GFP Axolotl: Species Profile, Care Guide & Pictures

GFP axolotl in a tank
Image credit: jarrsica / Instagram

The GFP axolotl is a remarkable type of axolotl known for its neon green effect seen under blue or UV lights. It has become a symbol of scientific curiosity and innovation.

This guide will delve into the world of GFP axolotls, exploring everything from their exotic color morphs to the presence of GFP genes that make them glow in the dark. 

Whether you’re planning to get your own GFP axolotl or simply intrigued by how GFP axolotls look, this comprehensive article is perfect for you. 

Here, you’ll learn about the proper care, feeding, and unique characteristics of this amphibian. Let’s begin!

What Is a GFP Axolotl?

GFP axolotl up close
Image credit: jarrsica / Instagram

The GFP axolotl, or the green fluorescent protein axolotl, is a unique variant of the axolotl species, a type of aquatic salamander native to Mexico. In contrast to other kinds of axolotls, GFP axolotls are genetically modified to express a glowing green fluorescence under ultraviolet light.

This unique trait makes most cells in the body of GFP axolotls glow a vibrant green color. This feature is not only visually striking but also of significant scientific interest. 

This is especially true in the field of biology, specifically in the study of exotic color morphs of axolotls. As a result, GFP axolotls are a big deal to scientists as much as they are to pet enthusiasts.

How Are GFP Axolotls Made?

Unlike other axolotl morphs that are naturally born with their distinct colors or features, GFP axolotls were introduced using genetic modification.

The green fluorescent protein (GFP), which gives this unique amphibian its distinct glow, originally comes from a species of jellyfish, Aequorea victoria.

Understanding the potential of GFP genetics, scientists isolated the gene responsible for this type of protein. Afterward, they experimented by introducing it into the axolotl’s DNA through genetic engineering.

During the embryonic stage of an axolotl, the GFP gene is injected into its cells. As the axolotl grows, the gene replicates with the rest of its genetic material, resulting in an axolotl that carries the GFP trait in most cells.

When exposed to ultraviolet light, the protein encoded by the GFP gene reacts and lights up, which causes the axolotl to glow green.

Fun Fact: Green fluorescent protein, which makes the GFP axolotl glow, is the same material found in firefly axolotls, another morph of axolotls that lights up like “fireflies.”

What Makes a GFP Axolotl Unique?

GFP axolotl with glowing appearance
Image credit: jarrsica / Instagram

The distinctiveness of GFP axolotls lies not only in their glowing appearance but also in their genetic makeup, among other areas.

For starters, the ability of GFP axolotls to glow green under ultraviolet light is a trait not found in wild axolotls or other types of axolotls. 

This green glow, a visual marker of the GFP trait, makes most cells in the GFP axolotl fluoresce, making them easily distinguishable from others.

Additionally, under the microscope, the cell of a GFP axolotl is distinct from that of other axolotl types. This is due to the presence of the green fluorescent protein.

Furthermore, GFP axolotls are also different in how they are valued in the scientific community. This unique amphibian shares most of the limelight when it comes to genetic engineering and other science-related talks.

In terms of their care, though, the GFP axolotl shares most of its needs with other kinds. However, owners usually add an array of UV lights to their GFP axolotl’s aquarium. This optional add-on facilitates the observation of this axolotl’s green fluorescence.

GFP Axolotl Appearance

GFP axolotl glowing in the dark
Image credit: jarrsica / Instagram

The appearance of GFP axolotls is both familiar and extraordinary, sharing similarities with typical axolotl types but with a few key differences that set them apart.

Like many axolotls, GFP axolotls have a broad head, lidless eyes, and a wide smile. These features give this species of salamander an endearing look that is unlike any other.

Their elongated bodies and feathery gills, used for respiration, are similar compared to other axolotl types.

In normal light, the color of a GFP axolotl can vary from translucent white to light grey or even. However, under UV light, the GFP trait makes most cells in the axolotl emit a vibrant green glow.

Watch this video to see GFP axolotls in action:

Connecticut College Chemistry: Genetically Modified Glowing Axolotls

GFP Axolotl Size

GFP axolotls tend to be longer and larger compared to other salamanders. This is also the case for the rest of the axolotl family, such as the albino and leucistic counterparts, 

For reference, a single GFP axolotl typically reaches a length of about 9 to 12 inches when fully grown. This range is comparable to most axolotls, even though some can grow larger, ranging up to 18 inches.

The size of the GFP axolotl makes them a prominent feature in any aquarium. Given the range of sizes they can come in, a single axolotl will thrive best in a 20-gallon aquarium at the minimum.

GFP Axolotl Temperament and Behavior

GFP axolotl front view
Image credit: jarrsica / Instagram

GFP axolotls are not only fascinating in their appearance but also in their behavior. Their calm demeanor, combined with their ability to glow, makes them truly remarkable creatures to observe and care for.

GFP axolotls are known for their calm and docile temperament. They are not aggressive creatures and generally do well in a peaceful tank environment.

They spend much of their time gently exploring their surroundings or resting on the bottom of their tank.

Axolotls are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are most active during the night. During the day, they often rest or sleep, but they may also be active if their tank is kept in a relatively dim area.

One interesting behavior to note is that GFP axolotls, like all axolotls, are known to “dance” when fed. This involves wiggling their body and waving their tail, a delightful and entertaining sight to witness.

Despite their peaceful nature, GFP axolotls don’t require the companionship of their own kind. In fact, housing multiple axolotls together can lead to problems if one decides to nip at the other’s gills or limbs.

As such, they are often kept alone or with other non-aggressive species that won’t compete for food or space.

GFP Axolotl Lifespan and Health Issues

GFP axolotls have a lifespan similar to that of regular axolotls, typically living between 10 and 15 years in captivity with the best care. However, some individuals have been known to live up to 20 years. 

The lifespan of this glowing amphibian is influenced by various factors, including diet, the tank setup, and overall health. Like all living creatures, GFP axolotls can experience health problems. 

Some of the most common health issues in GFP axolotls are as follows:

  • Fungal Infections: Fungal infections often occur when the water quality in the GFP axolotl’s tank is in less ideal conditions. Symptoms include white or grey patches on the skin and gills.
  • Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections can result from injuries or poor water conditions in your pet’s tank. Symptoms can include redness, swelling, or ulcers.
  • Impaction: GFP axolotls shouldn’t ingest gravel or other indigestible material from their tank, as it can lead to impaction or a blockage in the digestive tract. This is also why some kinds of substrates are recommended over others, as axolotls can’t digest or pass through other kinds.
  • Stress: This can be caused by various factors, including poor water conditions in the water of your axolotl, improper temperature, and excessive handling. GFP axolotls tend to show symptoms of stress, including loss of appetite, lethargy, and unusual behavior.

These are only a handful of health issues common in axolotls. As with any other pet, these glow-in-the-dark axolotls require regular vet checkups and proper care. 

From my own personal experience, I once had an axolotl named Luna in my aquarium who started getting white patches on her skin. Recognizing this as a sign of a fungal infection, I immediately adjusted the water conditions and gave her salt baths.

Seeking further guidance, I consulted a licensed professional. Thankfully, with the right care, Luna soon made a full recovery.

GFP Axolotl Care Guide

With all the science involved in creating GFP axolotls, you might think that these morphs need more attention compared to other axolotls. The truth is that they require the same care as how you would with others.

GFP axolotl swimming in an aquarium
Image credit: jarrsica / Instagram

Tank Setup

When I set up Luna’s tank, I used the minimum size of a 20-gallon tank for her. However, for those who are planning to add more, consider an additional 10 gallons for each extra axolotl.

I made sure that my tank had a secure lid, as axolotls can be good climbers and may attempt to escape.

Furnish the tank with hiding spots like caves or plants to give the axolotl a sense of security. The substrate should consist of large, smooth rocks that can’t be accidentally ingested or a bare bottom to prevent impaction.

Further, if you are curious to find out how many fish, or in this case, axolotls, you can fit in any size of tank, this article is worth a read.

Water Parameters

GFP axolotls are no different from other axolotls in their need for water parameters. Ideally, their water temperature must be maintained between 60 and 64°F, as temperatures above or below can cause stress and health problems.

Moreover, clean water is essential for the well-being of the axolotl. Hence, regular water changes and a good filtration system are a must. 

In terms of the pH level, it should be kept between 7.4 and 7.8 to best ensure that the axolotls are happy and healthy.

Pro Tip: Axolotls, in general, thrive in cooler environments. In this regard, using a cooler or chiller is effective in regulating the temperature and keeping your GFP axolotl healthy and happy.

Diet and Feeding

Feed your axolotl a diet rich in protein, as GFP axolotls are carnivorous. Juvenile axolotls will be significantly more active and require daily feeding, while adult axolotls can be fed 2 to 3 times per week. 

Foods like earthworms, bloodworms, and specially formulated axolotl pellets are ideal.

Remember, taking care of this artificial color variant requires commitment and proper care. With the right environment and diet, GFP axolotls can grow and thrive, making them a fascinating addition to any aquarium.

How Much Does a GFP Axolotl Cost?

The cost of acquiring a GFP axolotl can vary based on several factors, including age, size, and place of purchase. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $100 per axolotl.

It’s essential to know that GFP axolotls are no different from other axolotls when it comes to their initial set-up and ongoing care expenses. 

These costs, not included in the initial purchase price, encompass necessary equipment, food to feed your axolotl, tank maintenance, and potential veterinary costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

GFP axolotl walking on rocks
Image credit: jarrsica / Instagram

Do GFP Axolotls Exist?

Yes, GFP axolotls do exist, and they are not to be confused with albino axolotls or other variants. 

These particular axolotls are a result of scientific genetic modification, where a protein from a jellyfish that produces the green fluorescent protein (GFP) is introduced into the axolotl’s DNA. 

This modification allows the GFP axolotl, which is widely studied, to glow green under ultraviolet light.

How Do I Know If My Axolotl Is GFP?

To find out if your axolotl is a GFP one, the most definitive way is to expose it to ultraviolet light. GFP axolotls will emit a green glow under UV light due to the presence of the green fluorescent protein in their cells. 

However, it is recommended that axolotl owners do this sparingly, as excessive exposure to UV light can be harmful to axolotls.

Why Do GFP Axolotls Glow?

GFP axolotls glow because they have been genetically modified with a gene from a jellyfish that produces the green fluorescent protein (GFP). 

When exposed to ultraviolet light, the protein fluoresces, causing the axolotl to glow green.

Can You Breed GFP Axolotls?

Yes, GFP axolotls can be bred. These particular axolotls carry the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene, and when they reproduce, they can pass this gene on to their offspring. 

Breeding GFP variants should be done with care and understanding of their specific needs, though. It is often best left to those with experience in breeding axolotls or other amphibians. 

If you are considering breeding these glowing axolotls, it is advisable to consult with experts or conduct thorough research.

This is to ensure that you can provide the proper environment and care for both the adult axolotls and their offspring.

As with any pet, GFP axolotls require a commitment to their well-being, but the rewards of caring for these remarkable creatures are well worth the effort. Share with us your thoughts and questions about the GFP axolotl by leaving a comment below!

Leave a Comment

You may also like