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Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) A dedicated topic for those seeking help with Axolotls, showing off your photos, or just to talk about them.


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Old 9th July 2018   #1
AnimalArtist
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Default First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

Hi! I just got my first axolotl, Titan, last Thursday. He's a leucistic GFP axolotl and he's living in a 20 gallon long aquarium with fine sand as a substrate. The tank hasn't completely cycled yet, so i have been treating the water with Prime and testing it every day to keep spikes under control. He has one gill that resembles a gecko that grew two tails (in picture). I have no idea how old Titan is, so I can't tell how normal his behavior is. He's just under seven inches long, but he doesn't have any grey on his toes/claws.
Yesterday, he sat in his hide the whole day, and didn't move an inch. His gills were normal and he was curled up, a bit like a cat trying to nap. He poked his head out every once in a while, but never left until I fed him.
Today, he's pacing back and forth, almost frantically. I thought that, because the tank hasn't completely cycled yet, the ammonia levels must have spiked overnight, but when I checked them, they were barely elevated. I changed the water, and checked the nitrites and nitrates. Nothing. There were no readings. The nitrates looked like they were maybe at a 5, but it was hard to tell. His gills also change color. One minute, they're pale, the next they're the color of raspberries! His gills are also pushed forward slightly, but I don't know what's causing this. Because I don't know his age, I have no idea if the pacing is just juvenile energy or pure stress. When he paces, he always pauses beneath the filter, as though he's trying to get the water to run over his gills more. Could there be a lack of oxygen in the water? I'll add photos of him and his weird gill too! I hope I'm just overthinking things Click image for larger version

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Old 10th July 2018   #2
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

It seems to me that your axie is most likely stressed. Forward turned gills and a curled tail are signs of stress. Stress doesn't necessarily always come from bad water conditions, it could also be because of water temperatures, to much light, constipation, etc. Does your axolotl ever swim up and take a breath of air? Usually this is a sign of your water lacking oxygen, but only if he does it often. The colour change you in his gills that's you see is because of the blood flow. The gill stalks contain blood vessels, which are very visible on the lighter-coloured axolotls. When an axolotl is excited, for example, in front of food, more blood rushes to the gills to ensure greater oxygen takeup. This means the axie will have enough oxygen to hunt for the food, escape the threat, etc. It basically means that when he is pale, he is in his 'relaxed mode' and when they are bright red it means he is in his 'alert hunting or curious mode' :) If your axie is eating properly and your water parameters and temperatures are normal, then he is probably fine :) I hope this helped! Please let us know if you have any more questions!



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Old 10th July 2018   #3
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

+1 to above. Also check the water flow in your tank. If it's too high it can cause the gills to turn forward.



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Old 10th July 2018   #4
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolphinlover55 View Post
It seems to me that your axie is most likely stressed. Forward turned gills and a curled tail are signs of stress. Stress doesn't necessarily always come from bad water conditions, it could also be because of water temperatures, to much light, constipation, etc. Does your axolotl ever swim up and take a breath of air? Usually this is a sign of your water lacking oxygen, but only if he does it often. The colour change you in his gills that's you see is because of the blood flow. The gill stalks contain blood vessels, which are very visible on the lighter-coloured axolotls. When an axolotl is excited, for example, in front of food, more blood rushes to the gills to ensure greater oxygen takeup. This means the axie will have enough oxygen to hunt for the food, escape the threat, etc. It basically means that when he is pale, he is in his 'relaxed mode' and when they are bright red it means he is in his 'alert hunting or curious mode' :) If your axie is eating properly and your water parameters and temperatures are normal, then he is probably fine :) I hope this helped! Please let us know if you have any more questions!
Thanks so much! What about that double gill? Is that something that I should worry about at all or just a weird thing that can happen? I keep two fans on in my room at all times and our house is generally at 72 F or lower, but I'll check up on the temperature more often to make sure the summer heat isn't affecting anything!



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Old 10th July 2018   #5
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

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+1 to above. Also check the water flow in your tank. If it's too high it can cause the gills to turn forward.
The filter is against the glass of the aquarium to ensure water flow is lessened, but it is also meant for a 30 gallon tank. I'll see if I can do anything else to lessen the water flow!




Last edited by AnimalArtist; 10th July 2018 at 02:11. Reason: I pressed a button by accident... oops
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Old 10th July 2018   #6
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

The double gill shouldn't be a problem at all :) and your water temps shouldn't be a problem with your fans, but if it does become a problem you can rotate frozen waterbottles. Just place the waterbottles (without the wrapper) in the tank and once almost melted, but not completely melted, you can switch them.



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Old 10th July 2018   #7
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

So, he's gone back to hiding today and I don't know whether to be worried or relieved. I got up at 6, and he hasn't moved from there all day! His gills aren't curled at all, but his tail is. I'm so confused. I've tested the water, ammonia levels, and the temperature shouldn't be stressing him out, even if it's not perfect, but I'm honestly so confused.
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Old 10th July 2018   #8
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

Maybe try switching to a sponge filter. You can get them for pretty cheap on amazon, and they don't cause any water flow that would irritate your axie. Most likely your axolotl is either hiding because there is too much light, or because there is too much water movement. Is he eating regularly?



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Last edited by Dolphinlover55; 10th July 2018 at 19:40. Reason: Bad spelling :o
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Old 10th July 2018   #9
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

I am using a sponge filter, and yes, he's eating fine every evening. The guy at the aquatics store (which is usually a really reliable aquatics store) suggested a filter that's more powerful than what would normally be used in a twenty gallon tank. I personally hate the thing because it's so big, that it moves the sand beneath it (in picture). I'm thinking about trying to get the downsized version, but that would reset the biofilter completely.Click image for larger version

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Old 10th July 2018   #10
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

If he is eating normaly then you should be fine for now until you reduce the water flow. It could just be that he was acting funny the last few days. I know my axies will do weird stuff every now and then that startles me, when really it's nothing to worry about :) keep an eye on him for the next few days and see if he starts acting normal again. If he doesn't, let me know and I will try to figure out some more solutions for you



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Old 10th July 2018   #11
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

Can do! Thanks so much!

Last question I swear: could the hole he's digging under the hide have anything to do with this whole situation? I actually can't tell if he's a male or female, and made a guess based on previous knowledge. I know they like digging for food, but he/she is very persistent about this one spot under the hide. When I saw him at the pet store, he was in with another axolotl, so I don't know if that has anything to do with this. So, yeah. I just noticed the hole and thought I'd bring it up out of curiosity.




Last edited by AnimalArtist; 10th July 2018 at 22:27. Reason: Adding stuff
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Old 10th July 2018   #12
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

Digging is a normal behavior for axolotls :) they usually do it in search for real or imaginary food, or if the axolotl is a female, I have found that they sometimes do it just before they lay their eggs. So no worries on that, axolotls do it all the time If you have any more questions, just let me know :)



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Last edited by Dolphinlover55; 10th July 2018 at 23:06. Reason: My terrible spelling... ahhhhh
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Old 12th July 2018   #13
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

I know it's late, but Titan has begun refusing the food! I'm gonna try and feed him in the morning, but he just seems scared. I don't know what to do! I've also never seen any waste, so I was wondering if I should remove he sand from the aquarium so I can see if he's going at all? I'm not sure if he's not hungry because I tried feeding him a new food earlier and he loved it... before promptly retreating to his cave and staying there all day. I have literally no clue what's wrong.



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Old 14th July 2018   #14
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

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Digging is a normal behavior for axolotls :) they usually do it in search for real or imaginary food, or if the axolotl is a female, I have found that they sometimes do it just before they lay their eggs. So no worries on that, axolotls do it all the time If you have any more questions, just let me know :)
Help! He's completely changed overnight! He went from his normal, cute leucistic look, to this!Click image for larger version

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ID:	53796 (he's in a Tupperware because I decided to do a %100 water change. The water is so murky, you can't see anything and I don't know why) He has refused food for two days and his gills have shrunk drastically! His coloring is the worst! He went from an almost pure white to that coppery color overnight! I'm seriously worried! I have no idea what is wrong with him or the tank! The only thing I know is wrong is the temperature, and I've been working super hard to fix that. I'm even trying to convince my parents to let me get a water cooler so the temperature doesn't keep jumping. The water bottle trick doesn't seem to work in my tank though. I put three frozen water bottles in there at once and they all thawed in ten minutes! I'm also going to try removing the sand in the tank so I can see how much he goes to the bathroom throughout the day, as well as to make clean up easier. Please help! I don't want him to die!




Last edited by AnimalArtist; 14th July 2018 at 18:16. Reason: I forgot to add stuff oops
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Old 14th July 2018   #15
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

The murky water could be a bacterial bloom. I'm just guessing, of course, but but axies are pretty sensitive to water qulity . Are you able to test your water parameters? You mentioned the temperature is too high, do you know what it is?





if you're doing the bottle trick...and I use that when it's hot enough to cause problems that the fans can't handle but not hot enough to turn on the AC, you're going to get better results cycling those bottles than putting them all in at once, if a bunch of bottles at once don't don't bring the temperature down you might also need to think about getting larger bottles



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Old 14th July 2018   #16
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

The nitrates and nitrites are at 0. Ph is 7.4 and the ammonia has spiked to 1.0 (I'll do another water change). I'm going to get a new filter because the one I have, apparently isn't even a sponge filter! Like, the guy just sold me the most expensive filter he had that had a sponge inside of it (sorry, needed to vent). I'll see if I can get some pre-cycled filter media from the store though.



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Old 15th July 2018   #17
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

Loss of appetite and discoloration are usually signs of parasites. They are pretty hard to get rid of, especially if internal but If you take your axolotl to the vet they can determine if it really is parasites and give him medication. Parasites can come from a number of sources but most commonly come from introducing non-native plants or animals. Do you know if you have an exotic vet in your area?



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Old 15th July 2018   #18
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

If it's not parasites it could also be from the high ammonia or high temps, depending on how high the temps actually got. Anything over 75F/24C is dangerous. Any ammonia over .25ppm is dangerous, so that spike of over 1.0ppm was for a few days that could be part of the problem.
I have no idea how you screen an axolotl for parasites, besides ones that are visible from the outside like anchor worms. An exotic vet would be your best bet if you think it is parasites.

For emergency days when the outdoor temperature is over 90F I keep a few frozen half gallon jugs in my freezer. I also have a gallon bag filled half way with water that is also frozen. I don't own a chiller yet, and my fans do a pretty decent job, but whenever I see the tank near or pass 70F I start rotating my frozen jugs. It does suck because the temperature will fluctuate as they thaw and you add new ones in. But with the right timing you can maintain a pretty decent temp. I found regular old water bottles do nothing to change the temperature in my 20 long.

Edit: what kind of filter are you using currently? You might not have to change it. I run an in-tank submersible filter which raises the temps for me which is annoying but I can't afford to recycle the tank and start fresh at the moment so it'll do. If you have a hang on the back style you should be fine, just divert the flow a bit with decorations. HOB filters also don't increase the water temp that much, if at all. I also noted you have a glass lid on the tank. Glass lids trap heat, when I removed mine I noticed a 5F drop in temperature by doing that alone. I would recommend switching to a mesh top. A mesh top will also allow you to position fans over the tank. The whole idea of fans is to blow air over the water's surface to increase evaporation which cools the tank. Having regular room fans is nice for keeping the room itself cool, but won't do anything for the tank unless aimed to blow across the surface. If you do remove the glass lid before getting a new lid I'd lower the tank water by a lot, they can jump out of the tank that would make things even worse. Or else just wait until you get a new lid.



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Old 15th July 2018   #19
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

The filter is a Cobalt Aquatics submersible "sponge" filter. I also notice that it heats up as well whenever I tried to adjust it. I think it's a clearvue 20 filter. What should I do about feeding? I've transferred Titan to a large tub so I can keep an eye on the temperature more easily and do water changes. The nearest vet is booked until next week and Titan is drastically losing weight. He seems to be doing better in the tub, coming out with curiosity and his tail has unfurled slightly, but he still refuses food.



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Old 16th July 2018   #20
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Default Re: First Axolotl: Need Help with Basics and Behavior!

I've changed out the filter to a sponge filter, changed to a more accurate thermometer, and added a fan to the tank itself. I finally got him to eat (he's still in the tub and not in the tank), but he will only eat black worms. I read that black worms can carry leeches, but they are the only thing I can get him to properly eat! My parents have adamantly refused to allow me to take him to the vet, so that's out. Are there any medications I can give him to help him out? I have Kanamycin and Triple Sulfa, but I can also get some Furan 2 from the pet store if needed. He eats the black worms whenever I give him them, but he refuses anything else, so he still has an appetite. His nose is bright red now and his "feathers" on his gills are almost completely shriveled. I have the frozen water bottles in the tub right now to keep him cool, but he's only been in there for one day (him eating was a big relief). I'm going to wait for the tank to clear up before putting him back inside of it, but I wanted to know what you guys thought. Should I treat him with some antibiotics because of the signs of bacterial infection? And should I stop feeding him black worms because of the risk of leeches?



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