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diggityDawg
21st February 2011, 21:26
About a week ago I noticed my adult female had what looked like some uneaten sinking pellet food caught in her top-left gill. I figured she would dislodge it in her normal movements around the tank. A couple days later she spent nearly two days between a rock and the side of the tank. Wouldn't move, but would eat when I dropped earthworms down from above. Finally I moved the rock and she came out. Now it looks like the pellet in her gill may be fungus, because I can't see much of her gill at all any more. I tried gently sucking the pellet off of her using a turkey baster and she FREAKED. Swam all over the tank and kept rubbing the gill against the sand and the side. But it's still there. Any idea what this is and how to treat it if it is fungus? I'll post a pic here, hard to get a good one though.

FYI, my water temps are around 55-58F. I feed a couple earthworms each day, and occasionally replace them with the sinking pellets. They usually eat about 1/3 of the pellets as I feed them, and then eat the rest later from the floor of the tank. Lately I've noticed the uneaten pellets have been wrapped in a gel that resembles an egg casing. I've been removing those from the tank as I see them...

Thanks for your help!

Kaysie
21st February 2011, 21:48
That's definitely fungus. I would start doing salt baths (http://www.caudata.org/forum/f46-beginner-newt-salamander-axolotl-help-topics/f48-axolotls-ambystoma-mexicanum/f58-sick-axolotl/72698-salt-bath-picture-tutorial.html).

diggityDawg
21st February 2011, 22:04
That's definitely fungus. I would start doing salt baths (http://www.caudata.org/forum/f46-beginner-newt-salamander-axolotl-help-topics/f48-axolotls-ambystoma-mexicanum/f58-sick-axolotl/72698-salt-bath-picture-tutorial.html).
Ok, so she's got fungus. Do you think it's Columnaris? I'll start preparing the fridge for her.

Should I worry about the male in the same tank as her? Should I treat the tank with anything? I thought I was pretty vigilant regarding cleaning the tank, and I just cleaned the filter a couple weeks ago... Is there anything I can do to better prevent this from happening in the future?

I've attached a couple better pics I just took, since she moved into a better position to take pics. I also just fed her a few worms and she ate them readily.

Thanks again for your help!!

Kaysie
21st February 2011, 22:08
It looks like classic gill fungus.

As for the male, no, I wouldn't worry. Usually fungus stems from an injury or irritation (perhaps the pellet in this case). Hopefully once it's gone, it doesn't come back.

How big is your tank? And do you test your water parameters? With the pellets, if they don't eat them right away, I would take them back out of the tank. Leaving them laying around is asking for bad water quality.

diggityDawg
21st February 2011, 22:41
How big is your tank? And do you test your water parameters? With the pellets, if they don't eat them right away, I would take them back out of the tank. Leaving them laying around is asking for bad water quality.

It's a 20 gallon tank. I'll be more vigilant about removing the uneaten pellets. I do check my water parameters occasionally - about once a month or so. I just checked and I got these (numbers are approximate, since I use dip sticks):

Ammonia: 0.7
Nitrate: 40
Nitrite: 0.5
Hardness: 120
Chlorine: 0
Alkalinity: 0.2
pH: 6.4

Just to confirm, is the treatment you recommend a salt bath for 10-15 minutes a day, and keep the axolotl in the fridge when not in a salt bath until it all goes away, and then a couple days after that? Once the treatment is done I assume I can move her back into the tank?

Thanks again!!

Kaysie
21st February 2011, 23:00
Yes, that's how you do salt baths. You want to do salt baths twice a day though, not just once.

Part of why you might have a fungus problem is because your tank is pretty small for two adult axolotls. In addition, your tank isn't cycled, so you are having swings in water quality. Ideally, your ammonia and nitrite should be 0. How long have you had the tank set up?

diggityDawg
21st February 2011, 23:17
Part of why you might have a fungus problem is because your tank is pretty small for two adult axolotls. In addition, your tank isn't cycled, so you are having swings in water quality. Ideally, your ammonia and nitrite should be 0. How long have you had the tank set up?
I've had this pair for about 4 months. When I first got them, from someone who was moving, they were both housed in a 15 gallon tank with an external cartridge filter. I used some of the original tank water and the filter in the new tank (which wasn't really a new tank, I just removed the tropical fish and the heater).

Actually my ammonia and nitrite is usually right at 0, but I just recently had a swing in water quality after I removed a pretty large rock that I had in the tank. It was taking up the entire middle of the tank, but they liked to hide under it (it was V shaped, so had a large empty area underneath). I removed it because I wanted to put a divider in to keep them from breeding. She's already laid two sets of eggs, so I wanted to give her system a break and make sure she didn't continue breeding. That seemed to trigger a few negative things, including this fungus...

I remember checking when I first got them and was told 10 gallons per adult, but I guess I got wrong info? I could probably get another 20 gallon and just keep them separate...

animalloversfb
21st February 2011, 23:21
10 gallons is the bare minimum per adult. Floor space is more important than height, is yours a 20 long or high? More is of course better.

I would also try using a q-tip to get off as much as you can to reduce the number of salt baths you need to do.

diggityDawg
22nd February 2011, 00:09
10 gallons is the bare minimum per adult. Floor space is more important than height, is yours a 20 long or high? More is of course better.

I would also try using a q-tip to get off as much as you can to reduce the number of salt baths you need to do.

It's a 20g tall, not long. I think... It's about 24w x 16h x 12d. I have it about half full with a spray bar for the filter return. So clearly I could use a bigger tank.

When you say using a q-tip, should I do that when she's in a shallow tupperware, or try that right in the tank? Do you just sort of roll the q-tip next to the fungus to try to dislodge it from the gill?

Kaysie
22nd February 2011, 03:03
Two tanks would be ideal to keep them from breeding. Although I do remember reading about an octopus that escaped to get into a tank with females, I don't think axolotls have mastered this yet.

With the q-tip, yes, do it in a shallow tub. But keep your hand over the tub when you're doing it, so she doesn't splash her way out.

diggityDawg
24th February 2011, 03:15
With the q-tip, yes, do it in a shallow tub. But keep your hand over the tub when you're doing it, so she doesn't splash her way out.

Well, day three of the salt bath treatment. I'm not doing the fridge as well because our fridge is about 36 degrees, and I can't get my wife to agree to bump it up. I think the minimum is 41 for an axie in the fridge, right? Anyways, doing the salt baths twice a day, 15 minutes each time. I use 1.5 liters of water because 1 liter in the container I am using doesn't cover her. I use 4 tsp of aquarium salt. I empty the solution into the container (rectangular tupperware) and then while she's in the bath I mix another batch and put it in the fridge so it's ready the next time. She seems to be ok with the whole thing, doesn't squirm a lot while in the bath, but afterwards she kind of just stays in one spot for a while in the tank. Also noticed these wispy white things coming off her, which kind of worry me. Is that her skin sloughing off? Or maybe it's the fungus sloughing off? I'll try to get a photo of it...

I did manage the get a bit of the original fungus off her gills using the q-tip method yesterday. Also, she is still eating every time I offer food, so hopefully that's a good sign...

Thanks so much for your help, hopefully the salt baths without the fridgeing will help...

Kaysie
24th February 2011, 16:46
I don't think 36F would harm it any if you do decide to use the fridge. If she's eating well, and the fungus is disappearing without fridging, you can probably skip the fridge as long as she's making progress.

The white probably is her skin/slime coat sloughing. That's normal, as salt baths are pretty irritating to the skin.

diggityDawg
24th February 2011, 17:00
I'll keep an eye on her, obviously, and if she doesn't improve I'll pop her in the fridge. I know that article you link to about fridging says no lower than 5 degrees Celsius, which is 41 degrees Fahrenheit. 36 seemed too cold, but I'm willing to try if necessary.

She does seem to be doing better already, and I don't see any of the fungus any more. Not sure if her gills will grow back, but if she survives this I'll be very happy. Thanks again for all your help!!

Kaysie
24th February 2011, 19:18
I've (accidentally) had ice form on the tops of small axolotl tubs with no ill effect. I don't recommend routinely freezing over your axolotls, but I don't think 36F is dangerously cold.

I'm glad she's showing signs of making a full recovery! The gill will probably grow back, but it may not be exactly like it was. They are usually a bit shorter, and a little less fluffy.

diggityDawg
26th February 2011, 17:45
I haven't seen any fungus for two days! I'm still doing the twice daily salt baths. The gill where she had the fungus appears damaged. There are no strands left on it, and when she "breathes", moving her gills in briefly as they do, that one doesn't move but all the others do. As long as she survives this I really don't care too much about the appearance of the gill, and right now I feel good about her having a full recovery.

Thanks again for all your help, definitely could not have done this without your help and support.