lucky bamboo is a fast growing plant that needs light, lots of nutrients, oxygen and CO2 to thrive. This plant does not like low temperatures but you can try two stems as background plants as long as you keep the leaves out of the water.

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Plant them out of the tank until they develop a root system, remove the soil, prune the stems to about 15 inches, leave just a few leaves (one leaf-bearing stem), clean the roots and plant them in the tank substrate.

Finally, check the water quality regularly to avoid bad surprises.

Final Thoughts and Tips

You should always get your live plants from a professional to bring back healthy and non contaminated plants but it is always a good idea to quarantine them for a while to avoid any bad surprises and to make sure that they are free of parasites.

Live plants will make your axolotl’s tank look better but also more pleasant for your axolotl as they filter the water, release oxygen, create shade and hiding places and finally serve as a smooth and soft ground when your axolotl wants to have some rest outside its hide.

You only need to avoid overloading the tank with these live freshwater plants and especially avoid those that can be toxic, carry bad bacteria or parasites and those that can wound your axolotl.

M Samy pet blogger and author at famillypet

About Author

Hey! Samy here , Welcome to my Blog I'm an animal lover, especially pets and Really concerned about their well being ; I've been around and caring for all my life and Now ; a full-time Pet blogger at your service . My motto here at Famillypet is: "Pets First" ... Read More