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2 morphed axolotls

This is a discussion on 2 morphed axolotls within the Axolotl General Discussion forums, part of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) category; I've got 2 axolotls that are morphing into land salamanders. Can anyone tell me when is the right time to ...

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Old 8th January 2008   #1 (permalink)
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I've got 2 axolotls that are morphing into land salamanders. Can anyone tell me when is the right time to move them to a tank filled with soil? I've had them in a slanted tank for about two weeks now and they spend most of the time on the land. The land in the slanted tank is river stones. Same stuff I use in the bottom of my aquatic tanks. I made a tank filled with about 6 inches of top soil partially covered with wet leaves. I also included a pan of water. Tonight I put them in there they crawled into the water dish and are moving about on the soil and leaves. They have soil on their faces, etc. Looks uncomfortable to me but then I'm not a salamander. Guess I'm use to seeing them clean. I assume it's safe for them to eat some dirt? I have to believe they must ingest some when they eat and borrow.


I put them in the soil hoping it would trigger them to start eating agian. It's been about three weeks since they've eaten. They look healthy and are active. Just won't eat. I'm getting a little concerned

Mine didn't get spots like freekygeeky's. Just a few on one and the other is still all brown.

I'll try and feed them again tomorrow.


They are both about 8 months old.


Any advise would be greatly appreciated.


I'll try and get some pictures posted


Thanks

Ron
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Old 8th January 2008   #2 (permalink)
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It would be surprising if you had two axolotls morph. It is more probable that you have tigers, or another species of salamander. It would be helpful to see the pictures. If you can't get a picture, perhaps a more detailed description and origin as two how you obtained them. It's difficult to offer advice without clarifying the species.

As you describe it, it sounds like they're happily moving about in their terrestrial set up, so it sounds like you took them out at the correct time.

As for feeding advice. It would be helpful to know what you're trying to feed them. A little bit of soil likely won't hurt them as long as they aren't eating lots of gravel, or other larger non-digestable items that could obstruct their intestines.

Looking forward to hearing more information about your salamanders.
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Old 8th January 2008   #3 (permalink)
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what!!! how it morphed??? would really like to see pic of it.

by the way, i saw the tv program that day, i notice the salamander before they morph, they look exactly like an axolotls. they show step by step how they morph when the weather is changing to summer(pond dries up) and they start crawling up the land. they ate alot of food(other axies) in order to morph. is it???
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Old 8th January 2008   #4 (permalink)
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Two Axolotls morphing at the same time is really uncommon - so either you got a different species as mentioned by pete or they had come in contact with a lot of hormones. A picture might clarify this. What did you feed them?

It is not unusual that morphing salamanders (at least Axolotls) do not eat for some time - their mouth/tongue - system is changing and they have to develop different hunting strategies because they can not suck in their prey as they used to under water.
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Old 8th January 2008   #5 (permalink)
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minebefore it completely turned didnt eat for about 2 weeks - but now he eats loads of crickets!!!
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Originally Posted by Phoenixtear View Post
Two Axolotls morphing at the same time is really uncommon - so either you got a different species as mentioned by pete or they had come in contact with a lot of hormones. A picture might clarify this. What did you feed them?

It is not unusual that morphing salamanders (at least Axolotls) do not eat for some time - their mouth/tongue - system is changing and they have to develop different hunting strategies because they can not suck in their prey as they used to under water.
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Old 9th January 2008   #6 (permalink)
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Hi Ron is this a natural occurance or have you induced the metamorphisis?
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Old 9th January 2008   #7 (permalink)
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I ask the same question as soon as the second one began changing, about if these were tigers instead of axolotls. I ask the guy I got them from and his exact quote was "If you got them from me they're axolotls". I looked at some e-mails he sent me showing different amphibians he sells and tigers aren't listed. So I'm not sure if he sells tigers. I bought a bunch of eggs, hatched and raised them. I got 25 eggs, 21 hatched and 14 are still alive. And 2 morphed. I've attached a picture of them. Hope you can make it out.

When they were aquatic I feed them mostly salmon pellets and recently an occasional earth worm. Prior to the pellets it was bllod worms and brine shrimp.But they've been on pellets for a few months now. Since they've been on land I've been trying to feed them earth worms, wax worms and crickets. I even tried salmon pellets when they were in the half water/land tank. I think I may have made their feeding transition worse by making them so use to getting pellets and not seeing live food much.

With the first one that morphed it's probably my fault. The bio in the filter died and the ammonia level went up. I didn't notice it quick enough. I thought I just burnt the gills, then I notice other changes, bulging eyes, head shape and loss of tail fin. It's tank mate is fine and living aquatic. I did water changes and fixed the filter. I separated the sick one (at the time I thought it was sick). Put it in a small tank and did water changes hoping the gills would grow back. It also had spots so after about a week I started salt baths thinking it might be fungus or something. Then I really noticed all the other changes. The second just started loosing it's gills about a week later. After the first tank filter went bad I checked the water quality on all the tanks and they were fine. The second has two tank mates that are doing fine and still aquatic. I don't understand the second one.

Another thing that has me a little concerned is that they seem to be breathing hard. I can see their necks moving when they breath. But then again I'm not use to seeing them breath air.

Let me know if you think these are tigers or axolotls. I can get some pictures of them cleaned up but I'm trying not to bother them to much. The smaller one did dig a hole.

Thanks Ron
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Old 9th January 2008   #8 (permalink)
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Here's another picture.

I didn't induce anything. When I started looking into getting something to put in a tanks I had, I didn't want land salamanders. That's why I went with these and I thought they really looked cool. But now that I have two land dwellers I'd like them to live. I've become very attached to them, having raised them from eggs.
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Old 9th January 2008   #9 (permalink)
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I believe they are axolotls. They appear to be metamorphosed melanoid axolotls - I can see spots on the legs of the left one, and perhaps a spot here and there. Despite the fact that there are a few yellow spots I think this still gels with them being melanoid since melanoids only completely lack iridophores. A photo of one of the gilled siblings would bear my assessment out I think.

To answer your questions, the soil looks too damp. This seems to be a trend with people new to "tigers". In a top soil vivarium there will almost always be some dirt on the salamanders (not anything like your photo though) simply because of the nature of most soil. Soil with a large clay content won't have that as so much of an issue but most commercial top soils don't fit into this category. These guys are tough - you should err on the dry side for the soil and if you're concerned or need to "feel" your way through how moist it should be, just include a large very shallow water dish for them. A fake half-log or a real one should help too.

As for eating, it does seem to be taking a bit long but they don't look malnourished. Try them with live waxmoth larvae (waxworms) a few times and don't panic. You can usually gently starve new metamorphs, who are ready, into eating for the first time as long as they are healthy to begin with (as yours seem to be). Your patience should pay off.

I have a question for you though - were they sexually mature when they metamorphosed? If they were then things might be a little grim for them lifespan-wise.

Ron, can I use your photo on my Axolotl Site please? You would of course be credited. I'm very happy to see something new and I hope they have a good life.
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Old 9th January 2008   #10 (permalink)
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With regard to how it happened, at an educated guess I would say there was probably some genetic bias in there to begin with given the reaction to the water conditions. Some salmon pellets are also higher in growth hormones than I think we would like. The combination of these factors almost certainly led to this. Most axolotl owners will never experience this (thankfully for the axolotls). If memory serves, the old Indiana University Axolotl Colony staff said that when fed on salmon pellets that approximately 1 (it might have been 3?) in 400 would be capable of metamorphosis like this. All you would need in your case would be that little genetic bias I mentioned.
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Old 9th January 2008   #11 (permalink)
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amazing!! They look like morphed axolotls and are they fat or what!!
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Old 9th January 2008   #12 (permalink)
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I remember the report of a slightly higher metamorphosis rate at the Axolotl Colony, too (think it is mentioned in the "Developmental Biology" - book).
It seems likely that the salmon pellets have some thyroxine and iodine level since they are mostly made of whole marine fish (at least the ones I have over here, I asked the manufacturer about it). The AGSC has even a note on their order form that the pellets are not controlled for thyroxine levels so this food might support a genetic predisposition for metamorphosis in Axolotls.
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Old 9th January 2008   #13 (permalink)
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Neat. I think you got good suggestions from John. I'll just add that they're toes are curiously pointy, reminiscent of Mr. Lister's feet.

Lot's of axolotl morphs on the forum lately.

Edit: some pics of their siblings would be neat to see.
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Old 9th January 2008   #14 (permalink)
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These axolotls came from some of my eggs. Out of all of the axolotls and eggs I've distributed this is the first case that I'm aware of where the axolotls have metamorphosed. It's up in the air as to why they switched over. Their are a few clues but all we can do is guess. I'm as good at anecdotal data as the next guy. In fact when I was in college my lab mates skipped their fruit fly counts so I had to make up some of the results or get a bad grade. I think to say one thing or another caused these axolotls to metamorphose is just guessing.

The filter on the axolotl tank had crashed.
Salmon pellets have fish meal as their main ingredient and also have potassium iodate as an ingredient.
I use salmon pellets almost exclusively for axolotls once they are big enough to eat them.
These are the first axolotls from my stock that have metamorphosed.
The axolotl colony at University of Kentucky uses salmon pellets and occassionally has axolotls switch.
Their seem to be more reports of axolotls switching in Europe and Australia than in the U.S. on the internet.
Salmon pellets are not readily available to hobbyists in Europe and Australia.


My best guess is the water quality had something to do with it. Genetics and food might have been contributors.
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Old 9th January 2008   #15 (permalink)
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Oops. I was so busy trying to guess why they metamorphosed I didn't answer the eating question. I'd try a variety of foods. I like to use crickets, small earthworms, waxworms, isopods etc. I don't use slugs much but that might also tickle the salamanders fancy. Sometimes a reluctant salamander will eat if it is in a hiding hut with its food. I'd try putting them in a coconut hut with some wax worms and see what happens.
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Old 10th January 2008   #16 (permalink)
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In addition to the water quality and food as possible causes, I also wonder if "animal density" in the tank may also be a factor. It would stand to reason that, in the wild, if axolotls are at high density it would be favorable for them to morph.

As food, have you tried Canadian nightcrawlers cut into wiggly pieces? Leave some near the sals, then go away and leave them in peace. If they see you nearby this might inhibit eating (until they get tamer). Check back later to see if any pieces have disappeared.
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Old 10th January 2008   #17 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the good information.

The soil is just topsoil I purchased from Home Depot in 40 pound bags. It was damp but it wasnít muddy. Iíll just let it dry out. Water evaporates very quickly in my house. So the top should be pretty dry pretty quick.

I donít think they are sexually mature. I canít tell males from females. They all have a small lump behind their back legs. I read on your website that if the happens before they are sexually mature they should live long. They are about 8 months old. Would they be sexually mature at this age?

John, go ahead and use the pictures. My full name is Ron Romano. Iíll try a get you better ones. I donít have the best camera.

Prior to morphing they were eating a few pellets every other day. I donít know if these would be considered fat. Thereís rarely any food left in the tanks. But then none are ever missing any body parts either. See the pictures of my others attached.

Iím pretty well convinced the first was due to poor water quality but no idea about the second. Water was ok for that one.

Iíve been trying crickets waxworms and redworms. Iíll get some night crawlers and try pieces of them also. Since theyíve been in the topsoil I only tried waxworms today. I stuck them in the hole with them and covered them with the leaves and left them alone. One was gone a few hours later but it may be on a leaf.

I donít know if they are over crowded. I didnít think so but here's the set up I had before they morphed, a 50 gallon tank (48Lx12Wx24D inches) with 4, a 40 gallon (48Lx12Wx18D) with 3 (second morph was from this tank), 20 gallon long (30Lx12Wx12D) with 2 (first morph was from this tank) and 40 gallon (I think) (36Lx18Wx11D) with 4. They seem pretty happy and not stressed. I'd think they be bugging each other if they were crowded.

I donít mess with the leaves much since they are in the topsoil. They spend most of the time under the leaves. Iím letting them get use to their new surroundings. Just open the tank to change the water in their water dish and today I put two wax worms in front of them. I do have a shallow water dish in there and I have seen them in it.

Any other information would be greatly appreciated


Iíve attached pictures of the aquatic ones. Sorry about the picture quality and I should have cleaned the glass first.
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Old 10th January 2008   #18 (permalink)
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A few more pictures.
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Old 10th January 2008   #19 (permalink)
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That last one looks like a wildtype - what are the others?

And thanks for letting me use the photos Ron.
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Old 10th January 2008   #20 (permalink)
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Ron,

your Axolotls do not look fat but they look (very) well fed. I would switch the feeding interval and let them go one or two more days a week without food - or so to say just feed them twice a week. The pellets have a comparably high content of proteins and fat.
The gravel in your tank looks like it has an unfavorable size; some of the smaller ones might get swallowed and lead to congestion. You should think about removing it (additionally any leftover food and feces might collect between or beneath the stones).

Michael, you're right that it's just guessing. We have some occasional reports of morphed Axolotls in Germany but we also have pellets readily available.
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