Mexican Walking Fish
By Amruta Deshpande [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Mexican walking fish are one of the most strange looking creatures in the world. But these little water monsters are quite popular as pets. Read on to know more about these alien like creatures.
Axolotls, scientifically known as Ambystoma mexicanum is native to Mexico and is often referred to as Mexican walking fish. However this little aquatic creature is not a fish in the true sense. It is actually an amphibian in a paused state of metamorphism. It belongs to the Tiger salamander complex and is the larval stage of the salamander. The Mexican walking fish looks like a Pokemon from the cartoon series and has some strange but interesting features. Let us learn about the Mexican walking fish in detail.
Mexican Walking Fish - Description
An adult Mexican walking fish ranges in length from 15- 45 centimeters, however, it has an average size close to 23 centimeters. Being a salamander larva, axolotl possesses features like external gills and a caudal fin that extends from behind the head to the vent. They have wide heads and lid less eyes, and underdeveloped limbs that possess thin, long digits. The most bizarre feature of the axolotl is the retention of its branch like gills, which project outwards from the neck, on each side of the head. Each side is split into three branches, which are covered with feathery pink filaments. They have a dark colored body, and short legs with four digits in front and five on the hind feet.
Mexican Walking Fish - Habitat
Axolotl is mainly found in the Mexican lakes of Chalco and Xochimilco, in Mexico city. Unfortunately the Chalco lake was drained to avoid flooding and exists no longer. The Xochimilco has diminished too and exists just as canals. This is why the axolotl have decreased in number and have found a place in the list of endangered species. They prefer a high altitude water body, that is surrounded by a terrestrial environment, like most neotenic species. It is found in regions having deep brackish water and plenty of vegetation.
Mexican Walking Fish - Diet
Axolotl is carnivorous and feeds on small creatures like insects, worms and even small fish. It smells the food first and then snaps at it and sucks it inside the stomach. If you have it as a pet, you can feed it with live bloodworms, wax worms, earthworms, trout and salmon pellets. The axolotl should not be kept with other fish in the tank, as there is risk of the axolotl eating the smaller fish.
Mexican Walking Fish - Breeding
Axolotl belongs to the family of 'mole salamanders'. It exhibits a trait or property known as 'neotony', which means that it attains sexual maturity without going through the process of metamorphosis. This metamorphic failure is caused by the lack of thyroid stimulating hormone, which is needed for the metamorphosis process. Mexican walking fish becomes sexually mature at the age of about 12 months. The males can be identified by their longer tails and swollen cloacae lined with papillae. Females have a wider body and lay between 300 to 1000 eggs. Larvae hatch within two to three weeks, and can be fed with daphnia, or worms.
Mexican Walking Fish - Endangered Species
This little creature with half salamander and half fish like body is on the verge of extinction. Water pollution and habitat destruction are the two main reasons responsible for reduction in the number of Mexican walking fish. Another reason is that they are defenseless and are easy preys for non native species. Scientists estimate that the number of axolotls, which used to be around 1,500 per square mile in certain areas, has reduced to just 25. This is the number of wild axolotls, however, there are large numbers of axolotls in captivity around the world.
One interesting thing about axolotl is their healing ability. This unique ability to regenerate the lost body parts is one of the coolest Mexican walking fish facts. They can even restore some parts of their brain. With all this interesting Mexican walking fish info that I have given in this article, I'm sure you will want to have these miniature water monsters in your tank.