Featured Image by Oliver Perry
What makes axolotls the best among other salamanders? Their exotic range of color morphs and unique characteristics.
The firefly axolotl is one such type of color morph that was first formed in a lab and possesses a weird yet beautiful look.
Firefly axolotl are a color morph created in the lab as a part of an experiment. They look unique with the combined traits of albino and wild axolotls. Their tails also glow brightly in the dark with fluorescent green color. Moreover, firefly axolotls can be a good tank addition if cared for well.
Firefly axolotls can be described as the creation of humans. It is an artificially developed color morph by Lloyd Strohl. But what has given birth to this unique color morph? Embryonic graphing.
This method is widely used for research purposes to study the regeneration of limbs. However, there is also an ongoing controversy about the usage of this method in creating pets.
Since the firefly axolotl is made in a laboratory, it is very rarely available. However, if you have a penchant for collecting rare species, these axolotls can be the ideal choice for you.
They are usually a darkly colored wild-type axolotl with a green fluorescent protein albino portion in the tail. But do you know why they are called fireflies? Well, that’s because the tail portion of their body glows brightly in the dark, quite similar to a firefly. Hence, this name describes them better.
Apart from their unique color, they also have common traits and shape like any other types. Their all-time smiling face, round and broad head, eel-like body, little legs, and fin-like external gills are constant, just like any other axolotl.
Setting up the tank for a firefly axolotl is not much difficult. You can easily keep them just like the way you take care of other axolotls. However, the tank setup needs to be more aesthetic that can rightly complement their charm. So, here is a simple tank setup guide for your pretty little firefly axolotls.
Size and Capacity
It is not necessary to go for a gigantic tank while caring for a firefly axolotl. You can easily care for one or two species in a 20-30-gallon tank.
Well, it is better to have a maximum water portion in the tank. You need not add too much open space in the tank as firefly axolotls are solely aquatic. But make sure you are not missing the lid. These species are excellent jumpers, so to prevent them from jumping out of the aquarium and hurting themselves, always keep the lid of their tank tightly closed.
Firefly axolotls are hardy enough to thrive in an extensive range of water parameters. However, the water temperature must not be too high since they survive better in cold water conditions.
It would be better if you maintained the water temperature within a range of 60-65° Fahrenheit. Besides, the water pH must be maintained within a level of 6.5-8.
You can freely decorate the aquarium with any tank assortment. But make sure there are no sharp objects or surfaces in the tank. Even though injuries are healed seamlessly in firefly axolotls, that does not mean it is painless to them.
Also, add a lot of hiding space in the tank. These axolotl species are too shy, so they love to go behind the caves or a flower pot whenever they feel so.
Besides, plants can be an excellent addition to the tank of axolotls. Especially firefly axolotls look more alluring when they roam around greeneries. But make sure you are adding hardy plants to the tank that they cannot damage.
Whether your tank needs filtration or not is entirely dependent on your preferences about water changes. Firefly axolotls need good quality water to stay healthy. But, at the same time, they are messy enough.
You can add a strong filter to the tank of firefly axolotls to ensure that the water is free of ammonia or nitrogen wastes. However, the filter must not create a lot of current in the water. Excessive water currents can stress your axolotl.
Now, if you want to skip the filtration process in your tank, you need to perform 20% of water changes every day.
Firefly axolotls must not be kept under too much lighting as it can stress them a lot. So, it is better to add a low to moderate level of lighting in the tank.
Besides, there is also a significant benefit of keeping them in low lighting conditions. They will glow superbly in the dark due to their firefly-like attribute.
Food & Diet
Like any other species of axolotls, the dietary requirement for the firefly variant is relatively straightforward. They are carnivores and love to have insects, worms, small fish, and live or frozen food in their diet.
You can even offer them bloodworms, frozen brine, Mysis shrimp, lean beef heart, red wigglers, etc., to keep them healthy.
Firefly Axolotl Care
So, have you made up your mind to take care of firefly axolotls at your home? Then, you have to meet all the care essentials to keep them healthy.
From good quality water maintenance to regular water changes, everything is necessary for the well-being of your axolotl. Besides, you must also consult a vet if you find any signs of abnormal growth, injury, lack of appetite, or lethargy in them.
It is usually recommended not to keep firefly axolotls with any other fish or axolotl species. These axolotls show a cannibalistic behavior to their type, which raises the chances of aggression in the tank.
On the other hand, if you keep them with other fish, either your axolotl will become the fish’ snack, or they will nip the external gills of your firefly.
So, why would you add so much stress to the tank? It is advised to keep them in a species-only tank where they can stay peacefully and happily.
Care At Home
Since firefly axolotls are made in a laboratory, they are habituated to captive living. So, you can bring them to your home tank and enjoy their company.
Just like any other axolotl species, you can easily take care of firefly axolotls at your home. There are no special requirements needed for their care.
However, you need to have a prior level of experience in fishkeeping to handle these species regardless of their color morph. It is crucial to meet all their unique needs so that they can have a happy and healthy time in your tank.
An In-Depth Study
Firefly axolotls are usually a little more controversial as a color morph. Unlike the chimera morph, where two eggs get fused for early development, fireflies are made out of human research. Scientists have taken the tail end off a particular type of axolotl and attached it to another variant.
Believe it or not, the supreme regenerative powers of axolotls make them much more flexible for study purposes. Thanks to the creative and curious mind of Llyod Strohl, who introduced this unique color morph in the aquarium world.
It has been observed in axolotl variants like wild or lucy that you can easily cut the tip of their tail and attach it to the other one. The case would be pretty similar to the creation of firefly axolotls. However, due to this manual process of creating this axolotl species, they are quite rare to be available in the marketing trade.
How Does Regeneration Work?
Unlike any other amphibians, firefly axolotls do not undergo metamorphosis. Instead, they stay aquatic for the rest of their life while possessing some of their larval traits with pride.
However, what makes them unique and weird from others is their way of regrowing lost or damaged body parts, especially their limbs. It has drawn the attention of scientists worldwide to study the power of limb regrowth in humans by taking inspiration from firefly axolotls.
In case an axolotl loses one of its limbs, its appendage will grow back just to the right size and proper orientation.
Well, apart from legs, firefly axolotls can also regrow their ovaries, lung tissues, and some parts of their brain and spinal cord. Thus, they can make an outstanding comeback from injuries.
Firefly axolotls can quickly seal their amputation site with a special kind of skin called wound epithelium. Then, they grow a bit of tissue, known as the blastema, around the wound. And from it, their new body part evolves.
Firefly axolotl are cute little pets that we all would want in our house. However, as they are rarely found, they might be costlier than other color morphs.
If you want to buy them, make sure you know all their care-related requirements beforehand. It is better to check out the stores of axolotl hobbyists, popular for selling rare variants. They can also help you with a care guide to pet your firefly axolotl well.