Why Is My Axolotl Hiding? Possible Causes And What To Do

Axolotls hiding from time to time is perfectly normal behavior. But if your axolotl is disappearing for hours on end every day, that excessive hiding is trying to tell you something. This article explores the reasons axolotls hide more than usual and actionable tips to get your pet to come out of its shell.

Understanding Axolotl Behavior

To comprehend why axolotls hide requires first understanding some of their basic behaviors and tendencies as a species.

Axolotls are amphibious salamanders that originate from Mexico. They spend most of their time at the bottom of lakes and ponds. As prey animals, hiding from predators is an essential survival skill. Their natural habitats also contain many nooks to hide in like rocks, logs, and thick vegetation.

This evolutionary history is why axolotls gravitate toward hiding spots. Even in captivity, they retain their instinct to seek shelter and remain inconspicuous. Axolotls without sufficient hides or plants in their tank may become stressed.

Hiding helps axolotls feel safe and relaxed in their environment. It’s also part of their bio-rhythms, as they tend to be most active at dawn and dusk. Axolotls spend much of the day resting or hiding away.

While active, axolotls are very investigative as they explore their surroundings and search for food. But they intersperse activity with periods of hiding to sleep and destress.

So occasional hiding is not only normal, but essential to an axolotl’s wellbeing. As prey animals, hiding and rest are crucial survival behaviors. The problems start when hiding becomes excessive compared to normal axolotl activity patterns.


Common Reasons For Excessive Hiding

While axolotls do hide frequently in their normal routine, excessive hiding can signal an underlying problem. If your axolotl is disappearing into its hideouts for abnormally extended periods without emerging, some type of stressor or issue is likely causing your pet to feel unsafe leaving its shelters.

Common reasons axolotls start hiding nonstop include:

  • Stress – Loud noises, vibrations, and excessive activity near the tank can stress axolotls, causing them to hide. Harassment from tankmates can also lead to hiding.
  • Water Quality Issues – Unsuitable water temperature, pH, ammonia levels, or lack of oxygen can all prompt axolotls to hide and avoid the unsuitable habitat conditions.
  • Lack of Proper Hides – Insufficient caves, tunnels, plants and other hiding spots can leave axolotls feeling exposed, driving them to hide in a corner or the one available shelter.
  • Health/Disease – Illnesses like fungal or bacterial infections, parasites, disrupted hormone function, and metabolic disorders can all make an axolotl hide.
  • Small Tank – If the aquarium is too cramped, this stress may cause endless hiding.
  • Improper Substrate – Rough or abrasive substrates can damage sensitive axolotl skin, leading them to hide on the bare bottom.
  • Lack of Plants – Too little aquatic vegetation can leave axolotls feeling insecure, instigating hiding.
  • New Tank – Introduction to a new tank can be stressful. More hiding than usual is expected at first.

If excessive hiding persists even after you address potential husbandry issues, a health problem is likely culprit. Consult an exotics vet to identify and treat the underlying condition. With proper adjustments, your axolotl should regain its normal activity levels.

What Hiding Places do Axolotls Like?

Axolotls love having an assortment of unique hiding spots and dens to disappear into throughout their tank. Providing plenty of secure shelters helps satisfy their instinct to hide.

Great hiding place options include:

  • Caves – Caves made of clay, resin, or stone allow axolotls to tuck themselves away while still being visible.
  • Tunnels – Long tunnels or tubes made of clay or plastic let axolotls burrow and conceal themselves.
  • Plants – Live or silk plants like anubias, java fern, and amazon swords provide thick foliage to hide within.
  • Rocks – Stacking slate or other aquarium-safe rocks creates little nooks to nestle inside.
  • Logs – Logs, stumps, and cork bark openings give axolotls cozy naturalistic hiding spots.
  • PVC Pipes – Small PVC pipes along the bottom make inexpensive hideaways.
  • Ceramic Pots – Flip terra cotta pots over for an instant cave-like shelter.

Aim for at least one hide per axolotl, and ideally 2-3. Mixing up hide shapes and sizes keeps their habitat enriching. And remember, axolotls grow over time, so leave room for bigger hides.

With a variety of appealing hides and dens, your axolotls can happily alternate between exploring and tucked-away resting. Their instinctive hiding behaviors will be accommodated.


Health Issues

While husbandry flaws often drive axolotls into hiding, persistent excessive hiding can also signal an underlying health problem requiring veterinary attention.

Some common axolotl illnesses that may lead to increased hiding include:

  • Fungal Infections – Fungal infections like red leg disease create open sores that cause discomfort, leading axolotls to hide. Look for white fuzz or red swollen limbs.
  • Bacterial Infections – Bacteria like Aeromonas can infect axolotls, making them lethargic and prone to hiding.
  • Parasites – Worms and other parasites rob axolotls of nutrients and irritate their system, prompting hiding. Watch for symptoms like bloating or stringy white poop.
  • Hormone Imbalance – Issues with thyroid and pituitary gland function can interfere with hormones that regulate behavior like hiding.
  • Vitamin Deficiencies – Lack of vitamins A or D3 can cause bone and muscle issues leading to excessive hiding.
  • Metabolic Bone Disease – Calcium and phosphorus deficiencies weaken bones, causing pain and hiding.

If your axolotl is hiding nonstop and you can’t attribute it to housing problems, take it to an exotic veterinarian for a full health evaluation. With proper medical treatment, your pet’s normal activity levels should be restored.

Solutions To Excessive Hiding Behavior

If your axolotl is disappearing into its hideouts too frequently, take action to identify and address the underlying cause. With proper adjustments to care and tank conditions, you can curb excessive hiding and have your pet thriving again.

Potential solutions include:

  • Reduce Stressors – Eliminate loud noise near the tank, limit vibrations, and provide plenty of hides and plants for security.
  • Improve Water Quality – Maintain proper temperature around 60-68°F. Eliminate ammonia and nitrites and keep nitrates below 20 ppm. Adjust pH between 7.0-8.0.
  • Add More Hides – Provide multiple hides like caves, tunnels, logs and lush plants to help axolotls feel secure.
  • Treat Health Issues – Use appropriate medications to address any fungal/bacterial infections, parasites, or other health problems.
  • Correct Diet – Ensure diet includes proper vitamins and minerals. Supplement if needed.
  • Bigger Tank – Upgrade to a larger tank if current one is too cramped. Provide 10 gallons per axolotl.
  • Softer Substrate – Swap rough substrates for soft sand or tile to prevent skin damage from hiding on the bottom.
  • Reduce Tankmates – Isolate bullying tankmates or move axolotl to own tank if being harassed.
  • Add Tannins – Tannins from driftwood or IAL can mimic natural dark water and have a calming effect.

If excessive hiding persists even after making tank corrections, seek advice from an exotic vet to address potential health issues. With time and proper adjustments, a secure happy axolotl will hide less.


Axolotls seek shelter and hide frequently as normal behavior. But nonstop hiding for hours on end indicates an issue making your pet feel unsafe. Start by optimizing tank conditions and reducing stressors. If unabated hiding continues, promptly seek veterinary help to diagnose and treat potential health problems.

With a thorough health evaluation and proper medical care, normal thriving activity with healthy intermittent hiding can be restored in your beloved axolotl. Do not delay in consulting an exotic pet specialist if excessive hiding persists despite your best efforts. Your timely action gives the best chance for effective treatment and full recovery.

About The Author

Ellie McDaniel is an experienced aquarium pet owner, whose expertise infuses her informative articles. She shares her deep understanding of aquatic pets, their care, and maintenance through engaging and insightful writings.

Ellie’s knowledge and passion for aquarium pets shine through her articles, providing an invaluable guide for fellow enthusiasts. Her practical experience resonates with readers, making her a trusted resource in the diverse world of aquarium pet care.