What Do Axolotl Eat? – How to Keep a Healthy, Well-Fed Pet!

Alison Page

Alison Page


what do axolotl eat

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Axolotls are lively, cute little creatures that can make unusual, quirky pets that even engage and interact with their owners, making them a popular choice in the aquarium hobby.

But are pet Axolotls difficult to feed? Can they eat live food? And do you need to hand-feed your Axolotl?

Read this guide to learn how to feed this fascinating creature and how often.

What Are Axolotls?

Axolotls or Ambystoma mexicanum are not reptiles or fish!

These weird little animals are a species of aquatic salamander classed as amphibians. However, unlike most other salamanders, Axolotls never transform into land-dwelling animals, instead spending their whole lives living in the water despite having fully-formed legs!

Axolotls are also known as Mexican Walking Fish since they hail from parts of Mexico, have legs, and live in water! However, in the creature’s wild environment, they are becoming more and more scarce, largely because of habitat destruction and pollution. Consequently, the Axolotl is classified as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.

For that reason, most of the pet Axolotls you see for sale are captive-bred and somewhat easier to feed than their wild counterparts.

Axolotl Lifespan

The average expectancy for a captive Axolotl is about ten years. However, some specimens can live much longer than that, provided you give them the right diet and the correct living conditions.

Axolotl Appearance

Axolotls look like a weird cross between a salamander and a tadpole, having four thin legs, long, narrow bodies, and a tapering fin or paddle-like tail that the animal uses for swimming.

The Axolotl has a broad head, tiny, beady black eyes without eyelids, and an upturned, smiling mouth. One unique Axolotl feature is its six gills or “rami,” which are set on feathery appendages, branching out from the rear of the animal’s head and covered in minute gill filaments.

Captive-bred Axolotls come in several beautiful color morphs, including:

  • Melanoid: dark-colored rami and black skin
  • Leucistic: bright red rami and albino with pinkish-white skin
  • Copper: bright crimson rami and orange skin

Wild Axolotls are typically a rather drab mottled green, brown, or gray color, which helps to camouflage the animal against the background of its natural surroundings, so if your pet is that color, it’s most likely a wild-caught Axolotl rather than captive-bred.


The juvenile Axolotls you buy in your local pet store are only a few inches long. However, an adult can reach up to 10 inches in length in an aquarium setting and over 12 inches long in the wild.

What Do Axolotls Eat In the Wild?

what do axolotl eat

In their natural habitat, Axolotls are nocturnal carnivorous predators, hunting various food options, including mollusks, tiny freshwater crustaceans, worms, insect larvae, and sometimes small fish. It’s also thought that Axolotls suck up pieces of gravel from the substrate to help grind up their food so that it’s easier to process and less likely to cause digestive problems.

What To Feed Axolotls in Captivity

Captive Axolotls tend to do well on a diet of protein-rich commercially produced Axolotl pellets, frozen and freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, and earthworms. You can also feed your pet live foods, although do beware of using feeder fish, as these can carry parasites and diseases that could infect your tank.

Although it’s not essential to hand-feed your pet, you can offer morsels of food using long forceps or tweezers. All you need to do is drop the food near the Axolotl so that your pet can see it, and the animal will usually tuck into his meal without further assistance from you.

How Often Should Axolotls Eat?

You only need to feed your Axolotl two or three times every week. Don’t worry that you’re starving your pet! That feeding frequency is healthy for these creatures, and overfeeding can lead to a whole host of health problems.


In this part of our guide, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about feeding Axolotls.

Q: Does Axolotl eat fish?

A: Yes, Axolotls do each fish as part of their natural diet. These creatures are mostly carnivorous, feeding on various small aquatic animals, including fish.

Although these weird animals prefer a live diet, they will eat commercially available fish pellets and small feeder fish in captivity. However, if you decide to offer your pets live feeder fish, be sure that the prey is appropriate for the size of the Axolotl’s mouth to prevent digestive issues and choking.

Q: Do you have to hand-feed Axolotls?

A: You don’t need to hand-feed Axolotls because they are opportunistic feeders that will actively search for and eat their food. However, it is still important that, although Axolotls can find their own food, you still need to make sure that the food is an appropriate size and offered so that the creatures can easily find and consume it.

Depending on your aquarium setup, you might need to place the food near the Axolotl or use a pair of feeding tongs to guide the food toward the creature’s mouth. We also recommend monitoring Axolotl’s feeding habits and adjusting their routine to prevent overfeeding and keep your pets healthy.

Q: When can Axolotls eat pellets?

A: Axolotls can begin eating pellets when their mouths are large enough, typically when they reach around 4 to 6 inches in size and can cope with the pellets.

Choose high-quality, Axolotl-specific pellets that are specifically formulated for the animal’s needs and are of a size that your pet can eat comfortably without a risk of choking.

To begin with, offer the pellets alongside frozen or live food so that your Axolotl recognizes them as food, and gradually increase the proportion of pellets in their diet while reducing the other food types.

Before feeding your Axolotl pellets, soak them in water to make them easier to eat and digest to prevent any digestive issues

Q: Can Axolotls eat bloodworms?

A: Yes, Axolotls eat bloodworms both in nature and as part of a captive diet. Bloodworms are actually midge larvae and are often sold as freeze-dried or frozen foods for aquatic pets.

Axolotls are carnivorous animals that will eat a variety of small aquatic creatures as part of their natural diet, including bloodworms. Bloodworms are high in protein and make a nutritious food source for your Axolotl pet, being small enough for the animal to eat easily without presenting a choking hazard.

Although you can buy live blood worms in many fish stores, they often come with an unwanted cargo of parasites and bacteria, and the larger worms could even bite and damage your Axolotl’s delicate gills. For that reason, we recommend feeding your Axolotl with rehydrated freeze-dried or thawed frozen bloodworms.

Always provide your pets with a varied diet to meet their nutritional needs.

Q: Can Axolotls eat cat food?

A: Although your Axolotl could theoretically eat cat food, we don’t recommend giving that to your pet as its primary diet. These creatures have very specific nutritional requirements that are very different from cats and other mammals, and their diet should comprise mostly aquatic animal-based foods.

Final Thoughts

Did you enjoy our guide to feeding Axolotls? If you did, please take a second to hit the share button before you go!

Wild Axolotls are carnivorous animals that live on a diet of small crustaceans, worms, insect larvae, and tiny fish. In captivity, you can feed your pet a diet of commercially produced Axolotl-specific pellets, freeze-dried and frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, and the like two or three times a week.

What’s your Axolotl’s favorite snack? Tell us in the comments box below!

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