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Three sick axys

This is a discussion on Three sick axys within the Sick Axolotl? forums, part of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) category; I'm really confused about why my axolotls aren't eating. I have three axys, all black. One is quite large (about ...

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

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Old 22nd November 2010   #1 (permalink)
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Default Three sick axys

I'm really confused about why my axolotls aren't eating.

I have three axys, all black. One is quite large (about 25cm) and is about 2.5 years old.
the other two are smaller, about 17cm long, and are about 1 year old.

all three have been living happily together for about a year with no problems. all three are typically very good eaters.

the problem with the axys not eating much has been around for about 4 weeks now. some days they eat, some days they won't touch food. I've been trying them on frozen fish, pellets, black worms, and beef heart.

basically, this is what happened.

* water temperature rose because we're coming into australian summer and they started eating less. i attached the chiller and insulated the tank and now the temp is fine (20-22 degrees). they all looked a bit stressed with the new water flow from the pump, but i redirected it to the top of the water and they seemed to calm down.
* axys were being temperamental with eating but still eating at least a little bit each feed for about a week.
* i went away for 6 days and had someone else looking after them. there were water quality issues when I got back because the person who was looking after them left pellets in the water (about 20 pellets were floating on the surface when i got back) and it went a bit rancid. I've used toxivec and taken water samples to my local aquarium specialist a couple of times now and the water quality has been fine for a couple of weeks now.
* axys weren't eating at all until water quality was fixed, but then only ate a little and sporadically. i used triple sulfate tablets with no effect.
* now for the last 2 weeks or so they haven't eaten much at all.
* the big axy has been floating constantly for the last week or so and now his stomach looks swollen like it's full of air. it's definitely larger even though he hasn't been eating. he hasn't eaten at all in about a week. the two smaller axys are still on the ground or on their plastic plants/ in their hiding places.

do axys get colic? any other suggestions/ ideas for what could be wrong? or suggestions?

i considered treating them for worms even though they don't have typical worm symptoms just in case. what do you think?

sorry about the long-winded post but i wanted to include as much info as possible,



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Old 22nd November 2010   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Three sick axys

My thoughts -

* Forget the frozen fish and beef heart - use pellets and worms

* higher temps would generally increase appetite, lower temps slow the metabolism

* 20-22 celc is still a little too high albeit survivable (especially if they are used to it - but, if you have a chiller, why not set it to an ideal temp of 18 celc? if they are used to higher temps then do it slowly over a week - higher than 21 celc is generally considered too high

*Why tri sulf? They are not fish, you cant treat them as such, and what were you treating anyway? Higher bacteria from the left over food? I dont think they would do any harm, i'm just not sure of the benefit?

It sounds like maybe the left over food has caused an ammonia spike and possibly a mini cycle. I think monitoring water quality and changing 20% everyday would do better than fish treatments

Can you get your own test kit and test everyday? About $40 from here www.aqauriumsupermarket.com.au

* Axies eating everyday as adults is probably too much anyway - 2-3 days is fine. I have 2 adults in 18 celc water who eat 1 big worm and maybe a pellet or two or 3-4 pellets every 2 days and are chubby. One would eat everyday if i let him, the other has been known to be fussy for 5-6 days at a time, then eat fine. As of today, the fussy one hasn't eaten for 4 days, i'd be concerned if i havent seen the bugger do it heaps before

* Re floating, thats no good. Can indicate all sorts of things, but usually impaction.

The first thing everyone is going to want to know is water parameters -

Temp?
Ammonia?
Nitrates?
Nitrites?
PH?
GH?
KH?
Substrate? (gravel or sand or rocks or bare and what ever the substrate is how big?)

Bren



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Old 22nd November 2010   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Three sick axys

ok, lots of questions.

1. temperature - I can't get it lower than this. The axys sold in brisbane tend to be used to higher temps. I have a mini chiller with an evaporative cooling function. It isn't effective enough to get the temp down to 18 degrees. I use insulation around the tank and ice bottles to keep it at around the 21 degree mark but it's simply not possible to get it cooler than that and keep it cool long-term. i could get it cooler than this but then the temp would be going up and down all the time (using ice) and i thought that would be worse than a steady but higher temp. these axys are used to higher temperatures. even in winter the tank doesn't get much cooler than around 17 degrees.

2. why triple sulfate? because it was recommended by the aquarium specialists as a treatment for possible fungus.

3. gravel - they're very small gravel stones recommended by the aquarium specialists i bought them from. i've never had a problem with them.

4. they don't normally get fed everyday when they're eating fine, but at the moment i've been trying to feed them every day because they're simply not eating at all and I don't want to miss an opportunity to get some food into them.

5. i thought frozen fish and beef heart were recommended by people on this site?

yes i can get a kit to test the water quality, but all the tests mentioned below were fine when i got them tested a week ago and they said not to worry about them anymore as long as i keep up the usual water changes and making sure no food is left in the tank.

how do i treat impaction if that's what this is? the floating axy is a big concern right now.



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Old 22nd November 2010   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Three sick axys

hi
im in brisbane as well. Treatment for impaction is fridging. You put the axie in a bowl(that you can seal) with enough water to cover him and put him in the fridge. You will need to change the water everyday, so i would put some spare water near the axie so when it is time for a water change the water is the same temp. You could also put a nice juicy worm in with him(he might be temped when he is alone, only do this with live food) but be sure to take it out the next day when you change the water.
Please get rid of the gravel this is most likely the cause of impaction.
lea



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Old 22nd November 2010   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Three sick axys

thanks lea.

how do you deal with the brisbane summer temp issue? it's been a bit of a battle the last couple of years.

it's so difficult trying to sift through the different advice i get from people - the gravel i have was recommended by the aquarium specialists as the right sort for axys and apparently is the type their breeders use.



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Old 22nd November 2010   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Three sick axys

To add to what Lea has recommended with fridging the sick axy (have any pics?), I would go ahead and fridge everyone until you know what you have going on with the water quality. Fridging

Unfortunately, most have found the advice given by pet shops is often wrong and unfortunately may even prove detrimental to the health and well-being of axolotls. These folks tend to treat axolotls as if they were fish, which they are not at all. It is often recommended to try to avoid adding chemicals to an axolotl tank as they have little tolerance for many of those used in fishkeeping. Fungus is very easily identified on axolotls, it presents as little white, cotton-like fuzzy growths usually on the gills first.

Although the gravel has not proven to be a problem in the past as far as you know, it is advised against for the possible impaction problem. Our little pets are not so bright and despite how well we feed them, they tend to still vacuum up things that are obviously not meant to be food with those huge mouths of theirs.



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Old 22nd November 2010   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Three sick axys

thanks Shannon,

supposing the water quality is fine, what is the next step? other than fridging?

update - my big axy suddenly has a smaller belly and has stopped floating so maybe he's passed whatever it was. I'll keep a close eye on him today. still not interested in food though.

i'll remove the gravel.



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Old 22nd November 2010   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Three sick axys

Fingers crossed that your water quality is fine. If it is, then I would keep them under observation since the one appears to be acting normally again. I would as suggested, try offering a live worm. I usually soak my worms a bit first to remove the dirt and excess slime.

Maybe some frozen bloodworms? Even my pickiest eaters usually can't resist those. Most use an empty, submerged jar turned on its side. You then thaw the worms and add them to the jar with a turkey baster...Maybe "squirt" a few right in front of each?

Another reason to fridge could be to stimulate the appetite...Fridging calms them and slows their metabolism. Fridge for a few days and then return them to their normal temp - this can stimulate appetite - has worked for me.

If fridging is not possible, then just keep offering them food. However, if they start losing weight, then you may want to consider the fridging at that time.

You mentioned that the additional water flow stressed them a bit, so maybe they will settle down now and start eating soon for you...Definitely stray from the beef heart and fish though...Mammal flesh is difficult to digest and with the fish, if a freshwater species then being used as a treat should be okay. If saltwater, not a good thing for a freshwater axolotl...



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Old 22nd November 2010   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Three sick axys

sorry...i did the same thing last year with the ice bottles.....it is hard work so i know what you are going through. I had hose running through a tuckerbox freezer, i had the filter sitting in an esky full of ice which i added 2-3 times a day. This year i when and got me a chiller, got to love weekend shopper hehehe.
i did see a chiller on ebay for sale down the coast(pick up only).



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Old 22nd November 2010   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Three sick axys

thanks for all the help, i'm off tomorrow to stock up on blood worm and get some earthworms. and to check the water again.
much appreciated

oh, and the jam jar idea is great - i've had problems before with blood worms fouling the water. i do have a syringe i've used for live black worms before but never thought to try it with frozen blood worms. good idea



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Old 22nd November 2010   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Three sick axys

What size tank do you have by the way and what type of filtration?



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