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Photo Information
Copyright: Anna Eksteen (Miss_Piggy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2285 W: 5 N: 5300] (18714)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2010-12-24
Categories: Amphibians
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 15x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 400
Exposure: f/2.8, 1/15 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Karatash's other favorite -II- [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2011-01-30 19:00
Viewed: 10670
Points: 82
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Axolotl /Ambystoma mexicanum

We visited the Pretoria Zoo just before Christmas and I really had a ball of a time. The previous time we where there I did not do photography as a hobby yet, and this time around I could not wait to go there. I must be honest that I was not looking forward to go into the aquarium, mainly because I know how difficult it is to take photos through a glass.

Many of my photos captured on the day was boo-boo's as there are so many factors one have to take in consideration, like dirty glass, people standing close to you and who's silhouettes appear in the image, flashlight creating a white spot in the image, etc. etc. Loot has done a whole series on Tips and Techniques for Aquarium Photography in 2007, which is very interesting reading material. He is a real master in this type of photography as it actually looks as if he climbed into the tank with the fish and then photographed them.

But at the end I did manage to capture several nice shots, of some very fascinating creatures, one of them being this Axolotl. It was the 1st time ever I saw one of these and was amazed about the cuteness of it. Its face reminds me so much of a little being that escaped from some fairy tail, and is very pleased about the fact it got away.

If I am correct, this is the 2nd time this species is featured on Trek Nature. The 1st was posted by Brian McKay (BRIMAC) in 2007.

General Facts
Also known as: Mexican axolotl or Walking fish.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Caudata
Family: Ambystomatidae
Genus: Ambystoma
Size Length: up to 30cm
Weight of male: 125-130g
Weight of female: 170-180g

The axolotl is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List 2006.

The remarkable axolotl is part of the family of 'mole salamanders', but exhibits an unusual and extreme trait known as neoteny, or paedomorphosis. This is the retention of larval stage characteristics throughout life, so axolotls usually never fully resemble an adult salamander. Unlike other amphibians, most axolotl fail to metamorphose, living permanently in water. Although it does develop lungs, the axolotl's most bizarre feature is its retention of its branch-like gills. These are external projections from the neck on each side of the head. Each side has three branches covered with feathery filaments which increase the surface area for gas exchange. The axolotl has a long, slim and darkly coloured body, and short legs, with four digits on the front feet and five digits on the hind feet. Albino individuals are not known to survive in the wild, but only in protective captivity.

The axolotl previously occupied Lakes Xochimilca and Chalco and the surrounding water channels on the southern edge of Mexico City, but has been lost from most of its range.

The axolotl is native to the ancient water channel system of Mexico City, preferring deep brackish water with plenty of vegetation.

Although the axolotl remains in larval form throughout its life, it becomes sexually mature between 12 and 18 months of age. Males 'dance' to initiate courtship, nudging the female before depositing several cone-shaped packets of sperm known as spermatophores onto rocks and plants. These are taken up by the female's cloaca, for internal fertilisation of her eggs. She lays the eggs 24 hours later, each one becoming enveloped in mucus as it emerges. They become glued to each other and to the substrate where they incubate for 2-3 weeks. A single female axolotl can produce up to 400 eggs in a day.

The axolotl is inactive during the day, resting on the substrate with the gills splayed. They move slowly and may surface occasionally to take a breath of air. Young axolotl feed on algae, but older individuals will take aquatic invertebrates. The axolotl is primarily preyed upon by herons.

A species of fascination to scientists the world over, the axolotl has many study-worthy traits. Whilst able to remain in larval form throughout its life, the axolotl can metamorphose into a fully-adult Mexican salamander if its habitat dries up. Additionally, rather than forming scar tissue when wounded, tissues at the wound site convert to a stem cell-like state, meaning that they are able to re-grow missing tissue in its entirety, even a whole limb.

Whilst there are large numbers of axolotls in captivity around the world, particularly in biomedical and physiological research laboratories, numbers of wild axolotls are very low. Previously, capture of this species for the international pet and research trade contributed to population declines, but the axolotl now breeds well in captivity, alleviating this threat. It was also captured for consumption by local people, although numbers are now too low for this. The most significant threat to the axolotl is the increasing pollution of the lakes and canal system as Mexico City continues to grow. Land drainage, flood control and sewage disposal methods from the 17th century to the present have all contributed to the destruction of the water system of Mexico City. Source

I hope you enjoyed looking at this photo as much as I took pleasure in taking it.

Alex99, albert, Dis. Ac., marius-secan, oanaotilia, nagraj, maaciejka, maurydv, cobra112, CeltickRanger, soccer, pilonm, Luis52, Argus, uleko, tuslaw, rousettus, vanda, peter_stoeckl, Hamurkaroglu has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To FunkyMunky: Tips on aquarium photographyMiss_Piggy 1 02-01 06:29
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Critiques [Translate]

Hello, my friend Anna!
Nice to be your neighbor today.
This is a rare shot, I've never seen anything quite like this earlier!
Very well seen, framed and captured!

Good morning Anna.
Very colorful creature this is. I never had seen this type of animal. Thank you very much for an informative note.

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2011-01-30 21:57]

Hi Anna.
What a cute create and pleasant shot of it. Surroundings are amazing as well as main character. I like warm colours and lights, attractive pose of the animal, nice vegetation ornament and superb details of the whole scene. Kind regards and TFS.

  • mwmod99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 855 W: 655 N: 3361] (14196)
  • [2011-01-30 22:19]

Truly remarkable monster with the exotic name axolotls, Anna! Well, I think this was a successful shot, despite the difficulties. I am a big fun of Zoos and I am visiting the Johannesburg Zoo, with my son Peter, at least once per month.
To be honest, I have never seen such an incredible creature in my life. Amazing features, strange "skinless" body scary tiny eyes and dragon like red grills! Bravo, Anna! Fine shot taken brilliantly!
George Veltchev

Hello Anna,

There is a saying "there are many fish in the sea" but I'm not sure this is one they thought about!
But then I assume it is not a fish either.....
An excellent capture under difficult conditions, I have tried myself but never got any good results. Very well done!

Pablo -

Such a finely executed close up study of a rare albino specimen seemingly in great health Anna, the salient features of the larval "adult" form can easily be seen here my friend, very good job indeed!

Hello Anna,
Not bad at all this shot behind a glass !
Thanks for sharing this strange creature with us and for your interesting note
Kind regards

Hello Anna,

an very nice and exellent photo ffrom you.
This Axolotl, i have only one time been seeing in an zoo.
You have managed the the glass reflection very good with your point and shoot.
Well done.
Fine colors.


Hello Anna,
Inreresting and amazing creature. The colors are splendid.
Lovely clarity and nice composition.
Thanks for sharing!

Hello Anna,
Very unusual thingey. I have read your note and the information therein is as unusual as is its appearance. Thank you for showing it here - it is a first view for me of this little animal. Best wishes.

nice underwater capture, greetings Ori

Hello Anna
There are living species which show to us the steps that evolution made during the time. And I think that this is one of those species, intriguing and amazing. And in our daily life we have rarely the opportunity to see such creatures. So, we have to appreciate all the moments when somebody remembers us a small piece of natural history.
It is difficult indeed to shot through the glass, but you managed very well to capture this creature.
TFS and kind regards,

  • Great 
  • nagraj Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1618 W: 106 N: 3208] (15166)
  • [2011-01-31 5:37]

Very interesting species well captured through glass, good technique. This one real beauty with amazing colors and structure. tfs.

Hello Anna,
this is a very interesting photo from Pretoria Zoo. It's completely extraordinary species for me. Amazing colours. Good sharpness.
Thanks for sharing.

Ciao Anna, wonderful portrait of aq very strange creature, beautiful details, splendid sharpness and wonderful colors, very well done my friend, ciao Silvio

Hi Anna
Very interesting creature and beautiful photo with very good composition, wonderful colours and good sharpness.

hello Anna
great to show us this beauty monster on TN
good details and beautiful colours
very nice shot
greeting lou

Hi Anna,
Splendid capture with nice details and fantastic colors.

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2011-01-31 12:06]

Hello Anna,
Beautiful photo in impressive colours and good sharpness. Taken from an excellent POV in a very good composition.

Hallo Anna,
a very good and interesting picture, superb colours, fine details, excellent visual impact
Best regards

OK, OK, now you are the aquarium expert as well. Is there no end to your talent?
This is indeed a rare shot of a creature I could never have imagined existed!
Thanks for the photo and interesting note! Where can I find Loot's tips?

Ciao Anna. Impressive and interesting specie. Even if troghth the glass you've obtained very good sharp and details. Good light and warm tones.


hello Anna

excellent photo of this amazing exotic fish,
with the difficulties to shoot behind the glass
you did a great close-up photo with fine POV
and beautiful eye-contact of the subject, TFS



What an unusual posting on TN - Well Done!
I like the lightng, detail and POV under challenging circumstances.

Hello Anna,

Wow!!!! What a strange fish!!! I really like the pov you got for photographying it. I remark that you followed correctly Loot's tips because the picture is amazing!!!

Very well done and TFS!!!


Glass can be quite a challenge at times especially if it is dark within the enclosure, but you seemed to pull it off very nicely as your subject is evenly illuminated showing the detail in the albino axolotl skin. Well done Anna. :)

hello Anne, otherworldly creature but beautiful with these wings, I've seen one time in an aquarium, very good your photographic presentation!
TFS Nasos

  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2011-02-03 10:33]

Hola Anna.
Beautiful Mexican "Axolote" picture. Great photo work done here dear Anna.
Reading Your note really break my heart, but is the true. So many people is living in Mexico City, and some times they dont really love our Natural enviroment.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2011-02-03 23:38]

Hello Anna,
Practically the only way of portaying an Axalotl is by taking a shot of it in an aquarium.
This you did with fine skills, the POV, sharpness, colours and composition contributing to a superb portrait of this remarkable Central American salamander.
Thanks for sharing this,
Kind regards,

  • Great 
  • fiyo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1053 W: 5 N: 3475] (15161)
  • [2011-02-04 7:13]

Hi Anna,
very beautiful colors and interesting structure of the photo.
Thank you for sharing this.
Congratulations, regards

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2011-02-04 7:42]

Hello Anna,
What a great aquarium capture of this cute little fish!! I like the fine red decorations that match the eye and you got him in a lovely pose. He looks a friendly little chap! Details are very sharp and colours beautiful, it couldn't be better. I remember Loot's Tips well and have made use of them too!! Give him my regards!
TFS and all the best wishes, Ulla

Hi Anna

Great shot of this curious animal, quite bizarre aren't they. You have done very well here, obviously you have learnt a lot from Loot's great series. excellent composition and sharpness.


  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2011-02-12 13:33]

Hello Anna,
What a unique looking creature and very beautifully photographed. I have only seen these little guys in books and must admit they have quite charming facial features. Those fiery red gills and eyes really capture your attention. Great job of photographing this particular one for all to enjoy viewing. Well done!!

Hello Anna
axolotyle larvae is an interesting subjects. I learnt it from Vertebrate lessons twenty years ago. Now, I teach to my students.
you show this special event with a great shot and good informative notes. everyting great photographically. thanks for sharing this beauty and giving information about paedomorphosis (neoteni).
best regards

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  • vanda Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 338 W: 25 N: 754] (3673)
  • [2011-02-15 12:52]

Hi Anna!
Great portrait of this strange animal, captured with great sharpness and fine details... despite the glass :)
Good light and splendid vivid colours.
ciao! Vanda

Dear Anna,
Axolotl - a fairytale creature, often heard about in lectures of Biology, but never seen before in such a frame filling an opulent presentation! Those spectacular brightly red blood filled external gills are a real attraction. Very well made image by taking perfect advantage of an aquarium presentation, and perfectly well mastering all those troubles we usually have to deal with there from all kinds of reflections. Thank you Anna!
With all my best wishes to you and your family from Vienna,

Hellow Anna,
Well this is my third attempt so I hope this is successful.The axoloti is a first for me.Rather soft pink colours except for the brightly coloured pink like "feathers".Nice pleasant overall image with good clarity and exposure.Pity about the " red eye" ...ha ha only joking.

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  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2011-03-06 0:58]

Hello Anna,
really an exciting view of this creature. I have never seen it and it is so unique.
The colours are special and soft.
Nice to share and such a pleasant presentation.


Hello Anna,
Interesting animal that I have not seen it before. TFS.
With my best wishes.

Great picture with many details and super sharpness !!!!!

Hi Anna, Thank you for sharing such a beautiful creature which is unknown to me.You captured it well.Congratulations.

Hello Anna,
Interesting specie to me.I saw it first time in Pretoria Zoo too.You have captured it nicely.It reminded me my time at Pretoria.
Nice POV with exciting light on subject.
Thanks for your contribution here in TN,
Kind regards,

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