The Ultimate Guide to Firefly Axolotl


Of all types of axolotls, the firefly axolotl is one of the most interesting and unique. Aside from that, they’re pretty rare to find and have beautiful colors.

Generally, you should know that their color and uniqueness can instigate interest in pet lovers. Of course, who wouldn’t want to keep creatures as beautiful as firefly axolotls in their homes?

However, it’s not always as simple as that. Anyone without prior experience or knowledge may not be able to keep them successfully. 

What happens when they fall sick?

There’s a lot involved when keeping rare pets like firefly axolotl, and this article is here to help you, so you don’t make any mistakes. 

Read on to learn all you need to know about keeping them.

Origin of Firefly Axolotls


Contrary to what you may think, firefly axolotls are not “natural.” They’re a color morphology formed in a science lab due to an experiment. Their color is different from the plain and lone pink, white or black color.

Rather, they are a combination of wild and albino axolotls. The color of their main body is different from their tail; both morphs of the two types.

Another interesting thing about them is that their tails often glow in the dark. When it glows, it’s usually in a fluorescent green color that looks pretty in your aquarium when it’s dark.

Additionally, firefly axolotls don’t grow from larvae to adults; that is, they are not born. 

They are man’s creation through a process known as embryonic graphing, which is possible through their regeneration abilities.

This means that they joined different parts of the wild and albino axolotls together. However, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding this method of creating pets generally, so you may not find too many firefly axolotls out there.

In fact, it can take a long period before you finally find one to keep in your tank. If you want to keep rare pets, like Mosaic axolotl, you can be sure that firefly axolotls fit the description.

Apart from their “standout” color, they also have similar features to other axolotls like smiling faces, small limbs, and gills.

Controversies Surrounding Firefly Axolotl

The major controversy surrounding firefly axolotls is how they came to be. Remember, we mentioned they’re not naturally birthed but through scientific experiments.

Lloyd Strohl experimented with creating firefly axolotls. What happens is that scientists cut off the tail of one of the species and attach it to the body of the other species.

The bodies then join the tails due to their regeneration abilities, becoming firefly axolotls. They knew this was possible after testing it on wild axolotls.

That is, firefly axolotls result from manual work done by scientists in labs. This is the major reason they’re rare, and you would hardly find them in the wild but mostly in captivity.

If you’re sure you want to keep one, then be on the alert for one so you can purchase it, as soon as you find it.

Firefly Axolotls Special Abilities

Firefly axolotls are special in their own way, and they have some abilities you probably have no idea about. Of course, people interested in axolotls generally know of their regeneration abilities, but there’s more to the firefly than that.

The following are some of their special abilities:

  • Firefly axolotls stay aquatic all their lives compared to other amphibians who can survive on land.
  • They can retain their larval qualities even as adults.
  • Firefly axolotls can regrow damaged body parts. Of course, this is what motivated scientists to create them in the first place. They can regrow their limbs, spinal cords, ovaries, lung tissues, brain parts, etc., back to their original sizes.
  • They can protect their exposed body parts when attacked. And they have skin known as wound epithelium and a tissue referred to as blastema, which they form around the exposed body area. When they cover it up, a new body part begins to form and grow over the place and restore it to its normal look.

Are Firefly Axolotls Good Pets?


With everything said so far, you can decide to an extent whether firefly axolotls are nice to keep. However, there’s much more to know about them than their origin and special abilities.

Can you keep them without having too much to worry about? Maybe, maybe not; it all depends on you.

What makes firefly axolotls good pets?

Firefly axolotls are good pets to keep for anyone looking to do so. This is because:

  • Don’t require lots of hands-on care

Firefly axolotls are simple animals to care for. You don’t need to monitor them all day for them to survive for long. 

Also, you don’t have to use your hands much because they’re aquatic animals, and you don’t need to hold or handle them because they don’t like that anyway! They’re a good pet choice when you want an exotic pet, mostly for admiration and little handling.

  • They’re not aggressive animals

Firefly axolotls are calm animals and won’t cause much trouble in the tank. Also, they won’t attack you or bite you when you hold them.

They’re only aggressive when it concerns food or what they perceive as food.

  • Don’t require a large tank

You don’t need a big tank to keep your firefly axolotl if you have just one. A 20- or 30-gallon tank is big enough to house one, and 40- to 50-gallon for two firefly axolotls.

  • They have a long lifespan

If you’re looking for a pet to keep for a long period, firefly axolotls are a must-keep. They can live up to 15 or 20 years with proper care. That gives you plenty of time to bond with them.

  • Easy care

Firefly axolotls are easy to care for. Cleaning their tank, feeding them, removing their mess, and other things are easy and don’t require stress or much manpower. It’s pretty easy!

Reasons firefly axolotls are not good pets

Sometimes, keeping firefly axolotls as pets isn’t as easy and sweet as it seems. Of course, this depends on your choice and what you think you can handle.

The following are reasons firefly axolotls can be difficult pets to keep:

  • They’re not so interactive

Firefly axolotls are bottom-dwellers and stay below the water most of the time. This makes it tasking for you to bond with them because they’re mostly hidden. 

Although they sometimes come to the surface or hand on plants and decorations in the tank, it’s usually rare. Therefore, they might not be the best choice for you if you want an exotic pet to interact, hold, play or bond with.

  • Problem with tank mates

Firefly axolotls are lone animals and don’t require tank mates, but some people like to keep them with other aquatic life. While that’s nice, it’s not totally a good idea.

This is because firefly axolotls can eat them, especially if they are small and can fit into their mouth. Also, the ideal tank conditions for firefly axolotls may conflict with the other animal, which is already an issue.

  • They’re endangered

Firefly axolotls, like the other types, are endangered. If you feel endangered animals shouldn’t be kept as pets, you would have a problem keeping them.

  • Juvenile firefly axolotls are aggressive

If you get juvenile firefly axolotls instead of adults, you should be ready for some aggressiveness in the tank. But the good news is that this doesn’t become a problem anymore as they grow older.

  • Not so cool for beginners

Firefly axolotls may not be the best pets for beginners. This is due to a lack of prior experience regarding how to keep them. 

You will most likely need previous fishkeeping experience to keep them successfully if you’re a beginner. This is due to likely health experiences that may arise in the aquarium.

Firefly Axolotls Health Problems 

Firefly axolotls can face some health problems in your home aquarium when you keep them. You need to know about them before bringing them home, so you know what you need to do when it happens.

Here are some common firefly axolotls health problems:

  • Intestinal blockage

Firefly axolotls swallow anything they perceive as food in their tank. They can suck in anything as long as it can fit into their mouth.

This is why we advise against tiny animals, gravel, or objects in the tank. Such things can cause intestinal blockage in your pet.

  • Loss of limbs

When you house firefly axolotls with other types or animals that can attack them and pull their limbs. It can also happen if you handle them too harshly when removing them from the tank.

Thankfully, they have regeneration abilities and can regrow them.

  • Floatation

Another common health problem with firefly axolotls is floatation. When you notice your pet floating on the water surface, it could be a floatation case.

This could be due to poor water quality, food digestion, water temperature, and intestinal blockages. When this happens, your firefly axolotls can’t stay at the bottom of the tank, no matter how hard it tries.

  • Fungus

A common occurrence in firefly axolotls tanks is fungi, especially mycosis, which attaches to the gills. Some other times, it can appear as dark patches on the skin.

The fungus occurs due to dirty water, waste, and decomposing carcasses in the tank, so pay attention to all of that.

How To Treat Sick Firefly Axolotls

When you notice that your firefly axolotl is sick, the next thing you need to do is to treat them. This requires a bit of work you need to prepare yourself for.

What do you do?

  1. Tubbing

The first thing you need to do is quarantine the sick firefly axolotl in a cycled hospital tank, a process also known as tubbing. You need to have a ready container for situations like this, which may not occur often, but is necessary.

Your tub should have an aerated lid and place it where it’ll remain sub 70 to prevent stress and infections.

  1. Identify situation

After tubbing, you need to identify the health condition of your firefly axolotl. Check for spots on the body or floating shedding skin and other signs.

It helps you diagnose what’s wrong with your pet.

  1. Treatment

There are varieties of treatment options for your firefly axolotl. Some of them include:

Salt bath: This works well for a fungus attack on your firefly axolotl. It fries microorganisms and other things that are inconvenient to your pet. Here’s what you should do:

  • Add 4 to 5 teaspoons of non-iodized salt to a gallon of water.
  • Adjust the water to the same temperature as your pet’s tank.
  • Place your firefly axolotl in the container.
  • Leave it there for fifteen minutes.
  • Do that at least once or twice daily (in extreme cases) with a five hours difference for three days or five days maximum. If the condition persists, take your pet to a vet.

Tea bath: Tea contains caffeine and tannins that tighten your firefly axolotls skin pores. It also helps remove fungus and bacteria from their skin and make them float away. 

All you need is tea with no flavors, preservatives, or colorants, just black tea. What you need to do:

  • Use only a tea with clear information that it’s just black tea; orange pekoe is also safe.
  • Brew and boil the tea.
  • Add the tea to a container and leave it to cool down to room temperature. 
  • Then pour it into a container with 2.5 gallons of water.
  • Leave the firefly axolotls in there for 20 minutes (adult) and 10 to 15 minutes for a juvenile.

Fridging: Fridging is usually the last resort, and this is because cold freezes almost all the causes of their illness. That is, it makes fungus and bacteria die slowly.

It also slows down your pet’s metabolism and removes what’s restricting its digestion, and stops bleeding to prevent infections. What to do:

  • Place your firefly on the lower shelves in your fridge towards the front.
  • Turn up the fridge temperature, and it should never be below 45°.
  • Take them out after a while.


Firefly axolotls are beautiful and will look good in your aquarium. However, they are rare, mainly due to their origin and endangerment.

Therefore, you need to be extra careful and gentle with them when you get one. The best way to care for these axolotls is to prevent anything from happening to them.

However, things get out of hand sometimes, so you need to treat them as soon as you notice any irregularities. You should take them to the vet after trying to treat them at home.

We wish you luck with your firefly axolotl.

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