Written By : M Samy

What are the Best and Safest Axolotl Tank Mates ?

What are the best and Safest Axolotl Tank Mates ?

The best and safest axolotl tank mates are either an another axolotl of the same age, length and gender, or another species like Small shrimp ,snails and small freshwater fish but need a lot of precaution so they can survive and not be eaten by your axolotl.

You may have one or many axolotls and you want a little more animation in the Tank by adding a few tank mates but you wonder if it’s really possible to make axolotls live safely with these other freshwater species ?

Yes, you can introduce other freshwater species in your axolotl’s tank if it is large enough of course and :

  • Choose an axolotl-friendly tank and don’t overcrowd it (less than 10 small tank mates for a 40 gallon tank ). 
  • They should never be larger , or even as big as your axolotls .  
  • You must have an excellent filtering system and change the tank water more frequently. 
  • And finally, if you’re gonna chose small freshwater fishes as tank mates, you must permanently supply your tank with them because they will surely be hunted and used as live food by your axolotls. 

Keep reading, there are some precautions to take before chosing the best tank mates and introducing them into the your axolotl’sTank .

The Ideal axolotl Tank mates which can also serve as live food ?

Best and safest freshwater fish to keep with an axolotl

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Try to introduce fish ( also as tank mates for your axolotl ), they should be less than 4 cm ( 2 in ) if your axolotl is an adult of course and measures a little more than 7 In (15 cm) , the principle to be respected here is that the fish must be able to pass easily in its mouth. 

They must also be nutritious, so I recommend White cloud , Zebra fish , Minnows, Killifish, Guppies, Mosquito fish,Golden dwarf barb , Endlers, Charales (very typical in Mexico) , Checkered barb , Northern glowlight danio , Shalyni barb , Medaka , Two-spotted barb and Odessa barbs and if you don’t find these species in your pet store, you can use Goldfish

The Ideal Tankmates that may not be attacked by your axolotl

When you want to introduce in the axolotl tank fishes that will not only not attack your axolotls or their gills, but also that will be able to live for a long time in the tank and not be hunted by your axolotls, you have some criteria to respect when you choose these tankmates, here are the most important ones:

These tank mates or fishes must be quick and swim fast in a relatively cold water to be able to escape from the attacks of your axolotls, or at least be of big size so that the axolotls don’t consider them as a potential meal but above all, these fishes must also be of calm temperament to avoid that they attack your axolotls or their gills.

Here is a list of fish that you can introduce into your axolotl’s tank while monitoring the behavior of these fish and your axolotls, at least during the first few days, to make sure that they have accepted each other well:

  • The Mexican Skiffia francesae or Golden Skiffia ( Tiro Dorado)
  • The Orange-finned danio and the Golden Barbs ( peaceful tankmates)
  • Characodon lateralis ( rainbow characodons )
  • Green swordtail ( put more females than males cuz they are territorial )
  • Moustached Danios and Pearl Danios ( small and fast )
  • Rosy Barbs ( more than 6 so they stay calm )

How can I prevent my fish from attacking my axolotl?

The first thing to consider when looking for good tank mates for your axolotl is :

  • Avoid fish that can’t stand cold water (below 70°F/21°C) like Blue , Black barred , Golden ring or Dwarf spotted Danios , Clown barbs , Onespot barbs , Swamp barbs and Spotted Barbs ) and all the other fish that won’t survive cold water for a long period like Banded Epiplatys , Beardless barbs , Chocolate Gourami …etc
  • Avoid fish that have an aggressive temperament like New guinea tiger and Mekong tiger Perch , Florida Flagfish and Paradise fish , the roundtail one .
  • Avoid fish that will fight with your axolotls over food, space or shelter ( Avoid the bottom-dwelling fish like loaches and catfish ) , fish like Panda Loach , Zebra Loach …
  • Feed your axolotl tankmates well so that they don’t attack your axolotl gills or its food.

What are the precautions to take before introducing these small fishes into an Axolotl Tank?

In addition to the precautions I mentioned above, you must first of all choose small fish, which are neither sick nor carrying parasites and You should also introduce your tankmates gradually so as not to break the nitrogen cycle in your tank.

You will buy about ten of them and put them in a small aquarium or tank and quarantine them for at least a week to make sure they are safe for your axolotls.

You will introduce them into the aquarium in broad daylight and you must especially monitor more closely what happens in the Tank during the first week.

If you see that the small fish to attack the gills of your axolotls, and they do not react by chasing them away, you must remove these fish immediately.

Your axolotl might eat its Tank mates  

best tank mate for axolotls

Yes, you will soon notice that one or two small fishes are missing in the tank, the axolotls have probably chased them and eaten them.

What you are going to do now is to wait for the axolotl to drop a turd, you are going to pick it up with a Turkey Baster for example and crush it. If all goes well, you will find traces of fish bones in it, a sign that your axolotl has digested the little fish well.

What other species can you co-exist safely with an axolotl?

If you want neighbors that your axolotls won’t hunt, in any case they will try but they won’t always succeed, I recommend fresh water ghost shrimps or fresh water snails that can stand the cold if you can find some…

Freshwater shrimp like Ghost shrimp : they are safe as axolotl tank mates , they also tolerate cooler water temperatures, they will also clean the bottom of the aquarium from food remains and maybe serve as food for your axolotls even if they are not easy to catch.  

Fancy shrimp and Cherry shrimp are also safe, pretty but they need a bit higher temperatures, you can try them too.

Apple snails and Bladder snails can make great axolotl tank mates:

Apple snails (Ampullaria) are snails that can keep with an axolotl (do not choose too small ones ) and there is also another species of snail that you can live safely with an axolotl but this time, do not choose too large specimens, I speak of Physa marmorata ( Bladder snails ) .

Freshwater bugs as axolotl tank mates ?

You can also put in your axolotl’sTank without any problem some freshwater Grammarus and Asellus aquaticus , they look great and won’t be eaten by your axolotls .

Gammarus fasciatus is a freshwater benthic amphipod, if you find one, buy at least 20 of them so that they can reproduce before they are all swallowed by your axolotl!

Asellus aquaticus, also known as water louse, cress bug, also aquatic sowbug is a freshwater crustacean that you can introduce as a companion and food for your axolotl.

Is there a risk if you introduce too many fishes to live with an Ambystoma Mexicanum ?

Yes, in the long run, because these fish may probably end up stressing your axolotls, that’s why you should never put more than 10 at a time.

There is also their urine and waste and the remains of their food which could increase the PH of the water and make your axolotl sick, not to mention the risk of aggression, a small fish could still manage to thwart the vigilance of your axolotl and tear off a piece of its gills.

Can axolotls eat Goldfish ?

can goldfish live with axolotls ?

Yes, axolotls can eat goldfish, goldfish is not the fish that axolotls like to eat the most, but they will be able to eat it anyway.

This fish can also live in cold water, you can introduce it into your axolotl’s aquarium but it will have to be very large, almost twice the width of your axolotl’s mouth, otherwise it will surely attack it and swallow it, and this will happen at night when your Goldfish is sleeping and your axolotl is in hunting mode.

How to get an axolotl and a Goldfish to live peacefully together?

Yes you can do it , it is always possible but I have never tried it before and I do not guarantee the success of this operation but I do not discourage you to try

What do you have to lose!! it’s just one more meal for your axolotl in case the operation is a failure!!

To keep a goldfish and an axolotl together, you will need a large tank with a good silent filter, water that does not drop below 65°F, otherwise your goldfish will become torpid and die from the cold.

Don’t forget that Goldfish can also attack the gills of your axolotl and it will have to kill the car fish just to defend itself or for the territory if the tank is too small.

Is Betta fish a safe axolotl tank mate ?

is betta fish a good tank mate for an axolotl ?

First of all, you should know that the Betta needs warmer water (75-80°F) than the axolotl (60-64°F), so you can’t have them living together for long.

On the other hand, bettafish are aggressive and territorial fish, which will surely attack the axolotl and its gills when the axolotl is small.

For a large axolotl, the bettafish is just a live meal, which it will probably eat one night when your betta fish has gone to bed.

Axolotls eat betta fish that can pass through their mouths

Do Axolotls need other axolotls as Tank mates ?

Axolotls do not really need company , or other axolotls as tank mates, they can tolerate each other when they are still babies, there is strength in numbers and for survival reasons, but as soon as they reach a few inches in length, competition for food will increase, cannibalism and fights too.

The female axolotl on the other hand mite need a male at the adult age when she produces eggs, so that he releases his seed, then she sucks it in her belly to fertilize the eggs and spread them in the tank on the plants and the elements.

Without the male, the female may not release the eggs, she will swell and stop feeding and may have serious health problems because of this.

Do axolotls need other species as tank mates ?

Again, axolotls do not need other species of fish, crustaceans or snails… in their tank, they love solitude and calm and other species , especially highly active swimmers or territorial fish , aggressive ones like Bettas and voracious eaters may just annoy your axolotl , but if you decide to introduce some fish, you must make sure that they are small and of those recommended as companions for axolotls but also, be aware that you will quickly see them disappear one by one because your axolotl will surely chase them and eat them.

What is the risk of having an axolotl with other species in the same tank?

There are always risks for your axolotl when you introduce a new tank mate , here are the most common ones:

1- The risk of infections:

If you want to introduce other species in the tank of your axolotl, either to decorate it or just as live food, make sure to quarantine them after buying them from a reputable breeder to reduce the risk of them carrying germs, bacteria or viruses or any disease or parasite that they can then transmit to your axolotl.

2- The risk of impactions and injuries:

Small feeder fish especially are often attracted by the gills of axolotls and it is not uncommon for them to mistake them for delicious little worms.

These fish will then attack the gills and even the tail of your axolotl and risk amputating them but above all stress it and cause other more serious problems.

3- Intestinal obstruction ( Blockage)

Your axolotl will sooner or later attack its tank mates and eat them one after the other, and if it is not a large fish, it may risk intestinal obstruction because of the bones of these fish, especially if it hunts several in a short period of time.

What is the best tank mate for an axolotl ?

The best tank mate for your axolotl is another axolotl of the same size and weight and gender, so they will not attack each other, especially if they are well fed and the tank is large enough for both of them and each has its own hideout and favorite corner of the tank.

If you decide to have a male and a female axolotl together, and they are adults (over 18 months old), expect them to mate and you will quickly find yourself with a tank full of hundreds of eggs and not knowing what to do with them afterwards!

Avoid bringing another axolotl if yours is still young, they are more aggressive at this age and can easily attack each other.

After that, small shrimp (preferably Amano) is what I recommend as a second option if you think your axolotl is suffering from loneliness.

Even if Amano shrimp are the kings of camouflage in the water, your axolotl will surely end up catching them and making them his dinner, but don’t worry, he won’t risk anything if he eats them, they are also very nutritious.

In third position I recommend like I said before in this article , small freshwater fish like Minnows, Guppies and endlers, but don’t add a lot of them at the same time, about ten at the most.

Mini snails like apple or Bladder snails and Ramshorn snails can also be introduced in the tank of your axolotl provided that you watch your axolotls behavior because it is preferable that he does not attack them even if they have a soft shell , but they can still cause a blockage for the digestive system of your axolotl if he swallows them.

Like shrimp, mini snails will help keep the tank clean by picking up the leftover food and they are also nice to see in the tank.

Final Tips when picking the best tank mates for your axolotls :

Finally, let me tell you the two species of freshwater fish that are not safe tank mates at all and you should never introduce them in your axolotl’s tank , they are the tilapia and the carp.

These two fish are natural predators of axolotls, so avoid making this mistake !

You should also know too that juvenile axolotls may nip each other’s feet and gills if they have no enough food, space, hides. Even axolotls up to (5 or 6 inches) may nip their tank mates, occasionally inflicting serious injuries, that’s why we recommend a large tank.

M Samy pet blogger and author at famillypet

About Author

Hey! Salim Makhloufi (alias M. 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

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