Raising axolotls from eggs (or spawn, as it is more technically known) can seem a little intimidating at first. But, when you are armed with the right knowledge and some simple equipment, it can be really easy.
Thankfully, axolotl larvae (a plural term used for baby axolotls, newts, and salamanders that have yet to develop all four of their legs) are quite tough, especially when compared to other young larvae. Read on through this axolotl egg care guide to learn about how to hatch axolotl eggs and successfully raise baby axolotls from eggs.
Before embarking on your axolotl-rearing journey, bear in mind that with any large clutch of eggs, there will always be at least a couple of casualties. That’s just the way that nature works.
Some axolotls will be born with abnormalities that make them weak, unfit, and unable to properly grow and survive. Some will succumb to stress, while their stronger siblings will be able to survive. Some will be maimed or eaten by their siblings. And, others will probably just be unlucky.
If you are a beginner amphibian pet owner, and are new to raising axolotl eggs, we suggest you only try to raise a few eggs at any one time and give away/ethically cull any other eggs that your axolotl has laid.
This is because you only have so much time and attention to allot to these little creatures. So, it might be best to give a smaller number of eggs your full efforts, rather than having to watch hundreds of hatchlings suffer because you don’t have enough resources to properly care for them.
Table of Contents
- Equipment You Will Need To Raise Axolotl Eggs To Hatchlings
- When You Receive Your Axolotl Spawn
- If You Are Using Spawn From Your Pet Axolotls
- How Long Does It Take For Axolotl Eggs To Hatch?
- What To Feed Your Axolotl Hatchlings?
- How You Should Expect Your Baby Axolotls to Grow
- Keep The Water Clean For Your Axolotls
- Things To Remember With Raising Young Axolotls
- Final Thoughts
Equipment You Will Need To Raise Axolotl Eggs To Hatchlings
To raise your fertilized axolotl eggs to hatchlings, you only need a handful of simple items.
- Buckets or large containers to keep fresh water in.
- Tanks to keep all of the hatchlings in.
- A turkey baster for cleaning, and general maintenance of the tanks.
- A fine aquarium net.
- A slightly less fine net.
- A tube to siphon off the water.
When You Receive Your Axolotl Spawn
As soon as you get your axolotl spawn (if you have purchased it), you will need to put it in a small tank, about 1 foot in size. Fill the tank a third of the way with conditioned water that has been de-chlorinated or left to stand for 24 hours before adding it to the tank.
Add some oxygenating aquatic plants. Keep the tank out of the way of direct sunlight and at a temperature of about 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).
If You Are Using Spawn From Your Pet Axolotls
If you are planning on using fertilized spawn from your own pet axolotls, then you need to watch out for a spawning female in the parents’ tank, or loose spermatophores floating in the tank.
However, predicting when you will find axolotl eggs in your tank is pretty difficult, and you will usually find them when you least expect them.
When you find a spawn in your axolotl’s tank, you first have to decide if they are to be removed from the tank, or if you should move the parents elsewhere and let the spawn stay behind in the tank.
Both are possible, as axolotl eggs are quite tough. Therefore, they can be moved without any major issues. The jelly layer of the egg can even be removed from rocks, by using a fingernail to gently sever it and free the egg.
If the eggs are attached to plants, then you can easily move the eggs by lifting the plants to a new tank, and you can avoid touching the eggs altogether.
Once you have moved/not moved your eggs, you need to ensure that all of the conditions in the tank are right – i.e., use de-chlorinated, hard water. Keep the tank around 68 degrees F/20 degrees C.
How Long Does It Take For Axolotl Eggs To Hatch?
At 68 degrees F/20 degrees C, your eggs (whether you have found them in your own axolotl tank, or purchased them from a breeder) should hatch in around two weeks or less. If the temperature is lower, they can take an excess of 20 days to hatch. Watching your axolotl eggs hatching is a fascinating experience.
You can use the temperature to manipulate the length of time that it will take for your eggs to incubate and hatch. This can be really useful if you need extra time to prepare the perfect environment for the hatching axolotl eggs
If you lower the temperature (not too low though – around 64 degrees F/18 degrees C), you can give yourself an additional week to acquire brine shrimp eggs, culture your daphnia, or order micro worms from a pet supplier.
What To Feed Your Axolotl Hatchlings?
Only a day or so after they have hatched, the axolotl larvae (which will look like a tadpole at this point) will start to get hungry. Up until this point, they will have egg yolk in there and will be surrounded by jelly-like egg white. If the egg white has disappeared, they will need feeding.
At this age, they will only eat live food, with their animal prey instincts making them snap at anything small enough that swims past.
If you breed your axolotls deliberately, then you probably have all of the live food items that you need to feed them – but if there were an accidental clutch of eggs, or you are a beginner at raising axolotl hatchlings and have bought your eggs from a breeder, then you might need to purchase some tiny live items.
When they are newly hatched, larvae can eat freshly hatched brine shrimp, small daphnia, moina, or micro worms (though micro worms are not ideal, and should be reserved until the axolotl larvae have grown their front legs).
Ensure that all of the food that you introduce to your axolotl tank is rinsed in de-chlorinated water.
Feed daily, and ensure that there is a little surplus of live food swimming around. When your axolotls get a bit bigger, introduce live blood worms to their diet, and after a few weeks of this, incorporate frozen blood worms and some small, sinking axolotl pellets.
How You Should Expect Your Baby Axolotls to Grow
When your baby axolotl eggs hatch, baby axolotls are around 11 mm (which is less than half an inch) long. Around a day after the first of your eggs hatches, lower the water level to around 4 inches, so that all of the feeding material is concentrated close to the hatched and hatching larvae.
Once most of the eggs have hatched, you can tear the coat off of the other eggs with narrow scissors or sharp forceps, to free any hatchlings that are stuck.
Within a week of hatching, larvae should reach 1.5 cm in length. Once they start to reach 2 cm in length, you should separate out your larvae by size, to avoid cases of cannibalism, as larvae don’t tend to grow uniformly. Axolotl hatching can be a gradual process, and not all of your baby axolotls will hatch exactly at the same time. So, some will always be larger and some smaller.
The front legs of your larvae will start to develop when they reach around 20 mm (which will likely be about 9 days after hatching, at 20 degrees C), with the hind legs starting to develop a week later.
Lungs (yes, axolotls do have lungs and gills) will grow shortly after. As the hatchlings grow larger, you should lower the numbers in each tank, either by increasing your number of tanks or by culling/euthanizing the larvae that show clear defects and are at very low risk of surviving if left to their own devices.
Keep The Water Clean For Your Axolotls
As with any pet, there is routine cleaning to do – you can use pumps and filters, or you can do daily water changes so that damaging compounds don’t build up in the tank. You will also need to do a deep clean, which can be necessary every two to six weeks, depending on the size of your tank and the number of animals in it.
Things To Remember With Raising Young Axolotls
There are some important things to keep in mind when raising axolotls. The fewer axolotls in one container, the better. This is so you give your young axolotls plenty of space and room to grow. Otherwise, your young axolotls can have damaged wings or lost limbs.
Always keep a close eye on the water quality of the water. Once the young axolotls’ back legs have developed and grown in, they should look like miniature versions of their parents. At this stage, you can now treat them in the same way as you do the adults.
As younger axolotls grow larger, their cannibalistic nature will begin to decrease. However, in the early stages, you need to be really alert and feed the young regularly. If not, the young will feed each other. This is also why you have to remove the eggs from the adults because the adults are known to eat their own eggs.
Studies have proven that cannibalized axolotls will change their appearance and shape as they grow older. This is normally seen with their head shape and their teeth.
To raise happy, healthy hatchlings from eggs, you will need to:
- Keep your hatchlings well-fed.
- Keep the tank at a warm room temperature.
- Keep the water clean.
- Avoid keeping them in direct sunlight
- Separate your hatchlings out by size.
- Ensure they have enough room to grow and thrive.
- Move them into an adult home once they reach around 5 cm in size.