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Baby Axolotl: A Detailed Care Guide

Baby Axolotl: A Detailed Care Guide

A baby axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) is an excellent pet for those looking to add something unique and exciting to an aquarium. With their cute little faces, curious nature, and outgoing personalities, baby axolotls make wonderful and entertaining companions. But before you bring home a baby axolotl, there’s much to know. 

Baby axolotls are small, easy-to-care-for creatures that originate from Mexico’s Lake Xochimilco. They are neotenic, as they retain the larval stage throughout their lifetime. Axolotls are aggressive and territorial, so ensure they have enough space and are not overcrowded. 

While baby axolotls are common in captivity, they are endangered in the wild. Their regenerative abilities make them ideal for medical research, so it is crucial to support and purchase baby axolotls from a reputable breeder or pet store. In this comprehensive guide, I will cover baby axolotl care, tank setup, diet, and more. 

What Is a Baby Axolotl?

Baby Axolotls Under Water
Baby Axolotl’s Under Water

A baby axolotl is a unique species of aquatic salamander that retains its juvenile characteristics throughout its life. It descends from the tiger salamander, and while it develops lungs, it retains its external gills. They can grow up to 12 inches (30.48 cm) long and live for an average of 10 years.

Baby axolotls have an interesting appearance with their broad, almost flat heads and beady eyes that give them cute smiles. Adult axolotls have three sets of gills and four delicate legs that look like lily pads. Their coloring ranges from leucistic, a translucent white, to black melanoid, an eye-catching black with white flecks.

Regarding personality, baby axolotls are pretty curious and social creatures that enjoy interacting with their owners. They are generally shy when first introduced to their new tank but will become more active and outgoing as they get comfortable with their environment.

Baby axolotls are endangered in the wild due to habitat destruction, water pollution, and predators. Fortunately, baby axolotls’ long lifespan and fast breeding rate make them ideal for captive breeding, allowing hobbyists, breeders, and researchers to appreciate and learn from this fascinating creature.

History of Baby Axolotl

The baby axolotl, or Mexican walking fish, as it is sometimes referred to, is native to Lake Xochimilco in Mexico City. Baby axolotls were revered by the Aztecs as a symbol of fertility and rebirth and were often included in spiritual ceremonies. The Aztecs named it after Xolotl, their god of fire and lightning.

French explorers captured 34 axolotls during an expedition in 1863 and sent them back to the National History Museum in Paris for scientific study. Six axolotls, five males and one female, were handed to Auguste Duméril, a French zoologist, in 1864, who successfully bred them and supplied them to Europe for scientific research.

Since baby axolotls have such an interesting appearance and fascinating regenerative abilities, they quickly gained popularity in the pet trade. Today, baby axolotls are bred in captivity and found in pet stores and aquariums as popular exotic pets. 

These axolotls trace their lineage to the 6 species in Duméril’s original colony. Wild axolotls inhabit the swampy remnants of Lake Xochimilco, but their numbers are declining due to pollution and habitat destruction.

In the 1970s, Mexico City’s great lakes, including Lake Chalco, where baby axolotls lived, were drained to make way for urban development and prevent flooding. As baby axolotls cannot survive in the modern environment of their former habitats, the wild baby axolotl is now critically endangered.

Baby Axolotl Care

To give your baby axolotl a happy and healthy life, you’ll need to provide it with an appropriate tank, the proper diet, and adequate care. Young baby axolotls are especially fragile and need extra care to prevent health issues.

Tank Setup

Baby axolotls require a tank of at least 10 to 20 gallons (38-76 liters) in size to provide adequate space for swimming and hiding. Keep the water between 60-68°F (15-21°C) with a pH level of 6.5 to 7.5 to simulate the baby axolotl’s natural environment. Use a submersible filter to keep the water clean and circulate oxygen throughout the tank. 

Other critical water requirements include:

  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Water hardness: 7-14 GH
  • Chlorine: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm

You don’t have to spend a fortune on decorations, as baby axolotls enjoy hiding and exploring. Stones, driftwood, and floating plants like hornwort and anacharis provide baby axolotls with plenty of places to explore and hide. 

Sand also makes a suitable substrate, as axolotls love digging and burrowing. This prevents them from getting depressed or stressed. PVC cuttings and cave-like decorations also make baby axolotls feel safe and secure.

Baby axolotls are sensitive to bright light so keep the lighting minimal. A tank LED light with adjustable light levels works best. Provide dim light to mimic the dark, murky environment baby axolotls prefer.

Nutrition & Diet

In the wild, baby axolotls are omnivores, feeding on various insects, bugs, and small aquatic creatures. You can feed baby axolotls a wide variety of food, including:

  • Bloodworms
  • Baby brine shrimp
  • Black worms
  • Earthworms
  • Crickets
  • Sludge worms
  • Angleworms
  • Beef pieces
  • Feeder fish

They also enjoy sinking pellets, tubifex cubes, shrimp pellets, and other fish foods. Since baby axolotls have a slow metabolism, feed them 2-3 times a week only, serving about four tiny bugs per session. 

If providing them with dead food, use a pair of feeding tongs to wiggle the food close to a baby axolotl’s mouth to trigger it to eat. Overfeeding is detrimental to baby axolotls and can lead to obesity, unhealthy conditions, and even death.

Be extra careful with wild-caught food as it can contain harmful parasites. Remove leftover food to prevent rotting, which can drive ammonia levels up.

Behavior and Interaction

Baby axolotls are solitary creatures who don’t require companionship. They are energetic in low-lit or dark environments but shy away from bright light. A baby axolotl spends most of its time hiding in caves and digging in the substrate. Their welcoming personality, charisma, and huge smile make them fascinating and endearing to baby axolotl keepers.

Baby axolotls have been known to recognize their owners and show signs of affection, including:

  • Rising to the water’s surface and watching you.
  • Following your fingers along the tank walls.
  • Coming to the edge of their tank when you enter the room.

However, don’t mistake their gentle, friendly demeanor for weakness. Housing baby axolotls with other baby axolotls or fish can be dangerous. They are voracious eaters and will likely devour their tank mates without warning. 

A single bite can cause significant injury to other pets in the aquarium. Plus, large fish can peak baby axolotls’ gills and sensitive skin leading to infections. 


Baby axolotls boast an impressive lifespan of 10 to 15 years with the proper care and attention. Its life cycle starts with baby axolotls hatching from eggs. The head and body will grow first before developing into the larval stage, where its legs appear after two weeks. 

They reach sexual maturity after six months but are considered fully grown at 12 months.

Given their long lifespan, baby axolotls require a lifetime commitment and devotion. Ensure you are up for the challenge before committing to a baby axolotl, as they can live with you for over a decade. 

  • Provide them with clean water and occasional water changes. This will maintain water quality and keep oxygen levels high.
  • Check pH levels regularly and keep them within the 6.5 to 7.5 range. You can correct pH levels with a pH buffer solution.
  • Regularly check baby axolotls’ health, from their skin to the color of their eyes. How do they move, eat and behave? Do you notice any changes? Consult your vet if your pet falls sick.
  • Provide baby axolotls with a varied diet, and remember not to overfeed. Experiment with frozen, freeze-dried, and live food to keep baby axolotls’ diet interesting.
  • Hiding spots are essential for baby axolotls since they are timid creatures. Provide them with driftwood, rocks, and plants to hide in during the day. Keep the light dim in the aquarium to ensure comfort and safety.
  • Use a gravel vacuum to remove debris, uneaten food, and excess waste from the tank.


Breeding axolotls is a fascinating and gratifying experience. To successfully breed baby axolotls, house them separately and introduce them in the same tank once they reach sexual maturity. A male baby axolotl is slimmer than a female and has a longer tail base and wider gill openings. Put them in a 20 to 40-gallon (76-151 liters) tank to provide adequate space to socialize, explore, and express themselves.

Usually, the male will insert his spermatophore into the female’s cloaca, fertilizing her eggs. The baby axolotls will then lay their eggs 12-72 hours later in a safe place such as caves and plants. Separate the eggs from adult baby axolotls to avoid predation. Transfer each baby axolotl to its own tank after breeding to prevent death or injury.

The eggs will hatch within 15 to 21 days, depending on the temperature of the water. Higher temperatures of 70°F (21°C) will fasten the hatching process. Provide young baby axolotls with a nutritious brine shrimp diet to kickstart their growth and development.

Here is a great YouTube video on breeding baby axolotls:

Common Health Problems for Baby Axolotls

Despite their hardiness, baby axolotls are still susceptible to health problems, which, when left unchecked, can harm or kill your pet. To keep baby axolotls in tiptop shape, watch out for the following:

Skin Infections

Chronic skin infections like abscesses and pustules can be caused by poor water quality, pathogens, and stressful environments. If baby axolotls’ skin looks swollen, red, or inflamed, it may be a sign of infection. Consult a vet to get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.


This health issue is often caused by bad water parameters such as high nitrate levels, resulting in baby axolotls’ eyes bulging out of their sockets. Regular water changes are key to maintaining optimal water quality. A filtration system can help keep baby axolotls’ habitats clean and healthy.


Like all other pets, baby axolotls can suffer from obesity if they are overfed. This can lead to health problems and even death in the worst cases. Provide protein-rich, nutrient-dense food in smaller portions that baby axolotls can eat in under 3 minutes. Also, avoid underfeeding to prevent slow maturation, malformation, and stunted growth. 


High water temperatures can cause baby axolotls to become stressed and overheat, leading to hypothermia. Ensure that the water temperature does not exceed 68°F (20°C) to maintain optimal oxygen levels in the aquarium. Invest in a container cooling system to keep baby axolotls comfortable and happy. 

Wrapping Up

A baby axolotl is a fascinating creature and makes for a great pet. Their distinctive appearance, easy care needs, and hardy nature make them an excellent choice for aquariums. 

Provide them with the right environment, nutritious food, and regular check-ups to ensure their health and well-being. With the proper care and attention, they will give you up to 15 years of pure bliss and joy.

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...