How Much Does an Axolotl Cost?

Written by: Staff

brine shrimp An axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), also known as a Mexican salamander or Mexican walking fish, will not routinely undergo metamorphosis from the larval to the adult form.

Coming from the Xochimilco Lake in Mexico, where they are considered an endangered species due to the very little water left, this species is readily bred in captivity.

Axolotl by zenmasterdod, on Flickr
Axolotl” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by zenmasterdod

How much does a pet axolotl cost?

The cost of an axolotl will depend on its colors, size, age and where you purchase it.  Most purchases, from what we researched, will be anywhere from $15 to $40 either online or at a local pet store.

Size RangeAverage Price
2-3cm Larvae$1.50
3-5cm Larvae$4
5-8cm Juvenile$15
8-12cm Juvenile$18
13-17cm Sub-adult$27

Burke’s Backyard notes the average cost is $20 to $35, for instance.

At, they offer a two to three-inch wild Leucistic axolotl for $30.

Types of axolotls

Chimera — Known as a rarer morph, the chimera is created when two eggs fuse together, with each side growing according to the egg it came from.  The result leads to a split-down-the-middle appearance with one side often growing slower than the other.  The survival rate is extremely low and can’t be bred.

Copper —  A variety of the albino, the copper axolotl will have red-tinted eyes with a pink-light color with dark brown spots.

GFP — Known as a green fluorescent protein, these axolotls have a gene known as the GFP gene, which is a genetically modified protein that was initially introduced in a lab setting for cancer research.  Because of this protein, it allows the axolotl to glow as a vibrant green color when under a UV light. The less pigment it has, the brighter the glow will be.

Golden — This axolotl will have a golden yellow body with shiny-like patches and clearer eyes.  Since it lacks melanophores, this is what gives it a golden-like appearance.

Leucistic — A white/pink body color with darker black eyes and red gills.  It may or may not develop freckles.

Melanoid — With an increased number of melanophores, this axolotl will have a lack of shine, meaning they will be solid black in color.

Piebald — A piebald axolotl is when the pigmentation goes down the body and side, not just the head and top, similar to that of a leucistic.  This axolotl is usually darker and will have darker black spots.

Wild – A combination of green, brown, blacks or any other color with speckles of shiny gold and darker eyes.

White — Known as an albino axolotl, it will have more of a white-pinkish body with clearish red eyes and brighter red gills.  It can come in two forms, either white or axanthic.

What are the extra costs?

Larger than the average salamander, an axolotl will need, at a minimum, a 10 to 20-gallon fish tank, and these tanks, if purchased brand new, can cost about $100 or so.  A start kit, including a filter pump, pH test kit and gravel, can cost upwards of $175 to get started.

In captivity, an axolotl will feed on brine shrimp, pellets small strips of beef or earthworm, either fresh or frozen.  Be prepared to spend a few dollars a week on food.  brine shrimp, for example, can cost less than $5 for a 0.67-ounce container.

If purchasing online, you may have to budget for additional shipping fees.

Tips to know:

An axolotl measures six to 18 inches long, with the average length being nine inches. Females will have a larger and wider head when compared to a male.  They will reach maturity at 12 months.

They can be found in a variety of colors, including albino, black, golden, grey and other colors.  In the wild, the most common color is black.  They have a tadpole-like appearance with a long tail.  A fine will run from the back of the head to the tail alongside the underside of the tail.  They will also have four lizard-like legs and a pair of feather-like gills on the head.

The tank doesn’t have to be full of water; instead, it only needs to be as deep as the axolotl’s full length.  This tank should always be kept away from the direct sunlight, and the water should be kept cool, often about 57 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

An adult axolotl can be housed with other adults; however, owners are highly encouraged to watch out for cannibalistic behavior toward each other.  Adults will eat the young, and young axolotls will each other.  They can often become aggressive when they are either underfed, agitated or simply don’t have enough room to roam inside their aquarium.  Juveniles should be housed in separate enclosures.

In captivity, the average lifespan is 12 to 15 years.

It is not recommended you use sand or gravel as a substrate as they often feed on it.

You will not need an aquarium filter as long as you change 90 percent of the water at least once per week.  In fact, a filter can often cause stress to an axolotl due to the water current it can create.

Handling an axolotl too often can cause stress or even fungal infection.

Reptiles Magazine offers an in-depth axolotl care sheet.

How can I save money?

Check out Craigslist to see if you can find an owner getting rid of their pet along with all of the supplies.

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