Why Is My Axolotl So Active: Possible Reasons

Axolotl owners often notice their pets becoming suddenly very active, darting around the tank rapidly. This can be alarming as we expect axolotls to be slow, calm creatures. But there are reasonable explanations for this energetic behavior. This article will examine the main reasons an axolotl may start acting hyper, so owners can get to the bottom of the cause.

Main Possible Reasons

There are a few key factors that could be causing your axolotl to act uncharacteristically hyper. Axolotls are normally very mellow and inactive, so increased energy levels suggest something is amiss in their environment or health. Below we will explore the top causes of axolotl hyperactivity.

  • Stress. Stress is one of the most common reasons axolotls start zipping around their tanks. Causes of stress include poor water quality, tank mates bullying them, loud noises, or improper handling. Stressed axolotls try to escape the perceived danger.
  • Illness. Sickness often results in increased activity as the axolotl struggles to swim normally. Common diseases like bacterial infections can make axolotls dart erratically. Be sure to quarantine and treat any infected animals.
  • Improper tank conditions. Issues like small tank size, insufficient hides, strong filtration, or rapid temperature shifts can cause axolotls to become more energetic. Make sure their habitat is optimized.
  • Hunger. Hungry axolotls may swim quickly back and forth looking for food. Try feeding them earlier or increasing diet portions if they act hyper around normal meal times.
  • Natural instincts. Axolotls are predators and may exhibit short bursts of speed when hunting food or exploring. This is normal behavior, especially in younger axolotls. Monitor for any prolonged hyperactivity.

If you notice your axolotl continuing to act abnormally energetic, something in their environment likely needs addressed. Carefully inspect their tank conditions, perform water tests, and monitor their diet. With proper care adjustments, your axolotl should return to their normal calm activity levels.


One of the top reasons axolotls start darting rapidly around their tank is stress. Axolotls are very sensitive creatures that can become stressed by environmental factors we may not think twice about. Once stressed, an axolotl will swim quickly in an attempt to escape the perceived threat.

Common causes of stress that lead to hyperactivity include poor water quality, harassment from tank mates like fish, excessive noise, or improper handling. Ammonia and nitrite spikes from an uncycled tank are very stressful, as are rapid pH or temperature changes. Tank mates may nip at axolotl gills and keep them constantly moving away. Loud music, TVs, children playing can also stress axolotls.

Make sure you test water parameters frequently and perform adequate water changes to prevent pollution buildup. Do not house axolotls with fish, especially nippy varieties. Keep their tank in a quiet, peaceful area of your home. Also limit opening the tank and touching axolotls unnecessarily. Follow proper acclimation procedures if handling is required.

Sometimes axolotls may be darting around simply from fright, especially if they are flashed with sudden bright lights or startled by loud noises near their tank. Try to maintain consistent, calm lighting and sounds around the axolotl tank. Shelter hides also help them feel secure and relaxed.

Stress often causes axolotls to lose their appetites, suspend gill movements, and of course exhibit hyperactivity. Address the source of stress immediately and make the axolotl feel safe again. This may involve frequent water changes, medicating their tank, separating tank mates, or leaving them undisturbed in a quiet area. With the stress resolved, activity levels should normalize.



An underlying illness is a common reason for increased axolotl activity. Sick axolotls struggle to control their movements and often dart around erratically.

  • Bacterial infections like septicemia
  • Fungal infections on gills and body
  • Parasites such as worms
  • Metabolic disorders including thyroid problems
  • Physical injuries to gills, fins or legs

If hyperactive behavior persists despite optimizing tank conditions, the axolotl likely needs veterinary diagnosis and treatment. Some options to identify health issues include skin scrapes, fecal tests, bloodwork, etc.

With proper treatment of any sickness, the axolotl’s activity levels should return to normal calm behavior.

Improper Tank Conditions

An axolotl’s tank environment has a major impact on their stress and activity levels. Various issues with tank conditions could be causing your axolotl to act hyper. Optimizing their habitat is crucial for their health and happiness.

  • Small tank – Axolotls need ample room to move about calmly. Aim for 10+ gallons per axolotl. Upgrade tank size if needed.
  • Lack of hides – Hides are necessary to help axolotls feel secure and relaxed. Include 2+ appropriately sized hides.
  • Strong filter flow – Excess current from filters stresses axolotls. Use spray bar and baffle flow if needed.
  • Rapid water changes – Big temperature or pH shifts from water changes causes stress. Make changes gradual.
  • Overcrowding – Too many tank mates makes axolotls territorial and hyper. Avoid overstocking.

Providing an ideal tank setup is essential to keeping your axolotl calm and inactive most of the time. Make sure water flow is gentle, hides are available, and their space is not overcrowded. Test parameters regularly and perform partial water changes frequently to maintain water quality. With an optimized habitat, activity levels should normalize.


Increased swimming and darting about prior to mealtimes can signify your axolotl is hungry. Axolotls that are underfed may become extra energetic when they sense food is coming. Try feeding them a little earlier if you notice hyper behavior near their normal feeding times. Or consider increasing the amount of food per feeding if they gobble up portions quickly. Of course moderation is key, as overfeeding leads to obesity and other health issues. But insufficient food is also detrimental and will make axolotls desperately search for more.

Observe if the hyperactivity seems correlated with expected meal times. For adult axolotls, try feeding 2-3 times per week and monitor if behavior improves. Younger, growing axolotls need more frequent small meals 4-6 times weekly. High quality, nutritious foods are vital to curb excessive foraging. Offer diverse protein sources like earthworms, brine shrimp, blood worms. Supplement with calcium and vitamins as well for a balanced diet.

With consistent, sufficient meals at regular intervals, your axolotl should lose interest in anxiously darting about looking for the next bite. Their activity should normalize outside of designated feeding times when their hunger is properly satisfied.


Natural Instincts

It’s important to remember axolotls are predators with natural hunting instincts that lead to brief bursts of activity. Seeing food triggers a feeding response and energetic pursuit. This is entirely normal behavior, so don’t be too alarmed if they dart quickly to swallow prey.

Younger axolotls and juveniles are especially prone to short bouts of speed and motion as they explore new environments. They may zigzag across tank walls and around decor discovering their space. Let young axolotls freely investigate and familiarize themselves with their habitat.

However, prolonged hyperactivity exceeding more than several minutes is abnormal for axolotls. While periodic increased motion is natural, they should not be constantly racing about their enclosures for long durations.

Monitor your axolotl after feeding or habitat changes to ensure they settle back down to resting on tank floors or under shelters. If the hyper behavior becomes frequent or excessive, reassess tank conditions and diet for potential issues.

Some activity during morning and evening hours is also normal as axolotls are diurnal. But they should still spend most of the daylight hours relatively inactive, not frantically swimming all day and night. If in doubt, consult an exotic vet.

Final Thoughts

If your normally lethargic axolotl has suddenly become very active and darting about, resist the urge to panic. While the behavior change is concerning, there are several reasonable explanations covered here. Careful attention to your axolotl’s environment, health and hunger levels should reveal the source of hyperactivity.

Make adjustments like water changes, separating tank mates, vet visits, or revised feeding as needed if any issues are found. With the underlying cause addressed, your axolotl’s energy should settle back to a calm, peaceful state. Proper axolotl care leads to plenty of inactive rest with only occasional bursts of motion. Reach out to experts for help assessing your pet if problems persist. Stay observant of any behavioral shifts and respond promptly to keep your axolotl healthy and relaxed.

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.