Are Axolotls Freshwater? [Can You Keep Them In Tap Water?]

Image of an axolotl swimming in freshwater

Axolotls are freshwater species. They are native to Lake Xochimilco and Chalco, which are freshwater bodies in Mexico. Axolotls presently inhabit the freshwater canals at Xochimilco, lake Chalco, and lake Chapultepec. Although axolotls are freshwater, they tolerate a certain salinity level.

Let’s now understand this in more detail.

Why Are Axolotl Freshwater?

Axolotls are also called Mexican walking fish, but they are not fish.

They are freshwater species because they come from Mexico’s cool, still, freshwater mountain lakes.

Axolotls originated in the lakes and wetlands of the Mexican Central Valley, including lake Xochimilco and Chalco.

These are endorheic water bodies, which don’t flow into the sea.

Although axolotls disappeared from the place they originated, they now inhabit the three sites in the southern part of Mexico City, the canals at Xochimilco, lake Chalco, and lake Chapultepec.

So axolotls are freshwater animals as these water bodies contain freshwater and are far inland from the sea.

Can You Use Tap Water For Your Axolotl?

Tap water is acceptable for axolotls, but it depends on where you live and what filtration processes are followed.

So the contents of the tap water vary from place to place.

Even if you can use tap water in axolotls’ tank, you must ensure that the water is pre-treated with an aquarium water conditioner to eliminate chlorine and chloramines from the water.

Axolotls are far more tolerant than aquarium fish when it comes to water quality.

However, installing a robust filtration system and conducting regular water changes are necessary to maintain adequate water conditions.

Before introducing your axolotl into an aquarium, allow the aquarium and filter to cycle for several weeks so that the water conditions settle and the filter bacteria develop.

In addition, test the water using the test kits to ensure the water conditions are adequate for the axolotls.

What Are The Ideal Water Parameters For Axolotls?

Like fish or other aquatic pets, axolotls can be kept in aquariums.

However, they have specific water requirements to stay healthy and thrive.

Failure to maintain adequate water quality is risky to the health and longevity of the axolotls.

Given below are the water parameters required for axolotls.

1. Water Temperature

Water temperature is an important parameter and must be kept within the accepted range.

Axolotls are sensitive to temperature variation. So you must ensure a stable water temperature.

Axolotls can survive water temperature in the range of 59°F to 73°F (15°C to 23°C).

The ideal temperature is between 60°F to 64°F (16°C to 18°C).

However, ensure that the temperature never exceeds 75°F (24°C).

Temperature fluctuations beyond the permissible range can result in reduced mobility, loss of appetite, and fungal infections in axolotls.

It will also affect the axolotls’ health and can be fatal.

2. Water pH Level

The pH level of water is another essential parameter for axolotls.

It measures the alkaline or acidic nature of your water and must be maintained accurately for axolotls’ overall health and well-being.

An axolotl tank requires the water pH or acidity level of the water to be between 6.5 to 8.0.

However, a pH level between 7.4 to 7.6 will ensure a conducive tank environment for the axolotls.

Maintaining the water pH level outside this range can cause ammonia toxicity. If left untreated, it can harm the axolotls.

3. Water Hardness

Axolotl in hard water

Another essential factor for axolotls is water hardness. Hard water is high in mineral content, specifically calcium and magnesium.

Axolotls need high concentrations of dissolved salts in their aquarium water.

But remember that mineral salts are different from table salt, as they contain sodium chloride.

Hard water has a positive effect on the gills and slime coating production, as well as other health factors of axolotls.

Typically, tap water in most parts of the world is hard. So you might already have tap water that meets the requirements of axolotls.

How Often Do Axolotls Need Water Change?

Axolotls are also called “walking fish” because they like to walk along the aquarium floor.

But compared to fish, they produce a lot of waste, which increases the toxin levels of the aquarium water.

The excreted waste of axolotls is like a fine powder. It floats and mixes with the tank water.

This waste dust can increase the ammonia levels of the tank water compared to a standard fish tank.

Axolotls are also much bigger than most aquarium fish.

So it’s recommended to change their tank water at least once every week to maintain adequate water parameters.

You can easily maintain the required water quality of your axolotl tank with regular maintenance.

Does Axolotl Tank Water Need pH Test After Every Water Change?

Axolotls are sensitive and get affected by changes in water pH. Extreme pH levels can be hazardous to them.

Higher water pH makes toxins more mobile and easily absorbable by aquatic organisms.

The pH level of the water is a figure between 0 to 14 that defines how acidic or basic the water is.

A lower pH indicates that the water is more acidic, and higher means it’s more basic. A pH level of 7 is considered neutral.

The ideal pH value for axolotls is between 7.4 to 7.6, which means they prefer the water to be slightly basic.

Axolotls are sensitive to water conditions, and any change can affect their appetite, behavior, and health.

So to limit the pH variation, it’s crucial to test the water pH after every water change for maintaining the desirable range.

How Long Should You Cycle Your Axolotl Tank?

Axolotls are sensitive to ammonia or nitrite levels of the tank water. So you must cycle your tank.

If the axolotls are kept in an uncycled tank, it can be fatal to them as there won’t be enough bacteria to filter their waste.

Cycling an axolotl tank means building beneficial bacteria in the filter system.

Beneficial bacteria help to break down ammonia into nitrites. Then, the other group of bacteria turns nitrites into harmless nitrates.

This cycling process can take between 4 to 6 weeks with fish or 6 to 10 weeks without the fish.

So don’t rush to put your axolotls into the tank, as they’re sensitive to the water conditions of the tank.

Keep testing the water until suitable water parameters are achieved before adding the axolotls to the tank.

It doesn’t matter what type of aquatic life you keep; it’s essential to maintain a stable environment.

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