Note: Pet Educate is reader supported. If you make a purchase through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission - at no extra cost to you. This includes links to Amazon.

Do Axolotls Like Light? [How Much Do They Actually Need?]

It is common to see creatively lit aquariums for all sorts of fish, amphibians, and even reptile pets at pet stores. This only leads to questions about what kind of lighting axolotls need and prefer, should you proceed to own one. Well, not to worry. Today, you are going to explore everything lighting for axolotls…

So, do axolotls like light? Axolotls do not like or need much light to thrive and be happy. Axolotls have sensitive eyes and prefer a dimly lit environment that allows them to relax and enjoy cool tank waters. Axolotls do well when their aquarium receives natural light from the room and appreciate a tank with places they can burrow or hide if they want somewhere dark to rest.

Unlike reptiles and some fish species, axolotls do not need special lights to maintain their health or to help them see.

This will, of course, have a huge impact on your tank setup and resulting placement.

So let us continue to explore the preferential lighting arrangement for these aquatic salamanders.

That way, you’ll know for sure you are doing the right thing and will ensure your amphibian thrives in your care. 

Do Axolotls Prefer Dark Or Light?

Axolotls strongly prefer dim, indirect light. If an axolotl is presented with the option of living in a brightly lit environment or a darker space, they will almost always choose the dark space. Overly bright light causes axolotls stress and may lead to an unhappy pet.

In the wild, Axolotls live at the bottom of aquatic environments where light is naturally filtered out by plants and water. 

They rarely spend time in places where they would experience direct sunlight. 

Axolotls are most active at night when any light their environment receives is very limited.

This is a big reason that Axolotls prefer a dim and sufficiently large tank for living in captivity.

Another reason that Axolotls prefer dark spaces is that they do not have any eyelids. 

Without eyelids, bright lights can irritate and even hurt an axolotl’s eyes. 

Imagine if you were told to look directly into a flashlight or other bright light without being able to blink. 

You might crave some darkness too! 

By living in a spot with dim light, your axolotl’s eyes are naturally more comfortable.

If an axolotl’s tank is very bright, they will want to have places they can hide or burrow to lower the light level from time to time. 

This can be special aquarium hides, well-placed plants, decorations, or other burrowing material that allows them to build a dark spot to rest.

Do Axolotls Need Light?

Axolotls don’t need much light to thrive, and most people find they have no need for special aquarium lights for their axolotl. Don’t worry; your axolotl doesn’t want to be kept entirely out of light and sight; it simply doesn’t need any more light than what makes it into the tank from the room around it. 

This means when it comes to light; axolotls are quite easy to care for compared to many other aquatic pets. 

Axolotls live at the bottom of lakes and ponds and don’t use light as the main energy source. 

They rarely go to the surface and prefer to stay cool and wet. 

For this reason, they don’t need special UV bulbs or other sun replacements in their captive environments. 

The best thing you can do is put their tank in a spot where it will receive indirect light from the room around it without experiencing bright streams of warm sun entering the tank.

Your axolotl enjoys darkness, but having dim light through the tank during the day can help them to see some areas within the tank as they move around. 

Let’s be honest, a bit of light for the tank also helps you to be able to see and enjoy their neat appearance.

To survive, your axolotl will need very little light. 

To be enjoyed by you, some light entering the tank is completely acceptable as long as you aren’t streaming bright, direct light through your tank for extended periods of time.

Learn more: Are Axolotls Blind? [This Surprised Me Too]

How Much Light Does An Axolotl Need?

Axolotls do not need large amounts of light. Axolotls will do well with normal amounts of natural light for ten to twelve hours per day and regular nighttime darkness the other half of the day. Axolotls don’t need a lot of light for seeing or hunting, but some light exposure is helpful to them for keeping normal sleep and wake cycles.

Axolotls are nocturnal and are likely to be most active during dim light hours in the evening, overnight, and early morning hours. During the day, axolotls will burrow to find comfortable spots for sleeping. If you place your axolotl in a room where they can have natural indirect light during the day, they will be plenty happy. 

Too much light can have harmful effects on your axolotl by causing them stress, disrupting their sleep cycle, and if the light is from the sun, it can heat the tank above the cool water temperatures your axolotl enjoys.

Lights that are bright or suddenly flash on and off may also scare your axolotl. 

An axolotl that is scared will hide, and if it is stressed, it may not eat well or begin to show other signs of illness. 

What Kind Of Light Does An Axolotl Need?

Axolotls do well with dim or indirect natural light. They do not need special UV lights or special aquarium lights to illuminate their living space. Axolotls will thrive in a tank that is placed away from sunny windows in a room with average light throughout the day.

Axolotls do not like direct sunlight. 

Not only can direct sun be too bright for an axolotl’s taste, but the warm rays of sunshine can also heat up the water in your axolotl’s tank, making them uncomfortably hot. 

An axolotl prefers cool, dimly lit water, and this is hard to maintain if your tank is getting too much direct sun.

If you plan to have live plants in your axolotl tank and need lights to support them, your best option is to go with low-powered LED lighting. 

LED lights are useful because they provide a consistent light stream while creating very little heat. 

If you are to buy LED lighting, you are going to need to be really careful about where you install it, how long they are on, and how brightly they shine.

This is why I recommend getting dimmable LED lights like this product on Amazon. 👇

NICREW ClassicLED Gen 2 Aquarium Light, 11 Watts, Dimmable LED Fish Tank Light with 2-Channel Control, White and Blue LEDs, Size 12 to 18 Inch
  • Super bright 6500K White LEDs with optimized spectrum 460nm Blue LEDs for healthy growth of plants
  • More LEDs offer a higher level of luminous efficiency and brightness, 50% brighter than before
  • Adjustment can be made for both brightness and color temperature. Very easy to lower the blue lights for a more warm look, or use high blues and low whites for a cool even look
  • Build in 8/10/12H Timer and 15 minute ramp up / dim down. Set it, and forget it. The gradual lighting increase when turning on and the gradual lighting decrease when turning off does lend a feeling of being more in nature, avoiding startling your fish
  • Ideal for freshwater or saltwater fish-only and low-high light level aquarium plants, for aquariums 12 - 18 inches (Light length without bracket is 10.2 inches)

You can then turn the brightness right down and shine it at an angle. On this particular model, you can bring the brightness down to 5% through a simple dimmer switch.

Better yet, only have the LED lighting on at certain times – either be mindful and use the switch or even install a timer to automate this for you.

Oh, and one other thing.

Also, be sure to choose aquatic plants that don’t require a ton of light to thrive and provide your axolotl with plenty of caves or burrows to hide in that will allow them some reprieve from the light.


When it comes to light requirements, keeping an axolotl happy is more about refraining from too much artificial light than anything else. 

As an owner, you want to be able to see and enjoy your axolotl, and as pond bottom dwellers, your axolotl doesn’t want to spend hours out in a brightly lit space. 

The best compromise for both you and your axolotl is to use the light already found in the room surrounding the tank to illuminate your tank naturally. 

This way, you can see your axolotl during the day without worrying about influencing their home water temperature or causing them stress from the presence of continuous bright lights.

So, you are going to really need to consider where you put your tank in your home.

And if you have heard that axolotls can glow in the dark, well that is a topic for another time.