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Mexican Walking Fish, an Adorable Endangered Critter

Author C. Sanders. Published on May 21, 2011 - 3:27 am (5822 views — 602 words)

A walking fish, also called an ambulatory fish is the general term referring to fish that are actually capable of walking on land for lengthy periods of time. This term can also be used to describe fish that "walk" along the floor of the sea.

The most adorable little fellow, sadly endangered resembles Stitch from the Disney motion picture Lilo and Stitch. The Axolotl salamander (Ambystoma mexicanum), is most commonly referred to as simply the "Mexican walking fish", or "Mexican water monster".

This cute little creature is threatened with extinction due to habitat destruction and water pollution. One very cool thing about the Mexican walking fish is its superhero-like ability to regenerate most body parts.

How endangered is it?

To show just how endangered these little critters are, according to the Yahoo News/Associated Press:

"The number of axolotls (pronounced ACK-suh-LAH-tuhl) in the wild is not known. But the population has dropped from roughly 1,500 per square mile in 1998 to a mere 25 per square mile this year, according to a survey by Zambrano's scientists using casting nets."

What exactly is it?

The Axolotl is not actually a fish. It is an amphibian (a salamander). Because it is actually a salamander, it belongs to a class of Amphibia, which also includes toads, frogs, etc.

Dont confuse this little guy with a lizard. Though salamanders and lizards look similar, they are far different. Salamanders, for example have a three-chambered heart, whereas reptiles have four (like humans).

Scientific growth to maturity.

The Axolotl is a fascinating creature for a number of reasons, including its grotesque appearance, its ability to regenerate, and primarily the fact that it exhibits the phenomenon known as neoteny. Ordinarily, amphibians undergo metamorphosis from egg to larva (the tadpole of a frog is a larva), and finally to adult form. The Axolotl, along with a number of other amphibians, remains in its larval form throughout its life. This means that it retains its gills and fins, and it doesn't develop the protruding eyes, eyelids and characteristics of other adult salamanders. It grows much larger than a normal larval salamander, and it reaches sexual maturity in this larval stage. Another term to describe this state is "perennibranchiate". The animal is completely aquatic, and although it does possess rudimentary lungs, it breathes primarily through its gills and to a lesser extent, its skin.

Diet Requirements.

Bloodworm, earth worms, river shrimp, fish portions, gut loaded insects,some will eat turtle sticks and sinking pellets. Liver damage if overfed on food such as prawn, beefheart or liver.

Compatibility

Cannot be mixed with other species. When young can be cannibalistic. Will eat fish and frogs, and delicate gills are nipped by fish. Food recognition issues solved by moving prey item.

Common Problems.

Fungus, poor water quality and lacking o2, or with introductions lacking quarantine, excessively high or low temps. Obesity from fatty diet, territorial aggression with limb loss, egg retention.

Breeding.

Lay many eggs on plants. If left in the tank parents will eat them. If you want to raise some then they require plenty of food such as daphina and plenty of space, floating clusters of elodia.

How to Save the Axolotl.

So far, scientists disagree on how to save the creature. But a pilot sanctuary is expected to open in the next three to six months in the waters around Island of the Dolls, so-called because the owner hangs dolls he finds in the canals to ward off evil spirits.

Zambrano proposes up to 15 axolotl sanctuaries in Xochimilco's canals, where scientists would insert some kind of barrier and clear the area of nonnative species.