View Full Version : Illness/Sickness: 2 axies, one healty, the other barely able to live in the tank. Help needed!!

29th January 2011, 16:21
Hi you all,

I hope I could find some help in here.

So I do have 2 axies Pilku (female leucistic) and Elfy (male wild type) in the same tank separated by a fence after Elfy ate his tank mate's hand last summer. The hand grew back, they spent the summer in buckets that were either in the fridge or just the ground (summer was extremely warm for Finland) and I moved to another side of the city at the fall.
A complete plumbing renovation has been done in the building just before I moved there with the axies.

Once everything was fine and the water settled and clean, I set up my aquarium and it's now filtered since about 3 months. Water parameters are fine, temperature around 20-21C, Elfy is perfectly healthy since always but Pilku nowadays barely visits the tank since she's all the time in the fridge.
When she is in the tank, she starts gulping air at the surface and after 5 hours she floats terribly, has bumps of air showing on her side, leg up and can barely swim. Then is the time to put her back to the fridge and try to introduce her again 2 weeks after in the tank.
As well, being in the fridge most of the time, she doesn't eat much.
The situation became worse and worse.

Pilku's background might eventually help the nowadays troubles she has to live a normal axie life.
She stayed at least 8 months in the animal shop where I bought her, was fed meal worms and crickets (WTF?), temperature in the tank was 25C. In the big lines, everything wrong.
She's always been fragile in the 1,5 year I've had her but never like now.

Any idea what's wrong? How could one be perfectly healthy and the other sick in the same environment?

Thank you a lot for reading and helping us!


30th January 2011, 12:47
She's also floating on her back very often, trying to swim and get back to the normal position.

Would API General Cure be an option to try? I read in some forum thread that someone with similar problems used it and it worked. Any possibilities to get that product to Europe?

Please help, it's been some 2 months Pilku has to spend most of her time in the fridge =/

30th January 2011, 20:52
Hey, sounds like you are talking about my thread. http://www.caudata.org/forum/f46-beginner-newt-salamander-axolotl-help-topics/f48-axolotls-ambystoma-mexicanum/f58-sick-axolotl/73354-axolotl-floating-head-up.html

I did have a similar case just a couple weeks ago. I bought three from a pet store knowing that one had been sick (they said for a while and would probably die). All were in the same tank since birth and about 5 months old. The sick one was smaller, thin and swimming sideways in circles or floating head up. It just could never right itself no matter how hard it tried. now that i think about it, it was gulping for air at the surface too. Then started changing color towards the end, kinda yellowish with darker pink extremities. Very septic in nature. :(

Well, if water quality is normal, temp is right, with proper diet, proper substrate, and the tank mate is fine. Same situation as mine, then i would ASSUME there is some kind of internal infection taking place. I did try API General Cure first because I lack a good amphibian vet in my area and i was going on a hunch that it was possibly parasitic (with or w/o secondary bacterial infection) in nature due to them being kept in warmer temp and with fish at the pet store. This product is labeled for external parasites but fish can carry all kinds of internal parasites as well. Metronidazole works on anaerobic bacteria and protozoa. Praziquantel works on flukes and intestinal type worms. In my opinion all must be treated for infection even tho they show no outward symptoms. Its kind of a broad spectrum approach to the situation. I'll never know exactly what my little pearl had, I'm just glad my theory worked and it's over!

I'd like to add my favorite quote via my vet (bosses) mouth "when you ASSUME you make an A** out of U and ME" and the whole practice really... I'm not a vet and i can't tell you exactly whats wrong or what to do, just help you narrow down the possibilities and recommend you confirm diagnosis with a real Dr. if you can. :happy:

You've had them for over a year now. How long has pilku been showing this behavior? Can you send a picture of her, possibly showing the bumps you mentioned?

30th January 2011, 21:50
Ahhh someone answered! Lol!

Thanks Kuphie, I actually read your thread and it's the one that looked the closest to what my little Pilku has. Her arms, legs and tail are sometimes very red also.
Her gills are red and he seems healthy other than that. She even ate a little piece of shrimp yesterday =)

Her weird behaviour started about after she got her hand eaten by her tankmate http://www.caudata.org/forum/f46-beginner-newt-salamander-axolotl-help-topics/f48-axolotls-ambystoma-mexicanum/f58-sick-axolotl/69404-axolotls-hand-eaten-tank-mate.html. May she have got some **** entering in the wound at that time? It was always clear, no infection and there was a new perfect hand after 3 months.
She and her tank mate spent then the hole summer in buckets in the fridge or cave so I couldn't say how it was back then since the conditions were special. That's now 2 months she does that. I try regularly to put her in the tank and always the same happens.
Fridging seems to make her feel normal. She looses the bumps and swims normally but doesn't eat there.

I googled to try to find API General Cure on European sites or some retailers shipping to Europe but I couldn't find any. Mailed some of them to ask if there are any possibilities to get it anyway. Maybe another product with the same chemicals exists over here?

Unfortunately there aren't any axies vets in Finland, so I'm pretty much on my own with them like most of people on the forum =/

She's had some floating troubles in the past (there are pics); http://www.caudata.org/forum/f46-beginner-newt-salamander-axolotl-help-topics/f48-axolotls-ambystoma-mexicanum/f58-sick-axolotl/65179-wrinkled-arms-white-spots.html but it disappeared and was different.

30th January 2011, 23:22
Some fresh pics.

She wasn't much bloated today, just a little swollen on the sides but still kept floating leg up and couldn't really swim in the tank. It stresses her a lot.

The second pic was taken yesterday when I took her out of the fridge. She kept her nose out of the water most of the time. She became so skinny =/

30th January 2011, 23:37
Have you tried keeping her out of the fridge, but in a smaller/shallower container? That way she doesn't float and can't turn over? But hopefully the warmer temperature will convince her to eat more...

31st January 2011, 02:09
so, i looked at your prior threads and pictures. It's still sounding like an internal infection to me, possibly G.I. related given the intermittent bloating and floating then normal behavior. If this was a case of edema the swelling wouldn't go down then come back, especially so fast; I think we can rule out edema as cause for the bumps/swelling (just thinking out loud).

I would leave her in the fridge until you can get medications. Placing her at room temp will probably be too stressful. If she becomes bloated again and can't right herself she probably wont want to eat much anyways. Metro/Prazi might be worth a try, if anything it shouldn't hurt the situation. These two drugs will not cover everything but rule out a lot.

I'm sorry to hear you can't seem to find a good vet. I know how it is. I WORK at a vet office as a nurse and I'm left in the dark. It's up to my own research and basic knowledge of anatomy and medications. My Dr. does mammals only (boring :p).

31st January 2011, 17:29
Thanks guys for the answer.

I think that Kuphie's idea is most likely the right one. At least there are strong possibilities.
I managed to find the only guy who ships API products internationaly and ordered immediately a pack of general cure. Axolotls not being able to stand many products, I wanted to take one I know isn't dangerous for them.

Pilku's trouble has been going on for months so I hope she's able to still stand it till the remedy arrive and I can start to treat her. She's in fridge cure till that.

I dropped at the vet today for my bunny and asked if ever they know any vet specialized in amphibiens but the answer was the same as usually, no.
Even a rabbit seems kinda exotic. Everyone has to have a dog or a cat, anything else is weird.

31st January 2011, 20:53
Oh good, let's give it a try. First make sure the directions and everything are identical just to be safe.

Active ingredients: 250mg metronidazole and 75mg praziquantel per packet. ONLY!

Each packet treats 10gal. Remove activated carbon from filter first then dose, repeat 2nd dose 48hrs later. Wait another 48hrs then change 25% of water and replace filter.

If it works on the sick axolotl I might treat the tank and seemingly normal axolotl as well. Just as a prophylactic measure. I have learned the hard way about normal looking animals and reinfection. My guess is that they both could be sick with parasites, pilku might have gotten a secondary bacterial infection making her outwardly sick. I've learned that most of the time it's not just the initial infection but the secondary infection that does the patient in.

Example: I had a bearded dragon for 8+years and never thought to check for internal parasites. She got a simple skin injury and infection that got out of control. An expert recommended a full workup including a fecal. Turned out she had a massive fluke infection. Probably her whole life and was never treated because she never looked sick. The two infections plus her age was too much and she died. I felt so guilty for not knowing at the time that exotic pets need fecals and dewormings just like cats and dogs.

25th February 2011, 20:09
Hi again,

So I finally got the API general cure and today, poured 2 bags in the tank of about 80l of water.
I've put Pilku back to the aquarium after she had time to get back to room temperature over night.
She spent the 5-6 first hours looking normal and now she floats and gulps air/makes bubbles again. She tries to stay under some plants not to stay at the surface
As usually her tank mate is fine, the water parameters are normal.

I force fed Pilku couple of days ago since she hasn't eaten in weeks. She spitted most of the crushed pellets-water mix out but I hope some of it found it's way to her little stomach!

Physically she looks fine, but what's wrong inside?

28th February 2011, 16:51
I wish I could tell you for sure. The only way to know would be to have a vet do tests, maybe a fecal or culture.

This is deffinetly frustrating. Did you add the second dose yet?

1st March 2011, 19:10
I added the second dose 2 days ago and made the 25% water change today. She eats, is floating and making bubbles from time to time butr seems fine other than that.
I feed her a little bit everyday to try to get her heavier so maybe she won't float or get stressed because she's too light?

She hasn't pooped yet since she didn't eat for a month so no easy to get material for analyse!