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How To Keep An Axolotl In A Planted Tank!

The surge in the popularity of keeping axolotls as pets shows no signs of slowing down and as more and more people add an axolotl to their family, the number of questions about keeping axolotls as pets increase with each month that goes by.

We do see a wide range of questions asked from the community but due to a number of beautiful aquascape photographs going viral, we have seen a large number of people asking about keeping an axolotl planted tank recently.

Due to there being some confusion about keeping an axolotl in a planted tank as well as so many people reaching out and asking questions about the various suitable plants that you can use with axolotls, we have decided to publish this dedicated article on the subject.

Our hope is that we will be able to help as many of our readers as possible as well as help you build out your own, beautiful live plant axolotl tank in no time.

Now, as with most things when it comes to aqua scaping, you are only really limited by your imagination and budget but thankfully, the suitable plants for an axolotls tank tend to be cheap and easy to maintain helping to keep your costs as low as possible.

In addition to that, most axolotls really do seem to enjoy having live plants in their tank due to the added enrichment of the plants and different textures that they offer to your pet axolotl.

Can Axolotls Live In A Planted Tank?

Axolotls can live in a planted tank with most axolotls who have live plants in their tank seeming to really enjoy them.

There are a number of very simple, cheap live plants that work well and are fine to use in the same tank as an axolotl too making it very simple to build out a planted axolotl tank.

In our opinion, the main problem with a planted axolotl tank is not the axolotl but the actual plants.

Due to your pet axolotl needing a water temperature of 60-64°F/16-18°C, this does limit the number of aquatic plants that you are able to use in the tank due to the water being a little too cold for many popular options that are commonly used for aqua scaping in tropical fish tanks.

Thankfully though, there are some great live plant options available for your axolotl’s tank but just keep in mind, these plants do tend to take a little longer to “grow in” due to the colder water.

The majority of the time though, within the first six months after initial planting, the majority of the better plant options for an axolotl tank will usually be grown in and looking food.

The Best Live Plants For Axolotls

There are a number of suitable plants for an axolotl tank but java moss, java fern, and anubias’ are generally considered the best live plants for axolotl tanks.

They are able to thrive in the colder water temperatures that an axolotl requires while also being able to grow out and fill the tank if given time the time while also being very cheap.

Is Java Moss Good For Axolotls?

Java moss is a great live plant for axolotl tanks with it probably being the most commonly used plant for any planted axolotl tank with a huge number of axolotl owners using it.

Thankfully, java moss is very cheap and does very well in colder water temperatures making it suitable for the temperatures that your axolotl requires.

Java moss can usually grow anywhere too making it excellent for all substrate options with axolotl often loving to lay on areas of thick java moss in their tank.

Is Anubias Safe For Axolotl?

All three anubias variants are safe for use in an axolotl tank with Anubias Nana usually being the most popular option due to it being so low maintenance and cheap.

If you have a taller axolotl tank then Anubias Isabelle is probably a better option though due to it being able to grow to taller heights while still being suitable for an axolotl planted tank but it can be difficult to find.

The final option is Anubias Barteri and although we feel Anubias Nana is a better option, Anubias Barteri is just as cheap and has a slightly different leaf shape so some people will keep Anubias Barteri and Anubias Nana in the same planted tank for verity in leaf shape.

Is Java Fern Safe For Axolotls?

Java fern is an excellent option for a live plant for your axolotl’s tank due to it doing well in colder water while being able to grow on pretty much anything so you are not constrained on your substrate options.

You can find java fern cheap if you get it online helping to keep your costs as low as possible with it making a great tall plant to go with java moss as a sort of low-level carpet plant.

Although it sounds basic, you can come up with some excellent axolotl planted tank design with nothing more than java fern and java moss if needed.

Can Axolotls Live With Moss Balls?

Most of the moss types that are commonly used for moss balls are safe for use in an axolotls tank but you have to follow the general rule of thumb of making sure the moss ball is at least 1.5 times the size of your axolotls head.

This is to prevent your axolotl from trying to eat the moss ball and having problems due to axolotl trying to eat everything they can get in their mouth. Even larger moss balls can present a risk though so we usually recommend against them if possible.

The Best Floating Plants For Axolotls!

The best floating plant for an axolotl tank is duckweed due to it being able to live at the lower water temperatures that axolotls require.

Amazon frogbit is a close second but most other types of popular floating plants will need warmer water making them unsuitable for long term use in an axolotl tank.

Can I Put Duckweed In My Axolotl Tank?

Duckweed is one of the better options for an axolotl tank when it comes to floating plants as it can do very well in colder water temperatures while also being a very cheap plant.

It can also block out light to help with any potential lighting issues in your axolotl’s tank too and although axolotls tend not to eat duckweed, they may eat small amounts and its small size presents no thread to your axolotl.

Can I Put Amazon Frogbit In My Axolotl Tank?

Amazon frogbit can be a popular floating plant option for an axolotl tank as it can work well in colder water temperatures.

The longer roots on frogbit also tend to discourage axolotls from trying to eat it too making it a solid addition to an axolotls planted aquarium.

There are some lines of frogbit that have been developed to live in colder waters so they can last longer in an axolotls tank without issue but even regular amazon frogbit should be fine for the most part.

Is Water Lettuce Safe For Axolotls?

Although water lettuce is safe for axolotls, it will often dye quickly due to the water in an axolotl tank being too cold for it.

Your axolotl requires a water temperature of 60-64°F/16-18°C but water lettuce needs a water temperature of around 75°F/23°C so although the water lettuce can look good in an axolotl tank and it doesn’t pose any threat to your axolotl, it usually won’t last long due to the lower water temperatures.

Do Axolotls Like Fake Plants?

Axolotls are usually fine with having fake plants in their aquarium with fake plants being a very popular option due to the lack of maintenance required.

We would always recommend that you choose fake plants with rounder leaves if possible though just to reduce the chances of the plant damaging your axolotl’s external gills but there are a huge number of suitable options on the market these days.

The Best Substrate For An Axolotl In A Planted Tank!

Sand is usually considered to be the best substrate for a planted axolotl tank as the more popular live plants such as java moss and java fern don’t require a specific substrate to thrive while sand is usually the best substrate for an axolotl.

If you want to use black sand then Stoney River Black Sand is an excellent option with a great reputation amongst the axolotl owning community and Super Naturals Aquarium Sand is a great option for yellow sand.


That brings our article going over the various options available for an axolotl planted tank to an end. Keeping an axolotl in a planted tank tends to get a bad reputation for some reason but it is much easier than the majority of people initially think. Even a beginner to aqua scaping is usually able to create a beautiful layout in their axolotl’s tank that requires minimal maintenance using only plants that are safe to keep with axolotls.