Black Axolotl : Full Species Overview & Essential Care Tips

Unearth the secrets of the Black Axolotl in this detailed overview, filled with indispensable care tips for this unique "Mexican walking fish".

The Black Axolotl, also known as the Melanoid Axolotl, is an extraordinary amphibian that has captivated the hearts of many aquarists and animal lovers alike. With its unique appearance, it can make a striking addition to any tank!

But before you decide to bring one home, it's important to understand their needs and whether you can provide the right environment for them.

So let's break down this species even further and learn about its unique characteristics, diet, habitat requirements, and essential care tips.

Overview of the Black Melanoid Axolotl (Appearance/ Size & Lifespan)

The Black Melanoid Axolotl is a captive bred variation of the Wild Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum or Mexican walking fish), a species of aquatic salamander belonging to the family Ambystomatidae and native to the lakes and canals of Mexico. While their wild counterparts have been documented since the late 19th century, the Melanoid Axolotl has only been around since the 1960s and gained its popularity mostly in the 2000s, making them a relatively new phenomenon.

Physical Characteristics

The Black Axolotl is easily recognizable by its unique and striking appearance with their smooth, slimy skin and striking jet-black coloration, which is caused by their high levels of melanin. Although their body is predominantly black in color, some can also have small flecks of silver, white or dark green scattered throughout their body.

They have broad heads, wide eyes, and feathery external delicate gills that protrude from the sides of their head, while the tail is broad and paddle-like.

Black Melanoid Axolotls also have short limbs that end in four digits on each foot which are lined with adhesive discs to help them cling onto objects in the water. As the name implies, they a generally fully black, but can also range from deep black to greyish-brown in coloration.


In the wild, these fully aquatic amphibians can typically grow to a maximum size of 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) from head to tail in adulthood. However, when nurtured in captivity, their size can drastically vary as the environment they are kept in has a direct bearing on whether or not they'll reach their full potential.

While the age of individual Axolotls plays a large role in determining the size of these unique creatures, growth rates for those kept in aquariums have been as high as 1 inch per month during their juvenile stage!


The Black Axolotl is a long-term pet and has been known to live up to 10-15 years when properly cared for and kept in a healthy environment. On the other hand, the average life expectancy of a Wild Axolotl is thought to be around 5-7 years due to various environmental factors such as predation or the destruction of habitat.

Temperament & Behaviors: What to Expect from the Black Axolotl?

The Black Melanoid Axolotl is a peaceful and mellow species that lives a solitary lifestyle and does not have any complex social behaviors. They are shy and reclusive by nature, so expect them to be hiding the majority of the time or burrowing into their substrate.

They tend to move slowly along the bottom of their tank or take small swims along its surface throughout their day, rarely swimming very far away from their hiding places.

They will occasionally take part in interesting behaviors such as chasing their food, exploring the decorations in their tank or navigating through narrow spaces, but overall their activity level remains quite low.

Author's Note

Don’t be alarmed if you notice them lying still for long periods of time, since this is actually part of their natural behavior, as it helps them conserve energy and stay hidden from potential predators.

Tank Mates & Social Habits

The Black Melanoid Axolotl has a set of distinct social and tank mate preferences that should be carefully considered. These creatures are typically indifferent to the presence of other animals and will prefer to stick to their own company. 

It's best to only keep one Axolotl per aquarium, however if you fancy a group then go for a smaller batch of 2-3 specimens of equal size and temperament, which should include no more than one male, as males can become territorial and attack each other.

It is important to note that females will lay eggs when paired with a male, so you'll have to carefully monitor the tank for any signs of spawning.

Black Axolotls are generally peaceful towards their tank mates but small fish will be seen as potential food sources and could ultimately become a snack, so make sure to house them with similar-sized species that can’t fit in their mouth.

List of suitable tank mates:

  • Guppies: Not only are these hardy fish incredibly vibrant and energetic, making them perfect for novice aquarists, but they're also the least likely to contain any parasites or diseases. An outstanding choice for anyone just starting out!
  • Danios: These schooling fish are peaceful, active, and can tolerate quite a wide range of water conditions. A small group of danios will be a great addition to your Black Axolotl, providing hours of entertainment as they zip around the tank!
  • Minnows: These hardy fish may not be the most attractive species, but they are incredibly peaceful and live a nocturnal lifestyle. Minnows will tolerate your Axolotl’s presence and make great tank mates for them due to their size.
  • Ghost Shrimp: These tiny invertebrates may not seem like much, but they are quite peaceful and interesting to watch. A potential downside is that your Axolotl will likely view them as food, so be prepared to lose a few...
  • Nerite Snails: Cleaning up any leftovers is a job that can be easily done by adding some snails to your tank. Nerite snails are small, peaceful and will thrive in the same water conditions as your Axolotl. They do tend to reproduce quickly, so be sure to keep an eye out on your numbers!

If you do choose to add companions to your Axolotl, make sure you don't overstock the aquarium as this could lead to water quality issues and stress out your pet.

To ensure peaceful cohabitation, only select fast-moving fish that are the same size or larger than your Axolotl. It’s also important to avoid any aggressive species that could potentially stress them out and lessen their lifespan.

Male vs Female

Male and female Melanoid Axolotls can be distinguished by a few minor physical differences. The most obvious one being that males tend to have wider heads, longer gill filaments and their cloacal opening (located near the base of the tail) larger in size.

Females will tend to be slightly larger than males, but the difference is usually quite subtle and can be difficult to detect for an untrained eye. Properly identifying your Axolotl's gender can be tricky if they haven't yet reached the 6 month mark, as this is when gender-specific traits typically start to develop. In the end, male and female Axolotls will require similar care.

Nocturnal vs Diurnal

Axolotls are nocturnal animals and tend to be more active at night, when they come out of their hiding spots to scavenge the tank for food. During the day, Axolotls will usually spend time in a restful state, concealing themselves in logs or other decorations within their tank.

Additional Tip

It’s important to note that their nocturnal cycle will likely vary slightly depending on the temperature and lighting conditions of the tank. Try to keep your Axolotl's environment dark and cool during the day, as this will help encourage their natural behavior and minimize stress.

Breeding Black Melanoids

Breeding Black Melanoid Axolotls can be a rewarding but time-consuming process, as it requires the right conditions and resources in order to produce healthy offspring. To ensure successful mating, you'll need an aquarium that's 20 gallons or larger and should be set up with plenty of hiding spots and smooth surfaces for egg-laying.

If you choose to breed your pet Axolotls, you'll need to make sure that the male and female are of similar size and temperament, and will need to carefully monitor their behavior for any signs of aggression or stress. You should also keep in mind that Axolotls can lay up to 500 eggs per breeding, so you may need additional tanks to separate them once they’ve hatched.

As it grows up, the juvenile Black Axolotl (larval form) will start to develop the distinct black hue of their Melanoid variety as well as their distinct physical traits. It's important to note that they will reach maturity within 18 months, so you'll need to make sure that the tank is large enough to accommodate their growth. You should also keep in mind that they will require a higher protein diet than adults, with a more frequent ratio of feedings (roughly every day), but with much smaller portions.

Key Considerations Details
Aquarium Requirements 20 gallons or larger with smooth surfaces for egg-laying
Egg Production Up to 500 eggs per breeding
Maturity Reached within 18 months
Dietary Needs (juveniles) Higher protein, fed daily in smaller portions

The Black Melanoid Axolotl Tank Requirements

Black Axolotls are relatively hardy creatures, but they still require proper care if you want them to thrive in your home aquarium. This means setting up the tank with the right environment, temperature and water parameters before you introduce your pet to its new home.

Tank Size

The first step is to invest in a large enough aquarium so that your Axolotl has plenty of room to move around. Your Axolotl’s tank should be at least 10 gallons, but bigger is definitely better.

A good rule of thumb to use when determining tank size for your Axolotl is 10 gallons per Axolotl - so if you plan on having multiple Melanoids in the tank, make sure it’s big enough to accommodate them all.

Water Temperature

To help maintain the right water conditions, you'll need to equip your tank with an aquarium chiller and keep your Axolotl's water at a temperature of around 59-63°F (15-17°C). Keeping the temperature within this range is important for your Axolotl's health, as temperatures too high or too low can cause them to become stressed or even contract illnesses.

Light Requirements

Axolotls are nocturnal animals and do not require any additional bright lights beyond what may be necessary to help you observe your pet.

However, if you plan on having live plants in the tank, then you might need to invest in an aquarium light fixture that emits a low wattage and mild spectrum of light so that the plants have enough energy for photosynthesis.

Water Parameters & Filtration

It's important to keep your Axolotl’s water clean and free of harmful substances. To do this, you'll need to invest in a good filter and change the water regularly.

Aim for at least 25-50% of the tank’s water volume every week or two depending on the size of your aquarium and the amount of waste produced by your Axolotl.

The tank water should be kept at a pH of 7.5 and a water General Hardness (GH) of 7 -14° (125.3-250.6 ppm). To ensure optimal filtration, invest in a capable system that is designed to handle both biological and mechanical filtration. Finally, make sure to use dechlorinated water when filling the tank, as chlorine can be toxic to your pet, so make sure to avoid tap water at all cost.

The Ideal Water Parameters for a Black Axolotl Tank

Ideal Water Parameters for a Black Axolotl Tank
Parameter Ideal Range
Temperature 59-63°F (15-17°C)
pH 7.5
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
Nitrate Less than 30 ppm


Since Axolotls are fully aquatic amphibians, there is no need for a land area in the tank. However, you should make sure that it’s equipped with plenty of decorations such as plants and driftwood as well as smooth stones or rocks that provide plenty of hiding places for your Axolotl to feel safe and secure.

When it comes to choosing a substrate, smooth river rocks are generally a safer choice for Axolotl tanks, as they pose no risk of ingestion or harm.

Auther's Note

While sand offers a more natural and visually appealing environment, there's a potential risk of impaction if ingested. To reduce this risk, opt for either fine-grained sand that minimizes ingestion or larger particles that can't be swallowed.

However, keep in mind that sand can be hard to clean due to its tendency to clog vacuums, so using larger substrates often becomes the preferred choice.

Tank Maintenance

To ensure your Black Axolotl stays healthy and happy, you should perform regular tank maintenance to remove debris from the water and keep it clean. Make sure to use a siphon vacuum cleaner to remove any uneaten food or waste that has collected on the bottom of the tank. Finally, remember to always check all corners of the tank for any signs of mold or algae growth and remove it as soon as you spot it.

The Black Axolotl's Diet & Feeding Instructions

Axolotls are carnivores and will primarily feed on live or frozen food such as earthworms, blood worms, brine shrimp, and crickets, but you can also give them pre-packaged Axolotl Pellets which are available in pet stores.

If you opt for live insects, make sure that they come from a toxin-free environment. It is generally not the best option to feed your pet with wild insects, so instead go for store bought ones or even start a feeder colony. This last options allows you to control what your feeders ingest, making it a much safer choice.

Feeder fish can also be an alternative food source for your pet, as they tend to stimulate natural behavior and help recreate a more authentic natural habitat. These are small, live fish such as Guppies or Minnows that are fed to larger predatory fish.

Feeders should only be used sparingly and in moderation as they may contain parasites or diseases that can be passed on to your Axolotl. Generally speaking, Guppies are considered as one of the safest options amongst experts and hobbyist alike, but quarantining your fish for 30 days could be a good idea nonetheless.

The Best Live & Frozen Foods for your Pet Axolotl

  • Earthworms
  • Bloodworms
  • Brine shrimp
  • Crickets (as a treat)
  • Pre-packaged Axolotl Pellets
  • Guppies or minnows (feeders, used in moderation)

To ensure your Black Axolotl remains in optimal health, it is important to avoid overfeeding them as this can lead to severe complications. Feed your pet Axolotl 2-3 times a week by providing small portions that can be consumed in two minutes or less. Finally, make sure you always remove any uneaten food from the tank as this could lead to potential water contamination and bacterial infections.

Foods to Avoid Feeding to your Pet Axolotl

  • Tubifex worms (nutritionally lacking)
  • Processed food (e.g. hotdogs, burgers)
  • Any type of wild-caught insects (risk of parasites)
  • Fruits and vegetables (not suitable for their digestive system)
  • Fish flakes or pellets that are not specifically designed for an Axolotl

Overall Black Melanoid Axolotl Care & Handling

How to Introduce your Axolotl to its Tank?

Properly introducing your Black Axolotl to its new home is an essential first step. Before adding them to your tank, let the bag they came in float for roughly 30 minutes so that their water temperature can adjust to match yours. If you choose to house multiple fish in the same tank, allow your pet Axolotl a few hours of alone time before releasing any of the other inhabitants.

How to Handle your Black Melanoid?

When it comes to handling, be very gentle and avoid sudden movements as this could cause your Axolotl to stress out or go into shock. Axolotls tend to be very skittish and will require time to get used to their new environment, so it is best to avoid handling them for the first month.

When transferring your Black Melanoid, we recommend that you don't attempt using your hands as this can potentially cause damage to the Axolotl, but also transmit bacteria and diseases from your hands to their skin. Instead, use a netted container or a cup to lower them in and out of the tank.

How to Properly Clean your Aquarium?

Instead of taking your Axolotls out of the aquarium, it is highly recommended that you clean the tank while they are still in it. Use an aquarium gravel vacuum, scrubber, or net to remove uneaten food, plant debris, and other produced waste. Doing so will help prevent illness and promote overall well-being for your Axolotl.

It's important to also make sure that nothing gets caught on their delicate skin during the cleaning process, so be sure to always keep eye on your pet.

When cleaning their tank, you do not need to replace the water unless it becomes cloudy or the pH is off balance. If this happens, replacing 25 to 30% with filtered dechlorinated water can help keep things fresh and clean, while still maintaining the natural temperature of the tank. Remember that changing too much water can cause stress on your pet so if a partial change is necessary for whatever reason, it is best to slowly integrate in the new water over a period of 15 to 20 minutes.

How Much does a Black Axolotl Cost?

The cost of a Black Axolotl can range anywhere between 80$ to 150$ depending on the size, age and coloration with some specimens reaching upwards of 250$, especially those coated with an all-black matte skin.

As they are not commonly found in pet stores, many people look for them online or purchase directly from breeders. We recommend that if you do choose to buy one online, make sure it's from a reputable seller who has experience with this particular species and has been in the trade for a long time.

Final Thoughts: Is the Black Axolotl Right for you?

Black Axolotls are stunning creatures with a unique look and nature, but proper care is essential for them to thrive. They require a fair amount of attention and dedication, so be sure that you can provide the necessary environment before taking on this responsibility. If you’re up for the challenge, a Black Axolotl may be the perfect addition to your home! Just make sure to do some research and find a reputable seller before bringing one home. Good luck!

Maxim Suleman

My lifelong love for animals has led me to share my expertise in exotic pets. From parrots and crabs to turtles, hedgehogs, and cats, I've cherished each unique companion.

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