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Fungus

This is a discussion on Fungus within the Axolotl General Discussion forums, part of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) category; There has become a trend in the forum to use salt bathing as the first line treatment for axolotl fungus, ...

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Old 18th February 2014   #1 (permalink)
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Default Fungus

There has become a trend in the forum to use salt bathing as the first line treatment for axolotl fungus, in many cases it is unnecessary. Salt bathing is a highly effective treatment but is a harsh one, it is irritating to the axolotl and removing it from the tank may cause stress. I have alternate methods for treating fungus which I will explain.
The first step is to establish the root cause of the infection, I split this into two categories 1) injury caused by a bite or possible damage from an object in the tank, leading to a breach in the slime coating and subsequent infection. This is generally a nipped toe or slight gill damage, if it is a more severe injury such as a partially amputated limb or body fungus treat it as a category 2.
2) the second category covers three areas a) ammonia spike causing a breach in the slime layer and subsequent infection.
b) a sick axolotl with a lowered immune system developing fungus as a secondary infection
c) serious injury breaching slime later
It is important to determine which category of infection your axolotl is in. If it is a slight injury to a healthy animal you will need minimal treatment, if it is an infection due to poor tank conditions damaging the slime coating these conditions need to be rectified or the axolotl may undergo further fungal infections after treatment. If your axolotl has a lowered immune system due to illness it needs to be diagnosed as this condition will need treating as well as the fungus.
My methods of treating fungal attacks are as follows:
Category 1) First action, do nothing, a healthy axolotl may fight the infection off, keep it under observation for a week, if the infection doesn't start to recede or at any point starts to spread isolate in a bare tank with a hide. Add undechlorinated water, this will cause a slight irritation but less so than a salt bath, almond leaf may also be added at this point, though I generally only add if the fungus is spreading fast. If the fungus doesn't clear I use a stronger solution, this can be done by boiling some leaves up and using the coloured water.
Category 2) Undechlorinated water and a strong almond leaf solution with salt bathing if the infection doesn't start to recede within a few days.
The use of undechlorinated water is advice I give to UK users, it would be useful if keepers from other countries could comment if their water is suitable for this. An alternate treatment is tea bathing. I have no experience of this so feel free to comment if its a treatment you use.
Untreated fungus can cause death. If you catch it early enough it is very easy to treat but its important to recognise that the fungus may be a symptom of some other problem. If your axolotl regularly picks up infections you need to review your care standards, poor water quality and high temps will increase the likelihood of a fungal infection. Almond leaf may also be used as a preventative treatment, whether it is left in the tank on a regular basis or added to a tank when an open wound is observed.
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Old 18th February 2014   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fungus

Over the 10 years or so that I kept and bred axolotls, every single time they had fungus it was because I had let the water quality slip. I found them much more sensitive to high nitrate levels than most fish I've kept, their appetite would diminish and they would get gill fungus if I let the level get over about 40ppm. Once Id done a water change and levels returned to normal they would easily fight off the fungus without any help at all.
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Old 19th February 2014   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fungus

I know the area I'm around in the US (florida) adds some chlorine and other chemicals to prevent bacteria from growing in the tap. However its more of a regional basis when it comes to how and with what the water is treated. When I lived in NJ we had well water that was extremely rich with minerals and tons of iron. I obviously didn't have axolotls at the time so I do not know how that would effect them.
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Old 19th February 2014   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fungus

While I'm well aware salt baths are a relatively safe and an effective method for treating fungus, I also agree they can cause unnecessary irritation. As an example, I've included a video of an axolotl placed in a salt bath which displays a brief bout of thrashing upon introduction, behavior which is common with this treatment. Salt baths have also been known to induce emesis in some axolotls during treatment. If there are alternative methods which provide similar effectiveness without the irritation, they should be considered. It should also be noted that many of the alternative methods mentioned require very little handling of the axolotl, which is an overlooked benefit to aid in recovery.


(video was from a post where the axolotl was being treated for a fungal infection on his tail)

Below are some of the dosing instructions for the mentioned fungal treatments:


Indian Almond Leaves
Quote:
Originally Posted by xxianxx View Post
I generally isolate an axolotl with fungus in a small tank or tub and use a small almond leaf or part of a large one, enough to discolour the water. The worse the infection the more leaf I use, I also use undechlorinated water, if the infection is mild that is all I use. It is important that good water quality is maintained so I generally don't feed the axolotl heavily if its body condition is good and only worms as pellets wreck the water.
Quote:
"It [Almond Leave extract] appeared to be the best potential alternative for fungal treatment to malachite green or acriflavin, both of which are carcinogens."
Chitmanat, C., Tongdonmuan, K., Khanom, P., Pachontis, P. and Nunsong, W. 2005. Antiparasitic, Antibacterial, and Antifungal Activities Derived from a
Terminalia catappa Solution against Some Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) Pathogens (source)

Chlorinated water / Untreated Tap water
(Because of EPA regulations in the United States, chlorine and chloramine in drinking water shouldn't exceed 4ppm)
Code:
Chlorinated water
not to exceed 5ppm as a bath for up to 2h daily

Salt baths
(For comparison, if you were to follow the salt bath tutorial sticky you would be dosing 2-3 teaspoons per liter, or roughly 10-17g/L for 10-15 minutes.)

Use the lowest effective salt concentration
I've included the more accurate dosages below, which using the lowest effective salt concentration is recommended.

You don't need to fridge with salt baths
It is often assumed that fridging must be done in conjunction with salt baths. For some severe cases or cases where the infection is at the site of an injury, fridging would aid the healing process but is usually not necessary for most mild infections.

A quarantine container/tank should be used until treatment is complete.
This will increase the efficacy of the treatment as you're not exposing your axolotl the same source water where the infection originally developed.

Code:
Sodium chloride 
10-25 g/L as a bath for 5-30 min 
Saprolegniasis. Wright, 1996. Raphael, 1993 
does not recommend 25g/L for more than 10min.
Code:
Sodium chloride 
4-6g/L as a bath for 72h 
Crawshaw, 1992
Potassium permanganate
(A strong oxidizer and sold as purple crystals)
Code:
Potassium permanganate
200 mg/L bath q 24 hr for 5 min; 1 g/100 ml as topical tx q 48-72 hr
Raphael 1993; Maruska 1994

Last edited by bellabelloo; 15th August 2014 at 22:37. Reason: Tablespoons changed to teaspoons.
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