With their cute and friendly appearance and eye-catching colors, Axolotls have garnered a lot of interest in the amphibian community in recent years. They are native to Mexico and though Axolotls have been nicknamed the ‘Mexican Walking Fish’ in some parts of the world, they are in fact salamanders and belong to the same family as frogs and toads. These remarkable creatures are characterized by their frilly gills, short legs, and wide mouths that give them the appearance of a constant smile!
But what do baby axolotls look like? In short, very similar to adults (only cuter). At their baby or ‘larvae’ stage, newly hatched axolotls can vary between a teensy 10 and 13 millimeters (or around half an inch) and are yet to develop their limbs or feathery gills. At around 3 to 4 weeks old, juvenile axolotls quickly begin resembling their adult form with their tail, gills, and fully-developed limbs appearing. And though Axolotls are normally greenish-black in color, the modern popular breeds descend from a mutant white male – giving them a white and pink appearance with black eyes.
These interesting and fun salamanders can make awesome pets, but please know that they will require specific care when it comes to their food, tank temperature and regular filter changes. Check out our guide to baby axolotls below if you’re interested in learning more and if you’re thinking about keeping one as a pet, we have plenty of tips and steps on how best to care for your axolotl and keep them smiling that adorable smile!
Baby Axolotl Colors
In the wild, normally colored axolotls will be near black or dark brown as babies, but in captivity, baby axolotls can range from shades of grey, brown, cream, gold, yellow, white, and all the possible shades in between.
Axolotls that are born with the genetic trait Leucism (a condition which creates a partial loss of pigmentation) can produce white and golden albinos types, and it is this Luecistic trait that creates the most popular baby axolotl appearance of pale pink bodies, bright pink feathery gills and often black or blue and white eye coloring.
Costs of Owning a Baby Axolotl
The cost of a baby axolotl itself will be little more than $20 – their tank and accessories, on the other hand, represent the true costs of owning one and this can range anywhere between $85 and $285.
A basic starter kit for caring for your baby axolotl (excluding the 15-20 gallon tank) will include: gravel, a filter pump and a pH kit for testing water quality, and this will come to around $85-90. Though a basic starter kit is fine for beginners, it is well worth investing in a higher quality filter pump (normally priced at around $165 alone), as it will mean cleaning their tank less often.
How Long Does It Take for a Baby Axolotl to Grow?
At their juvenile stage, young axolotls can reach sexual maturity as early as six months, at which point they’ll have grown to about 8 inches long from head to tail. However, most axolotls will typically take almost a year to reach this size.
Can Baby Axolotls Live Together?
Before they are sexually mature, baby male and female axolotls can be housed together and in their larval stage, many baby axolotls can occupy the same living space (often fifty at a time in the same bowl/container).
The only issue with housing axolotls together is that larger axolotls will try and eat the smaller ones, so because larvae grow at different rates from each other, it’s important to be wary of size changes in the group so that you can divide them up – i.e. small axolotls together, medium together etc.
Do Baby Axolotls Need a Filter?
Absolutely. In order for them to develop healthily and ensure that you are not left with a murky tank to clean every day – filters are essential for your baby axolotl.
Filters not only increase oxygen flow into their water, but they also balance out the ammonia output (waste) of your baby axolotl and leave behind good bacteria. If ammonia levels reach too high a level, your axolotl will get sick and likely die.
Why Do Baby Axolotls Float?
Axolotls have this cute trait of floating at the top of their tanks and often hanging motionless almost in mid-air – sometimes they do this for fun and other times, they have simply swallowed air and bubbles have become trapped, making them buoyant.
Fun fact: axolotls have lungs as well as gills!
This sight might be alarming for any other pet fish or amphibian, but it is perfectly normal behavior in axolotls, especially as they grow bigger and become a little lazier. While this is most likely the reason for your baby or juvenile axolotl floating, it can sometimes be a sign of stress or illness, which could be related to the water quality or temperature changes, so ensure these are set right first (more on correct water temperature/settings later on).
What Can I Feed My Baby Axolotl?
When baby axolotls are newly hatched, they won’t need food right away, as they can get sustenance by absorbing the egg yolk present in their stomachs.
Around 48 to 72 hours after hatching, they are then ready to feed, and this can consist of micro worms, baby brine shrimp, and tiny crustaceans such as Daphnia or ‘water fleas’. These come in dried pellet form in pet stores. Your axolotl can also eat earthworms and bloodworms later in life, but these should not be introduced until their adult stage.
How Often to Feed Baby Axolotl
It is recommended that baby axolotls are fed daily and given as much as they can manage (often 20 to 30 pellets a day). Baby axolotls will not continue feeding themselves to death and will leave food if they are uninterested, but this doesn’t stop some axolotls from getting greedy!
According to the axolotl community, a good rule of thumb for ensuring you don’t over-feed them is that a healthy axolotl should have a stomach as large as its head.
What Temperature Do Baby Axolotls Need?
For baby axolotls, it’s recommended that you keep to a water temperature range of around 18 to 20 degrees Celsius (or 64-68 F). It’s important to keep this stable at their larval stage since sudden variations in temperature can cause them stress and possibly even risk infection.
As they grow, juvenile and older axolotls can tolerate slightly warmer temperatures, and this increase will help them grow faster and increase their metabolism.
How Long Can Baby Axolotls Go Without Food?
Though older axolotls can go without food for several days as their metabolism slows down, all baby axolotls will need to be fed daily, so we would not recommend skipping their feeding for longer than a day.
Once they reach their adult size at around 6 to 8 months, axolotls can cope with only being fed once or twice a week since they can often take days to digest their food.
When Can Baby Axolotls Eat Bloodworms?
Once baby axolotls around 10 to 15 days old (and roughly 18 to 22 mm long at this point), this is a good time to begin gradually introducing larger foods to slowly replace their pellet foods.
Freeze-dried bloodworms and blackworms are a great source of nutrition – just ensure that you get these worms from fish-free waters as they can carry parasites that will be extremely harmful to your axolotl.
Baby Axolotl Facts
They can change color – Axolotls will sometimes change color, turning its brightly colored gills to a ghostly pale shade, but this is usually nothing to worry about. This color change in axolotls can be a result of inactivity, their blood flow and sometimes changes in the lighting (natural and unnatural) will cause their gills to change color between pale and bright.
If your baby axolotl’s colors were to change drastically – like dark brown to something resembling albino or leucistic, for example – then this could be a sign of something serious, in which case it is best to get them checked out.
They have lungs too! – As we mentioned earlier on, baby axolotls will go on to develop a set of lungs as well as their gills to breathe and will use their lungs when oxygen levels in the water become too low (or sometimes when they just feel like it!). Evolutionary speaking, axolotls grew lungs because they would metamorphose into land salamanders, but since this is no longer the case, they use their lungs as a backup or bonus option when necessary.
It’s important to state that you should NEVER under any circumstance take your baby or adult axolotl out of the water for longer than a few seconds, as it will stress them out.
In addition to this, their legs are not strong enough to support them, their skin will dry out and damage easily. They are no longer designed to live on land, so keep them safe and keep them in water – always.
They have mythological origins – Axolotls have their background in Aztec mythology. Their name was taken from the Aztec god ‘Xolotl’, a dog-headed deity that would lead souls of the dead to the underworld. Some believe that Xolotl was fearful of being killed and so transformed himself into an Axolotl to hide.
Baby Axolotl Size
Axolotls can grow as long as 30 cm, but newly hatched babies will start out as teensy as 10 mm (or around half an inch in size). By the 72 hour mark after hatching, the baby or larvae axolotl will have grown to roughly 20 mm (just under one inch), gradually growing to about 1.5 inches by the first week.
Baby Axolotl Tank Size
Since your axolotl will eventually grow to as long as 30cm, it is a good idea to invest in a 15 – 20 gallon tank (or at least 70 cm in length by 30 cm width).
This is the appropriate size for housing a single juvenile axolotl (aged around 4 to 6 months) and this will typically be the age many owners get axolotls from breeders or pet stores. But as very young babies and recent hatchlings, many owners will house their larvae/baby axolotls together in a small container of about 10cm by 25 cm or a smaller tank of 2 feet before putting up dividers in a larger 20 gallon tank if they wish to keep more than one at a time.
If you consider adding more axolotls to your collection, a good rule is to add an extra 20 cm to the tank size for each additional axolotl, since over-crowding will not only risk disease from the increased ammonia output but increase their risk of injury since some axolotls can become aggressive and will need their own space.
Baby Axolotl Water Change
When changing the water in your baby axolotl’s containers (whether this is in multiple containers/tubs or in one large tank), it’s recommended that you change out roughly 20 percent of the water and replace weekly, either with fresh spring water or else with cold tap water that has first been allowed to sit at room temperature.
If you use tap water, it is important to check the pH scale of it with a pH test kit and use a de-chlorinator as needed to achieve the right pH for your axolotls – a pH range of between 6.5 and 8.0 is acceptable, though 7.4 to 7.6 is considered the most ideal.
Many owners in the pet axolotl community would recommend using a clean turkey baster or similar tool to extract the dirty 20 percent of water easily and safely from your baby axolotls containers and some have recommended using the tube end of a gravel siphon to pick out any poop and other waste/mess during a water change. If it helps, you can keep color coded buckets to designate as your output water and clean water buckets.