Why Does My Axolotl Keep Swimming to the Top? 10 Reasons Explained

Originally posted on March 31, 2021 @ 2:42 am

Last Updated on 6 months by admin

Axolotls, those fascinating aquatic salamanders with regenerative abilities, have captured the hearts of many amphibian enthusiasts. These animals go through metamorphosis, growing gills and becoming betta fish-like creatures. But why does your axolotl, an aquatic pet, keep swimming to the top? Is it because of the betta fish, feeder guppies, or an issue with its gills? Understanding the behavior of animals is crucial for their care and well-being in captivity. This applies to tiger salamanders as well. To learn more about feeding tiger salamanders, visit our feeding page.

These unique betta fish and tiger salamanders exhibit various swimming patterns that can provide valuable insights into their overall health. Additionally, the axolotl float is another interesting behavior to observe in these animals. Whether it’s a young fish, like an axolotl, or one of its close relatives like tiger salamanders, observing their swimming habits can offer important clues about their physical and mental state. Fish use their gills to breathe, undergo metamorphosis, and reproduce by laying eggs.

We’ll discuss potential reasons behind the axolotl float behavior and provide helpful information for creating an optimal environment for your fish, tiger salamanders, and axolotl float on the feeding page.

axolotl swim to surface

Normal vs abnormal axolotl behaviors

Normal axolotl behaviors

Axolotls, also known as tiger salamanders, are fascinating creatures with their unique appearance and behaviors. They have gills that allow them to breathe underwater, and undergo metamorphosis similar to fish. Understanding what is considered normal behavior for an axolotl, tiger salamanders, can help you determine if there are any potential issues affecting its health. If you are looking for information on fish care and feeding, visit our dedicated fish care and feeding page.

  • Exploring the fish tank: It’s perfectly normal for your pet axolotl to explore its environment during metamorphosis. Fish and salamanders are curious creatures and enjoy investigating every nook and cranny of their tank during their metamorphosis as pets. You may observe fish and salamander swimming around, checking out plants, decorations, or even hiding spots during their metamorphosis. Take care of them.

  • Feeding page: Axolotls, known as salamanders, are voracious eaters and will actively hunt for fish in their tanks. They require proper light for hunting. Fish have excellent vision and can spot even the tiniest morsel of food floating around. Taking care of fish includes providing proper light and feeding them on a dedicated page. Don’t be surprised if you see your pet fish, the axolotl, swiftly darting towards its prey during feeding time.

  • Occasional visits to the pet feeding page: Axolotls are amphibians that require special care. They have both gills and lungs, which is why it’s important to provide proper care for them. While they primarily breathe through their gills, they also possess the ability to breathe air when needed. This is an important aspect of pet care, especially when it comes to feeding page. In the feeding section, it is crucial to understand how your pet breathes and what their specific needs are. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see your pet axolotl swimming up to the surface occasionally to take a breath before returning back down. This behavior can be observed in the feeding page of your axolotl care section.

Abnormal behaviors

While most of an axolotl’s behavior is considered normal, there are some signs that might indicate a problem or illness with the pet. If you notice any unusual behavior, it’s important to take proper care and consult the feeding page or section for guidance.

  • Excessive or continuous swimming to the top of the tank is a sign that your pet axolotl may be experiencing distress or discomfort. If you notice this behavior, it’s important to check the care and feeding page in the pet section for guidance. This behavior might indicate issues with the care of your pet, such as poor water quality, inadequate oxygen levels, high ammonia levels, or even stress. Make sure to check our feeding page for more information on how to properly care for your pet.

  • Another abnormal behavior in pet axolotls is when they remain at the water’s surface without actively swimming or moving around. This can be observed on our pet care and feeding page. This floating behavior can be a sign of buoyancy issues, which could be caused by an improper diet, digestive problems, or even swim bladder disease. If your pet is experiencing buoyancy issues, it’s important to address their feeding page and provide proper care for their overall health.

  • Lethargy or lack of appetite: If your axolotl appears lethargic and shows a decreased interest in food, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. Make sure to check the feeding page for more information on axolotl care. Axolotls are typically active and have a healthy appetite, so any sudden change in behavior on their feeding page should be monitored closely. It is important to provide proper care to ensure their well-being.

Recognizing abnormal behaviors in your pet is crucial as it allows you to identify potential problems early on and take appropriate action to address them. This is especially important when it comes to pet care. By being observant and attentive, you can ensure that your pet’s needs are met and any issues are promptly resolved. Whether it’s through regular check-ups or monitoring their behavior on a feeding page, caring for your pet requires vigilance and proactive measures. Regular observation of your pet axolotl’s behavior on the feeding page can help you detect any changes or signs of distress promptly.

It is important to note that while some behaviors may appear abnormal, they might not always indicate a severe problem with your pet. It is essential to take proper care of your pet and provide them with the right feeding page. However, it is better to err on the side of caution and investigate further if you notice consistent abnormal behaviors in your pet axolotl. Make sure to take proper care of your axolotl by visiting its dedicated page.

Identifying the reasons behind axolotls swimming to the surface

Axolotls are fascinating creatures known for their unique ability to regenerate body parts. If you’re a pet owner, it’s important to provide proper pet care for your axolotl. To learn more about how to care for your axolotl, visit our pet care page. However, sometimes pets exhibit behaviors that may raise concerns among their owners. These concerns may prompt owners to seek guidance and information from a dedicated pet page. One such behavior of pet axolotls is when they repeatedly swim to the surface of the water. This can be observed on their dedicated pet page.

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Inadequate Oxygen Levels in the Water

One possible reason why pet axolotls swim to the surface is due to inadequate oxygen levels in their environment. This behavior could be a sign that the axolotl is in need of more oxygen. Axolotls require a well-oxygenated aquatic habitat to thrive. If the water quality is poor or if there isn’t enough dissolved oxygen in the tank, pet axolotls may instinctively swim upwards in search of more oxygen.

To address this issue:

  • Ensure proper aeration and filtration systems are in place to maintain adequate oxygen levels for your pet.

  • Regularly test water parameters for your pet, including pH and ammonia levels, as imbalances can affect oxygen solubility.

  • Consider adding live plants or an air stone to increase oxygen production within the pet tank.

Stress and Poor Water Quality

Stress can also be a significant factor contributing to pet axolotls swimming towards the top of their tank. Poor water quality, improper tank conditions, or sudden changes in environmental factors can all lead to stress for your pet axolotl.

To alleviate stress:

  • Maintain clean water by performing regular partial water changes.

  • Avoid overcrowding the pet tank with too many fish or other pet animals.

  • Provide hiding spots and appropriate substrate for your pet axolotl’s comfort.

  • Keep noise levels low around your pet’s habitat as loud noises can stress them out.

Improper Tank Conditions

Another reason why your pet axolotl may be swimming towards the surface could be due to improper tank conditions. Axolotls are a popular pet choice for many people. These unique creatures prefer cooler temperatures, typically ranging from 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 20 degrees Celsius). If the pet’s water temperature exceeds their preferred range, they may swim upwards in an attempt to find cooler waters.

To create suitable tank conditions:

  • Use a reliable pet aquarium thermometer to monitor and maintain the appropriate temperature for your pet.

  • Avoid exposing the pet tank to direct sunlight or placing it near heat sources.

  • Consider using a pet chiller or adjusting the room temperature if necessary for your pet.

Identifying the Underlying Reasons

Understanding why your pet axolotl is exhibiting this behavior is crucial for effectively addressing the issue. By identifying the underlying reasons, you can take appropriate steps to create a healthier and more comfortable environment for your pet axolotl.

Some additional factors that may contribute to pet axolotls swimming towards the surface include their natural instinct and curiosity.

  • Overfeeding your pet can lead to poor water quality and subsequent stress on your axolotl. Excessive feeding is not recommended as it can negatively impact the health of your pet.

  • Lack of hiding spots: Axolotls, as pet creatures, are naturally shy and require pet hiding spots for security. Without adequate pet hiding places, pets may feel stressed and seek refuge at the surface.

  • Pet tank size: A small pet tank can limit their ability to explore and may cause them to swim upwards out of boredom or frustration.

By carefully observing your pet axolotl’s behavior and addressing these potential pet issues, you can help ensure their pet well-being and provide them with a healthy pet habitat that promotes natural pet behaviors.

Addressing water quality issues and lack of oxygen

Ensuring proper water quality is crucial for the health and well-being of your axolotl. Poor water conditions can lead to a variety of problems, including axolotls constantly swimming to the top of the tank. By addressing water quality issues and providing enough oxygen, you can create a healthy environment for your aquatic friend.

Regularly testing water parameters

Regularly testing the water parameters in your axolotl’s tank is essential. This includes checking levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. High levels of these substances can be harmful to your axolotl’s health and may contribute to its tendency to swim to the surface. Use test kits specifically designed for aquariums to monitor these parameters accurately.

Proper filtration and temperature maintenance

Having a reliable filtration system is key to maintaining good water quality. A properly functioning filter helps remove waste, excess food, and other pollutants from the tank. It also promotes oxygenation by creating movement in the water.

In addition to filtration, maintaining an appropriate temperature is crucial for axolotls’ overall well-being. Axolotls thrive in cooler temperatures ranging from 60°F (15°C) to 68°F (20°C). Higher temperatures can decrease the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, which may cause your axolotl to swim towards the surface in search of more oxygen.

Increasing oxygenation

If you suspect that a lack of oxygen is causing your axolotl’s behavior, there are several steps you can take to increase oxygenation in their tank:

  • Adding air stones: Air stones create small bubbles that help increase surface agitation and improve gas exchange between air and water.

  • Adjusting flow rate: If you have a filter with adjustable flow settings, try increasing it slightly to enhance circulation within the tank.

  • Installing a larger or additional filter: A larger or additional filter can help increase water movement and oxygenation, ensuring a healthier environment for your axolotl.

  • Providing surface area: Adding floating plants or other decorations that break the water’s surface can help increase oxygen levels.

Regular water changes

Regularly replacing a portion of the tank water is essential to maintain optimal water quality. Performing regular water changes helps remove accumulated waste and reduces the levels of harmful substances like ammonia. Aim to replace about 25% of the tank water every one to two weeks, depending on your specific setup and axolotl’s needs.

Monitoring gill health

Axolotls have external gills that are responsible for extracting oxygen from the water. If their gills appear damaged or inflamed, it could indicate an underlying health issue. Keep an eye out for any signs of redness, swelling, or unusual behavior related to their gills. If you notice any abnormalities, consult with a veterinarian who specializes in aquatic animals.

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Addressing potential health issues

Constantly swimming to the top may also be a sign of underlying health problems such as bacterial infections. If you’ve addressed water quality and oxygenation concerns but your axolotl continues exhibiting this behavior, it’s important to seek professional advice from a veterinarian experienced in treating amphibians.

Dealing with floating during mating and reproduction

During the mating season, it is not uncommon for male axolotls to exhibit a behavior known as floating. This behavior involves swimming to the top of the tank repeatedly, often in an attempt to court females. While this may seem concerning at first, it is actually a natural behavior observed in male axolotls during the breeding process.

To address this issue and ensure the well-being of your axolotl, there are a few steps you can take:

Provide Adequate Hiding Spots and Plants

One way to reduce stress during the breeding season is by providing ample hiding spots and plants in the tank. These hiding spots serve as safe spaces for female axolotls to retreat to when they do not wish to engage in mating behaviors. By creating an environment that offers privacy and security, you can help alleviate any potential stress or discomfort experienced by your axolotls.

Monitor Behavior Closely

It is crucial to closely monitor your axolotls’ behavior during this time. Keep an eye on their interactions and ensure that they do not become stressed or injured during mating attempts. If you notice any signs of distress or aggression, it may be necessary to separate them temporarily until they have calmed down.

Avoid Overcrowding

Overcrowding can exacerbate stress levels among axolotls during mating season. Ensure that your tank provides sufficient space for each individual axolotl and avoid introducing additional fish or other aquatic creatures that may disrupt their natural breeding behaviors. A spacious environment will allow them to navigate more freely without feeling cramped or overwhelmed.

Maintain Water Quality

Water quality plays a significant role in ensuring the overall health of your axolotls, especially during times of increased activity such as mating. Regularly test water parameters such as pH levels, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels to ensure they are within the appropriate range. Perform regular water changes to maintain optimal conditions for your axolotls.

Offer a Balanced Diet

A well-balanced diet is essential for the overall health and reproductive success of your axolotls. Ensure that you are providing them with a varied diet consisting of live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, and earthworms. You can also supplement their diet with commercial axolotl pellets specifically formulated to meet their nutritional needs.

Seek Professional Advice if Necessary

If you have followed these steps and your axolotl continues to exhibit floating behavior excessively or shows signs of distress, it may be beneficial to seek professional advice from a veterinarian who specializes in exotic aquatic species. They can provide further guidance on how to address any underlying issues and ensure the well-being of your axolotl.

By implementing these strategies and closely monitoring your axolotls during mating season, you can help create an environment that promotes successful reproduction while minimizing stress and potential harm.

Proper tank maintenance to prevent floating

Performing Regular Partial Water Changes

To ensure that your axolotl doesn’t keep swimming to the top of the tank, it’s crucial to maintain optimal water conditions. One way to achieve this is by performing regular partial water changes. By replacing a portion of the tank water on a consistent basis, you can help remove any accumulated waste or toxins that may be affecting your axolotl’s swimming behavior.

Avoid Overfeeding Your Axolotl

Overfeeding your aquatic pet can lead to poor water quality and floating issues. It’s essential to feed your axolotl an appropriate amount of food based on its size and age. Remember, axolotls have a slow metabolism, so they don’t require frequent feedings like some other pets. Overfeeding can result in excess food sinking to the bottom of the tank and decomposing, which can negatively impact water quality.

Keeping a Clean Tank Free from Debris

Maintaining a clean tank is vital for the overall well-being of your axolotl and can help prevent floating behavior. Regularly removing debris such as uneaten food, plant matter, or waste will help reduce stress on your axolotl’s swimming behavior. A dirty tank can lead to increased ammonia levels and bacterial growth, which can affect water quality and cause health issues for your axolotl.

Monitoring Water Parameters

Regularly monitoring key water parameters is essential in preventing floating issues in axolotls. Keep an eye on factors such as temperature, pH level, ammonia levels, nitrite levels, and nitrate levels. Axolotls are sensitive creatures that require specific environmental conditions for optimal health. Use appropriate testing kits to ensure that these parameters are within the recommended range for axolotls.

Providing Adequate Filtration

Having proper filtration in your axolotl tank is crucial for maintaining water quality and preventing floating behavior. A good filtration system will help remove impurities, toxins, and excess waste from the tank water. Consider using a filter specifically designed for axolotl tanks, as they provide mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration to ensure clean and healthy water.

Adjusting Water Flow

Axolotls prefer calm and still water rather than strong currents or turbulent flow. Excessive water movement can stress out your axolotl and cause it to swim to the top of the tank. If you notice your axolotl struggling with swimming or constantly being pushed towards the surface, consider adjusting the flow of your filter or adding baffles to reduce water movement.

Providing Hiding Places

Creating hiding places in your axolotl tank can help alleviate stress and prevent floating behavior. Axolotls are naturally shy creatures that like to have sheltered areas where they can retreat when they feel threatened or overwhelmed. Adding caves, plants, or other decorations that provide hiding spots will give your axolotl a sense of security and promote natural behavior.

Maintaining Consistent Water Temperature

Axolotls are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, so it’s crucial to maintain a consistent water temperature in their tank. Sudden changes in temperature can stress out your axolotl and lead to floating behavior. Use an aquarium heater with a thermostat to regulate the water temperature within the recommended range for axolotls (around 60-68°F or 15-20°C).

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Feeding guidelines and its impact on axolotl swimming behavior

Feeding your axolotl a balanced diet is crucial for its overall health and swimming behavior. By offering a variety of live or frozen foods, you ensure that your axolotl receives the necessary nutrients to thrive. However, it’s important to follow appropriate feeding guidelines to prevent any negative impact on their swimming abilities.

Balanced Diet for Proper Nutrition

Axolotls are carnivorous creatures, which means their diet should primarily consist of meat-based foods. Feeder guppies, brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia are excellent options for providing a well-rounded diet. These foods are rich in protein and other essential nutrients that support healthy growth and development.

When feeding your axolotl, it’s essential to offer a variety of food sources to mimic their natural diet in the wild. This ensures they receive all the necessary vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy. Providing a diverse range of food options also keeps them engaged during mealtime.

The Dangers of Overfeeding

While it may be tempting to indulge your axolotl with plenty of food, overfeeding can have detrimental effects on their overall health and swimming behavior. Axolotls have voracious appetites but lack the ability to regulate their own intake effectively. As a result, they may consume more than what is necessary for them.

Overfeeding can lead to obesity in axolotls, just like in humans! Excessive weight gain can put strain on their bodies and affect their ability to swim properly. Obesity may cause buoyancy issues as excess fat interferes with their buoyancy control mechanism.

Following Appropriate Feeding Guidelines

To maintain optimal swimming behavior in your axolotl, it’s crucial to follow appropriate feeding guidelines:

  1. Feed according to size: Adjust the amount of food based on the size of your axolotl. As they grow, their dietary needs change, so it’s important to monitor and adjust their food intake accordingly.

  2. Feed smaller portions frequently: Instead of offering one large meal, divide the daily portion into multiple smaller meals throughout the day. This ensures that your axolotl can digest the food properly without feeling bloated.

  3. Monitor feeding behavior: Pay attention to how your axolotl reacts during feeding time. If they show signs of disinterest or refuse to eat, it may be an indication that they are already full.

  4. Remove uneaten food: Axolotls are messy eaters, and leftover food can quickly dirty the tank water. Remove any uneaten food promptly to maintain water quality and prevent bacterial growth.

By following these guidelines, you can help maintain a healthy weight for your axolotl and promote proper swimming behavior.

Key takeaways on axolotl swimming patterns

In conclusion, understanding the swimming patterns of your axolotl is crucial for their well-being. By recognizing the difference between normal and abnormal behaviors, you can address any issues promptly. If you notice your axolotl frequently swimming to the top, it may be an indication of water quality problems or a lack of oxygen. Ensure that you maintain proper tank conditions, including regular water changes and filtration, to provide a clean and oxygen-rich environment for your axolotl.

Remember to also consider the impact of feeding habits on their swimming behavior. Overfeeding can lead to buoyancy issues, so follow appropriate feeding guidelines to prevent this problem. Finally, if your axolotl is floating during mating or reproduction periods, don’t panic – it’s a natural behavior. However, ensure that you have suitable hiding spots and plants in the tank to create a comfortable environment for them.

By implementing these measures and closely monitoring your axolotl’s swimming patterns, you can promote their overall health and happiness.


How often should I change my axolotl’s tank water?

Regular water changes are essential for maintaining good water quality in your axolotl’s tank. It is recommended to perform partial water changes of around 20-25% every week. This helps remove accumulated waste products and replenish fresh water with necessary minerals.

Can I use tap water directly in my axolotl’s tank?

Tap water can contain harmful chemicals like chlorine or chloramine that are detrimental to your axolotl’s health. To make tap water safe for them, use a dechlorinator specifically designed for aquariums. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer before adding treated tap water into the tank.

Are there any specific plants I should include in my axolotl’s tank?

Including live plants in your axolotl’s tank provides several benefits. They help oxygenate the water, absorb excess nutrients, and create hiding spots for your axolotl. Opt for sturdy aquatic plants like Java Fern or Anubias that can withstand the axolotl’s movements and won’t be uprooted easily.

How much should I feed my axolotl?

Axolotls have relatively slow metabolisms, so it’s important not to overfeed them. A good rule of thumb is to offer them food once a day or every other day. Feed an amount that they can consume within 5-10 minutes, removing any uneaten food afterward to maintain water cleanliness.

Can I keep multiple axolotls together in one tank?

Yes, it is possible to keep multiple axolotls together in a tank as long as certain conditions are met. Ensure that the tank size is appropriate for the number of axolotls and provide enough hiding spots and territories to reduce aggression. Monitor their behavior closely and separate them if any signs of aggression or stress occur.