Axolotl Tank Mates (#12 MIGHT BE A SAFE CHOICE)

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Axolotls are one of the most unique, fun aquatic pets out there. After all, what’s not to love about their big smiles?

If you’ve got an axolotl or are planning to get one soon, you may be wondering: does my axolotl have to be alone, can I get it some tank mates?

While axolotls don’t need tank mates, it is possible to put them with some other species. Though picky, there are a few species that won’t cause too many issues in your axolotl tank. 

Our top 12 axolotl tank mates include:

Below, we’ll go through each of these tank mates and talk about what makes them such great tank mates for your axolotl. To learn more, read on!

Important Considerations Before Getting Tank Mates

Before getting your axolotl any tank mates, you should consider your axolotl’s personality and needs.

Generally, axolotls don’t need tank mates. In fact, they tend to thrive better when on their own.

However, that doesn’t mean they can’t ever get along with some tank mates. They can, but you’ll have to monitor them carefully.

  • First thing, you also have to make sure the tank mates are compatible with your axolotl. Fish that like to nip aren’t good choices, as they may try to nip at your axolotl’s gills. 
  • The next thing you want is for your axolotl to get hurt by their tank mate! Plus, having to separate your tankmates after the fact can be tricky.
  • At the same time, you need to consider that any tank mates you get may become a snack for your axolotl at some point.
    • You shouldn’t get any tank mates for your axolotl if you plan to get particularly attached to them.
    • That being said, make sure any tank mates you get are safe for your axolotl in case they do eat them!
  • The last thing you want is to put a fish in your axolotl tank that could sicken or even kill your axolotl upon consumption. You wouldn’t want to eat a poisoned apple, would you? I thought not. 

The axolotl tank mates on this list are small and are either able to hide or flee from your axolotl. This will reduce any potential casualties between them. 

Best Tank Mates For Your Axolotl

Ghost Shrimp

  • Scientific Name: Palaemonetes paludosus
  • Origin: North America
  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, bottomfeeders

One potential tankmate for your axolotl you may not have considered is the ghost shrimp. Ghost shrimp are small bottom feeders that can help keep your substrate clean between changes.

As suggested by their name, ghost shrimp are clear! But no, they aren’t spooky.

They are, however, difficult to see at times and blend in with their surroundings easily. 

Because of this, they can sometimes make good tank mates for axolotls. Their camouflage helps them to hide from your axolotl so they don’t accidentally become a snack. 

Plus, since they spend their time bottomfeeding along the tank, your axolotls may not interact with them much anyways. Just make sure they have enough space alongside your axolotl!


  • Scientific Name: Poecilia reticulata
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 1 – 2 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, social

Guppies are one of the simplest fish to raise. This small fish is incredibly peaceful and enjoys being in schools with its kind. 

This species is easy to find and quite cute! They come in many different colors and have adorable flared tails that will look great in any tank.

Because they’re peaceful, guppies generally won’t nip and shouldn’t cause your axolotl any harm. Keep in mind that this species reproduces quickly, so don’t be surprised if any babies become a tasty treat for your axolotl.

Apple Snails

  • Scientific Name: Ampullariidae
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 2 – 3 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, bottomfeeders

Apple snails are fascinating, but can be complicated. They’re popular in the aquarium trade, but irresponsible owners have led to them becoming an invasive species in some regions of the US. (*)

Because of this, most states outlaw taking apple snails across state lines. You’ll have to find some within your state to be able to legally add them to your tank. 

These snails are quite large, averaging anywhere between 2 and 3 inches in length as adults. Because of this, they can be a good addition to your axolotl tank as most won’t be able to swallow them.

However, you should make sure they’re big enough to not even be able to fit into your axolotl’s mouth. If it’s small enough to get in, you run the risk of your axolotl choking on it. 

When in doubt, large, adult apple snails are best suited for smaller-sized axolotls. Either way, these bottomfeeders are still a great way to keep your substrate clean between changes. 

White Cloud Mountain Minnows

  • Scientific Name: Tanichthys albonubes
  • Origin: China
  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, social

White cloud mountain minnows are another small, colorful fish that could keep your axolotl company. These fish are similar to neon tetras but are often less expensive. (*)

Unfortunately, this species can no longer be found in the wild thanks to pollution and tourism. It is only found in the pet trade, which at least decreases the chances of introducing disease from this species.

White cloud mountain minnows have easy care and are quite peaceful. They won’t nip at your axolotl and can make quick escapes from any hungry mouths.

Since minnows are schooling fish, plan to get at least six at a time. 

Zebra Danios

  • Scientific Name: Danio rerio
  • Origin: India
  • Size: 2 – 2.5 inches
  • Temperament: Easy-going, playful

Zebra danios are a simple addition to any tank. This cute, striped fish is easy-going and playful.

Lots of personality in such a small body!

This species has a small mouth, so it likely won’t nip at your axolotl. It also enjoys being with its kind, so you should get at least five of them at a time.

You should also keep in mind that zebra danios breed quickly. Any laid eggs or hatched fry are likely to end up as meals for your axolotl since they won’t be able to swim away fast enough. 

However, adults can still make great tankmates for your axolotl!

Cardinal Tetra

  • Scientific Name: Paracheriodon axelrodi
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 1.25 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, mild

If you’re looking to add a splash of color to your axolotl tank, cardinal tetras are a great choice! These small fish are peaceful and won’t cause any issues with your axolotl. 

These blue and red fish are schooling, so you’ll want to get at least six at once. Being in a group will help them protect each other if your axolotl tries to strike. 

The other good news is cardinal tetras don’t breed easily, so you don’t have to worry about any eggs or babies in your tank unless you get particularly lucky. If you can call it lucky, at least. 

Endler’s Livebearers

  • Scientific Name: Poecilia wingei
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 1.5 – 2 inches
  • Temperament: Active, curious

Endler’s livebearers aren’t particularly common, but they’re beautiful little fish nonetheless. Endler’s livebearers are in the same family as guppies, which means they can also give live birth!

These little fish are covered in bright colors such as orange and green and are sure to catch the eye of any visitor to your home. They’re also active, so they’ll be able to quickly swim away from your axolotl as needed.

Because Endler’s livebearers are curious, they may be tempted to interact with your axolotl. If your axolotl becomes stressed, be sure to separate them to keep both of them safe. 

After all, axolotls don’t exactly like annoying neighbors!

Rosy Barbs

  • Scientific Name: Pethia conchonius
  • Origin: India
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, shy

One of the largest fish on this list, rosy barbs can make a good tankmate for your axolotl. Since they’re so large, they’re one of the only tankmates on this list that won’t be likely to become a snack!

Rosy barbs look similar to large goldfish but are much shyer. This species is peaceful and unlikely to disturb your axolotl. 

However, you should keep in mind that with a fish this size, you’ll need a very large tank for your axolotl. Since rosy barbs are schooling, you need at least five of them together. 

That means a really big tank. Plan for at least 50 gallons to give everyone enough space, especially since shallower water is better for your axolotl. 

Green Swordtails

  • Scientific Name: Xiphophorus hellerii
  • Origin: Central America
  • Size: 5 – 6 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, social

If you want a unique-looking fish for your tank, look no further than a green swordtail. This fish is approximately 6 inches long and has shimmering stripes across its body. 

Swordtails are peaceful fish that won’t start drama with your axolotl. Though they aren’t necessarily schooling fish, they should be kept in small groups to help them feel comfortable in your tank. 

Around five swordtails per tank is recommended. 

Keep in mind that axolotls may be tempted to snack on this species’ long tail. If you notice any major issues between these species, be sure to separate them before one or both get hurt. 

Pearl Danios

  • Scientific Name: Danio albolineatus
  • Origin: Thailand
  • Size: 2.5 inches
  • Temperament: Active, peaceful

Similar to their relative the zebra danio, pearl danios can be great tankmates for axolotls. This small fish shimmers with pastel colors as it swims across your tank. 

These schooling fish should be kept in groups of at least six to feel safe. Plus, pearl danios are quick, so they can escape your axolotl as needed. 

Pearl danios are peaceful, so they won’t be the ones to start issues with your axolotl. Plus, their adorable little speckles will look great alongside your axolotl!

Orange-Finned Danios

  • Scientific Name: Brachydanio kyathit
  • Origin: Myanmar
  • Size: 1.5 – 2 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, social

Like the other danios on this list, orange-finned danios are peaceful additions to any tank. This social species requires a school of at least six fish to feel safe, so be sure you have a nice little community of them.

Orange-finned danios are great to add a little bit of color to your tank. Their subtle orange fins add just a bit of pop you need in any nice tank. 

Plus, their quick swimming should keep them safe from any hungry axolotls. Win-win!

Other Axolotls

When in doubt, another axolotl is the best bet for a tank mate for your axolotl! Since they’re the same species, care for both will be the same. Easy, right?

However, just because they’re both axolotls doesn’t mean they’ll automatically be friends. Axolotls do prefer to be on their own, so you’ll have to give each one enough space to not bother each other.

You’ll also have to keep an eye out for any aggression. Generally, axolotls are peaceful creatures, but they can get a bit nippy if they get in each other’s way. 

As long as there are no aggression issues, your axolotls can live together in harmony. 

Learn more:

Now You Know

Now that you’re more familiar with some of the species that do well with axolotls, you can find some suitable tankmates for them.

The best and safest axolotl tank mates are included:

  1. Ghost Shrimp
  2. Guppies
  3. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  4. Apple Snails
  5. Zebra Danios
  6. Cardinal Tetra
  7. Endler’s Livebearers
  8. Rosy Barbs
  9. Green Swordtails
  10. Pearl Danios
  11. Orange-Finned Danios
  12. Other Axolotls

Remember that the best species are ones that won’t nip your axolotl’s gills and are capable of hiding or escaping if your axolotl suddenly wants a snack!

If you ever witness your axolotl and its tank mates fighting, remember the best option is to separate them before it goes too far. Even if your tank mates can’t physically hurt your axolotl, stress can still make your axolotl sick. 

Do you have an axolotl with tank mates? Let us know about your experiences or any questions you may have below – you never know, we may write about yours next!

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