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Non-Feathery Gills

This is a discussion on Non-Feathery Gills within the Sick Axolotl? forums, part of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) category; I've had my axolotls, Salt (female albino) and Peppa' (female wild type), since January. They were about 3 years old ...

Sick Axolotl? Axolotl looking down in the gills? The doctors are in.

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Old 29th July 2015   #1 (permalink)
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Default Non-Feathery Gills

I've had my axolotls, Salt (female albino) and Peppa' (female wild type), since January. They were about 3 years old when I got them from a breeder who was moving out of state.

When I got them they had the feathers on their gills (they never had very plump gills) but recently they have lost mostly everything (pictures included). I was wondering if anyone had some past experience and knew the cause of something like this. I've included some information about them below.

The previous owner kept them in a 10 gallon tank ever since they were born, and that is what they are in now, but I will be upgrading to a 20 or 30 as soon as I move at the end of the week. I know 10 gallons is too small for two

Salt has always been thinner than Peppa', but I think that Peppa' is just a glutton. I feed them thawed blood worm cubes right now (one each every 2-3 days). I tried hand-feeding earthworms a couple months ago. Salt refused to eat them, but Peppa' just went crazy for them. Salt got even thinner, so I switched back to the bloodworms.

I don't have a filter on the tank right now, because every time I turn it on, their gills curl up. I've found literature online that water movement is stressful, so I've always assumed that to be the cause of their gills curling up.

Because I don't have the filter I try to change the water (20%) at least once a week, but I haven't been very diligent in the last couple weeks unfortunately. I just tested the water and the results are as follows, PH: 7.4; Ammonia: 0; Nitrite: 0; Nitrate: 50.

Peppa' is very active, she swims and walks about frequently, while Salt is mostly sedentary. Peppa' has always gulped air, but Salt has recently started doing it too.

Please let me know if you have any advice.


Thank you

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Old 29th July 2015   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Non-Feathery Gills

I can't view the pictures unfortunately.

10 gallons is very small for two adult axolotls. The sooner you can upgrade them the better so it is good you are doing this soon. I feel that this is probably due to water quality. I would maybe move them to a tub of clean, fresh, dechlorinated water and conduct daily 100% water changes until you can transfer them to the new tank. Having them in the tub will allow you to monitor them closely and ensure they are in good water conditions to aid in recovery. You could also try a black tea bath to help soothe their skin. Tea also has some mild antibacterial and antifungal properties and is a gentle treatment. It may also be better to keep them in the tub doing daily 100% water changes until the new tank is cycled as further exposure to ammonia and nitrite whilst the new tank cycles would not aid their recovery.

With food, bloodworm and blackworm are not nutritious enough as a staple diet for adult axolotls. What type of earthworms have you tried? You could try a different type of earthworm or perhaps try blanching the worm first (pour hot water over the worm for a second to kill the worm and then immediately pour cold water to cool them)? Worms, particularly red wigglers, excrete a foul tasting substance which sometimes axolotls don't like. Blanching them first kills the worm and stops this from happening. You could also try chopping the worm up into smaller portions. Sometimes, you may need to offer nothing else and see if they get hungry enough to eat the worms. If you can't get them to eat earthworms, a good quality axolotl or newt pellet may be a better option as these will provide more nutrition than bloodworm or blackworm.



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