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Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

This is a discussion on Axolotl seems lethargic after water change? within the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) forums, part of the Beginner Newt, Salamander, Axolotl & Help Topics category; So I have two juvenile axolotls (separate tanks) and they were in distilled water for about a day.. The man ...

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Old 19th August 2016   #1 (permalink)
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Default Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

So I have two juvenile axolotls (separate tanks) and they were in distilled water for about a day.. The man at the pet store told me all wrong. The first day he told me to fill my tanks up with distilled water (he said our tap water has a high pH and would not be sufficient) but after they were in that for about 24 hours I was told to switch them to treated tap water by a breeder and another man at the store. I also changed their substrate from large rocks/pebbles (too big to swallow) to aquarium sand. They seemed fine after the change but now one seems sluggish/lethargic. The tank smells slightly of chlorine but the Chlorine is at 0 and pH about 7.6, temp is between 20-22, so maybe I'm just overthinking it. Both tanks have a sponge filter and they both ate some bloodworms before I went to bed last night. This morning when I got up he was floating around on top but now he's laying flat on the bottom and hasn't moved for about 30-45 mins and now the other one hasn't moved much but he isn't laying flat. Should I be worried? What should I do?

I have attached a picture of the one I am worried about.. Not a great picture but it is a current one.

*he has since moved and when he moved to his current spot, he floated sideways for a minute until going back down on all four legs.
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Last edited by mackenzie1115; 19th August 2016 at 13:19. Reason: New images
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Old 19th August 2016   #2 (permalink)
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I think 20-22C is a little warm for them. Try adding frozen pop bottles to bring the temp down a bit for them. They really like it between 16-18C. I know my little guy would slow down if the temp rose a bit. Worth a shot!

I wouldn't stress too much. The gills aren't curled forward indicating stress so that's good!


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Old 19th August 2016   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

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I think 20-22C is a little warm for them. Try adding frozen pop bottles to bring the temp down a bit for them. They really like it between 16-18C. I know my little guy would slow down if the temp rose a bit. Worth a shot!

I wouldn't stress too much. The gills aren't curled forward indicating stress so that's good!


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I had been using ice packs in ziplock bags but was afraid it'd cool it down too quickly and stress them out but if that's what needs to be done, I can do that! Thank you!

*here is the original photo if it makes any difference,the one on the post was after he had moved.. They somehow got switched
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Old 19th August 2016   #4 (permalink)
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I had been using ice packs in ziplock bags but was afraid it'd cool it down too quickly and stress them out but if that's what needs to be done, I can do that! Thank you!


It takes a while to cool down a large amount of water. My little guy liked playing with the bottles too.


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Old 19th August 2016   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

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It takes a while to cool down a large amount of water. My little guy liked playing with the bottles too.


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Also here's another question: do you notice yours doing anything weird when they ate? One of mine kind of jerks when he eats. I didn't notice it with the other one but I wasn't sure if that was normal or if that is something to be concerned about. He was also eating sand but I was told that shouldn't be a problem. They each get a half a block of the frozen bloodworms twice a day



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Old 19th August 2016   #6 (permalink)
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Also here's another question: do you notice yours doing anything weird when they ate? One of mine kind of jerks when he eats. I didn't notice it with the other one but I wasn't sure if that was normal or if that is something to be concerned about. He was also eating sand but I was told that shouldn't be a problem. They each get a half a block of the frozen bloodworms twice a day


Sand shouldn't be a problem, they can pass that pretty easily. Mine would jerk his head from side to side when he had live worms (like a dog chewing a big bone). Their just quirky little fellas.


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Old 19th August 2016   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

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Sand shouldn't be a problem, they can pass that pretty easily. Mine would jerk his head from side to side when he had live worms (like a dog chewing a big bone). Their just quirky little fellas.


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One last question :) - they are not pink anymore.. They had a really pretty rosy pink color to them and not they are white. They are sitting still. Normal?



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Old 19th August 2016   #8 (permalink)
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One last question :) - they are not pink anymore.. They had a really pretty rosy pink color to them and not they are white. They are sitting still. Normal?


Their gills will turn white when they are sitting still due to lack of oxygen (same as if you have to fridge them). If you are worried about their lack of activity, I used a clean (with very hot water) turkey baster and blew bubbles around him and he usually got mad enough to move around lol. It started to be a game for him


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Old 22nd August 2016   #9 (permalink)
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Any updates on your little cuties?


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Old 24th August 2016   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

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Any updates on your little cuties?


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Hey there, thanks for asking! They seem to be doing great! I changed their water 20% a few days ago because their tanks seemed to develop a smell.. maybe I am over feeding them because it seemed like once I got the excess worms out and put in fresh water that the smell went away. It is kind of hard to clean the sand, so that is the only problem I am having currently. I ended up taking some out and just replacing it.



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Old 24th August 2016   #11 (permalink)
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Hey there, thanks for asking! They seem to be doing great! I changed their water 20% a few days ago because their tanks seemed to develop a smell.. maybe I am over feeding them because it seemed like once I got the excess worms out and put in fresh water that the smell went away. It is kind of hard to clean the sand, so that is the only problem I am having currently. I ended up taking some out and just replacing it.


Glad their doing better! Yeah I always find if I'm a day or two late with my water change it can get funky!


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Old 2nd September 2016   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

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Glad their doing better! Yeah I always find if I'm a day or two late with my water change it can get funky!


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I have another question.. they still seem to be doing fine but I am still having trouble keeping the water temp down.. the frozen water bottles last for like 30 minutes.. it cools their water down to about 18C, but then it goes right back up to about 20C after the water bottles thaw out.. any suggestions? I'm thinking about buying a cooling fan, but I don't know how well those actually work..



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Old 2nd September 2016   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

I assume you couldn't get an aquarium fan?, if so then you can blow any fan on the surface of your tank water that will cool your tank down a lot. Get extra bubble stone in your aquarium , cause white gill mean anemia ( pale pink maybe just low activity but white is not good) heat stress is getting to him. You might need to fridge him till you can find the way to cool down your aquarium. It's all about air flow . Where is your air con?



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Old 3rd September 2016   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

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I assume you couldn't get an aquarium fan?, if so then you can blow any fan on the surface of your tank water that will cool your tank down a lot. Get extra bubble stone in your aquarium , cause white gill mean anemia ( pale pink maybe just low activity but white is not good) heat stress is getting to him. You might need to fridge him till you can find the way to cool down your aquarium. It's all about air flow . Where is your air con?
They are back to pink now, not white.. That was a couple weeks ago. They're close to an air conditioning vent but it doesn't blow directly on them. The house is always at about 70 degrees F. They are both pretty active and neither are showing any signs of stress and they eat like they should. They were white-ish/pale pink after I got them and moved them to their tanks (the water I got them in was very poor), they have since gotten their color back so I'm not too worried. I was just wondering how effective the aquarium fans were before ordering them, as the people I bought them from had no clue about them and I've already spent so much money on stuff I didn't actually need.



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Old 3rd September 2016   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

Aquarium fan is the best and the cheapest way to cooling down tank. You really should get it , ( get the multiple fans like 4-6 fan in the row) I bought it online for $36. It worth every pennies.



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Old 4th September 2016   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

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Aquarium fan is the best and the cheapest way to cooling down tank. You really should get it , ( get the multiple fans like 4-6 fan in the row) I bought it online for $36. It worth every pennies.
Okay, awesome I will have to get a couple. I change their water 20% every Sunday and now I want to change their sand. It is fine black aquarium sand and it is hard to see the waste and I think I want to change it, as I am sure it's probably dirty. Any suggestions? Can I take it all out, rinse it, put it back? Should I use brand new unused sand? Should I only change a little?



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Old 4th September 2016   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

Sand or any substrate were there to grow good bacteria in your aquarium , disturbing it would loose the good bacteria. The question Is that, what is your ammonia level , nitrate level , and nitrite? Do you use water testing strip often enough to know what is going on with your water condition? I saw on your pic that you have sponge filter . If your other filter ( beside the sponge filter perform very well with 0 nitrate, and 0 nitrite. The smell can be just nitro gas which mean your cycling is close to complete. Here is some picture I found that might explain it.
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Old 4th September 2016   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

Also if you want to keep your sand clean with out disturbing it then you have to put in bubble stone ( or bubble bars) on to your aquarium floor. The bubble stone will break down axolotl poop. Then your sponge filter and your main filter will pick it up very easily. Some people might think picking up poop when it's still together is the only way to do it, which isn't true. Breaking down waste and get suck in to the filter would be the best way for keeping the aquarium clean and help continuing the cycle properly. That's natural way.



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Old 6th September 2016   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

So as of right now, this is my tank set up for both tanks:

Fine grain black aquarium sand
Large hide
Plant decoration (live plant coming soon)
Bubble stone
Sponge filter (possibly will be taking out and turning normal filter back on, it seems useless)
Normal filter with slowed flow
Thermometer
Fans on the way.

Any opinions? This is my first time, so I'm sure there is room for improvement. I am having trouble keeping the water temp down, right now it is at 66-68* F, any suggestions about keeping it cool until my fans get here?

I also just changed their water 20% and treated it for ammonia, as the level was a little more than zero.

Also, they each get a 1/4 to a 1/2 a cube of blood worms twice a day. Am I feeding them enough, am I feeding them too much? Can I switch them to something else or should I keep them on the bloodworms until they're bigger? They're probably around 3, maybe 4 inches long right now.

Thanks in advance!

** I have attached an image of my bigger Axie's set-up. The smaller Axie's is almost identical.
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Last edited by mackenzie1115; 6th September 2016 at 06:07. Reason: Pics
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Old 7th September 2016   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl seems lethargic after water change?

66-68f is perfect temperature , you don't seem to be having heat problem at that temperature if you can keep it. After they growing in to 4-5 inches you would probably want to feed them earth worms for now is ok. For now sponge filter might seems useless but once your axie grow bigger you're gonna need it to keep your water clear cause they will dirty your water faster than your filter can help it. Yes your filter will do the job taking care of water quality but your sponge filter will take care of every day solid waste which will help your regular filter for the long run.



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