Axolotl Breeding And Egg Hatching Process Explained In 8 Steps
Axolotls are a unique kind of salamander amphibian that doesn’t go through metamorphosis. As a result, these creatures end up staying water-bound with gills for the rest of their lives. Axolotls make great additions to home aquariums, as long as you keep them only among other axolotls. Somewhere in the process of owning these amphibians, you may want to do some axolotl breeding.
In this guide, we’ll explain the conditions and care processes necessary for proper axolotl breeding, including tank temperatures, breeding seasons, and when these creatures reach maturity. Keep reading, as we’ll also cover the mating process, pregnancy process, egg-laying process, hatching process, and how to care for hatched larvae.
Breeding Axolotl – What Are The Perfect Conditions?
Axolotl breeding, like any other process of breeding aquatic creatures, requires you to adhere to a strict set of conditions such as:
- Tank set up
- Breading season
Everything from your tank temperature to the time you start breeding, cleanliness of the water, and lighting will make a difference in your success. Now, let’s take a closer look of these conditions.
1. Axolotl Breeding – Tank Setup
Tank conditions must be just right for both axolotl breeding and mating to happen successfully. These tank conditions include water temperature, frequency of cleaning, water quantity and tank contents.
For axolotl breeding, the water temperature needs to remain as constant as possible since fluctuations can affect the activity of axolotl during breeding.
Lower temperatures below 70°F are typically better for axolotl breeding. It’s also important to maintain temperature consistency by keeping your tank in a temp-controlled room of your home. On the other hand, when it’s time for the eggs to hatch, the temperature should be kept at 71°F to 72°F.
Frequency Of Cleaning
Another part important component for successful axolotl breeding is making as few changes as possible and yes that includes cleaning the tank. While you might regularly clean your fish tanks, axolotls actually prefer to not be disturbed. This is especially true during the mating process. You should refrain from changing the tank water and rely on a decent filter to take care of waste.
When ensuring the perfect environment for axolotl breeding, you will also need to make sure that you have enough water which is about 10 gallons per axolotl.
In terms of what to have in the tank for a successful axolotl breeding, you need to make sure that the tank has a sandy, slightly rough substrate with tank plants, such as live Java moss or fake plants.
These plants will come in handy when the female axolotl lay eggs and need somewhere to securely deposit them. Finally, ensure that your tank has at least one flat rock for the male axolotls to store their sperm pockets on during mating.
We already mentioned the need for a temperature-controlled room for your axolotl tank. However, there are also light conditions and other aspects of the environment that you need to monitor closely if you want a successful, problem-free axolotl breeding.
As already mentioned, axolotls don’t like being disturbed, especially during their breeding process. This is because, it can disrupt their mating efforts and lead to failure in getting enough eggs. Therefore, you should ensure that you have the right type of light to shroud your tank in.
Natural light is the best option for axolotl breeding. However, it’s important to remember not to allow too much light to get in the tank as that can result in a sudden temperature change which is not only bad for the axolotl breeding process but also bad for the axolotl’s health.
2. Axolotl Sexual Maturity Point
Important part of the axolotl breeding process is ensuring that the axolotls have reached sexual maturity. An axolotl should reach sexual maturity just following five months of age, but in some cases it can take slightly longer. Therefore, to be on the safe side, you should always wait until they’re at least about a year and a half old.
Another important reason to wait for your axolotl to be old enough is that male axolotls will mature faster than female axolotls will. Waiting an appropriate amount of time also gives you a chance to properly sex the axolotls, which you can’t accurately do if they’re too young.
If an axolotl still hasn’t reached sexual maturity and full-size, they aren’t going to be well-suited for breeding and can even lead to health complications such as:
- Breeding a female axolotl before she is fully grown and sexually mature can negatively affect her metabolism since she requires so much energy to lay upwards of hundreds of eggs at a time. This can make a female axolotl get sick and even stunt their growth.
3. Breeding Season and Time of Year
Another key component for successful axolotl breeding is the time of year. Although you can technically breed any time of the year, axolotls tend to prefer breeding from December-June. You can take a natural route in a naturally lit room to spur on the breeding process.
As the natural light patterns change, they will start to decrease. Following this change, you can gradually let more natural light into the room and lower tank temperatures, which usually spurs axolotls to start spawning.
While most axolotls only breed once annually in the wild, those in captivity can undergo breeding multiple times a year. As long as you have their environmental conditions set up correctly, breeding occurs. That’s not to say that it’s recommended tobreed more often than once a year as it can cause poor health in females.
4. Breeding Axolotl – What Is The Mating Process?
Once your tank is set up and you’ve made the shift in light/temperature that spurs the axolotls into action, they will begin the mating process. Let’s take a look at how this works.
Before the actual axolotl breeding, there is often a “courting” period. In axolotl mating, this is a period where the males gain the attention of the females by nudging them with their noses.
One alternate method of triggering courtship in axolotls is keeping the males and females separate for a couple of weeks at a higher temperature, then putting them in the same tank several degrees lower in temperature.
Spawning in axolotls doesn’t involve copulation. Instead, it occurs when the female responds to the male’s nudging cues and courtship dance, where he opens his cloaca and shows the female his body and tail. If she responds and intends to spawn, she will nudge back on the male’s cloacal area.
The female then follows the male’s lead and travels to his sperm pockets (usually on flat rocks or slate in the tank) to collect the sperm. The male will deposit spermatophores, and the female will pick them up with her own cloaca.
5. Breeding Axolotl – Pregnancy Process
Next up in the axolotl breeding process is the pregnancy. It’s important to note that when we refer to axolotl “pregnancy”, it isn’t exactly the same as pregnancy in other creatures.
Since this stage of the breeding process is simply the production of fertilized eggs, you might actually call it “ovulation”. But for the sake of easily understanding what is going on, we can refer to it as “pregnancy”.
It’s difficult but not impossible to tell whether or not a successful pregnancy is underway. The belly area of the female axolotl should be rounder or engorged as it will be filled with eggs (ovulation). Learn more about axolotl pregnancy signs here
Sometimes, you won’t be able to tell for sure, but a short amount of time will pass and you’ll know when she lays eggs. The pregnancy part of the axolotl breeding process only lasts a short two weeks or so (around 15 days) before the egg-laying process begins.
Whilst your axolotl is pregnant, it’s important to ensure that the temperature in the tank remains constant and cool enough. Furthermore, you should also ensure that the tank filter is properly working to keep the conditions clean and consistent inside.
To find out more about pregnancy in axolotls, head over here Pregnant Axolotl Or Sick Axolotl? Pregnancy and Common Health Issues
6. Breeding Axolotl – Laying of the Eggs
The next step of the axolotl breeding process is laying of the eggs. Normally, the female will lay hundreds of eggs in one go-around. The eggs will start appearing in different locations. As mentioned previously that females will use aquatic and fake tank plants as nests to lay and attach the eggs onto.
Again, there will be hundreds of eggs; sometimes there are even up to 600-1,000 at once. Females may continue to lay eggs several times a year if you make the opportunity available to them, which is why it’s good to give them a resting period after they’ve laid eggs. It’s too much on their bodies to constantly breed.
At this point, you should remove the parent axolotls and move them to their own tank since the eggs need a different temperature in order to hatch properly.
7. Breeding Axolotl – Egg Development and Hatching
Once the eggs are laid, the next two important steps are egg development and hatching.
It’s important to know how to care for axolotl eggs. The very first thing whether your axolotl eggs are actually fertilized before you proceed with the breeding process. You can tell if the newly laid eggs got fertilized by checking the appearance of the eggs:
- If you are breeding regular axolotls, fertilized eggs will appear dark brown or even black in color.
- If you’re breeding albino axolotls, however, fertilized eggs will appear white in color.
- One major telling sign is if the eggs start to expand or become “fluffy” looking. This is an indicator that the eggs have died and will not result in larvae.
After the female has finished laying her eggs, you need to ensure that eggs hatch safely and successfully. To do this, you have one of two options:
- Separate the parents from their eggs. You can gently remove the eggs from the tank and relocate them to their own tank
- Remove the breeders (adult male and female axolotl) from the tank and into their own tank
- The eggs should have a constant temperature of about 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Setting up this condition usually results in faster hatching eggs
- It takes between 2-3 weeks for eggs to actually hatch the larvae
Doing the above is essential, so the parents don’t eat their eggs and don’t become rustled by the upcoming change in temperature that is necessary to suit better egg development and hatching. Your new axolotl eggs will require higher temperatures for survival than the adults do.
8. Breeding Axolotl – How to Care for the Larvae After Hatching
Once the axolotl breeding process is finished and the eggs are about to hatch, it’s now time to ensure that the conditions are just right for a healthy larvae development.
This is a crucial and formative period of life for the young amphibians, so you need to properly care for them by adjusting water temperature, providing proper food, and keeping some of the larvae separate from each other.
To achieve this follow the steps below:
- At this point, you should have already removed the parents from the situation. This will allow the larvae to thrive on their own in an environment that suits them. The optimal environment should maintain a temperature of about 68°F.
- Newly hatched larvae are only about a half-inch long in size, and they stay put on their plants for the first few days of life. Then, they’ll start to move around and begin looking for food sources.
- As far as feeding goes, larvae will wait a few days after hatching, then start to search for food. You should provide them with a diet that solely consists of live food, such as hatched brine shrimp or moina. They are small enough for the hatchlings to eat and should get administered 1-2 times per day so that they develop properly.
- Note that if there is too much competition for food among the larvae, or they aren’t well-fed, they may resort to cannibalism. This is why it’s essential to monitor feeding on a strict schedule, provide ample live food, and separate some larvae into separate tanks if needed to lower competition.
You can have success with axolotl breeding in home tank if you ensure that you meet tank conditions in every stage of the breeding process.
A successful axolotl breeding includes proper temperatures and lighting during courtship, spawning, pregnancy, egg-laying, and egg-hatching. It also means you have to ensure your axolotls are sexually mature and have a tank of sufficient size for mating. The entire breeding process only takes around a month to complete.
Frequently Asked Questions Q&A
Are Axolotls Asexual?
Asexual reproduction is when no sex cells or fertilisation are involved. For asexual reproduction, only one parent is required, unlike with sexual reproduction where two parent are needed.
Although, axolotls don’t perform the physical act of copulation, the female still needs the male to reproduce. The male axolotl deposits sperm in the water, then the female collects it and fertilises herself. Therefore, the answer to the question “are axolotls asexual” is – no they are not.
What Is The Aftercare For Axolotl That Has Given Birth?
We focus a lot on caring for the larvae once they have hatched but what about caring for the female axolotl that has just given birth?
Well, females will breed more often than males, so waiting until they are ready will be a big help to them and to you. It’s also a compelling reason to separate male and female axolotls for recovery after breeding has finished. The main thing that your female axolotl will need is calm environment and as few disruptions as possible.
What Do Baby Axolotls Eat?
Baby axolotls should only be fed live foods until they are reach at least 2 cm length. Live food options for new hatchlings include micro worms, baby brine shrimp and daphnia.