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How to Clean an Axolotl Tank (The Easy Way)

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Jess has been obsessed with axolotls since childhood and has been caring for her own for years.

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Now that you have axolotls you may be wondering how to clean their tank. Rest assured, routine aquarium maintenance is actually very easy! You simply need to remove 25% of the aquarium water every 1-2 weeks to make sure that there is no buildup of harmful ammonia and nitrates in your tank.

Follow the steps below to keep your aquarium clean and safe for your axolotls.

Step 1: Remove 25% of the Water

The first step to cleaning an aquarium is to remove 25% of the water. It is important not to take more than this out so that you can maintain your aquarium's nitrogen cycle. You can use a siphon at this point to target any bits of debris or waste that you want to remove.

I use the python aquarium hose because I have a large tank and it saves me a lot of time, but you can get the same result using an inexpensive siphon and buckets. Sometimes I even use a turkey baster to get into the nooks and crannies to get everything super clean.

Taking the axolotl out of the tank before you clean it is optional, but try not to disturb them too much with the siphon if you leave them in. Mine seem to prefer hanging out in their tank to being in a container.

You can use a siphon to remove water while your axolotls are still in the tank.

You can use a siphon to remove water while your axolotls are still in the tank.

Step 2: Start Scrubbing

Use an aquarium sponge brush to remove any algae from the aquarium glass. You can also use this to scrub hides and other smooth surfaces in the tank. If any of your artificial plants or decorations are dirty, take them out and wash them in dechlorinated water. It is a good idea to have a bucket of dechlorinated water ready for this step.

If you have a sponge filter take it out and squeeze it clean using the bucket of dechlorinated water. You may be surprised at just how much gunk it was holding! You can also replace or clean filter cartridges if you have a hang-on back (HOB) filter. Just be sure not to replace everything at once because that could crash your cycle. My HOB filter has room for two cartridges, and I only ever replace one at a time. Make sure that when you rinse the cartridges you are using dechlorinated water.

I only ever change one filter cartridge at a time. This filter is nice because it also has sponges that hold on to the good bacteria so I don't have to be nervous about switching cartridges.

I only ever change one filter cartridge at a time. This filter is nice because it also has sponges that hold on to the good bacteria so I don't have to be nervous about switching cartridges.

Step 3: Arrange the Tank

You may have noticed that your axolotls will move everything in their tank. By the time you clean your tank, your plants will be in different spots, air stones and sponge filters may be pushed around, and things might be in a general state of disarray. Axolotls spend most of their time on the ground exploring, so it's no surprise that things get rearranged.

Put everything back the way you want it before you start filling the tank back up. I rearranged the plants, hung their hammock back up, gave them more places to hide, and mounted their air stone to the back of the tank.

Dechlorinating the water is so important!

Dechlorinating the water is so important!

Step 4: Fill the Tank Back Up With Water

Now you can start to fill the tank back up with water. There are some important things to remember at this step. The first thing is that you need to use an axolotl safe water conditioner to remove the chlorine. Some safe options are Seachem Prime (many consider this to be the best I just didn't have any on hand) and Tetra Aquasafe. You want to avoid products with aloe because it is toxic to axolotls.

The second thing to remember is to keep the water temperature the same. Using water that is much cooler or warmer could shock your axolotls. If this step makes you nervous then just take your axolotls out of your tank while you clean it and put them back in when you know everything is the same temperature.

For this step, I just flip the switch on my python hose and it starts to fill the tank. I add in the water conditioner at this point. If you don't have a python hose you can fill up a bucket of cold water and add your water conditioner, then take the bucket to the tank and pour it in.

I took this picture the next day so the axolotls did have a chance to do some "rearranging."

I took this picture the next day so the axolotls did have a chance to do some "rearranging."

All Done!

Now you are all done! Your axolotl tank is clean and you can breathe easy knowing that the ammonia level is under control and your axolotls are comfortable. Here are some things that you can do between cleanings to keep your tank nice and tidy:

  • Suction out waste with a turkey baster.
  • Don't leave excess food in the tank after a feeding.
  • Test your water parameters between cleanings using an API freshwater test kit.
Marty says, "That is much better!"

Marty says, "That is much better!"

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Jess H