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Why Are My Axolotls Gills Turning White!

The surge in the popularity of keeping axolotls as pets is still going strong with more and more people deciding to add an axolotl to their family with each month that passes.

With there being so many people new to owning axolotls out there, we constantly see people reaching out with questions who are worried about their pet axolotls health.

We have lost count of the number of people reaching out and asking why their pet axolotls gills are turning white recently so we have decided to make this the focus for today’s article.

We know that it can be scary to realise that there is a potential problem with your axolotl but that is not always the case if you notice the gills of your axolotl turning white.

This is one of the reasons that we wanted to publish this article as we see people reaching out who have managed to convince themselves that their axolotl has a fungus infection.

Although there is a type of fungus infection that can grow on your axolotl’s gills and turn them white, it is pretty rare and there is a more common, natural, and totally harmless reason that your axolotl’s gills may turn white.

Why Are My Axolotl Gills Turning White!

The most common reason that your axolotl’s gills will start to turn white or a very light shade of pink is due to your axolotl being inactive and its oxygen requirements temporarily dipping.

A rare cause of your axolotl’s gills turning white is a fungus infection and this will usually change the look and texture of your axolotl’s gills making it easier to identify.

If you have an inactive axolotl that likes to sit around in its tank relaxing for long periods of time then its oxygen requirements will temporarily dip.

Due to this, less blood gets sent to the axolotl’s gills to draw oxygen and in turn the gills can start to go white or a very light shade of pink depending on the color of your axolotl.

It is usually obvious if your axolotl has a fungus infection so it is usually very easy to workout if that’s the reason that your axolotl’s gills are starting to turn white.

They will appear more feathery than usual while having a different texture and look to them too while potentially having parts of the fungus peel off them.

“Axolotl” by Eike Roemer is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

My Axolotl Has White Fungus It’s On Gills!

If your axolotl does have a fungus infection on its gills then it will require treatment as soon as possible. Provided you catch the infection early enough, it is generally very easy to treat and your axolotl should make a full recovery.

If the fungus has had a few weeks to set in then it can be harder to treat and it may require special treatments to full cure.

Although it is designed for use with fish, you are able to use Primafix to treat a fungus infection in your axolotl but most people who own axolotls use it at 1/10th the recommended dose.

This is due to the axolotl’s gills being extremely sensitive but you should book a quick video call with a veterinarian to confirm that this is the path that you should be taking prior to going forward.

Like we mentioned in our article going over axolotl gills shrinking, with some types of fungus, you may notice that your axolotl’s gills start to shrink.

If you do notice this in your axolotl that has a fungus breakout on its gills that is clearly visible then you really should be seeking advice from a vet as soon as possible for a specialist treatment plan.

How To Treat An Axolotls White Gills!

If you are not able to see any fungus on your axolotl’s gills and notice that it is inactive, the change in colour of your axolotl’s gills is probably due to less blood going to the gills as less oxygen is required and it will usually return to normal itself as it starts to move around.

If the change in color is due to a fungal infection then you really do need to be taking action with a suitable treatment as fast as possible.

As we touched on above, some axolotl owners will use Primafix to treat the fungus at a lower dosage than normally recommended to try and protect their axolotl’s gills.

Although this can work and tends to work well, we would always recommend you seek assistance from a vet just to get confirmation on using Primafix in your axolotl’s current condition.

We constantly see people recommending salt baths for your axolotl to treat a fungal infection but this usually does little to nothing for fungus.

A salt bath is usually an excellent option to treat a bacterial infection in an axolotl but it will have minimal effect on a fungal infection in most cases. There are a number of types of fungus though with a small number that do respond to salt baths so.


That brings our article going over why your axolotl’s gills are turning white as well as how you should be treating it. In our opinion, you really should be getting a vet involved if you do think that your axolotl has a fungal infection though. Thankfully, it is far more common for your axolotl to have its gills turning white due to less blood flowing into them as your axolotl requires less oxygen due to being inactive and this is totally normal in axolotls and does not require treatment.