The Ultimate Guide to the Melanoid Axolotl


If you’re looking for an alternative pet with a big personality, you’re in for a treat with an melanoid axolotl!

Though they’re great pets, perhaps the thought of getting an axolotl fills you with anxiety. After all, they’re different from your lovely fish, so how do you even take care of them?

We know starting your journey to be an axolotl parent may sound like a scary one, but we promise it’s much easier (and more fun!) than you think.

If you’re considering a melanoid axolotl, read through this guide to learn everything you need to know to keep your aquatic friend happy and healthy.

Why Should I Raise A Melanoid Axolotl?

There are many reasons you should pick a melanoid axolotl as a pet!

Melanoid axolotls:

  • Are unique pets
  • Have easy care requirements
  • Live long lives
  • Have bold personalities

Take a look below to consider these in more depth.

Uniqueness and Appearance

If you’re tired of your run-of-the-mill aquarium fish, melanoid axolotls are a great alternative pet. They have similar care requirements as aquatic animals, but are much cooler to show off!

Plus, they’re a special type of axolotl with their dark coloring and potential to glow under blue light.

Many owners also enjoy their axolotl’s appearance as they are cute animals. You’ll love their constant smile and watching them swim around the tank.

Easy Care Requirements

Compared to other pets (especially aquatic ones), melanoid axolotls have shockingly easy care. As long as you keep the tank cool and clean and keep them fed, you should have little to no issues.

Plus, they can go for more than a few days without food in the case of an emergency. So if you have to run out of town for a few days, give them a big meal before you go to hold them over until you return.

Axolotls don’t need animal friends, nor do they need specific toys besides hiding places in the tank. A place to swim and eat keeps them (and you!) quite happy.

Long Lifespan

Axolotls have a long lifespan for those looking for a long-time pet.

On average, axolotls live between 10-15 years if well cared for, but some have even reached 20 years old before! (*)

If you’re looking for a pet that will stick around for a while, a melanoid axolotl is definitely the way to go.

Entertaining Personalities

Finally, you should consider an axolotl for their extremely entertaining personalities. Though you shouldn’t hold or pet your axolotl, axolotls can be just as responsive as fish when it comes to feeding and watching them.

Your axolotl may zoom around the tank, find a favorite place to rest, and snatch worms out of your fingers.

You may also find them fondly watching you through their tank when you’re nearby.

Melanoid axolotls are funny little creatures that are sure to entertain you and your friends.

What Is A Melanoid Axolotl?

Melanoid axolotls are unique amphibians native to Mexico.

They are actually considered a type of salamander, but never finish their metamorphosis so remain in water their entire lives.

You’ve heard the term “metamorphosis,” right? Think caterpillars to butterflies.

Amphibians do the same when they go from living in water to living on land. Axolotls are the rare exception to this process.

This phenomenon is called “neoteny,” which means they never grow out of their juvenile stage in the metamorphic process. (*)

Axolotls are also known to be able to generate lost limbs and are revered in Mexican legend. According to the legend, axolotls are representations of the Aztec god of fire and lightning, Xolotl. Xolotl transformed himself into a salamander to avoid execution. (*)

We aren’t going to say they are hidden gods, but we can’t necessarily say they’re not either. They are pretty cool, after all.

The main ways you can identify a melanoid axolotl are by:

  • Appearance
  • Behavior

The more you know about your axolotl, the better you’ll be able to care for them.


Melanoid axolotls are extremely unique in their appearance. Their unique appearance makes them easily recognizable in pet shops and in the wild. (*)

Axolotls in general have unique traits that set them apart from other salamanders and aquatic animals. They have feathery gills that fan out from their heads, webbed feet, a tail, and a large dorsal fin down their back and tail.

In addition to their feathery gills and tail, axolotls are known for their giant smile! Many axolotl owners claim they’ve never seen their axolotl frown.

On average, axolotls reach about 10 inches in length from head to tail once fully grown, though some have (rarely) reached over 12 inches. It takes about a year to get this long.

Even though axolotls still have gills around their head, they do have fully-formed lungs once they reach adulthood. It is after the lungs form that their metamorphosis (remember: like butterflies!) stops.

Melanoid axolotls are a specific coloration of axolotls. Though there are many different kinds including leucistic, wild, and white albino.

Leucistic is the most commonly recognized axolotl, with its light pink body and sparkly eyes.

Melanoid axolotls, on the other hand, are dark brown or black in color. As babies, they may have small spots, but will become solid in color as they age.

These axolotls are dark because they have lots of melanophores. Big word, I know, stick with me.

Melanophores are cells that have melanosomes in them. Melanosomes are cell parts that have lots of melanin. (*)

Melanin is a dark pigment. We, as humans, have melanin in our skin! The darker you are, the more melanin you have.

So, to clarify:

  • Melanoid axolotls have lots of melanophores, which are types of cells with melanosomes
  • Melanosomes are cell parts with lots of melanin
  • Melanin is a dark pigment

Ok, vocab lesson over.

As you can probably tell, this is how the “melanoid” axolotl got its name!

Fun fact: some melanoid axolotls also have a GFP gene. This stands for Green Fluorescent Protein, which means they can naturally glow under an actinic blue light! (*)

Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to GFP Axolotl


Axolotls generally have a gentle demeanor. They are not known for aggression and won’t typically try to bite you unless startled.

Axolotls can be sweet and playful, and like to swim around their tanks to get energy out. They may also rest by floating on the water or resting on a smooth piece of driftwood.

They are curious creatures and may enjoy watching you or other creatures in the tank for extended periods of time. Though you can house them together, they are not especially social and you’ll have to watch out for any aggression through nipping or biting.

Just like people, axolotls don’t want bad roommates either.

Swimming, observing, and smiling are what the adorable axolotl does on the daily.

How Do I Care For A Melanoid Axolotl?

So, how do you even care for a melanoid axolotl in the first place? In this section, we’ll talk about:

  • Tank requirements
  • Dietary needs
  • Common health problems

Take this information into consideration before bringing that sweet axolotl home. You want to make sure their new home (and owner!) is prepared to give them a long, happy life.

Tank Requirements

If you’ve ever raised aquatic animals before, you’ll find that axolotls are an aquatic species that are pretty easy to care for. (*)

To give your axolotl the best quality of life possible, we say it’s best to get at least a 20-gallon aquarium tank for it. This tank will need a mesh lid or aquarium hood, as axolotls are known to be crafty when it comes to making an escape.

Axolotls are surprisingly simple when it comes to their water needs. Tap water is fine for them, as long as you pretreat it with aquarium water conditioner to remove any chlorine in the tap water.

If you’re concerned about the quality of your tap water even after water conditioner, we recommend using normal bottled water as well.

To keep the water clean, it’s best to use an external canister filter as long as the water outlet has a spray bar of some sort. Axolotls don’t like direct water flow the same way fish do, and it can even stress them to the point that they’ll avoid food or become sick.

Beyond the water, axolotls don’t need much else. They don’t need any specific lighting and in fact, some lighting can be way too hot for them.

As a rule of thumb, you should keep your axolotl’s water between the low 60s to the low 70s Fahrenheit. Anything above 74 degrees Fahrenheit can result in illness and even death to your axolotl, so don’t warm him too much!

If you live in a warm area, we recommend an aquarium chiller to keep the temperature low year-round.

Other items to consider putting in your axolotl’s tank include (*):

  • Aquarium-safe sand as a substrate
  • Driftwood
  • Caves
  • Aquarium plants

Your axolotl doesn’t need a substrate, but it does make your aquarium look much nicer. They do still need those hiding places such as driftwood and plants.

You can find all of these items at your local pet store or online on a site such as Amazon.

Dietary Needs

Axolotls have simple dietary needs if you’re used to aquatic animals. (*)

In general, axolotls enjoy live food such as earthworms and bloodworms, which you can also buy in cubes. They may also enjoy small cooked shrimp or small pieces of lean beef or chicken, though this should not be a regular offering.

Though axolotls will eat small fish and amphibians in nature, avoid feeding your captive axolotl these creatures. Other live aquatic animals could introduce disease to your axolotl, and you don’t want to make them sick!

When your axolotl is done eating, remove any leftover food from the tank to keep it clean and prevent disease.

You should feed your axolotl according to the following guidelines:

  • Babies – 2x per day
  • Juveniles – 1x per day
  • Subadults – every other day
  • Adults – every 2-3 days

Once they reach adulthood, axolotls are hardy enough to survive a few weeks without food in the wild. But to keep them healthy, you should feed them when they are hungry, which is about every 2-3 days.

Learn more: Axolotls In The Wild and As Pets: What Do They Eat?

Common Health Problems

Axolotls are hardy animals, so you shouldn’t face too many health issues if you take care of them properly. (*)

In fact, axolotls can regenerate lost limbs, tails, and even heart or eye tissue! Crazy, right?

The most common health issues are viral or bacterial diseases stemming from poor tank care. This can be from foreign animal introduction (such as new axolotls or feeding fish) or lack of cleaning. Gross.

Even if you have a filter, you should regularly clean your tank and change the water. As we said before, you should also remove food debris once your axolotl finishes eating.

A dirty tank can lead to issues with your axolotl’s gills and breathing, whether from rotting food or high ammonia. The best solution is to keep on top of your axolotl’s tank care to prevent these issues in the future.

If you’re concerned for your axolotl’s health, always reach out to a vet for more help.


  • How much is a Melanoid axolotl?

Melanoid axolotls can range in price because they are an uncommon color. Their average price on the pet market is around $75. 

  • Are copper Melanoid axolotls rare?

Yes! Because copper axolotls and Melanoid axolotls are both rare on their own, a hybrid of the two is even rarer. In fact, copper Melanoid axolotls are the rarest color of axolotl!


If you read this guide in anticipation of getting a melanoid axolotl, congratulations! You’re now a melanoid axolotl pro.

Giving your pet the best care possible will keep your axolotl happy and healthy for years to come. Before this guide, you may not have known how to care for your axolotl friend, but now you do!

When you go to get your melanoid axolotl, remember to keep in mind the tank requirements including size and water quality.

You’ll also want to get them off on a good start by feeding them aquatic animals such as worms, insects, or brine shrimp.

If you’re getting a melanoid axolotl or have gotten one recently, let us know in a comment down below. If you’re interested in another aquatic animal guide, let us know what species we should focus on next and we may pick yours!

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