Home Aquariums Can Axolotls Live With Fish?

Can Axolotls Live With Fish?

by Lucy

An axolotl is one of the most fascinating aquatic animals you could keep in your aquarium. They are neotenic salamanders, and as they are sexually mature in the larval stage of life, they never convert into a terrestrial form, but spend their whole lives underwater.

If you are wanting to keep this amazing creature in your aquarium, you need to do your research to ensure you can give it the best home possible, keeping it comfortable, well looked after – and happy!

So, can axolotls live with fish? Whether axolotls can live with fish is quite debated on, but it is generally not recommended. Axolotls do not need any tank mates and tend to do best when kept alone. Having tank mates for your axolotls will more than likely have more downsides than benefits.

Axolotls are not community creatures and don’t require other axolotls or fish to be kept around them to thrive. They do perfectly well on their own. They have specific requirements that can really only be met in the absence of other tank mates.

Read on to understand the best conditions to keep axolotls in, to give them the best life possible.

Can Axolotls Live With Fish?

Axolotls do not need tank mates to live happily. It really makes no difference to them. Ignoring whether or not axolotls want to live with fish or not – should they?

While axolotls can technically live with fish, it is recommended that they do not. There are a few reasons why tank mates should not be placed in an axolotls tank.

Here are some reasons why axolotls should live alone:

Risk of Injury and Infection

Axolotls are slow and take their time lazying about. Because of this, other fish might nip the fins of an axolotl, which is not so bad as axolotls can regenerate gills and body parts, but there might be secondary infections caused which can be fatal. This is especially true if opportunistic parasites are in the water.


Axolotls will try to eat small fish and crustaceans kept in their tank. If the crustacean or fish is too large, they might still try to swallow them whole, which could lead to them getting stuck – causing impaction, which could be fatal to the axolotl (as well as the victim).

Will Axolotls Eat Fish? 

Axolotls are carnivores, and, as we said, they will try to eat small fish or crustaceans in their tank that they can swallow whole.

Your axolotl will see his small fish companions as lunch, and will not be able to ignore them swimming around, and will eat any small fish or crustaceans that comes their way.

Even larger fish and crustaceans can be in danger. If the axolotl cannot swallow the fish whole, they might still try to do so. As we said before, not only does this mean injury and probably death to the fish, but it could pose a choking or impaction threat to the axolotl.

If the fish or crustaceans is not small enough to fit into the axolotl’s mouth, there is a good chance that they might still try to swallow them, and only end up swallowing them halfway.

This could cause them to choke on the food that is too big for them to swallow, and if it is stuck at an angle, it might not be able to be expelled. This could lead to impaction which can be fatal for axolotls.

Can Axolotls Live Together?

Axolotls can live together, and if you really don’t like seeing your axolotl alone in their tank and really want to give them a companion, another axolotl is the best option.

It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though, there are some risks involved with housing two axolotls together.

Juvenile axolotls often display cannibalistic tendencies towards each other, by eating each other’s gills and limbs and other parts. They tend to grow out of this, so two adult axolotls housed together might not display this behavior.

However, if one axolotl is bigger than the other, it could bully the smaller one and nip at it. While the injuries from this might not be too serious, any secondary infections could be life-threatening. The smaller axolotl might become stressed and have a weak immune system.

If at all you notice your two axolotls not getting along, it is best to just separate them. Having a large tank with many hiding spots might help the smaller axolotls find cover, but if the nipping continues separation is best.

When it comes to gender, you can keep mixed-gender axolotls together or keep the same gender in a tank. Axolotls can successfully reproduce in captivity, and a female axolotl can produce up to 1000 eggs in one go. 

If you are not ready to go through this, it is best to keep the same gender axolotls together.

Can Axolotls Live Alone?

Axolotls can live alone, and it is probably best for them to do so. They do not need companionship, and the downsides that come with housing them with tank mates far outweigh the benefits of them living with other axolotls or fish.

What Can You Put In A Tank With Axolotls?

There are a few options for tank mates to house with an axolotl. However, at the end of the day, they are best kept alone. 

It is best to keep any potential tank mates in quarantine, separate from the axolotl, for 30 days. This will show whether they have any diseases or not, and let you know they are safe to place in the axolotl tank, without posing a health risk.

The animals who are listed below are sometimes recommended as good tank mates for axolotls; however you should know that they all have the potential to basically be snacks for your axolotl.

Still, if you are desperate to give your axolotl tank mates, here are the better options:

Can Small Shrimp Live With Axolotls?

Ghost shrimp, also known as Amano shrimp or grass shrimp may seem like a good addition to an axolotl’s freshwater tank. 

These shrimp are bottom feeders, and scavenge the substrate for any food and do a good job with cleaning up. This will help keep the water in the tank clean and give your axolotl a cleaner home.

The problem with keeping Amano shrimp is that they are a favorite food of axolotls, and tend to be delicious and nutritious to them.

Ghost shrimp do well at hiding in a tank thanks to their transparent body, and this is especially true if there are plants in the tank, but axolotls have a good sense of smell and can easily track them down.

Some axolotl owners feed shrimp to their axolotls!

Your axolotl may be happy with shrimp as their tankmates, but the shrimp probably won’t be for long!

Can Minnows Live With Axolotls?

White Cloud Minnows are small fish that swim around peacefully, not causing any trouble. They enjoy cold water, which is what axolotls prefer as well.

They do not have sharp spines or an exoskeleton and do not pose a health threat to axolotls if they are swallowed. However, while they do not pose a threat to your axolotl, your axolotl will pose a threat to them.

There is a good chance your axolotl will see minnows as a treat, and not as a tank mate, and will probably use them as a tasty snack.

Can Guppy Fish Live With Axolotls?

Guppy fish are small and have no exoskeleton. They can coexist with axolotls but be prepared for your axolotl to see them as food.

The downside to keeping guppies in the same tank as your axolotl is that they can breed fast and have many babies quickly. While this might seem like a great feast for the axolotl, it might become stressed by their increased numbers.

If the guppies are swallowed by juvenile axolotls, they could cause impactions. They might also nip the gills of axolotls, and as they can carry diseases and parasites, could cause infection.

Can Mini Snails Live With Axolotls?

It is not recommended to keep snails with axolotls, as they might be seen as food, and their shell could cause impaction, but some small snail varieties have soft exoskeletons and might be fine to be kept with axolotls.

Baby cold water snails such as Ramshorn snails and apple snails could be safe, but there is a risk of their exoskeleton breaking and damaging the gut lining of the axolotl.

They do help to keep the aquarium clean as they are bottom feeders, however!

At the end of the day, although many will recommend some of these animals as tank mates for axolotl, it is probably just best to keep them alone or carefully introduce them to other mature axolotls.

Even if your axolotl might not be harmed by many guests, you’re basically just feeding your axolotl snacks rather than giving it a friend.

Related Questions

Can an Axolotl Live in a 10-Gallon Tank?

An adult axolotl can live in a 10-gallon tank, but you should keep in mind that they do produce quite a bit of waste, so it is better to go for a larger 20-gallon tank. It will stay cleaner for a longer time and mean less cleaning for you (this tank is a great choice).

You need to keep the aquarium water as full as possible, to assure that the axolotl has enough clean water to swim around in.

Why is My Axolotl Upside Down?

Juvenile axolotls often accumulate air in their abdomens, and this could lead to a distended abdomen, and then to them floating upside down. This is often due to their immature gut adapting to a high protein diet.

Do Axolotls Play Dead?

Yes, axolotls do play dead to escape danger and being eaten! They do this in the wild as well as in aquariums, even when there are no predators around.

Up Next: How Many Goldfish In A 20 Gallon Tank?

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