They say variety is the spice of life.
One way to do this?
Give your tank more pizzazz by adding some compatible tank mates for your axolotl!
First and foremost, we want to make sure whatever other creatures we put in with our precious axies will not harm them (or be harmed).
So I’ve put together a list of the most compatible species you can consider.
Please keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everybody across the board.
(Different animals have different personalities.)
But generally these are reliable options.
1. Mystery Snails
What isn’t to love about the mystery snail?
Sweet, gentle and vibrant.
Best of all?
They get surprisingly big – up to the size of a golf ball!
Perfect, because then they can’t fit in the mouth of your lotl and get eaten.
These guys can be found in a rainbow of options – gold, blue, purple, magenta, chestnut, jade and many others.
They really add some visual interest to the tank.
Mystery snails are very large freshwater snails that can do quite well in cooler water – in fact, too warm of warm water can stress them.
Because they are herbivores, your axie and your snails won’t compete for food.
To answer a couple of objections.
You may have heard a rumor of the danger of snails being bad for axolotls if they come up to them and suck off their slime coat.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The innocent mystery snails will NOT disturb any living animal of any species (more than accidentally bumping into them).
They are attracted only to dead plant matter and dead decaying matter.
While some algae eating fish like plecos can and have attacked the axolotl slime coat, I guarantee that mystery snails will never ever do this (unless your axolotl is dead).
The other objection?
Some people say snails may carry diseases that could harm your axolotl.
The truth is that this would be extremely unlikely.
Snails are not hosts to the pathogens that harm axolotls.
Your axolotl is just as likely to catch a disease by you putting a new plant in the tank as adding a snail.
If you want to be extra cautious you could be double safe by quarantining your snail first for a few weeks, just like some do with new plants.
That way if there is a parasite hiding in their shell it will die without a host.
I don’t bother to do this because I get my snails from good breeders (not wild caught and not from the pet store).
Read More: Keeping Snails with Axolotls
2. Some Species of Freshwater Fish
- White cloud mountain minnows
- Livebearing fish including mosquito fish, guppies, endlers, swords, mollies & platties
- Danios (Zebra, Orange Fin)
- Golden Skiffa
- Gold, cherry and Odessa barbs
White clouds are fast enough in cold water that they should not be eaten and too small to do damage to gills.
But in the rare case they are caught by the axolotl, unlike some minnows, they contain much less thiaminase (which can inhibit Vitamin B absorption in axolotls), and as long as the axolotl is fed a varied diet, it should not pose an issue.
Most livebearers will probably become lunch – unless they multiply fast enough.
Danios can work, though there are some rumors of nipping with certain species.
While tiger barbs are nippy and not a recommended companion, the other barbs listed above are more gentle. (The Odessa barb may become food.)
Just keep in mind that the fish you choose may either all disappear one by one as it gets eaten, or may multiply into a self sustaining colony.
Please note that fish have a much higher chance of spreading disease to your axolotls than do snails.
For that reason, it is a very good idea to at least quarantine your new fish first for a month before adding them to your tank.
Better yet, get them from a trusted breeder.
Shrimp are a useful part of the ecosystem of the aquarium as they clean up uneaten food and rotting matter.
The longevity of this one kind of depends.
Shrimp may become a snack for your axolotl.
However, some find their axolotls do not show much interest in the shrimp and they continue to multiply.
Shrimp are also quite fast at hopping away.
The shrimp need to like cold water.
Ghost shrimp are one of the faster types of shrimps and may fair better than the slower cherry shrimp.
The larger Amano shrimp (often used for cleaning algae) can also do quite well.
4. Dojo Loaches
The dojo loach is an often overlooked companion for axolotl aquariums.
It is a somewhat eel-like creature that loves cold water.
Dojo’s diet consists of much the same foods axolotls like, including pellets, brine shrimp and frozen bloodworms.
They are peaceful tank mates and have been known to get along well with axies.
5. Other Axolotls
Once past 6 months old, axolotls can generally be safely mixed with those of their own species.
For long term housing, it is recommended to keep only those of the same gender together.
(Males can overbreed females.)
Young axolotls generally should not be housed together as they tend to nip at each others’ gills and limbs unless constantly fed.
Dividers can be used to separate axolotls who are not compatible.
Read More: Can You Keep Axolotls Together?
Having diversity in your lotl’s tank can make for a much more enjoyable aquarium.
Generally, the 5 tank mate categories above are very safe choices.
Even so, there is a word to be said for caution and observation.
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the situation in case you notice some aren’t getting along well.
And one final word:
Quarantining any new inhabitants is usually a very good idea!