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ACTmom
9th June 2008, 22:41
We have had Skimo about three weeks. I think he may be a larval Tiger Salamander but I saw other people having Axolotl's who float.

We inherited Skimo from a friend whose "friends" had bought him a "baby dinosaur" from the mall. He was still in a tiny container that he barely fit in when we received him. My son used all of his birthday money to buy an aquarium at the pet store (an all in one deal) with a filter that hooks on the top of the aquarium. I know now from reading this site that this may not be the best option, but wonder if this filter can work. We let it run (as per the instructions) for 24 hours and then added Skimo. He seemed to really love the freedom. About a week ago he started floating. From reading this site, I decided to lower our water level and have been replacing about 20% of the water each day with tap water that has been treated. After reading some more, I bought a kit to test the PH and even the treated tap water has PH over 7.6. I don't want to sound cheap, but what is the least I could do to make Skimo's environment better. This was an unexpected pet for us, and while we want to take good care of him, we just don't have lots of money in the budget.

I'm open to all suggestions.

Thanks!

Saspotato
9th June 2008, 23:43
I would get an ammonia testing kit as first priority. You should also get nitrite and nitrate test kits too, but if you are short on cash these can wait. Not sure about the US, but ammonia test kits are $15 ($14US) in Australia.

Leaving the filter on for 24 hours is not enough to cycle the tank. Basically your tank is probably cycling and your ammonia high so that is what is making your axolotl sick. Here is an article to explain this process http://www.caudata.org/cc/articles/cyclingEDK.shtml
You will need to do 20% water changes each day that the ammonia reads above 0.

Your PH is fine so don't worry about it. Anything between 6.5-8 is ok.

Is your filter too strong? That is the main concern with filters, that they create too much water flow. If there is too much water flow you need to make a spray bar. You can buy them but making it is cheaper. Just any plastic. My friend used a cut up Coke bottle.

The other thing you should buy if you don't have already, is a thermometer. Should be a couple of dollars only.

So yea, the cheapest thing you can do for your axie is basically let the tank cycle (it will be cycled when ammonia reaches 0), keep an eye on the temperature, and after the tank is cycled do 20% water changes each week. If your axie starts getting sick, put him in the fridge.

Hope that helps and good luck!

ACTmom
10th June 2008, 02:05
Sarah,
Thanks for your helpful ideas. Should I leave Skimo in the tank while I cycle it? or should I put him in the fridge? If I put him in the fridge, how long can he stay there? We are going out of town on Friday for 10 days and I'm trying to decide what would be best for someone taking care of him for us. Oh, and I read somewhere that if an axolotl is in the fridge, he would need 20% water changes every day. Is that correct? I have a thermometer. It is a pretty constant temp of 72 degrees. From what I read, that should be okay.

Really, thanks so much for your suggestions.

Alison

ACTmom
10th June 2008, 02:31
I just did some more searching and I realized that it is recommended to do 100% water changes while they are in the fridge. How do you do that? Where should I put Skimo while I pour out his water?

Saspotato
10th June 2008, 02:32
You can leave Skimo in the tank but you will need to be testing the water frequently and doing the changes. I cycled my tank with my axolotl in it. Read the article I posted, will explain it all for you :) Ammonia tests will last a long while and give you lots of tests, so should be a while before you need another test kit. Get one of the kits were you drop the solution into a test tube of water. The strip tests are less accurate.

If you plan to keep him in the fridge, you will need to do 100% daily water changes with dechlorinated water of the same temperature. I keep a bottle next to the container to make it easy to change. Keep the fridge above 41F. 72F is on the high side so keep an eye on it... as long as it is below 75F your axie should be ok. 57-64F is the ideal temp.

I think if you are going to leave Skimo for 10 days, you will need to get someone to change the water 20% at least every two days, or each day if possible as your tank is probably cycling. If he is in the fridge, each day 100%. How big is your axie? If he is adult size a couple of feedings only will be fine, or less. Might be better to feed him rarely so less waste is created.

Edit: in answer to your additional question. Just keep him in a net while you change the water. I catch mine in the net and tip out the water, and pour the prepared bottle in. Takes less than 10 seconds and after a few seconds wriggling around when I put him back in, he is fine.

ACTmom
11th June 2008, 03:21
Sarah,

Thanks so much for your information. Skimo has been in the fridge 24 hours and he's no longer floating! I'm going to leave him in there till we get back from our trip (a friend will do 100% water changes while we're gone) and then I'll get our tank cycled with him in it. He was still fairly active with all the cold water, but he didn't seem interested in eating.

Thanks again,

Alison

Saspotato
11th June 2008, 03:57
Great to hear!

Yea he will be unlikely to eat in the fridge but don't worry about that. His metabolism will slow down enough so he doesn't need to eat. 10 days in the fridge without food will be fine. My axie spent nearly three weeks in there during a heat spell with no food and emerged chubby and healthy as ever ;) After half a day or so he was eating again.

He will probably become less active the longer he spends in the fridge and if you have an albino axolotl his gills will be come pale (not sure what happens to dark axies or tigers though). These are normal responses to being in the fridge.

Also, if you do end up having a tiger instead of an axolotl, there are caresheets here http://www.caudata.org/cc/species/caresheets.shtml. I don't have any experience with tigers, but there is a forum here for questions relating to them. http://www.caudata.org/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=47

Good luck~

ACTmom
11th June 2008, 19:04
Sounds good. He is pretty skinny. I don't think he's much different than when we got him, but after looking at some of the pictures on this site, I'm pretty sure I need to fatten him up. Do you think this can wait until we get back? And I'm also pretty sure he's a tiger. I will post a picture so the experts can give their opinion, but based on all the people who bought "baby dinosaurs" at Oklahoma malls and ended up with Tiger Salamanders, I'm pretty sure Skimo is related. My son is already facinated by Skimo, and I'm sure he'll be excited to see his transformation. We saw an adult Tiger Salamander at a local wildlife exhibit and it was beautiful. I found that care page and I've read it. I feel like I have a much better plan for caring for Skimo now. Thanks.
Alison

ianclick
11th June 2008, 21:37
Hi alison,

If you haven't already have a look at www.axolotl.org it has heaps of great info on all things axie.

ACTmom
12th June 2008, 19:28
Thanks,

That's where I found out about this forum! It's a great site, but the people here have done a great job answering the additional questions I couldn't find the answers to over there.

Kaysie
12th June 2008, 19:53
Axolotl.org is run by the same people (like me) that run caudata.org. It's all one forum, really. Axolotl.org is just a subset of caudata.org.