Can Axolotls Live with Fish?

An absolutely unique and unusual creature, and a member of the Salamander family which includes frogs, newts, and toads, the axolotls are more well known as the “walking fish”.

Amphibians use water above all for reproduction, laying eggs in water. Then the larvae hatch and mature to an adult form allowing them to live on land. But Axolotls never quite grow up and never make it to land!

Mistakenly considered fish themselves, they are amphibians that spend their entire life in water.

Axolotls are carnivores and in nature survive on insects, worms, mollusks, crustaceans, and unfortunately fish!

Can Axolotls Live with Fish

How Are They Different from Other Species in the Salamander Family?

They are markedly different from other Salamander species and in many ways:

1.) They are larger than other species, even larger than those species found on land.

2.) This amphibian is native exclusively to Mexico’s Lake Xochimilco in the Valley of Mexico as well as Mexico City’s waterways and canals with an average temperature measuring around 20°C.

3.) As neotenic, they inhabit a body of water at a high altitude.

4.) Unlike other species of the Salamder family, they live in water permanently.

Can They Live with Other Fish?

If you have one in your aquarium, you may be wondering just that. Yes, the axolotls can live with other fish and freshwater species. One of the two, however, will probably suffer and die sooner or later.

It is in the best interest of your axolotls that they are isolated, and they thrive all the same when kept separate from other fish.

As carnivores, they feed on crustaceans and other fish. These are also cannibalistic creatures and can bite each other if there is not a supply of food nearby. The axolotls suck and swallow their food to feed as their teeth are underdeveloped.

They are at risk of choking if fish are too large, and they are at risk for internal injury if the fish they eat have exoskeletons or sharp spines.

Without teeth, they are unable to chew and must swallow their food whole with all the potential risks this brings.

So, if you place fish with exoskeletons together in the fish tank with your axolotl and your pet decides to eat one, it is at risk of dying from internal damage or choking.

When the axolotls cohabit with small fish species, these fish will most likely become your axolotl’s next meal. The opposite can also happen.

If goldfish and guppies survive to grow larger, they may in turn nip at your axolotls’ gills. As the axolotls fight back and try to devour nipping fish, they may end up choking, either way, it’s not a pretty ending.

This danger becomes more acute if you pair larger fish in the aquarium with your axolotls. Larger fish species make try to make a meal out of your pet.

Or they may be satisfied by just nibbling away at the axolotl’s gills and fins. With this in mind, it is not advisable to place larger fish in the same aquarium with axolotls.

Even if another fish nibbles on the gills of your axolotls, there’s no need to worry. These creatures are capable of regenerating, although they will not appear the same as their originals.

Their regeneration capabilities are quite remarkable. They have the ability to fully heal decapitated or amputated limbs.

This amphibian can regenerate all four of its limbs numerous times as well as its tail, jaw, spinal cord, brain, and own skin for the entire duration of its life.

What to Look for in a Tankmate for Your Axoloti

Some fish and sea creatures are just not good tankmates for your pet. When considering a potential tankmate, keep in mind these characteristics and considerations:

1.) Aquarium Water Temperature

Axolotls prefer cooler water so tropical fish are not a viable choice because the water will simply be too cold for them. In fact, you probably will need a water chiller if you live in a warmer climate.

2.) Temperament and Behavior

Territorial fish or aggressive ones are not adapted to life with an axolotl. They will disturb your pet possibly harassing it and even injuring it.

Fish that have high energy levels and swim actively also will disturb your pet. The movement of constant swimming will contribute to stress your salamander.

3.) Health Issues

Often freshwater fish are not appropriate. One example is the Cory Catfish which features sharp spines on fins, both pectoral and dorsal.

If your axolotl decides to eat one, it can suffer injury. Other fish when eaten can place your pet at risk for choking or bring diseases into your aquarium.

4.) Competitive Fish

Bottom dwellers can provide some competition for food at the bottom of the tank.

Pros and Cons of Placing Axolotis with Other Fish

Depending on the kind of fish you are considering, there are pros and cons.


      • Some species are fantastic aquarium tank cleaners
      • Your axolotl will have a snack in case it gets hungry
      • Some species specifically clean up leftover food hence avoiding bacteria proliferation


      • Some species pose a risk of injury to your axolotl through biting or nipping
      • Fish with exoskeletons can cause internal injury to your pet if eaten
      • Small fish swallowed can lead to choking and impaction
      • Territorial fish will harass and stress your amphibian

What Fish Can You Put with the Axolotls?

If you want some company for your axolotls, there are a few species that are safer choices for your pet amphibian, although there is no guarantee that they may not be made into a meal.

Best Axolotl Tankmates

The best choice is inevitably another axolotl particularly if one is male and one is female. You may even get your next generation.

One thing to be aware of, however, is that the larger of the two may nip at the smaller exemplar. This is especially so during their juvenile period.

As they mature into adults, the nipping should decrease considerably. This means that it’s better to pair adults together in the same aquarium. Space is another consideration; they’ll need adequate space for two.

Even with two mature axolotls, one male, and one female, there is still a risk of bites, nipping, and even infection. Isolation is the only sure way to protect them.

Small Shrimp

The Amano shrimp or Caridina multidentate are tiny shrimp that are known to be bottom feeders meaning they scavenge for leftovers on the bottom of your aquarium. They are fantastic tank cleaners and are not expensive.

If your axolotls are really hungry, they may snack on your shrimp, but the shrimp usually clean up the food that the axolotls have left.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Small in size and laid back, the White Cloud Mountain minnows live in colder water temperatures, and they are without an exoskeleton or sharp spines or bones.

These two can coexist together, but again, there is no telling if the axolotls will want minnows for lunch.


Guppies are tiny fish that are also bottom feeders and can share an aquarium home with axolotls.

These fish are small and are without an exoskeleton, so if they are eaten, they can be swallowed by your axolotls without any risks.

Axolotls swallow guppy

Guppies too will clean up the bottom of the aquarium eating leftovers from your axolotl’s meal.

It’s important to know that guppies are prolific when it comes to reproduction, so a large number may stress your axolotls. Guppies, too, may munch on an axolotl’s gills.

If a younger axolotl eats your guppies, it may cause impaction. Guppies are also known to carry both parasites and diseases, so they need to be quarantined before allowing them into the aquarium.


Mini snails that live in cold water such as apple snails, ramshorn snails, or bladder snails have soft exoskeletons.

While some feel they are not an ideal choice for sharing an aquarium with axolotls, there are some pet parents that do so without a problem.

axolotls with snail

Snails are also bottom feeders, so they clean up. This type of cleaning up is important because if leftover food remains, bacteria can develop and ammonia in the water may not be adequately controlled.

If your amphibian does get hungry and decide to eat these snails, they can be swallowed without difficulty. The only exception is apple snails that will grow. When they become larger, they should be removed as they can cause choking.

Unfortunately, a disadvantage to having small snails is the shells. If your amphibian eats them, shells can break and cut or pierce the lining of your axolotls’ stomach. Snails can also bring diseases, and as they grow, they become difficult to remove.

Zebra Danios

This is a relaxed and peaceful cool water-loving species that will generally keep its distance from your pet. Nonetheless, if your axolotl catches one, there will be one less fish in your tank.

Can an Axoloti Live with Goldfish?

Many aquarium enthusiasts believe that Goldfish are a good choice because they like cold water. But Goldfish are not a good choice due to their reputation for being fin nippers, and since they grow considerably, they will have an easy time bullying and harassing your pet.

Can an Axoloti Live with Goldfish

As it is likely they will nip your axolotl’s fins and gills, they can cause injury and will most certainly stress your pet. They also produce lots of waste just like your axolotl, so the tank will be messy.

The only Goldfish species that might work is the Fancy Goldfish because they are very slow like your pet, so your axolotl will have a chance of defending itself and nipping back.

But this species also brings risk with it. Because they are smaller, they can cause choking if your pet wants to snack on one.

Can an Axoloti Live with Tropical Fish?

Tropical fish are not a viable choice because the water will simply be too cold for them.

Can an Axoloti Live with Koi?

Yes, they can. However, you need to select a smaller “feeder” type of koi. Koi fish that are small and easy to care for are an ideal choice. 

Because Koi possess a fin with some bones and cartilage, it may be better to limit the number in your aquarium, even to a single exemplar. 

Axolotl may consider a koi fish its next meal. If these two species don’t bother each other, they should get along swimmingly.

Can an Axoloti Live with Turtles?

Turtles are not a wise choice because they have different care needs than axolotls. They also can be very aggressive and a bit unpredictable meaning that your axolotl will be at risk of injury.

The Bottom Line

Basically, the risks tend to outweigh the advantages. Can axolotls live comfortably together with fish?

The answer to this depends primarily on the type of fish and the kind of aquarium environment that you are able to provide.

If you allow your axolotls to share its aquarium, there will always be risks of bites, infections, feeding on roommates, and cannibalism. Stress caused by aquarium mates is also a potential killer.

In the end, while axolotls can live with other fish, it’s best they don’t. Keeping them separated, is your best option.

If you must pair them with other fish, choose fish that like cooler temperatures and avoid any species of fish that have exoskeletons or sharp spines.

By avoiding these kinds of species, if your amphibian does decide to feed, and devours its roommates, it will be satiated and safe.

Susan R Elliston

I have over 11 years of experience as a vet working with a wonderful variety of species of innocent and lovely animals. Whilst I still work two days a week for a local practice, I realized that I could help more people by sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers.

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