Axlotl Tanks

Axlotl Tanks are an invention of the Tleilaxu, who are masters at genetic engineering. The Tanks are living beings capable of producing a living human from the cells of cadavers.

The Definitive Glossary for Dune

After the order of the Tleilaxu got founded, it invented the Axlotl tank as a means of producing both Gholas and Face Dancers. Though the Bene Gesserit suspected that the tanks were the women of the Tleilaxu, no one knew until after the events of the Great Scattering.

Axlotl Tanks in Dune

The Axlotl Tanks of the Tleilaxu Definition

The word Axlotl gets pronounced as “Aks-Lo-Til.” Axlotl Tanks are incubators made from the womb of Tleilaxu females, who got placed in a vegetative state. Axlotl Tanks got used in creating Gholas and Face Dancers.

The Tleilaxu tried creating a synthetic version of Melange using an Axlotl Tank; they failed woefully, and the project got shut down. After Leto II’s death, humans began scattering into uncharted space. Trying to escape the famine, some Bene Gesserit sisters freed the women used by the Tleilaxu as Axlotl Tanks; these women became the Honored Matres.

Relevance of the Axlotl Tanks in Dune

Role of the Axlotl Tank in Frank Herbert’s Dune

The Axolotl Tank was one of the most guarded secrets of the Tleilaxu. The Tleilaxu were masters at genetic manipulation, and they were known for creating Face Dancers and Gholas. However, knowledge of the process of Ghola creation was non-existent except that they used Axlotl Tanks. In ‘Dune,’ the Tleilaxu offers their services to Baron Harkonnen by producing him Twisted Mentats. However, the production process for the Gholas got hidden. In ‘Dune Messiah,’ there is a brief mention of the Axlotl Tank as it was the source of Hayt, Duncan Idaho’s Ghola. After Hayt defeats his programming and regains consciousness, Bijaz, the Tleilaxu master, gets killed.

The Axlotl Tank got used many times by the Tleilaxu in ‘God Emperor of Dune’ to produce Gholas of Duncan Idaho for Leto II. After Leto’s death, the Great Scattering occurs and, from it rises the Honored Matres. The rise of the Honored Matres makes the Bene Gesserit sisters hypothesize that they were the women of the Tleilaxu. Because the Tleilaxu never showed any signs of their women, the Bene Gesserit believed that they got made into the Axlotl Tanks used to create Gholas and Face Dancers.

In ‘Heretics of Dune,’ Darwi Ordrade discovers that the Axlotl Tanks were indeed the women of the Tleilaxu. The revelation came when Duncan Idaho’s Ghola recalled that he saw human flesh every time he was reborn from the Axlotl Tank.

In ‘Chapterhouse: Dune,’ the Bene Gesserit acquires the Axlotl Tank technology and uses it to create their Gholas. With the technology of the Axlotl tank, the Bene Gesserit create Gholas of Paul Atreides, Duncan Idaho, Alia Atreides, Chani, Jessica, and others.

Axlotl Tank Post Frank Herbert

In ‘Prelude to Dune,’ the Tleilaxu tries creating a synthetic version of Melange. Presenting their idea to Emperor Elrood Corrini IX, the Tleilaxu get permission to pursue their plans. With the project named Amal, the Tleilaxu uses an Axlotl Tank to synthesize the production of Melange. Although they successfully create a drug with the same physical properties as Melange, their experiment fails woefully as the substance made causes its taker to die a grueling death.

Evolution of the Word

During the writing of ‘Dune’ and its sequels, there was a change in spelling for the word Axlotl. Initially called Axolotl in ‘Dune Messiah,’ the word got changed to Axlotl by Frank Herbert in later books. ‘Dune Encyclopedia,’ which got approved by Frank, also used the spelling Axolotl instead of Axlotl.

Operation and Description of the Axlotl Tank

An Axlotl tank is a living woman placed into a vegetative state. The Tleilaxu used its women’s wombs as incubators. Duncan Idaho described the tank as a large frame with bright lights and padded mechanical hands and a woman surrounded by many dark tubes linking her body to the metallic container. The tanks were capable of genetic altering, making it possible to add wanted traits like faster reflexes into an individual.

Glossary Terms Associated with Axlotl Tanks

Here is a list of words associated with Axlotl Tanks:

  1. Amal: Amal is the name of the artificial Melange the Tleilaxu tried to create. They failed woefully, and the project got shut down.
  2. Axlotl Technology: Axlotl technology is the technology and process needed to operate an Axlotl tank.


What is an Axlotl Tank Dune?

The Axlotl Tanks were living organisms used by the Tleiaxu to create genetically modified beings. From Gholas to Face Dancers, Axlotl tanks were crucial to the Tleilaxu plans for dominating the universe. Later on, the Order tried creating a synthetic version of Melange. However, the project ended in massive failure.

What were the Axlotl Tanks in Dune made of?

In later books of the ‘Dune’ series, it got revealed that the Axlotl Tanks were the women of the Tleilaxu whose womb got used as an incubator. The discovery came from the Honored Matres, an order hellbent on dominating the old empire. On getting to the Old Empire, the Honored Matres began destroying every Tleilaxu planet until they had annihilated all of them.

Did the Bene Gesserit use Axlotl Tanks in Dune?

After discovering the secret to creating an Axlotl Tank, the Bene Gesserit began to make Gholas of all great personalities since the Butlerian Jihad.

What does an Axlotl Tank in Dune looks like?

Duncan Idaho described an Axlotl Tank as a large frame with bright lights and padded mechanical hands and a woman surrounded by many dark tubes linking her body to the metallic container. Because he got created in Axlotl Tanks many times, Duncan saw the Axlotl Tanks each time he came out.

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