Bet you'll agree with me when I say:
Raising axolotl eggs makes an exciting hobby.
Part of the fun is the suspense.
What morphs will you get?
Will your egg batch hold an elusive chimera?
Either way, there's just something so special about watching baby axies grow from a comma shaped blob (for lack of a better word) encased in jelly to a beautiful juvenile animal.
Today I'm going to share with you my own personal way of how to raise axolotl eggs, totally free and open.
I have had very good success with this method and hope you will too.
Tips for Buying Eggs
When buying axolotl eggs, here are a few points to consider:
- Be sure the parents are not related.
- Plan your space in advance. More axolotls need more space, resources and time.
- Know the hets of the parents (not essential but ideal)
- Ask for pictures of the parents, but just because a parent was beautiful does not mean any of the children will resemble it. Axolotl genetics are complex. However if you know more of their background the chances are higher.
- Try to buy from trusted, knowledgeable sellers to prevent getting scammed.
- $0.50 an egg is considered standard for basic morphs. Eggs can cost up to $2/egg for rarer morphs, sometimes more.
1. The first 2 weeks
Fertile axolotl eggs will "bean," meaning the embryo is developing.
Once the eggs bean, they take about 14-21 days before hatching, depending on the temperature.
This is the easy part!
I like to store my eggs in shoe box size tupperwares, about 25 eggs per shoe box.
I keep my eggs and hatchlings in conditioned water that contains 400 TDS of himalayan pink salt and a drop or two of colloidal silver in each box to prevent fungus.
You can store them in a dark room, they don't need much light at all at this stage.
As they near hatching, you can see them twitch and turn in the eggs.
Look closely and you'll start to see their little gills developing.
Make sure NOT to let the eggs touch as much as you can.
They need space.
This helps ensure good oxygen flow and prevent fungus.
2. The Next 2 Weeks
Sometimes when you are trying to remove empty egg sacks, you can accidentally cause a baby to hatch prematurely by tearing the protective barrier.
If this happens, don't panic.
Just leave them be until the others have finished hatching - many times they will survive just fine.
Prematurely hatched babies will often lie pathetically on their side for a while (which makes you think they are dead) but eventually learn to swim.
At this point some axolotls may develop visible deformities (bent backs, head deformities, etc.) and should be culled.
It is also normal for one to die off here or there without explanation.
You generally don't need to worry unless this is widespread and you are loosing several daily.
Hatching & Feeding
Once the first baby hatches, it is time to start your brine shrimp.
They will feed off of their yolk sack from their eggs for a few days before needing their first meal, so that buys you a bit of time to get the brine shrimp hatchery going.
Brine shrimp are hands-down the best food for newly hatched axolotls.
With tiny movements, they attract the axolotls to grab them.
They will need brine shrimp 1-2x daily, as much as they can eat to give them a little pink round tummy.
This is very good!
For the next 1-2 months you will be basically the brine shrimp buffet for your babies.
They should have enough to eat for a few hours, but careful not to overfeed or you can foul the water.
The brine shrimp generally only last a few hours before dying.
Uneaten food can bring on fungus.
Your brine shrimp hatchery can be as simple or as complex as you desire.
This is my method which has worked well for me.
You just need:
- A container
- Some warm salty water
- Brine shrimp eggs
- A warm spot to place it
- A coffee filter or brine shrimp net
- And a pipette or eye dropper
For a small batch of brine shrimps?
I use 1/4 tsp of Himalayan pink salt (you can use any salt but this seems to work better in my experience) in about 3/4C of water, about 80F.
Dissolve the salt, then sprinkle the brine shrimp eggs on top of the water.
A good warm spot will make them hatch faster, like on top of a laptop battery or aquarium light, not too hot though.
Then wait 24-48 hours.
You can use a flashlight to get them to all come to one side of the container before sucking them out and straining them through the coffee filter.
It is a good idea to have 2 cultures alternating so you can have brine shrimp available around the clock.
Vacuum waste as needed, being very careful not to suck up the babies!
I typically like to do 25-50% water changes daily or every other day on the shoe box to remove the poop and uneaten brine shrimp.
You can use a turkey baster to transport babies while they are still small (though I recommend not moving them if possible as they are very fragile and easily hurt).
Watch the water quality!
Test the ammonia and nitrite especially and do a water change as needed.
Baby axolotls can deal with warmer water better than adults and will mature much faster.
I like to keep mine around 70F.
Having a cleaning crew can help like cherry shrimp and ramshorn snails.
3. 1 Month Mark
By now your babies are looking quite axolotlish and should be growing more.
They can get their front legs around 2-3 weeks and back legs anywhere from 4-6 weeks.
Their front legs start out like little opaque stubs but eventually turn into fully formed limbs.
Once your babies start developing their front legs it is time to space them out more, or they will start nipping each other.
Left to themselves, they will often take off each others' gills and legs.
Once they have their front legs I like to reduce the numbers to about 10 per shoebox.
When they get a bit bigger and get back legs?
They have probably outgrown the container by now!
While spacing and twice daily feeding can combat the biting problem to some degree...
... My personal method is generally to separate them individually.
I tailored this method to axolotls from a betta fish breeder.
To do this...
I use individual plastic containers with holes placed all around the sides for circulation.
(To do this, I use a hot knife.)
This allows the babies to remain in a joint system with a central filtration unit and access to a greater amount of water, but still protected from their hungry siblings.
I like to put a small plant in each one to help keep the water cleaner and provide a hide/place to cling onto for the babies.
I use an eyedropper or turkey baster to remove solid waste from the bottom of each cup as needed.
If the containers are not tall enough to touch the bottom of the tank, the axolotls may jump across into each others' cups, which is not good.
So be sure they stick up about 1/4" above the water surface.
Again, this is just me.
Some people don't do that and are fine, they space them out more and feed really heavily with live foods, it's really up to you.
The time eventually comes when they can eat chopped up blackworms, and that is a wonderful for you.
You can eventually leave whole blackworms in their containers and let them forage all day.
They will grow rapidly and develop big gills on the blackworms.
Eventually they can switch to chopped or whole frozen bloodworms, which is the most convenient.
From there you can move to crushed salmon pellets and/or finely chopped earthworms.
Some people are also able to successfully switch to adult frozen brine shrimp instead, but the blackworms are higher in protein and result in faster growth.
4. After 2 months
Your axolotls will be getting bigger and bigger, provided everything goes well.
Now is a good time to start planning in advance for new homes for your babies.
Generally they are ready to go to new homes around 3 months, or when they have front and back legs and are eating easy to feed foods like pellets.
I hope you found this post helpful and are able to raise some healthy baby axolotls!
Raising axolotl eggs is not that hard, but it can be time intensive.
However, it is very rewarding.
Thank you for reading.