Written By : M Samy

Axolotl Breeding : How do Axolotls Reproduce ?

How do Axolotls Reproduce?

Axolotls can reproduce (lay eggs) several times a year in their natural environment, up to 6 times, or more.

They reproduce during the winter when temperatures drop and the days get shorter, to trigger reproduction in captivity (in the aquarium), you can lower the temperature below 15 ° C during the winter weeks, and you can also isolate the couples if you have several individuals in the same tank.

axolotl breeding

When does an Axolotl reach sexual maturity ?

In their natural environment, axolotls become adults from the age of 7 months, but when they are in captivity and for reproduction to be successful, it is advisable to breed only axolotls that reach at least 18 cm in size.

When the light-dark axolotls become sexually mature, their fingertips become darker (black) while they become lighter in the axolotls of a slightly darker color. This remains controversial information, some owners continue to confirm it while others insist that they did not notice the color change when their axolotls reached sexual maturity, but basically, if your axolotl is over a year old, it has surely become sexually mature.)

female axolotl collecting sperm cones released by the male

How to distinguish between male and female axolotls?

You will recognize the females by their roundness and a proportionally shorter tail, but you should try to distinguish the males by their cloaca, which is generally longer and swollen than that of the females.

How do axolotls reproduce?

axolotl spermatophore releasing

Reproduction is triggered when the female (once her eggs are ready to be fertilized) secretes pheromones (smell) in the water, the male will quickly understand what is happening and will start to produce spermatophores, after a short courtship and his gills become bright red with excitement.

During this time and each time the male axolotl produces and releases a spermatophore (gelatinous cones with the white Top )

He will redirect the female towards him, she will position herself above this spermatophore and suck it into her abdomen full of eggs ready to be fertilized. These eggs will be deposited on the decorations of the Tank (plants) after a day or two.

According to some studies, there is a chemical communication between the male and female axolotl during courtship. The male axolotl also secretes pheromones (SPF Proteins) from its vent gland in the Cloaca to increase female axolotl’s receptiveness and induce her to mate. mating will last between one and two hours.

The 5 stages of courtship (the hula dance) in axolotls

So, how do you know if your axolotl is mating ? how do axolotls mate ? how do they actually breed ?

1- The Approach : You will notice that either the male or the female axolotl will approach his partner and put himself next to him.

2- The Contact : This is the approach stage where one of them will touch either the tail, the cloaca or the torso of the other with his/her snout. This behavior will trigger the active courtship in the male axolotl which will become more agitated.

3- The Push : during this stage, the male axolotl will butt his snout at the head or at the female’s torso and moves forward while pushing her around the tank with his snout. The female will usually remain calm for a short period of time but will then move away from the male who will chase her into the tank.

4- Over-the-head : once the female stops running away from the male, he will either move over the female’s head or completely over her body and this movement is intended to bring his cloaca gland (from which the male’s sex pheromones are secreted) in contact with the female’s nostrils. This is to make the female more receptive to mating.

5- Tail waving : During this last step of courtship, the male axolotl will stand a few inches in front of the female but looking to the side. He will then lift his tail and expose his cloaca and slowly waves his tail from side to side.

If the female is satisfied with the male’s courting dance, she will respond by nudging his cloaca to incite him to deposit his spermatophores, which she will collect and suck in via her own cloaca to fertilize the eggs and deposit them in 24 to 72 hours after this operation.

How will the axolotl eggs be laid?

The female will then lay her eggs by sticking them on the leaves of the axolotls-friendly freshwater live plants that you will have previously installed in the Tank, it is necessary to expect generally a good hundred eggs laid. 

You must immediately separate the eggs from the adults who could attack them and devour them (remove the plants with the eggs and put them in another container equipped with a bubbler preferably, same water quality and temperature).

axolotl  breeding step by step

The eggs of a female Albino White, Gold and Copper are white, and those of other females are black or bicolor (black and white), but do not soak, because the color of Axolotl eggs does not determine the color of the future babies.

You will distinguish the eggs when they will take the color of the female, but as they develop, the axolotl babies will gently show their colors and the eggs will hatch just after a few days (7 to 15 days depending on the water temperature).

pictures of the development of axolotl eggs

Here are some pictures taken during the transformation and development of axolotl eggs cracked and laid into axolotl larvae.

What to do after the axolotl eggs hatch?

To avoid cannibalism in the tank, the axolotl babies must be fed from their second day, you will have to give them morning and evening, small fresh water insects that will suit the size of their mouth, like Artemia nauplias ,live daphnia or live baby bloodworm (midge larvae) ; until they reach about 4 centimeters (their front legs will develop) and then you will feed them with small worms of living mud preferably.

axolotl breeding explained

They must remain isolated in their own Tank until they reach at least 12 to 15 centimeters before putting them back in their parents’ Tank, otherwise they might attack them if you delay a little bit in feeding the larger individuals.

How to take care of axolotl babies?

During the first two weeks, the eggs must be oxygenated by stirring the water (stir the water morning, noon and evening) or by changing it every 24 hours, try to keep it under a temperature of about 18 ° C.

feeding axolotl babies

The water of the tray that contains the eggs and will then contain the baby axolotls must be large enough to contain all the axolotls and must always remain clean, you will have to aspirate their excrement with a pipette.

After two weeks or a little less or a little more; most of the eggs will hatch and you will start the sorting by getting rid of the eggs that have not yet hatched, because the babies are too weak to pierce the egg membrane, and they will not be able to compete with the others later, it is better to get rid of them from the beginning.

In fact, you will continue to select and leave only the axolotl babies that seem the strongest, this process is done alone in their natural environment, the axolotl babies that do not grow fast enough will be devoured by predators or sometimes by their own congeners.

How fast do axolotl reproduce ?

Axolotls reproduce once a year when they are in their natural environment, since the conditions (water temperature and abundance of food for the axolotl couple and their future newborns) that trigger mating are only met during spring and early summer.

They wait for this period to reproduce so that their eggs have an ideal water temperature to develop and hatch, but above all so that the baby axolotls find an abundance of larvae and small insects to feed on and quickly grow to face the cold water of Lake Xochimilco during the winter.

But when in captivity, axolotls can reproduce during all seasons since the tank provides them with all the necessary conditions to trigger the reproductive instinct.

How long does it take for axolotls to lay eggs?

After mating , the female axolotl will usually start laying her eggs within 24 hours.

It may take the female axolotl a little longer, even two or three days to deposit her eggs, this will depend on the quantity of eggs she will lay but also if you have prepared supports on which she will deposit her eggs like plants for example.

Do axolotl eggs need a bubbler?

Axolotl eggs should be placed in water that is at least 12 In/30 cm deep and well oxygenated and a bubbler may be necessary to provide this vital element.

Just don’t put the bubbler too close to the eggs to avoid the risk of detaching them from their support.

Also remember to change the water at least every two days and daily if you do not have a bubbler installed.

How many times a year do axolotls lay eggs?

It is best to breed your axolotl only once a year. The female will consume too much energy to produce up to 1000 eggs and you need to give her time to regain her strength in order to mate again.

Note also that if the first mating happens in good conditions, the female axolotl can mate several times after the eggs are laid and if the conditions are still met, hence the need to separate the couple of axolotls as soon as the first mating is over if you do not want more eggs!

On top of that, 90% of the eggs laid by the female will survive and hatch, which will give you a lot of baby axolotls.

Will axolotls breed on their own?

When your axolotl couple is well fed and the water conditions are optimal, your axolotls will probably mate as soon as they reach their sexual maturity, between 6 months and one year.

You can try to trigger mating by giving them a high protein, high fat food (to help the female produce eggs) and leave the rest of the food in the tank for a few minutes so they know that food is plentiful and that their babies will have enough food when they hatch.

How many eggs do axolotls lay and how many of them will survive ?

The average is around 300 eggs, but the larger the female axolotl is, the more eggs she will lay. During her first mating, the female axolotl is still young and she will produce fewer eggs (between 100 and 400 eggs).

But some adult females produce up to 1000 eggs if they are well fed.

On average 90% of these eggs will hatch if you take good care of them and these eggs will start to hatch after 15 to 30 days after laying, this will vary depending on the water temperature and dissolved oxygen level in the water, the cooler the water the longer it will take for the eggs to develop and hatch.

Final Thoughts

Axolotls can reproduce from the age of 6 months, but it is advisable to let them grow up and mate only after they have reached at least 1 year.

Axolotls reproduce in their natural environment during spring and early summer, but in a tank where water parameters are always stable and food is always available, axolotls can reproduce at any time of the year.

To avoid that your axolotls reproduce, you just have to separate them in the same tank or to put them in two different tanks , especially each time you notice that the male axolotl starts its mating dance, but you can’t watch them continuously !

It is better to remove the eggs in an isolated container if you want them to develop because if you leave them in the same tank with their parents, they may be chased and devoured!

If you don’t want to keep the eggs and have hundreds of little axolotls to feed in about 15 days after the female has deposited her eggs, you can go and offer them for an exotic pet store that sells axolotls.

M Samy pet blogger and author at famillypet

About Author

Hey! Salim Makhloufi (alias M. Samy) here , Welcome to my Blog I'm an animal lover, especially pets and Really concerned about their well being ; I've been around and caring for all my life and Now ; a full-time Pet blogger at your service . My motto here at Famillypet is: "Pets First" ... Read More

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