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View Full Version : Axolotl sick because of tank?


steve611
18th February 2014, 01:32
Hey everyone. Basically I had two Axolotls. One of them began refusing to eat any sort of food, live or frozen after a temperature spike in the tank that went up to nearly 30 degrees. He passed away about 3 weeks after the temperature spike as he began to refuse food, his gills detoriorated, he lost a lot of weight and would actually vomit. After he passed away I kept my other Axie in another tank, cleaned out their home tank from top to bottom and allowed it to cycle again before moving my axie back into his home.

While in the smaller tank, he was generally fine although his gills begun to shrink a little. When I put him back in his old home tank, he was fine for about 2 weeks but then he would refuse to eat frozen bloodworms (he wouldn't eat anything else, tried earthworms, mealworms, red wrigglers, live fish and shrimp, beef heart, pellets, etc).

Now I can't get him to eat any bloodworms anymore but the only thing he will eat are mealworms (which aren't too healthy). I've tried and tried to feed him earthworms but he just wont budge. ANd when he does, he spits it right back out without a fight (even if I cut the worm up into bite size pieces).

His gills are clearly deteriorating, he has lost heaps of weight, he sometimes scratches his gills with his hind legs as if he was annoyed with them and he's extremely lethargic and constantly has his mouth open. He used to swallow whole cubes of bloodworms and eat up the remains of the floor, and would eat 2-3 earthworms in one feeding and now I'm lucky if he even attempts to bite it. I'm not too sure what the problem is. I check the water parameters regularly and have purchased a fan that keeps the tank temperature around 20 degrees without putting in some ice bottles, since the death of my other axolotl.

Water parameters, last I checked which was 2 days ago, was:

PH: 7.4
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 20ppm.

Occasionally ammonia levels will reach 0.25 but it will never go over that.

Tank temperature is usually between 16-22 degrees, never over 22 and very rarely under 16. Up until recently, my Axie was in his tank alone with white aquarium sand substrate and a small java fern plant and anubius bunch plant attached to some texas holey rock and driftwood. I have 2 air bubbles, one that makes ALOT of bubbles to compensate for the lack of bubbles the other creates so I'm not too convince a lack of oxygen would be the problem. My tank is about 120litres from memory and I had 2 filters in it. One suitable for an 80L tank and the other for a 100 litre tank. 100litre filter was a hang on, and the other was just a standard submersible blue planet filter (I attached a small cap with holes over the output of the filter to reduce the flow of the filter as I understand it can be stressful).

Bascially I have a pretty good set up, I've put in countless hours of research before setting the tank up to ensure a perfect home for my Lotl, and I jsut cant pinpoint the source of the problem. I now have him in a plain sick tank in my cupboard with the 100L filter attached (tank is about 50 litres) and have no substrate or anything in the tank. Just a small hide and thats it. Still cant get him to eat earthworms and in his home tank, I put in 60 ghost shrimp. I also have 40 ghost shrimp in another small 50 litre tank I had my axie in when he was a juvenile and basically, the shrimp in the small tank are thriving and eating algae pellets, but the shrimp in the 120 litre tank will only occasionally eat the algae pellets and I've probably about 5 or so shrimp die in the big tank, in comparison to none from the small tank. SO I've basically pinpointed the problem to be in the big tank but I cannot figure out what it is. I purchased a new filter and have only lost one shrimp since installing that filter and I know for a fact the substrate isn't the problem (as I've switched through substrate countless times).

Could the plants or even the rock and driftwood be the source of the problem? Or perhaps the silicon in the tank? I'm really stumped for ideas and am 100% determined to help my axie (Chucho) get back to 100% health and watch him devour some earthworms and just lay in the tank being fat haha.

Sorry for the long message but i've been dealing with this problem for quite some time now and nothing I do can help my axie it seems. I've done a 100% water change and tank scrub down and clean twice, since setting it up about 10 months ago so I'm fairly convince the water isn't the issue.

Any help or input on the situation would be soooooo greatly appreciated. Once again I apoligize for the length of my message, but I really wanted to get every single piece of info I had out there to increase my chances of saving my poor Chucho. :(

HayleyK
18th February 2014, 02:33
Living in Australia you either need a chiller or be diligent with ice bottles and fans. 30 is way way too high.

If your other axolotl was in the tank that got up at 30 it could still be affecting him. Does he have any fungus growing on him? If he's scratching there's something obviously irritating him.

If you purchased a new filter, all the beneficial bacteria on the old filter is gone which could crash your cycle and affect your water quality.

Did you quarantine the shrimp? As for the earthworms try blanching the worms that way it won't wiggle or excrete that bitter slime and he might be able to hold it down.

Why is your ammonia randomly going up? Do you use a dechlorinator?

steve611
18th February 2014, 03:02
Yeah the heat was a big issue, thats why I put the fan on the tank now it doesnt go over 22 degrees at all.

He doesnt have any fungus growing on him but his gills are definitely deteriorating. The axie was in the tank when it experienced the temperature spike but this was probably around august last year. If he's still experiencing problems from that what could I do to rectify the situation?

I had the new filter running in conjunction with the older one But I have the old one running in the sick tank now and the new one just with the shrimp. I have some old media in the new filter too but I wont put my axie back in for a while anyway.

I moved the axolotl to the sick tank practically the same day I chucked the shrimp into the home tank. How do u blanch the worms? I could try feeding him blanched worms.

I'm using dechlorinator with 25 percent water changes every 2 weeks. Ammonia goes up when I

A) feed the axolotl bloodworms or cubes inside of his tank

Or

B) Don't do a water change for more than 2 weeks.

Its generally always at 0 but what I meant is that at maximum it goes to 0.25.

HayleyK
18th February 2014, 06:12
Deteriorating gills is a sign of bad water quality. It's better to do 20% weekly changes rather than every 2 weeks especially if he's showing signs of stress/irritation.

If it was back in august I doubt that's the case then, although I don't recall august being hot at all in sydney.

To blanch worms dash boiling hot water over them and cold straight away to ensure you don't cook the worms but can kill it.

steve611
18th February 2014, 06:57
.

Hmm could it be nitrates are too high? Is 20ppm too high? Maybe the water quality issues are derived from that? Ill do more frequent water changes in that case.

It may have been in September, I just remember it was one ridiculously hot day in Sydney near the start of spring.

Ohk thanks for that will try to feed him earthworms that way.

steve611
25th February 2014, 06:40
Axie is looking alot better in the sick tank. He began eating again this week, only meal worms but it's better than nothing till I can manage to get him to eat earthworms. My shrimp are dying everyday in my big tank. Smaller tank is thriving lol. I found a bit of green algae on one of the ornaments but days after removing it shrimp are still dying so I've removed all other items in my big tank and placed them in my small tank to determine what is the source of the problem. If shrimp still die after this, I'm guessing theres something wrong with the tank itself? Maybe a bacteria problem on the actual glass or something? Cannot find the source of the problem or a solution.. it's doing my head in lol.

Boomsloth
25th February 2014, 07:14
Shrimp are more sensitive than most aquarium inhabitants so I like having them as a first indication of something wrong. I can give a few possibilities,
1. Your shrimp are reacting to chlorine and chloramines because your dechlorinator might have gone bad.
2. Your shrimp are reacting to large water changes
3. Your tap has an increase in copper or lead and you'll need to check for that
Hope that gives you some ideas on what the cause is.

steve611
26th February 2014, 12:28
Thanks for the ideas. If it was copper/lead in the water then the shrimp in my small tank would have to be dying to wouldn't they? At the moment its only the shrimp in the big tank dying. The lid doesn't completly cover the tank and water evaporates. Within a week the tank will lose about 5 or 10 percent. Could the dechlorinator be evaporating ?

The other thing I picked up on today as a possible problem. Can high ph be a problem? I have a texas holey rock with white fine sand as substrate and after testing ph levels today I discovered it's now at 8.8. I read somewhere that a high ph together with even the slightest trace of ammonia can be lethal. Could that be a source of the problem?? How can I reduce ph levels without using ph down etc.?

Boomsloth
26th February 2014, 12:37
Thanks for the ideas. If it was copper/lead in the water then the shrimp in my small tank would have to be dying to wouldn't they? At the moment its only the shrimp in the big tank dying. The lid doesn't completly cover the tank and water evaporates. Within a week the tank will lose about 5 or 10 percent. Could the dechlorinator be evaporating ?

The other thing I picked up on today as a possible problem. Can high ph be a problem? I have a texas holey rock with white fine sand as substrate and after testing ph levels today I discovered it's now at 8.8. I read somewhere that a high ph together with even the slightest trace of ammonia can be lethal. Could that be a source of the problem?? How can I reduce ph levels without using ph down etc.?
Yes pH can definitely be the source of your problems with or without ammonia. The shrimp will die first but the axolotls will begin to lose their protective slime coat. Try to lower the pH by removing the rocks first and then doing a large water change. Those rocks tend to keep the pH higher than normal.

steve611
27th February 2014, 03:07
Thanks for the tip. I kept the texas holey rock in my small shrimp tank overnight just to be sure and I've already had my first casualty so I think thats definitely the problem. Ive removed all the rocks and just have artificial hides in place atm. Should I do a 50 percent water change or perhaps more or less?

Thanks so much for the help guys.

Boomsloth
27th February 2014, 03:24
Thanks for the tip. I kept the texas holey rock in my small shrimp tank overnight just to be sure and I've already had my first casualty so I think thats definitely the problem. Ive removed all the rocks and just have artificial hides in place atm. Should I do a 50 percent water change or perhaps more or less?

Thanks so much for the help guys.

You do not want the pH to drop too fast but I would start doing like 30-40% water changes tonight and then again tomorrow morning. If you can check pH do that and once it goes below 8.0 you should be okay.

steve611
5th March 2014, 11:21
Thanks again for the help. The tank and it's shrimp inhabitants are looking much better now. My axolotls condition has worsened on the other hand. He rejects all types of food. :/

leandrah
5th March 2014, 12:10
Could you post pictures?

steve611
14th March 2014, 12:42
It seems as though my poor Chucho is so weak... he some how got caught in my (extremely weak flowing) filter and cut himself. Will post pics tomorrow... he's been in tbe fridge for the last few days. :( :( :(

Boomsloth
14th March 2014, 17:11
It seems as though my poor Chucho is so weak... he some how got caught in my (extremely weak flowing) filter and cut himself. Will post pics tomorrow... he's been in tbe fridge for the last few days. :( :( :(

why is he in the fridge? The fridge is either to help them go to the bathroom or slow down an infection. But if he has a cut people on this site recommend using indian almond leaves or a cooled black tea to help soothe the skin and prevent infections.
In the fridge an axolotls' metabolism goes so low they can lose their appetite, which is what seems to be happening to yours. Your axolotl was kept in high pH which actually makes any ammonia much much worse. Your temp wasn't ideal either and can also worsen the effects of ammonia. You need to be doing weekly water changes at least to prevent any possibility of ammonia build up, but importantly, get your tank at a lower temperature and reduce the pH. Food only really spikes ammonia if left in too long and starts to decay. You need to get his metabolism going again by giving him better water parameters and letting him heal safely. If he is skinny like you originally said, he doesn't have much energy storage to live off of so the sooner you get him healing the better his chance of survival.

Petersgirl
16th March 2014, 12:19
Not to be rude but I agree with Boomsloth. Fridging is usually only used when not being in the fridge would be more stressful than fridging. You could also pop a clean piece of tight/pop sock/sponge over the filter inlet so he can't get sucked in again but the water can still get in to circulate.

What you have here is a wound, and the best treatment I can recommend is putting your axolotl in a separate cool and dark tub with 100% water changed daily dechlorinated water (I assumed you were doing this anyway as you were adjusting the tank). I would also recommend tea baths:



Tea bath for axolotls
Contributed by Daniel Weiner, August 2007.
I mainly use teabaths for minor skin problems. It may also be used with fungal problems but on that account I prefer salt baths. Tea has a slightly antifungal and antibacterial effect (resulting from tannins) and additionally it closes the pores in the skin a little bit (mainly resulting from tannin and caffeine). The skin tightens and gets some kind of protective layer, making it harder for fungi and bacteria to intrude the body. On the other hand it makes it harder for salt or medicine to reach pathogens which are already inside the body - that is the reason I do not use it on fungal infections, although a tea bath is sometimes recommended as a cure for fungal infections by some people.
The medication is as follows: I take one bag of black tea without any additional aroma (it is important to use black tea because this kind of tea is fermented and so it has tannins) for every 10 litres of water (preferably used in a quarantine tank). This tea gets dashed with boiling water in a seperate bowl - I leave it there for at least 10 to 15 minutes so the tannins are resolved into the water. The tea has to cool down and is finally added to the quarantine water. After a week I make a bigger change of water (60% at least), the rest of the tea is removed over time by normal water changes. If you have to make more regular water changes (f.i. in a small bowl or tank) the tea concentration can be refilled. As far as I know there are no negative effects even for long term treatment.
A similar effect (although not as strong) may have the addition of dried oak or beech leafs now and then as a precaution.



This will help to keep fungus out.
You can also keep trying to feed him: he may not take it as he's been through a lot lately and is probably stressed. If he does take the food this will help him to get better.

I hope he gets better soon!

steve611
15th August 2015, 00:52
I know it's been a while, but just though I'd let everybody know I'm 99.999999% sure the problem was the substrate or the PH level. I removed the coral sand all together and have had a bare bottomed tank since November 2014, and haven't had a single problem with my 3 plump and healthy Axolotls since! They've even bred since then haha.

Anybody having a similar problem, definitely try removing the sand and anything in the tank that could be raising the ph level too high.

Hope it helps!

AussieLux
24th August 2015, 14:20
Hi Steve,

Interesting to know the story behind your axies.

Considering I have been having similar issues as to why I am having mystery gill issues - i am going to follow your lead and eliminate it as a factor by removing the sand in my next tank setup just in-case. I do wonder if it wasn't just a pH thing though perhaps contaminated sand had made its way through Aussie pet stores??? Who knows. I bet it could happen. Where do they get the sand from anyway?

It is great to hear they are doing great now and they have had lots of little Aussie axie babies :D