What sets axolotls apart from the huge group of other exotic salamanders? It’s their rich and beautiful range of colorful variants. And the Chimera axolotl is one such variant, which is gorgeous enough to be cared for in a home aquarium.
Chimera axolotls are easier to spot with their unique black and albino color combination. These axolotl color morphs are not born due to genetic reasons; instead, they are created accidentally when two eggs get fused. Being quite rare, they are highly pricey and tough to find in the market.
The chimera axolotl is a fascinating color morph that is easy to distinguish due to its unique appearance. However, unlike other axolotl variants, chimeras are pretty tough to find as they are very rare.
Nevertheless, like any other form, chimera axolotls are native to the lakes of Mexico. They are primarily found in Lake Xochimilco of Mexico City, where the high-altitude water seems suitable for their survival.
Well, chimera axolotls tend to possess some unique traits. They are basically amphibians that look more like walking fish. Their broad head, lean eel-like body, smiling face, and tiny limbs give them a unique appearance. And it is due to the presence of limbs that enable them to walk seamlessly on the surface area underwater.
Besides, similar to other color morphs, chimera axolotls hold a unique regenerative power. They can regrow their limbs and even many parts of their brain, heart, and muscles. Such an extraordinary power of regeneration makes them an interesting subject in research laboratories.
However, unlike other regular amphibians, chimera axolotls retain most of their larval characteristics in their adulthood. They retain their external gills that let them breathe in the water perfectly for their whole life. So, while other amphibians like frogs move to the land-based lifestyle after growing into an adult, chimeras live in the water for the rest of their lives.
However, concerns related to their existence are increasing fast as they are already on their way to extinction. Due to climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, and rising pollution, everything contributes to the danger of their existence.
Chimera axolotls are usually easy to spot with their unique color trait. However, due to their extreme rarity, there are debates whether they can be classified as an actual morph or not.
However, do you know what is so special about Chimeras? They show one color morph from one side and another morph from the other side of their body. Thus, these species have a split through the middle of their body, resulting in right and left halves.
Nevertheless, amongst the chimera axolotls that have hatched until now, only a few are half wild-type and half-albino.
These axolotls are formed when two developing eggs fuse to form one. And in most cases, two eggs do not fuse properly, which results in hatching of the chimeras. So, these variants are just a developmental accident and not bred intentionally. They are not developed due to genetics, and exactly this is the source of all doubts about their classification as a true morph.
Chimera axolotls usually grow up to a length of 10-15 inches. A healthy specimen can range up to size from 6-18 inches. But the majority of them grow up to a length of 7-9 inches.
Usually, female chimera axolotls grow a bit heavier than males. However, the males are easy to spot owing to their longer length. A healthy growing axolotl will gain most of its body mass during the initial 2 years after birth.
Nevertheless, the growth of your axolotl is also highly dependent on the type of care you are offering and the food quality they are receiving.
Behavior & Temperament
Chimera axolotls usually possess a very docile attitude. Besides, they mostly stay active during the night.
You can find out your chimera axolotl spending most of their time at the bottom area of the tank. They tend to move during feeding time and also keep stalking their prey. However, as a whole, they are not very active and slow-moving. They usually prefer to lead a much sedentary lifestyle.
Besides, chimeras also possess a digging behavior. So, you can often find them digging and rearranging the décor in your tank.
Well, one of the most important things to know about them is that the relaxed and comfortable chimeras will swim and hover around in the water. But if you find that your axolotl is often looking for a shelter or hiding place, it means they are pretty stressed.
Usually, chimera axolotls prefer to enjoy their own company. Therefore, they possess a much cannibalistic behavior towards their type. Aggression is also quite prominent in juvenile chimeras.
The younger ones tend to nip at each other, causing injury. On the contrary, the adult ones are not that aggressive. However, it is always recommended to keep them separate in a species-only tank.
Chimera axolotls possess predatory behavior to find their food and prey in the wild. Also, they have the trait of camouflaging themselves as per the water background to hide from other predators.
During the breeding season, the male and female axolotls seek each other for mating. Apart from that, they usually prefer avoiding any interaction.
Similar to other color morphs, Chimera Axolotls are quite hardy. However, they have fewer chances to live for too long in the wild, as there are plenty of predatory threats around them. But they can live quite longer in captivity.
Provided with good food and top-notch care, they can live up to 10-18 years in home aquariums. All they need is a good and peaceful aquatic environment that meets all their needs.
Chimera Axolotl Care
Before taking your steps forward to caring for your pet chimeras, you will need to know all care-related essentials for them.
So, here are a few simple care tips for you.
Chimera axolotls are very sensitive to poor water conditions. So, keeping them in poor quality water can result in many health issues.
It will be better to care for them if you have prior knowledge of fish-keeping. If you are a beginner, you will need to acquire precise knowledge about axolotl caring.
Well, chimera axolotls are pretty tough to handle. If you touch them bare-handed, it can cause harm to their sensitive and delicate skin. Hence, it is better to use a fish net to catch them.
The tank preparation for your chimera axolotl needs to be top-notch. You will need to keep them in a tank, which has all the necessary equipment assorted in it.
Here is how you can set up an aquarium for your chimera axolotl.
It is recommended to go for a roomy tank to care for your axolotl properly. Chimeras are usually messy animals, producing a lot of waste. Thus, it is better to go for a larger tank with enough space and water capacity.
For the best care, you can go for a 20-gallon tank. It is recommended to keep only one species in a 20-gallon tank and add a similar amount of capacity if you want to incorporate one more specimen.
The tank water needs to be well-maintained and optimally balanced for the best care of your chimera axolotl. These species are well accustomed to thriving in cold water conditions as per their natural habitat. Thus, the tank does not need any heater. However, you must maintain the water temperature within the range of 15-23° Celsius.
Besides, chimera axolotls usually prefer a pH level around 6.5-8. So, make sure you maintain the optimum pH level in their tank water. Also, ensure that the amount of Chlorine or chloramine present in the water is 0 ppm.
Their tank water must be free of ammonia and nitrites. Also, the nitrate level in their tank water must not cross the 0-10 ppm range. Maintain the general hardness of the water around 7-14 GH.
Make sure there are no sharp elements in the tank of your chimera axolotl. A nice tank with a clean decoration looks good enough and is also safe for your pet. Try to add plenty of plants, hiding caves, pots, etc., to keep your little chimera stress-free.
The substrate needs to be very fine, or it must be large enough. Adding gravel with small stones or pebbles can be risky as chimera axolotls tend to gulp away anything that fits their mouth.
So, adding fine sand or larger rocks as substrate can be reliable enough for the tank of your Chimera axolotl.
Filtration is highly crucial for the tank of your axolotls. Therefore, a good water condition is necessary for their well-being.
A strong filtration unit can keep the water effectively clean. However, make sure the filter does not produce too much water currents, as it can stress your pet. We suggest you go for a bio-sponge filter or an external canister filter for a tank of chimeras.
Food & Diet
Chimera axolotls feed on snails, small fish, crustaceans, worms, and small amphibians in the wild. So, if you want to give them the best kind of nutrition in captivity, you need to replicate their habitat-like food habit.
They are carnivorous creatures. So, you can easily offer them a variety of foods like beef liver, brine shrimp, lean beef heart, frozen fish food, earthworms, tubifex, fish pellets, bloodworms, etc., to maintain their good health and boost their growth.
Chimera axolotls can be regarded as one of the best additions to your species-only amphibian tank. One of the best parts about caring for them is that their unique-care needs are similar to caring for other fish. So, if you have prior experience in fish-keeping, you can easily pet these chimera axolotls too.
Besides, the exotic color variation of chimeras makes them quite interesting. Also, you can easily keep them in your tank to enjoy their friendly behavior. However, considering their rarity, they can be pricey enough.
Featured Image Credit: IndyStar