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Axolotl "eyes sunken" and blinking/ twitching?

This is a discussion on Axolotl "eyes sunken" and blinking/ twitching? within the Sick Axolotl? forums, part of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) category; Hello everyone, I noticed something odd tonight with my axolotl Vicious. While she is always swimming around doing this and ...

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

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Old 23rd January 2013   #1 (permalink)
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Default Axolotl "eyes sunken" and blinking/ twitching?

Hello everyone,

I noticed something odd tonight with my axolotl Vicious. While she is always swimming around doing this and that- her eyes look like they receding back into her head- they usually bulge out. I noticed she looks like she is also "blinking" or "twitching", jerking her head back and forth in small movements here and there almost like she was "sneezing". I have never seen this look or behavior in her before which is why it is raising alarm for me- and I am hoping it isn't anything too severe. I observe her all the time and noticed this unusual behavior only tonight- and if it is the start of something I would like to do all I can ASAP so it does not progress into anything worse. I'm not sure if this could be an irritant or a type of parasite or what.

She seems to be eating fine and swimming ok- which is a good thing. Now she seems to be sitting there flicking her gills back and forth- so I am wondering if she is irritated/ somehow hurt herself (I have a pink fake coral piece she loves- she tries to hide under it and everything and I wonder if it could have hurt her in some way or another because it has all these corners to it). I don't see any large blotches on her skin or unusual coloring currently- there might be a few little tiny, tiny red dots on her head- but I cannot honestly tell if it is the lighting or something else developing. She also has little dark spots on her face as well- little freckles. Otherwise she looks fine- you would never be able to tell unless you get up close and look at her eyes/ face. The movements are noticeable from away- and it's only in her face the twitch/ sneeze motion.

Tomorrow if there is no improvement- I think I am going to clean out the whole entire tank and see if there is any improvement in her look and sterilize everything again just in case. I did a full tank cleaning about 2-3 weeks ago so I didn't think it would be the water (I haven't had a problem with any of our pets with the water quality- we have water frogs and a tiger salamander who loves her pool which are all fine)- but something is not right with Vicious I know that for sure. The temperature is has been pretty stable- about 65-68 degrees. Could objects be an irritant- or could it be something else? Is there something I should get to help in a situation like this?


If anybody has any advice that would be great! I have been worrying for the past few hours about this- I tried doing some research and could not find anything to give me any advice/ comfort on what I should do. I don't know if it is too early to know if something is up or if it is a freakish thing- but I feel so bad... I feel like she might be in pain, and it just breaks my heart to see her like this.

Thank you for reading and any help you can provide!
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Old 23rd January 2013   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl "eyes sunken" and blinking/ twitching?

What are the parameters, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and Temp? I am worried that if you are doing full tank cleaning there's a huge loss of good bacteria. Could post some pics of your lotl and her tank set up too.
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Old 23rd January 2013   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl "eyes sunken" and blinking/ twitching?

Wow really? I never knew doing full tank changes was so harmful/ bad. Thank you for letting me know that.

The problem is she refuses to eat a lot of live foods (I tried well over 6 different types of live worms as recommended by other users seeing my tiger salamander is the same way- picky) so one of the few, few things she will eat are her vitamin pellets and sometimes shrimp bits but that tends to cloud the water which is why I am constantly cleaning up after her doing these tank changes- I feel it spoils the water and while I try to clean up what I can- it is messy. I also have a turkey baster I use for all waste. She cannot sense movement it seems at all- so even when I would dangle food right there- nothing. I don't want to let dead worms sit in her tank either (which she often leaves)- so I don't really know what to do about this, it has been a struggle and battle trying to get her to eat anything else. I tried bloodworms which was a recommended favorite by many- which she did not eat, resulting in a very dirty, messy tank. So I am constantly cleaning up after her when trying things- she often eats from the surface and that is about it- she will not take anything that floats and moves or anything by hand. I'm not sure if that is normal- it is how she has always been since I had her so it has been the only way she eats- it has to be in one area, perfectly still. If you have any advice on how to work on this- that would also be greatly appreciated. I have tried just about everything- I don't think her living off only eating pellets is healthy or good but currently it seems to be the only thing she will eat. I buy my tiger salamander live worms almost every week/ 2 weeks- so if I could get her to eat worms, I think it would help with the water quality significantly.

I have a filter that came with the set up (a basic one- I usually keep it off because I think it upsets her with too quick of a current and I found it really has not helped with maintaining the tank) as well as a bubble bar at the bottom for oxygen. She seems to love that.

She is quite big and pretty round (I would say about 7 - 8 inches easily) and has grown a lot in the past 6-8 months. I am getting her a 30 gallon (at the least) with an internal filter which I have all picked out and ready (low flow, quiet, 3-5 settings I believe), but I currently do not have the room for the larger tank where I am now seeing I am in the process of moving and the tank I feel is too small for the filter I have coming in. She is in a temporary 10 gallon for the time being.

Right now the lighting is awful so I can take some photos tomorrow morning with the natural lighting. I might have some test strips left so I can read up the results tomorrow- if not I will go out and get some more if needed, not a problem. I never had a problem with the water quality/ nitrates and everything in the past 16 years I have been working with and cleaning tanks and setting them up- everything always seemed to be perfect so truthfully I don't know what to do if there is something going on with the nitrates and ammonia levels- I never had to deal with that before. What would you do in a situation if the levels are out of balance?

The water temperature has been stable- around 65-68 degrees.

Could the food be the possible issue?

Thank you for your help! I greatly appreciate it.
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Old 23rd January 2013   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl "eyes sunken" and blinking/ twitching?

If she is constantly messing up her tank with left over food then it is possible/probable that your ammonia levels have spiked.

Large scale water changes are not too harmful to your tank as the bacteria do not live in the water but on the surfaces of the ornaments etc and in your filter medium. It is the scrubbing or cleaning of these that can interrupt the bacteria cycle.

If you are not using a filter then I would suggest you do a one off 50% water change with dechlorinated water then get into a routine of doing a 25% water change every day (with dechlorinated water) plus remove all left over food and any poop you see.

Axolotls are rather hardy animals and can go for long periods without food - a week or so will not do them any harm. I have seen many people on this site report having 'fussy eaters' and my two were initially very fussy. I combatted the fussiness with in effect a battle of nerve. I stopped offering the food they were having (bloodworms) and only offered the food I wanted them to eat (earth worms - dendro's or lobs). I quickly found that a hungry Axolotl will learn not to be fussy and eat what is offered .

I have one that eats anything that is even vaguely waved near it's head and one that almost needs to have the worm placed in it's mouth before it realises the worm is there. Axolotls appear to have sacrificed IQ in favour of general adorableness .

I personally would stop offering the foods you currently are and stick to shoving an earthworm in your Axies face everyday until it realises it is food and eats it! This may take a bit of time so do not worry if a few meals are skipped.

Good Luck
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Old 23rd January 2013   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl "eyes sunken" and blinking/ twitching?

I usually do the smaller water changes daily (I have a special canister for it that is measured out and everything). Plus the tank is small- so it is constantly evaporating so I am always replacing the water supply. I never honestly knew how harmful the changes could be- so I am glad now I am aware of that and can work around it with alternative options.

I always remove leftover food/ poop whenever I see it- multiple times a day usually. I am always on the lookout hah.

I plan on getting all of the top-notch equipment once I get the new tank upgrade which is very soon- so if you also have any recommendations for brands that would be great- I want to make her as happy as possible and the new set up will be beautiful now that I will have more room available. I was recommended to go with an Aquafilter internal- which a couple axie owners I know have and recommended to me. I think this will also help greatly with the quality of the water.

Thanks for the advice! I will try that- I have some earth worms already seeing my tiger salamander eats them as well- so that would work out perfect if this one here would eat them. I was always worried I didn't want her to starve/ not eat- but I feel a lot better knowing she will be fine on that aspect. Are there any other types of worms/ foods you would recommend to try as well? I might give her a little break from eating work on some of the recommendations given then try the worms within the next few days or so.

Thanks again! It is greatly appreciated!
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Old 23rd January 2013   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Axolotl "eyes sunken" and blinking/ twitching?

I would offer her an earthworm everyday rather than just not offer her anything, that way she will learn quicker that it is food and she won't miss any more feeds than necessary.

API master test kits are pretty good, the strips can be a bit unreliable and inaccurate. Look on Amazon and Ebay they are usually cheaper on there than in shops.

Avoid Prime water treatment as this binds the ammonia in the water so the bacteria starve and don't colonise your filter which means your tank will never cycle, Amquel has been suggested by many as a better alternative.

I am a bit hesitant to suggest anymore things as I am not sure what brands are and are not available in the USA!

If you are ever unsure about anything then try searching the forum - look at the green bar accross the top of the screen, there is a 'search' tab, if you click on that a drop down thingy (yes that is the technical term ) appears, type in what ever you are looking for and it will bring up a whole host of threads for you to read/wade through.
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Last edited by CJ1981; 23rd January 2013 at 05:39. Reason: spelling
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