Similar to more than 16 variants of axolotls, the piebald ones are one of the most creative-looking species.
Due to their unique coloration, they are another widely acknowledged Mexican salamander that is quite rare in availability.
Piebald axolotls are easy to spot due to the pigmentation on the sides of their body. Similar to any other color morphs, caring for them is effortless. With prior fish-keeping knowledge, you can easily care for them. But as these species are rare, they are available at a high price in the aquarium trade.
When it comes to offering an extensive range of color variants, axolotls will never disappoint you. You will get near about 18 color morphs in this salamander species, each having unique characteristics. And piebald axolotls are one of the exotic ones.
Their traits like small limbs, fish-like bodies, hairy external gills, and baby-like smiling faces make them seem lovable to most owners. Besides, their unique limb regeneration power makes them a must-have addition in any suitable home tank.
However, one of the most concerning issues is that they are almost on their way to extinction.
Why? The increasing pollution and introduction of chemicals to the water of Mexican lakes due to urbanization encourages the threat.
Moreover, the introduction of bigger invasive fish species like tilapia, carp, etc., to these lakes is another reason behind their quick extinction.
An axolotl is called piebald when its pigmentation goes along their mid-body and sides. On the contrary, in a leucistic axolotl, pigmentation goes down only along with their body’s head and top area.
But due to the similarity in their coloration, most of the time, some heavily spotted variations of leucistic axolotls are usually mistaken as a piebald one.
A piebald variant is generally darker and has thicker black spots than the spotty versions of leucistic axolotls.
Unlike most usual forms, they are usually genetically inheritable. Axolotls with a piebald inclusion in their genetics are pretty common in some places of New Zealand.
However, this axolotl variant is rarer than many others. Hence, it makes them costlier enough in the aquarium trade.
These appear with red gills, along with a combination of black eyes. You can even find some colored patches in various shades of grey, black, and green on their face and back.
Sometimes their markings might continue over their sides and legs, even though that’s rare. Mostly the patterns are found in the top half portion of their body.
The marks on the body darken as they age, which can lead to a black and white appearance.
Such appearances result from the movement of certain kinds of cells during the early development of the egg. These cells are called neural crest cells.
Apart from the difference in coloration, they are pretty similar to any other color morphs of axolotls. Their physical traits are also identical. An axolotl tends to grow up to an average length of 10-15 inches.
However, the length of axolotls is highly dependent on the type of care and food they are receiving. Even though their growth is healthy, if you notice overgrowth in a short span, you must take your pet to a vet.
Before you welcome a piebald axolotl to your home, it is better to take note of its behavior.
One of the most interesting facts about the behavior is that you will usually find them active during the night or in a low-lighting environment.
Besides, these axolotl species are clumsy enough, and you will find them hanging out near the bottom area of your tank. Also, their smiling face can be deceiving. They are voracious carnivores that will eat anything fitting their mouth.
Well, these piebald axolotls are also quite aggressive towards their own forms. Especially, making the younger ones stay together is very tough; they might show cannibalistic behavior towards each other. Thus, it is recommended to house them in a species-only tank in their childhood.
However, the adult specimens are considerate enough and will live peacefully until there is a space compromise.
Unlike other salamanders, one of the best parts about axolotls is that they are long-lived and hardy enough if cared for properly.
In the wild, axolotls are usually not much long-lived due to a variety of reasons. But primarily, they are not fast swimmers, which makes them easily fall into the trap of predators.
They usually live longer in captivity if you offer them a regular healthy diet and perform frequent water changes. Thus, with proper care, they can live up to 10-18 years.
Piebald Axolotl Care
The care for your piebald axolotl needs to be top-notch. You will need to handle all the essential aspects of caring to make sure they are having a happy time in your tank.
Nevertheless, caring is not tough if you maintain proper tank water parameters, offer them the right food and give them utmost love.
To maintain cleanliness in their tank, you must install a good quality filtration unit in the tank.
Also, you must change the water regularly to remove all wastes and facilitate proper mineral balance in tank water.
However, while doing frequent water changes, do not hold the axolotl with your bare hands to transfer it to a separate tank.
Why? Well, that’s because piebald axolotls possess a soft and slimy skin texture, which is highly prone to infections. So, it’s better to be careful beforehand!
To maintain the good health and well-being of your piebald axolotl, you must keep them in a comfortable tank almost similar to their natural habitat. So, here is how you should build a suitable tank atmosphere.
To give your axolotl the best care, you will need to have enough room in the aquarium. So, to care for one species, it is better to go for a 20-gallon tank.
Piebald axolotls produce a lot of waste. Thus, giving them enough room will help the water parameters stay stable, subject to regular water changes.
While keeping a piebald axolotl, you need to keep one crucial thing in your mind. This species has very delicate skin; hence, they are sensitive to any sharp surface. Even though these axolotls have brilliant regenerative power, consistent injuries can cause infection.
Piebald axolotls also have a bad habit of gulping anything that fits into their mouth. As a result, small pebbles or stones used as gravel might become their snack, ultimately harming their digestive tract. Thus, it is better to add fine sand or larger rocks as the tank substrate.
Filtration is essential for the tanks of your piebald axolotl. They will do well with a robust filtration system in their tank that effectively filters bio-waste, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite.
However, the filter must not produce too strong a current as it can stress your axolotl. Therefore, it is better to go for a sponge filter that will effectively clean the water by controlling the production of powerful water currents.
The lighting in your axolotl tank needs to be top-notch. Piebald axolotls will not usually require any specific lighting condition, but too much brightness can become a primary reason behind their stress. Therefore, it is suggested to use a LED light that is plant-healthy.
Your tank’s water condition needs to be top-notch to ensure that your piebald axolotl is living a healthy life there. The water pH needs to be maintained within the mark of 6.5-8. It would be best if you could keep the pH at 7-7.5.
Also, the water temperature must lie within the range of 60-65° Fahrenheit. They are well-maintained when ammonia and nitrite are entirely absent in the tank. Apart from that, a regular 20% water change is necessary for their well-being.
Food & Diet
A good diet is a key to maintaining the optimal growth of your piebald axolotl. Therefore, you must give your piebald axolotls a rich carnivorous food platter that would keep them healthier.
In the wild, they mostly eat foods like small fish, worms, insects, etc. So, keeping that in mind, you can offer them a similar kind of diet.
So, here are some foods that would be great options for your piebald buddies.
- Brine shrimp
- Small fish
To feed an adult axolotl, you can give them food once every 2-3 days. However, a healthy adult can strive to do well for up to 2 weeks without eating.
While caring for your piebald axolotl, you must be aware of some of their common health issues. Here are some health-related problems they might face.
- Stress: Due to strong water flow, excessive temperature, unhealthy water, or aggressive tank mates, they might face immense pressure.
- Injury: Due to the presence of any sharp surface or notorious tank mates, your piebald axolotls might face injury, leading to severe infections.
- Floating: Excessive floating around the tank might suggest that they have air bubbles in their gut.
- Fungal or bacterial infection: Any exposure to bacteria or fungus can lead to severe infection in your axolotls.
However, if you notice any unfamiliar behavior in your axolotl, it is better to rush to your vet for a quick check-up.
What makes piebald axolotls good enough as a pet?
You can easily consider this axolotl species good as a pet due to a variety of reasons. So, here are a few solid reasons that make them an excellent choice for your tank.
- Firstly, their unique appearance renders beautiful ornamentation to any tank.
- Piebalds are friendly enough. They can recognize you and try to communicate with you after some frequent interactions.
- They are usually good to thrive in a species only tank. It thus also saves your cost of petting more than one specimen.
- They are quite easy to feed.
- Caring for piebald axolotls is easy when you have some prior knowledge of fish-keeping.
Piebald axolotls are rare enough, but if you find them, it can be a win-win deal to embellish your tank’s aesthetics. Like any other color morphs, these are very easy to care for and will accompany you for a long time if you care for them properly.