Can You Put Ice Cubes in an Axolotl’s Tank?

This may sound like a rather unusual question especially if you are the new owner of an axolotl but keeping the aquarium water cool is essential to your pet’s health.

Often referred to as a fish due to its popular name of the “Mexican Walking Fish”, the axolotl is an amphibian that enjoys a colder climate.

These amphibians rarely leave their watery habitat, so maintaining cooler environmental temperatures is crucial to survival. 

Can You Put Ice Cubes in an Axolotl’s Tank

What Water Temperature Is Best for Axolotls?

Both the air and the water in your pet’s aquarium should never rise above approximately 64°F, although they will tolerate temps as high as about 73°F. Nothing higher.

At the other end of the spectrum, temperatures should not drop below 59°F. Axolotls enjoy temperatures that are cool to colder as perceived by humans and the tank’s temperature should replicate their native habitat water conditions. 

The ideal aquarium water temperature should measure between 60° and 64° F.

Tank water that is too cold can lead to a slowed metabolic speed, some sluggishness, and changes in your pet’s behavior, but it should not place your axolotl in danger. Overly warm temperatures can harm your pet as well as render it uncomfortable.

How Can I Keep the Aquarium Water Consistently Cool?

Depending on your indoor climate at home, you will need to find a method to maintain ideal water temperatures in the axolotl’s tank to protect its health.

Getting an aquarium thermometer that can read water and air temperatures is the first step in protecting your pet’s well-being. Without a reliable thermometer, you will not know the exact water temperature and hence will not make any necessary adjustments.

Aquarium thermometers should be installed directly onto the tank and ideally measure both air and water temps simultaneously.

Water temperatures must remain consistent and stable. Temperature fluctuations will stress your pet, leaving it vulnerable to infections. 

Aquarium Location

While you may not want to place a beautiful aquarium in a basement, this can help keep temperatures down. Basement environmental temperatures are generally lower than those of upper floors.

In any case, place your tank in a spot without direct sunlight exposition, preferably in a room that does not receive direct sunlight during the day, and position the tank away from windows.

Also, place your tank away from electronic devices that produce heat such as computers or televisions.

When setting up your pet’s tank, you’ll need lighting that does not produce heat. This is also true for any electronic devices used in the tank such as filtration units. Moving aquarium parts should not produce excessive heat or consume a lot of energy. 

Can I Use a Cooling Fan?

Cooling unit installed on axolotl tank

Yes, this is one alternative. You will need a fan that blows a sufficient amount of air. The fan’s current should hit as much of the surface of the tank’s water as possible to aid in the dissipation of heat both from the tank’s air and water.

If your aquarium has a cooling unit installed, you may not need the addition of a cooling fan as this might contribute to the water temperature dropping too much.

If you have an air-conditioned room, you can also position your aquarium in such a room to aid in temperature control.

See also: Do Axolotls Need an Air Pump? 

Can I Put Ice Cubes in My Axolotl’s Aquarium?

Many axolotl parents do add ice cubes into their pet’s tank. You can put in a few ice cubes, but you will need to have others ready and accessible as the inserted cubes thaw.

Ice cubes will not maintain a stable temperature and they do not last very long. This might be a viable method for an emergency such as if your tank’s cooling unit breaks. 

The temperature should remain as consistent as possible to guarantee your axolotl’s health. Fluctuations, especially big ones, are ill-advised. You can also insert ice cubes held in a plastic bag into a tank, as long as the plastic bag is clean. 

If you are adding ice cubes directly, they should be made with dechlorinated water, and add a little water conditioner, too. Ice cubes should be inserted at night to replicate evening temperature drops in your pet’s native habitat.

Frozen water bottles have also been inserted to maintain a cool temperature. However, you cannot just place an entirely frozen bottle in your pet’s tank.

Most of the bottles should be positioned outside of the water and preferably in a corner of the aquarium. Again, you will need another water bottle handy to substitute one that has thawed. 

Frozen water bottles in axolotl tank

Plan on having at least four frozen water bottles ready in your freezer for rotation with thawed water bottles. Do be careful, because if the water temperature drops suddenly with the insertion of a frozen bottle, you will stress your axolotl.

Water bottles need to be cleaned before inserting them into the tank, or you can place them in a fresh plastic zip lock back before insertion.

Avoid using icepacks, as these use chemicals that can contaminate the tank and harm your axolotl.

Maintaining an Axolotl’s Tank Cool

A surefire way to maintain the water cooler is by getting a chiller. This is also the most expensive option. Aquarium chillers use one of two different operation methods:

      • Refrigerated chillers
      • Thermoelectric tank chillers

With the insertion of a refrigerated aquarium chiller, water passes through the chiller and emerges cold. This is the exchange of heat for cold through the use of an evaporator or heat exchanger, a compressor, an expansion valve, and a condenser coil.

A chiller will only regulate the water temperature, it is not an aquarium filter, so you will still need a filtration system. A chiller can be set to a specific temperature and the tank’s water will maintain the desired temp.

Chillers are ideal, especially in climates that are warm year-round or for the hotter summer months.

A thermoelectric chiller operates using the Peltier effect. A probe placed in the water absorbs heat, transferring it to a heated compartment that is positioned above the tank.

The heat is moved away with the use of a fan. These chillers cost less than a refrigerated chiller as they have fewer moving components, but they are less efficient especially if your tank is larger than 10 gallons in size.

See also: How Long Can Axolotls Remain Out of Water?

Other Tips

Evaporation will aid in lowering temps approximately 2°F. use a screen top as opposed to an aquarium hood to integrate this advantage.

Change a motor-driven filter to one driven with bubbles.

Insulate the tank. Using insulating material on the sides of the tank together with other cooling methods will improve cooling efficiency.

A Final Consideration

Maintaining the correct water and air temperature in an axolotl tank can be challenging, but it is possible. Aquariums can overheat simply due to other equipment or lighting that produce heat in the area.

Ideally, a reliable aquarium cooling unit and aquarium thermometer should get the job done and keep your delightful pet safe and happy. Nonetheless, be prepared for heat waves and power outages. 

Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth Smith is an American Italian freelance writer living outside a small town on the island of Sicily in southern Italy. She resides on a country hillside with her husband, two cats, and six dogs. Both she and her husband dedicate a portion of their free time to studying their canine family. Elizabeth has completed courses as both a dog handler and dog trainer and in canine first-aid. She is also part of a local volunteer group in support of stray and abandoned dogs.

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