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Help Identifying Sickness? Vets are stumped!

This is a discussion on Help Identifying Sickness? Vets are stumped! within the Sick Axolotl? forums, part of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) category; Hello everyone! I'm pretty new to posting but I've been reading for a while for help with my own setup. ...

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

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Old 11th September 2017   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help Identifying Sickness? Vets are stumped!

Hello everyone!

I'm pretty new to posting but I've been reading for a while for help with my own setup. My mother bought these two axolotls a few years ago and the pet store told her very incorrect information regarding their care. I rescued them about 6 months ago and have been trying to help them perk up a bit, but they had about 2 years of improper water quality, temperature, and feeding patterns. After this post, I put a description of their current care.

I've gotten them up to a healthy weight, but both of them have some persistent gill degeneration and black staining on their lips and toes (is this from their black sand substrate, or something I should worry about?).

Here's the two of them side by side. The one on the left (Akish) is in worse shape than the one on the right (Kib):
Click the image to open in full size.

Here's a closeup of Akish's gills:
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

And Kib's:
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

(Images are also attached to post)

Anyone have any idea what this is? It doesn't look like a fungal infection (no fluffy white patches), but I'm not sure what to look for otherwise. They have a good appetite and have been readily accepting food and seem otherwise healthy.

I took them to the MA Odd Pet Vet to get them checked out, and they tried to be helpful but were ultimately not familiar enough with axolotls to give me a good diagnosis or treatment plan, but were able to rule out parasites and think it's either a bacterial or fungal infection. They had me doing two months of a Silver Sulfadiazine cream applied with a q-tip to affected gills daily after a salt bath, and after no improvement I took them back to the vet and they had me switch to Neosporin cream + salt bath applied in the same way. They're not sure what else to have me try at this point.

I still have seen no improvement and I'm quite worried. I'm a first-time axolotl owner and I'm not sure what it is I'm doing wrong. Today I put them both in the fridge and I ordered everything I need to treat a columnaris infection (from the very helpful pinned post by user AnnabeleGrey), and I'll be moving forward with that unless others have any more specific ideas.

Thank you so much for any help! Э(._.)Є

===================CURRENT CARE===================

I've been implementing this for the past ~6 months, with little improvement in their health.

I've been keeping the water temperature around 70 degrees F or colder. I know they like it even chillier than that and I'm in the process of acquiring an aquarium cooler (any recommendations would be great) but in the mean time I've been using frozen water bottles to try to keep the temperature down.

I do a 25% water change every week, and a 50-75% change every month, and check the water quality with a test kit nearly every week. I've been able to consistently keep acceptable water conditions. Sometimes my ammonia values register larger than zero, but are nowhere near what I understand to be dangerous levels.

I feed them mostly bloodworms with brine shrimp as an extra snack occasionally for some variety. I feed them using reptile feeding tongs and let them nibble at the partially frozen cube until its gone (this has been great for ensuring they eat the whole cube and makes cleanup a breeze) and scooping out the extra uneaten food with a net.

This has noticeably reduced their stress (no more curled tails) but their health seems to continue to deteriorate, and I'm very puzzled.

Thanks again!
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Help Identifying Sickness? Vets are stumped!-img_2686.jpg   Help Identifying Sickness? Vets are stumped!-img_2698.jpg   Help Identifying Sickness? Vets are stumped!-img_2701.jpg  



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Old 13th September 2017   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help Identifying Sickness? Vets are stumped!

bump?



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Old 14th September 2017   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help Identifying Sickness? Vets are stumped!

I don't think anyone can tell what is going on. I"m sorry .



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Old 14th September 2017   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help Identifying Sickness? Vets are stumped!

Ahh, well, worth a shot!

Thought people might have more specific ideas about helpful treatment, if not a diagnosis exactly.

Thanks anyway!



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