Axolotl are some of the most interesting, unique, and adorable creatures that exist today. These uncommon pets have become quite popular over the past few years, but still aren't known to a majority of people. Because of their obscurity, people tend to have a lot of questions about axolotl when they first hear of them or are considering getting one. A very common question that people ask is how much do axolotl actually cost?
We've calculated that the initial cost of axolotl ownership is usually between $200 and $690, while recurring ownership costs drop down to between $35 and $65.
Axolotl Cost Breakdown
There are many different factors that need to be considered when calculating the total cost of axolotl ownership. In reality, the axolotl itself only makes up a small portion of costs, with the rest consisting of the enclosure and food. Every single one of these necessities needs to be taken into account when calculating total costs of ownership. Fortunately, we've broken down these factors into concrete costs in the table below.
The column labeled "Initial Cost" highlights the costs that are incurred during the first year of axolotl ownership. This includes one-time purchases that are made before bringing an axolotl into your home. The "Yearly Cost" column specifies what costs you'll have to pay each year of ownership. By clicking on the name of the product or service, you'll be taken right to that specific section to read more about the specifics.
Product / Service
$30 - $100
$75 - $150
$20 - $60
$0 - $50
$10 - $100
$30 - $100
$0 - $15
$30 - $50
$30 - $50
$5 - $15
$5 - $15
$0 - $50
$0 - $50
$200 - $690
$35 - $65
Purchasing The Axolotl Itself
While axolotl seem like exotic pets that would fetch a very high price, that's actually fairly far from reality! If you don't decide to purchase an extremely rare and sought-after axolotl morph, the purchase price of the axolotl will only make up a small portion of total ownership costs. There are many different types of axolotl that are available for very low sums of money.
The average price that you can expect to pay for an axolotl is about $50. Wild type axolotl are available for around $25, while piebald axolotl can fetch upwards of $100. Some very unique specimen can fetch hundreds of dollars, but they're not very common and only go up for sale once in a blue moon. These prices also increase as an axolotl matures and grows in size.
Our post on axolotl morphs and colors highlights what morphs are available and what prices they tend to sell for.
There are a few other factors to consider when calculating axolotl price. First of all, if ordering from an online marketplace, you'll need to pay for shipping. Since live animal shipment is a bit more involved, you can expect to pay around $30 for delivery -- often more than the axolotl itself.
Additionally, it needs to be noted that axolotl shouldn't be kept alone! Your aquarium will need to contain at least 2 axolotl so that they can keep each other company. Anything less than that will result in a very unhappy axolotl. Therefore, when calculating your specific costs of ownership, you'll need to multiply some of the prices above by 2 or 3. So, a tank of two axolotl will cost between $255 and $765 initially.
Axolotl Enclosure & Accessories
While it would be easy, it's not possible to throw an axolotl into a tank and expect them to thrive. If an axolotl's specific environmental needs aren't met, there's a good chance that they could become ill and die prematurely. Therefore, time, effort, and care needs to be put into the construction of this enclosure in order to make it feel natural and comfortable.
Constructing an optimal axolotl enclosure may seem expensive, but don't worry! Essentially all of the costs that you'll incur are one-time costs, meaning that once the enclosure is built, costs drop substantially in subsequent years.
It's very important that you get an aquarium that's optimal for two or three axolotl. Fortunately, this isn't very difficult to do, as a simple 20 gallon long aquarium tends to be perfect. It provides plenty of room for axolotl to swim around, has lots of water so the enclosure doesn't get dirty as quickly, and fits quite a few different decorations and accessories within it.
You can expect to pay around $100 for an aquarium of this nature. Purchasing a lid for the aquarium isn't necessary as the top should be left open to allow for evaporative cooling to take place.
Keeping the water in the axolotl tank clean is immensely important, as dirty water brings plenty of health problems with it. You'll need to invest in a filter that has a healthy flow rate, effectively filters out waste, and is recommended for aquariums of the size that you own (in this case 20 gallons). A reliable filter that doesn't need to be maintained or checked on frequently will make your ownership experience much less stressful.
Appropriate filters for an axolotl tank are relatively cheap, generally running between $25 and $50. They typically come with a filter medium that lasts for a substantial amount of time, so upkeep costs are minimal. If you want more powerful filtration for a larger tank, expect to pay around $100 for a filter. Make sure that the filter isn't too powerful, though, as flows that are too strong will stress out an axolotl.
An addition tool like a siphon is extremely helpful when doing manual cleanings of the aquarium. Effective siphons range from $10 to $20.
Lighting is something that isn't needed in an axolotl tank and should actually be avoided! Excessive light can make an axolotl uncomfortable and stress them out, so make sure that their tank is in a neutrally-lit area. The only time that you need to provide lighting in your axolotl tank is when you have real plants inside that need light to live.
In this case, there are several LED light bars available that can be laid across the top of the enclosure and provide lights for the plants while not being too bright for the axolotl. Expect to pay around $50 for a high-quality and adjustable light.
A lot of people aren't aware of this, but axolotl have specific needs when it comes to their water temperature. The optimal temperature for axolotl is between 60°F and 68°F as it decreases their activity and metabolism. If temperatures get too high and increase past 75°F, then their metabolisms increase and the stress that this causes can quickly result in death. Therefore, the water must be kept cool!
Depending on where you live, different cooling methods will need to be used. If you're in a cooler climate, no supplemental cooling may be required. Extremely hot climates may require the use of a water cooling machine which can cost well over $100. Most people, though, only need moderate cooling setups.
To keep an axolotl tank consistently cool, it's first recommended that you insulate it with simple insulation. This only costs around $10, but will do wonders to keep heat from entering the tank -- especially if it's in the path of the sun. Then, a small fan should be pointed into the tank to provide a consistent cool breeze. Once again, this will only cost around $10.
Foliage & Other Decor
Axolotl tanks need to have a few pieces of decor in order to keep it interesting and provide a diverse living experience. This is done through two main parts, which are plants and rock-like structures. A combination of these two decorations will help to transform the tank into a much better space for your axolotl.
For plants, you can either invest in live or fake plants. Many owners opt to use fake plants as they tend to be easier to care for and don't require supplemental lighting. Of course, live plants will look more legitimate, but axolotl aren't exactly sticklers for interior decoration. Several fake plants scattered across the bottom of the tank is all that you need, and they won't cost much more than $30.
Rock structures are another great addition, as they provide a good place to explore while creating shaded spots to rest in. Make sure that the structure that you purchase doesn't have any sharp edges that could pose a threat! A large piece won't cost more than $50.
Substrate is the material that's placed at the bottom of aquarium and serves a few different purposes. It helps to trap waste, hold decorations in place, and provide grip so that the axolotl can comfortably move along the bottom of the tank.
Substrate is an optimal addition to a tank, but it is recommended. It's possible to get by without it, but it will be difficult to keep some accessories in place, and it also might stress the axolotl out when they can't get a grip on the ground to move around. Fortunately, it's not expensive to supply this substrate.
You can get a bag of aquarium sand for around $10 that will work excellently. Don't purchase any substrate that has small pieces such as pebbles, though. Axolotl will be naughty and try to eat pieces of the substrate, and this can prove to be fatal. A well-washed bag of sand will almost never need to be replaced and will help make the aquarium much more comfortable.
While most of the supplies in this list are one-time purchases, there are a couple things that will need to be continually purchase. This is what will make up the recurring costs that you'll incur with axolotl ownership. It may be tempting to get a lower quality product to save money, but it's very important to supply your axolotl with the highest quality products possible.
Axolotl are surprisingly simple pets to feed and won't cost you a lot throughout their lifetime. In terms of frequency, babies will need to eat twice a day, juveniles eat once a day, and adults will eat only about once every two days. If you're uncertain if your axolotl isn't being fed enough, the general rule of thumb is to keep their bodies about as wide as their heads.
Younger axolotl can eat smaller foods such as frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp to live blackworms. Adults generally are fed a combination of red wigglers or nightcrawlers with soft sinking pellets. Because of their small size and the availability and affordability of their food, axolotl are not expensive creatures to feed. $50 should be able to feed an enclosure of two axolotl for a year, but $100/year isn't unheard of.
The water in an axolotl aquarium needs to be dechlorinated in order to make it habitable. If the water in your home is chlorinated, you'll need to purchase and utilize a water dechlorinator every single time that you replace your axolotl's water.
An effective dechlorinator is very cheap and won't typically run you more than $10. These products are typically very concentrated, so you won't need to use a lot of it. However, since axolotl are messy creatures, their water will need to be replaced about every other week, so a lot of dechlorinator will end up being used.
Axolotl Medical Care
As axolotl are living creatures, they may sometimes run into health problems that need to be dealt with. Even if you're the most diligent and caring owner, some problems are simply unavoidable. So, your axolotl can either cost you a lot of money in medical care, or it can cost you nothing. It's very dependent on luck!
Random Medical Needs
As an axolotl owner, it's important that you're aware of all of the health problems that axolotl can experience. This is important because it will allow you to take steps towards preventing these problems, in addition to seeking prompt treatment if one of the problems presents itself. If you notice that your axolotl is experiencing health problems, you'll need to take it to a specialist veterinarian that has experience with treating axolotl and other similar creatures.
Typically treatments won't cost a lot of money. However, the vet visits themselves and the diagnostics that come with them can definitely cost upwards of $100. Therefore, a small emergency fund set aside would be very beneficial.
Are Axolotl Cheap Pets To Own?
It actually comes as a great surprise to most people just how cheap axolotl actually are to own. The initial purchasing of all of the required equipment may be expensive initially, but each subsequent year is extremely affordable. Almost no expenditure is required beyond food, water conditioner, and the occasional filter medium when replacements are required.
The costs of axolotl ownership don't vary much throughout their lives. Yes, baby axolotl do need to eat more frequently, but they grow quite quickly and require less feeding. Other than that, their care requirements are very consistent and will cost the same as they age.
So, axolotl are very cheap pets both to purchase initially and to maintain. With how stunning these creatures are, and with how long they tend to live, the small price that you have to pay results in a large payoff with the massive benefits an axolotl will bring you.