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Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

This is a discussion on Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help. within the Sick Axolotl? forums, part of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) category; Hi, my axolotl Mudkip has been sick for the past few months. Started out as refusing food, cheek gills shrinking ...

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

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Old 3rd February 2017   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

Hi, my axolotl Mudkip has been sick for the past few months. Started out as refusing food, cheek gills shrinking to near nonexistence, lethargy, etc. Then his tankmate attacked him and managed to chomp his leg right off, and while the leg is growing back (he's been separated from her since The Incident), his condition seems to be declining. Salt baths were given to treat a bacterial infection (fluffy and white) in the leg while it fell off and a new one grew, which seemed to help for a while, but he's taken a turn for the worse. His fins are shrunken and shriveled and curled in on themselves, he's lost a ton of weight because he isn't eating, and his mouth won't close. By all accounts he appears to have metabolic bone disease, and he's been in the fridge for a week with daily water changes, but checking up on him today i noticed what looked like a white spot on his growing in leg and some white stuff in the corners of his mouth. He also is trying VERY hard to get at least his face out of the water, which concerns me as if he is metamorphosizing I haven't the slightest clue as to why. It might just be his slime coat shedding as it began to come off the other day (???) but his symptoms are also consistent with mouth rot, and there are no vets in the area familiar with this species so I hope you all can help me out. I'll attach some pictures.

In brief here are his symptoms:
  • lethargy
  • showing interest in food but refusing to eat. now if you put some near his face he turns away and goes to the other side of the tank.
  • shrinking gills
  • shrinking fins
  • tankmate bit his leg off for no apparent reason (she is perfectly healthy and jubilant and they've always gotten along fine, but she attacked him after his symptoms began to show)
  • slime coat shedding
  • gaping mouth
  • occasional dry-heaving motions
  • underweight
  • tail fin membrane appears to be shredding???
  • difficulty getting oxygen, keeps trying to leave water
  • his cloaca appears to be swollen and had something stringy in it a few days ago

He's been in quarantine for about two months now and showing no signs of recovery. Water quality is fine, tested it myself and had it tested at a local aquarium store place to make sure. His and his tankmate's diet consisted of Hikari Sinking Carnivore Pellets up until about a month ago, when it was switched to earthworms/red worms because they would provide better nutrition and his tankmate seemed a bit disinterested in the pellets. They eat bloodworms as treats. He ate one earth worm and that is the first and last thing he's eaten in months. Please help, I'm worried about him. I don't want to treat him for something he doesn't have and cause unnecesary stress. Also I can't figure out how he's managed to survive this long without eating?
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Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.-image.jpg  




Last edited by synchronicity; 3rd February 2017 at 23:37. Reason: trying to upload photos, it's only allowing me to upload one :/
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Old 4th February 2017   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

Apparently it doesn't like me trying to attach pictures from my phone.

(The white spot seen on the right side just in front of his hind leg isn't a bacterial growth, it's an iridophore he's had since hatching. There's a smaller one on his other side near his tail.)
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Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.-img_8880-1-.jpg   Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.-img_8879-1-.jpg   Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.-9988.jpg  



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Old 4th February 2017   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

here's what his gills do
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Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.-shriveled-gills.png  



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Old 4th February 2017   #4 (permalink)
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I don't know what it could be honestly if not water quality.

Perhaps he has internal parasites, or an internal bacterial infection. In this case you need medication.

Could you get a close up of his face? Have you noticed bulging eyes, blinking, or anything?

The losing of his gills and "fin" is a sign of metamorphosing but it might just be because he is so underweight. The not eating indicates to me an internal problem.


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Old 4th February 2017   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

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Originally Posted by emdalliance View Post
I don't know what it could be honestly if not water quality.

Perhaps he has internal parasites, or an internal bacterial infection. In this case you need medication.

Could you get a close up of his face? Have you noticed bulging eyes, blinking, or anything?

The losing of his gills and "fin" is a sign of metamorphosing but it might just be because he is so underweight. The not eating indicates to me an internal problem.


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These are the best closeups I can get of him without taking him completely out of the water, it's a bit low because he kept trying to stick his head out of the water to breathe and it seemed to be stressing him out when he couldn't reach. I don't want to touch him more than I need to (switching him to clean water) but I had to lift his head a bit to get a picture (while apologizing profusely for the flash, not like he could understand but desperate times call for desperate measures!). sorry they're sort of blurry I took them with my phone and he's in the fridge tub. The swollen cloaca is a new thing too, just started a day or so ago. It's /huge/.

Since putting him in the fridge, his gills have been looking better (maybe just because he needs them now more for oxygen?), but the rest of him has been looking worse!

His eyes look just like they always have, no weird blinking like movements other than when he occasionally gulps and they seem to sink into his head which is just a salamander/amphibian/reptile thing.

If it is parasites, how would I treat it? And how would he even get this in the first place, and how would his tankmate be completely unaffected? The only other things in the tank are the occasional planaria when they didn't eat their pellets.

Also, thank you for responding!

EDIT: The white spots on his tail are also iridophores, and the slightly lighter white spots on his forehead are the same, been there since he hatched, every other mark seen on him is slime coat except his mouth, which I'm not sure what that is. Hopefully not mouth rot.
EDIT EDIT: Seen in the first picture, his mouth is always open like that!
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Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.-closeup1.jpg   Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.-closeup2.jpg   Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.-closeup3.jpg  



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Old 4th February 2017   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

Just got a pretty good side view from the side of the tub. Unfortunately it's green so it's a bit dark.
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Old 5th February 2017   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

I was checking up on him and out of nowhere he pooped (not sure how, he hasn't eaten anything?), so I put him in a new tub of clean water and took some more pictures.

The end of one of the toes on the foot that's growing back fell off and was floating around in the other tub, and the white spot i figured out is bone. Also he appears to be growing an extra toe. His foot is growing very strangely, which I hear isn't uncommon for regeneration, but still.
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Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.-closeup5.jpg   Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.-closeup6.jpg   Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.-closeup7.jpg  



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Old 5th February 2017   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

I just found something very weird about an experiment where IPTG was introduced to an axolotl whose limb had been amputated and the foot began regenerating identically to the way Mudkip's is. I know for a fact that my grandfather, who frequently feeds (or tries to feed) the axolotls works around all sorts of equipment and machinery and chemicals, and has a knack for not washing his hands under most circumstances. Could something have triggered a similar response and be messing with his proteins in this manner, but throughout his whole body and be undetected in aquarium water tests because they aren't testing for it? How would I go about treating something like that, if it's the case?

Maybe I've just been watching too much X files Plus his tankmate is fine, so this is probably just me being paranoid.



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Old 5th February 2017   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

oh my god is he morphing



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Old 5th February 2017   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

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oh my god is he morphing
That's what I'm trying to figure out! I sincerely hope not!

His legs haven't become stockier and his gills aren't shrinking into the side of his head, just shriveling and curling inward, nor is his face becoming rounded or his eyes bulging, which is why I think he's suffering from an illness that I can't put heads or tails to.



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Old 5th February 2017   #11 (permalink)
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Unhappy Re: Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

Bad news, everybody. I just went to check on him, it seems Mudkip passed away some time early this morning.



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Old 5th February 2017   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

So sorry to hear that Mudkip has passed.



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Old 6th February 2017   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Very sick axolotl- can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong, please help.

Sorry to hear about your little friend



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Old 6th February 2017   #14 (permalink)
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I am sorry to hear that. It sounds like you really cared a lot about him and that you were doing all that you could.

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