13 Different Axolotl Colors and Their Morphs

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From the enchanting hues of naturally colored wild axolotls to the ethereal glow of GFP axolotls, there’s a captivating variety to choose from. Join me on a fascinating exploration of 13 different axolotl body pigmentations, ranging from the common to the incredibly rare. Delve into the genetic mechanisms behind these vibrant hues and uncover the secrets of these charming aquatic companions.

Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)
Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)

During my research for this article, I was left amazed by the many different axolotl colors out there.

It turned out the various colorful morphs of this salamander are all possible thanks to years of selective breeding.

Although it seems axolotls are widely available, some types that are more difficult to breed can be very rare and particularly expensive.

Let me show you what axolotl colors I was able to find and maybe give you some ideas for your new pet.

13 Different Axolotl Body Pigmentations

After discovering the many different color variations of axolotls, I got curious as to how this was possible in the first place. With a little bit of research, I found that axolotls have 3 pigments in their genes that can produce numerous shades of colors:

different axolotl colors header
  • The first pigment is melanophore. It produces shades of brown and black.
  • The second pigment is xanthophore. This pigment produces shades of yellow, orange, or red.
  • The third pigment is iridophore. Iridophore produces reflections of gold and silver.

To create rarer combinations, people have bred axolotls together to produce morphs with more unique colors and markings.

To give you a better idea of what type of axolotl you may want to add to your tank, I created a comprehensive list of 13 colors you can choose from.

Keep in mind that axolotls are primarily solitary creatures. In case you want to add some residents that can cohabitate well, here is a list of fish that can become tank mates to your axolotl and can handle the colder temperatures that these salamanders require.

That being said, here are the different axolotl morphs and their respective colors:

1. Naturally Colored Wild Axolotls

А dark-brown wild type axolotl crawling among some aquatic plants on the aquarium's substrate

by arwen_7

  • Availability: Common
  • Price bracket: Affordable

The naturally colored wild axolotl is probably one of the most common and cheapest options on this list.

The natural habitat of these amphibians is typically swampy areas and lakes that can effectively meet all of their needs.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that wild axolotls have colors that would help them blend into their natural environments.

Most Wild axolotls have a dark green to gray body, smeared with some black and olive mottling so that they don’t stick out too much when targeted by predators.

They may also have spots of brown or gold depending on the specific patterns per axolotl.

It’s what a naturally-colored axolotl looks like.

Keep this mental image while scrolling further down this article…
Author’s note: Although axolotls are critically endangered you can be sure that most specimens you’ll be able to find at aquarium stores or online are captive-bred and NOT collected from the wild. That’s even if the label says “wild type”, which refers to the color morph and not where the axolotl was collected from.

2. Black Melanoid Axolotls

А black melanoid axolotl hanging out on the bottom of its tank

by Bron-Bron89

  • Availability: Common
  • Price bracket: Affordable

To better understand the reason behind the name of these axolotls, it helps to understand what melanoid means.

Melanoid is a variation of the word melanin, which means something that contains a dark brown or black pigment.

With that in mind, the black melanoid axolotl is dark brown or black with little to no pattern.

While they may seem similar to the wild axolotl, you will see that the black melanoid axolotls will typically be darker with less distinctive qualities marking their bodies.

They are fairly common and easy to come across, so this is an affordable option for anyone looking to get an axolotl.

3. GFP Axolotls – Green Fluorescent Protein

А green fluorescent protein axolotl trying to climb the palm of its owner

by Onyxjada

  • Availability: Somewhat Rare
  • Price bracket: Affordable

The GFP or Green Fluorescent Protein axolotl is not a naturally bred amphibian.

It is man-made by adding a certain protein to an albino axolotl.

One really interesting feature of this specific axolotl is the fact that it can glow in the dark when put under specific lighting.

Just grab a black or UV light and shine it on GFP axolotls in a dark space to see them glow a striking green color.

To get a light that will allow you to see your axolotl glow while also helping to sterilize the tank, click here. Since the GFP varieties are made with direct human interference, they are somewhat rare to find, but not impossible.

4. Leucistic Axolotls – “Lucy”

А pink leucistic axolotl with purple gills rating near its decorative cave and a piece of driftwood

by CollieflowersBark

  • Availability: Common
  • Price bracket: Affordable

The leucistic axolotl is a popular choice amongst axolotl enthusiasts for good reason.

They are unique in appearance and affordable as well, the perfect combination.

The typical “Lucy” axolotl is lightly colored with beautiful pink, feathery gills, and dark or blue-colored eyes.

Despite their unusual appearance, they are common and readily available for anyone looking to purchase one.

They are accurately given the name leucistic, which means they have less color in their skin, with regular or dark eye colors.

They may also have patterns of small dark spots across their face depending on the specific gene variations.

5. Albino Axolotls

Аn albino axolotl that is almost entirely white and is somewhat transparent in a bare-bottom aquarium

by arwen_7

  • Availability: Common
  • Price bracket: Affordable

Despite what I first believed, the albino axolotl is not actually a rare variation type and is quite common to come across in captivity.

Most people would think that this genetic condition is hard to find, and that would be true concerning ones born in the wild.

Albino means an absence of pigment in the skin, so albino axolotls born in the wild are typically targeted by predators that can easily spot them.

They will usually be white in appearance with pink gills and eyes as well.

They are also helpful in creating other types of axolotl variations, such as the GFP morph.

Author’s note: Albino axolotls do not like bright light as it can hurt their eyes, so keep this in mind if you get one!

6. Hypomelanistic Melanoid Axolotls

Тhe rare hypomelanistic melanoid axolotl inspecting the white sand in its tank

by MereB

  • Availability: Extremely rare
  • Price bracket: Expensive in the hundreds

This Hypomelanistic Melanoid axolotl is so rare that there is not a lot of information describing them, so although they are cool to learn about, they might be a little hard to own.

The term hypomelanistic means the lack of dark pigment, which is different from albino which means lacking all pigment.

The Hypomelanistic Melanoid axolotl is extremely rare and hard to come by.

It’s then no surprise that you will have to pay a good amount of money to obtain one.

Their unique qualities are what make them so hard to find.

The Hypomelanistic Melanoid axolotls are lightly colored and transparent with some gold color variations on their heads.

Also, they have been said to simultaneously have three recessive genes and that each hypomelanistic melanoid axolotl is different from the next and so on.

7. Copper Axolotls

А copper axolotl on a similarly-colored substrate, showing its camouflage skills

by LaLachiell

  • Availability: Rare
  • Price bracket: Affordable in the hundred range

The copper axolotl has a light grey color to their body with copper specks, grey eyes, and grey or red-colored gills.

These are not the most common axolotls to come across because of their recessive genes, but they are not the rarest either.

You are not as likely to find one of these at a store if you look, but they are not impossible to find if you can locate the right breeder.

The xanthophore pigment can be found in this axolotl based on the appearance of the copper tones located across their bodies.

To achieve this look, one of the two axolotls being bred has to contain the gene.

8.Golden Albino Axolotls

А golden albino axolotl taking a rest in front of a skull-shaped aquarium decor piece

by lisa_lazz

  • Availability: Common
  • Price bracket: Affordable in the hundreds

Like their albino counterparts, the Golden Albino axolotl is fairly common to find, but they are slightly more expensive when comparing the prices of the two.

The golden albino also lacks most pigment, but they have a yellow hue across their body that gives them a stunning golden appearance with pink gills and eyes as well.

These color varieties are easier to replicate than others, which is why they are not uncommon.

However, their slight golden color makes them slightly more valuable when it comes to buying one.

9. Harlequin Axolotls

А top-down view of a Harlequin axolotl which shows this morph's unique masked appearance and patterns

by puzzle

  • Availability: Rare
  • Price bracket: Expensive in the hundreds

The “Harlequin” type of axolotl is another rare one with very little information on the specifics about them, but they are still really interesting to learn about.

The Harlequin axolotl is likely a mixture of Piebald and Leucistic axolotls, which gives the Harlequin lightly colored skin with some splashes of darker pigment across their face and body.

Harlequin means containing various color variations or having a masked appearance.

This makes sense when considering the splashes of pigment on the axolotl’s face.

Harlequin axolotls are difficult to find, so if you do happen to see one when looking around, you may want to bring it home with you.

You should also be prepared to pay a decent amount if you do buy one.

10. Piebald Axolotls

А pink-to-white piebald axolotl with dot-like black patterns on its back is staring at its reflection in the aquarium's glass

by Odette

  • Availability: Rare
  • Price bracket: Expensive in the hundreds

When considering this next axolotl, understanding the meaning of its name helps to better explain its appearance.

Piebald means to have irregular patches or spots that typically are black and white. The Piebald axolotl is white with large dark patches across its body and dark eyes with red gills as well.

It is not easy to get an axolotl with lighter skin and splotches of dark pigment, so they are thought to be quite rare.

11. Chimera Axolotls

А top-down view of a chimera axolotl which shows the color pattern splits in two right in the middle of the salamander's body

by juhjenna

  • Availability: “Unicorn” status rare
  • Price bracket: Expensive in the thousands / Not for sale

The Chimera axolotl color is one of, if not, the rarest axolotl morphs in the world. Their coloration is an almost perfect split between the albino and the melanoid axolotls.

If they have been bred effectively, they will be split down the middle with one side being darker and the other lighter.

This gene combination is so hard to achieve that they are often not sold in most stores due to how difficult they are to produce.

12. Firefly Axolotls

A close-up of a firefly axolotl which shows that its colorful pattern ends right where its tail begins

by MotherofAxolotls

  • Availability: Rare
  • Price bracket: Expensive in the hundreds

The Firefly axolotl morph is rare in more ways than one.

First, they are not naturally produced – the cool variations and features are artificially created by humans.

The Firefly axolotl is said to have a dark body with a light-colored tail that is made with the same protein as the GFP axolotl, thus making it glow in the same way that a firefly would.

Their rare status and atypical appearance make this axolotl a bit pricier, but they are worth it if you want both looks and entertainment.

13. Lavender Purple Axolotls

A lavender purple axolotl marching across the rocky bottom of its aquarium

by rads

  • Availability: Rare
  • Price bracket: Affordable in the hundreds

The last and final axolotl color morph on this list is the Lavender-purple one.

It should come as no surprise that the color palette of this salamander is a light purple-silver color with dark eyes and greyish-red gills. They also have black and brown spots on them, giving them the appearance of freckles or a Dalmatian.

They have only been bred successfully a few times, which is why they are considered to be very rare.

So if you can manage to find a lavender-purple morph to get your hands on, I would suggest buying one before someone else beats you to it.

Axolotl color morphs that don’t exist but you’ve probably seen pictures of

These cute little salamanders have recently gained more recognition due to being included in a popular world-building game, so it’s no surprise that we are seeing a few variations of axolotl that don’t really exist. On the other hand, some Photoshop enthusiasts just seek the shock value and want to go viral.

Here are the axolotl color morphs that don’t exist in real life:

1. Blue axolotls

A photo of an axolotl that looks as if the animal is blue thanks to lighting or touch-ups from a visual software

by X-olotl

As cool as it would be, the blue axolotl does not exist.

If you’ve seen photos of one it was either deceitful lighting, CGI, or paint dying.

2. “Green” axolotls (probably a mislabel of GFP)

A seemingly green axolotl swimming over fluorescent aquarium decoration

by Leshal77

“Green” axolotls aren’t actually real, but either dyed or created online.

3. Any other manually dyed axolotls

An artificially dyed axolotl with an unnatural light blue color and bright red gills

by Asevernnnn

Axolotls can be injected with dyes to create new temporary colors that aren’t naturally occurring.
However, there have been discussions on how this is not a healthy practice for the animals, so avoid purchasing one with a color combination you’ve never heard of.

My Takeaway

Overall, this cute amphibian is a great pet for anyone willing to put in the time and effort to raise it, so remember to do research and have fun picking the one that’s right for you. For more information on axolotls and how not to mistake them for something else, visit this article.

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Momchil Boyanov is the Founder and now Senior Editor of AquAnswers. He has over 13+ years of experience in keeping home aquariums as well as providing professional aquarium services. Momchil has had his fair share of adventures in aquarium care. He has made MANY mistakes throughout his fishkeeping journey and thus learned A LOT. Through Aquanswers, Momchil shares knowledge about freshwater and saltwater aquariums with the people within this community.

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