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Sick Axolotl? Axolotl looking down in the gills? The doctors are in.


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Old 24th January 2015   #1
selkie
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Default Neglected Axolotl

Hi,
I've been reading some of the threads here ..what an amazing forum! Being a novice I am hoping someone can give me some reassurance :)

A few months ago I "inherited" a Axy .
I think that Hikaru is a "wild type" She..I think it's she ..is sort of black/dark grey and is 7-8 years old

She she was bought for a ten year old and although loved, not very well cared for..through ignorance rather than willful neglect I think.

She's been kept in a decent tank set up, no gravel, a filter that slowly spills the water rather than gushes, tank is 40ltrs. a couple of good caves.

She got fed rather irregularly, sometimes once a week, sometimes twice and rarely had the tank cleaned, using straight Melbourne tap water, water partially replaced or just topped up maybe every 2 months. Kept at whatever the room temp may be.

Despite this, when I took her over about 6 months ago, she was (to my novice eye) reasonably healthy, not skinny, eating when fed, every 3 days, hiding, swimming around, walking on the bottom.. Her frilly bits (lungs) do seem rather small compared to some of the photo's I've seen.
I kept her in much the same conditions as he was used to..changing 1/3 of the water a bit more frequently maybe every 2 weeks. The tank looked clean with little waste at the bottom. I figured if this is what she had had for 7 years ..it must be right

Anyway, disaster struck 2 weeks ago when my son thought he'd help out and changed ALL her water at once, it had been very hot that week so he thought he would equalize the temp before putting her back by adding hot water!! he says it was probably a bit warmer that the water she came out of!! that could have been as high as 25C !!

Anyway, when I observed her there were a few odd symptoms
, she seems to have dislocated or injured her left foreleg, she was having directional problems, "torpedoing down and unable to right herself,
This has larely corrected itself but when I examined..gently he front legs, the left one seems to "click" on movement, the right one doesn't.

Also she seems to spent most of here time just floating sort of face down and limp..so still I think she is dead and I have to nudge her a few time to get a response. Refuses all food. this has been going on for two weeks she starting to get thin.

Yesterday rather than her starve to death I was going to have her euthanased but thought I'd give her a last shot..we are very fond of Hikaru.. so we fridged her.

Can someone please read this and impart some wisdom.

If she survives, we now know the "right" way to keep an Axy, But I am a bit worried that to change her very poor environment to a totally pure one may kill her with kindness.



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Old 24th January 2015   #2
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

The bottom line is, I don't know what is wrong with her. Heat stress, Injured leg, swallowed something (there are mainly large pebbles and bare floor but there were a few small stones.) or a combination of one or more of these things..could she have suffered a stroke of some sort?

She was also gulping air from the top of the tank and blowing occasional bubbles, I've never seen her do this before.



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Old 25th January 2015   #3
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

Have you read the fridging guide? Particularly, the temperature. http://www.caudata.org/forum/f46-beg...ing-guide.html

Did your son dechlorinate the water he put in the tank? Have you tested the water since for ammonia and nitrite? If it was chlorinated, you may have also crashed the cycle, and the ammonia and nitrite could be adding insult to injury.

I suspect (but I'm not an expert) that the fridge may be the best place for her. I am thinking that if she is gulping air, her gills may have been damaged. Cold water holds a lot more oxygen than warm water, and also slows the metabolism so less oxygen is needed. Let's see if the experts agree, but regardless, now that she is in there, don't take her out until there is a consensus (unless you can't keep the temp at a safe level), since the temperature change is also stressful.

Axolotls can go for some time without food, so you do not need to give up on her yet.

Good luck!



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Old 25th January 2015   #4
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

Quote:
Originally Posted by LSuzuki View Post
Have you read the fridging guide? Particularly, the temperature. http://www.caudata.org/forum/f46-beg...ing-guide.html

Did your son dechlorinate the water he put in the tank? Have you tested the water since for ammonia and nitrite? If it was chlorinated, you may have also crashed the cycle, and the ammonia and nitrite could be adding insult to injury.

I suspect (but I'm not an expert) that the fridge may be the best place for her. I am thinking that if she is gulping air, her gills may have been damaged. Cold water holds a lot more oxygen than warm water, and also slows the metabolism so less oxygen is needed. Let's see if the experts agree, but regardless, now that she is in there, don't take her out until there is a consensus (unless you can't keep the temp at a safe level), since the temperature change is also stressful.

Axolotls can go for some time without food, so you do not need to give up on her yet.

Good luck!
Thanks for the reply Laura. As I said, for 7 years she's just been kept in ordinary tap water seldom changed. The owner new no better. I kept this up..changing a 1/3 more frequently..so..no dechlorination and no testing done for her..ever.

I read the fridging guide, have her in a 2 ltr tupperware container with the lid 8cm open, a tea towel over the covered bit . I've placed a thermometre in a glass of water next to her. during the day the temp was between 8-10..overnight (with the fridge kept closed all night) , it dropped to 5 so I've turned it up a little.

She's enough room to move/turn around and about 4 cm covered with water. I have a two ltr bottle of water in the fridge ready to change the water this afternoon.
I've disconected the fridge light so no to scare her.

As she's never had treated water, I'm afraid to change this now and upset her environment too radically until she's better?... maybe this is not correct?

when should I try to feed her again? She lives on Prawns but I bought some frozen heart and worm blocks yesterday in case I have to force feed her. I don't want to stress her out at the moment though.

Thanks

Selkie



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Old 25th January 2015   #5
Laura
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

First about the dechlorinator - you should use it, even if it wasn't used before (see below).Get Seachem Prime if they have it there, since that product has a good reputation among axolotl owners. (Some water treatments do not have as good a rep for various reasons.)

The previous owners weren't changing much water at at time, it appears. With small water changes, a dechlorinator isn't always necessary (but it is advisable to use one anyhow, to be in the habit). With large water changes, the chlorine can kill the beneficial bacteria, resulting in an ammonia and nitrite spike.

It sound's like you aren't familiar with "the cycle". Here is the short course - cut and pasted, then edited, from another post of mine ... I'm lazy that way ...

Ammonia (produced by axolotls and decaying organic matter) is toxic, but the toxicity is dependent on water pH. High pH = ammonia more toxic.

Bacteria that eat ammonia will colonize the surfaces of your aquarium and decorations, etc. It takes a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, these bacteria eat the ammonia and then produce nitrite. Nitrite is also toxic.

Bacteria that eat nitrite will also colonize the aquarium, and it also takes a couple more weeks. They produce nitrate, which is less toxic. Too much nitrate will stress your axolotl, and is associated with fungus outbreaks.

The nitrate is removed by water changes. It is also removed by plants, but that doesn't eliminate water changes.

This growth of good bacteria is called "the cycle", and if they die for whatever reason, they say "the cycle crashed." Chlorinated water can kill these bacteria, which is why you should use a dechlorinator when doing water changes.

Filters provide much more surface area for good bacteria to grow on and a steady flow of water to the bacteria. Some people can keep aquariums without any filter, but it is risky.

The 100% water change probably crashed the cycle, and your tank has not recovered yet. I recommend you get a good test kit - the kind with chemicals in droppers, not the strips. It is educational - your son will enjoy learning about the chemistry and doing the tests (I'm assuming he is old enough). Read up on the cycle and decide how you want to proceed. It isn't hard - the most straight-forward method is to just keep an eye on the ammonia and nitrite and do water changes (if the axolotl is in the tank) when the levels get too high. You can also do a "fishless cycle", but you would then need to keep the axolotl out of the tank until it is cycled.



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Old 25th January 2015   #6
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

I would try to find some night crawlers. They have the best nutrition and will help better during the healing process. If you wish, I don't see why trying to feed her a little bit during water changes would hurt, but I wouldn't leave the food in for too long. Whatever food you feed your axolotl, cut it into bite size pieces to make it easier to eat.

I can't see why treating the water with a dechlorinator would hurt. It will only remove the chlorine, chloramine and trace metals, all which are harmful to axolotls and fish.



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Old 25th January 2015   #7
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

Laura is giving great advice. I want to add that you should get a filter ASAP and fill it with filter floss or filter sponge and some ceramic media if you can, forget about charcoal. The filter media is the best way to cycle a tank. The tank itself, substrate and decor won't hold a whole lot of bacteria.



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Old 25th January 2015   #8
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

About feeding - you can try to feed her in the fridge. If she eats, that is a very good sign. If she doesn't, well, her metabolism has slowed down, so that isn't a bad sign. Give her a chance to eat, but don't leave the food in there with her too long - it will pollute the water.

I'm not sure how nutritionally complete prawns are, but if it is what she is used to, then she is most likely to eat those. When she is better, investigate more nutritional axolotl food.

Are you using tap water or tank water in the fridge? The tank water may have high ammonia and nitrite if the cycle crashed. You can leave water in a pitcher in the fridge overnight, and if your water only has chlorine, it will out-gas. Then just change the water with this water.



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Old 25th January 2015   #9
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

Thanks for the reply..What on earth is a night crawler!! I'm in Melbourne OZ. Unfortunately we have only a small patio garden..not many worms to find. She's always been hand fed she cant seem to see anything floating around in the tank.

The filter I have just has a piece on sponge in it to catch any muck, although she never seems to make much mess.

I dont yet understand much about water quality, our water comes from huge dams in the hills Melbourne reputedly has some of the highest quality water in the world..maybe that's why she's tolerated it so long??? I dunno. here's an analysis if anyone can help me out and tell me what I should add or not??

Drinking water quality data - Melbourne Water


I'll buy some better equipment when she recovers.

Our main problem is keeping the tank cool in summer, as temps can get as high as 45C outside on some days, last year we had a week of temps over 100F, Though my place keeps relatively cool, it can still get up to 30 C for a few days inside. This didn't seem to worry her at her old place which was also not A/C..I wonder how much Axolotls can adapt??

I'll be putting a thermometer in the tank when she gets let out of the fridge and try to keep it around 15-18C with a bottle of ice.



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Old 25th January 2015   #10
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

Quote:
Originally Posted by LSuzuki View Post
First about the dechlorinator - you should use it, even if it wasn't used before (see below).Get Seachem Prime if they have it there, since that product has a good reputation among axolotl owners. (Some water treatments do not have as good a rep for various reasons.)

The previous owners weren't changing much water at at time, it appears. With small water changes, a dechlorinator isn't always necessary (but it is advisable to use one anyhow, to be in the habit). With large water changes, the chlorine can kill the beneficial bacteria, resulting in an ammonia and nitrite spike.

It sound's like you aren't familiar with "the cycle". Here is the short course - cut and pasted, then edited, from another post of mine ... I'm lazy that way ...

Ammonia (produced by axolotls and decaying organic matter) is toxic, but the toxicity is dependent on water pH. High pH = ammonia more toxic.

Bacteria that eat ammonia will colonize the surfaces of your aquarium and decorations, etc. It takes a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, these bacteria eat the ammonia and then produce nitrite. Nitrite is also toxic.

Bacteria that eat nitrite will also colonize the aquarium, and it also takes a couple more weeks. They produce nitrate, which is less toxic. Too much nitrate will stress your axolotl, and is associated with fungus outbreaks.

The nitrate is removed by water changes. It is also removed by plants, but that doesn't eliminate water changes.

This growth of good bacteria is called "the cycle", and if they die for whatever reason, they say "the cycle crashed." Chlorinated water can kill these bacteria, which is why you should use a dechlorinator when doing water changes.

Filters provide much more surface area for good bacteria to grow on and a steady flow of water to the bacteria. Some people can keep aquariums without any filter, but it is risky.

The 100% water change probably crashed the cycle, and your tank has not recovered yet. I recommend you get a good test kit - the kind with chemicals in droppers, not the strips. It is educational - your son will enjoy learning about the chemistry and doing the tests (I'm assuming he is old enough). Read up on the cycle and decide how you want to proceed. It isn't hard - the most straight-forward method is to just keep an eye on the ammonia and nitrite and do water changes (if the axolotl is in the tank) when the levels get too high. You can also do a "fishless cycle", but you would then need to keep the axolotl out of the tank until it is cycled.

OOPs, sorry I missed this. Thank you so much for explaining it all so well. I didn't understand what a cycle was It all makes much more sense now.
My only other experience with anything in a tank was with goldfish (They lived about 8 years but with pretty minimal attention,water treatment)
My son is doing year 11 Chem..It can be his job



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Old 25th January 2015   #11
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

I like Melbourne's water website. It is easy to find things on.

If you are in Melbourne proper, it looks like you have chlorine (but some of the townships have chloramine, which doesn't out-gas from water as quickly and has ammonia too.) See Drinking water treatment - Melbourne Water

Sometimes the "minimal care" approach works rather well, since then changes tend to be slow. Most aquatic creatures are physically stressed by constantly changing water conditions/temperatures. For that reason, a fan blowing across the water surface is a better cooling mechanism than ice bottles, since the temp doesn't fluctuate as much.



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Old 25th January 2015   #12
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

Hmm..we get our supply from Cardinia dam I think.

Thanks for the tip about the fan, I was rather worried about using an ice bottle.

I have to go and do some housework I'll not try to feed her until tomorrow, let her settle down a bit. Sh is at least now sitting on the floor of the tupperwear container instead of floating limply on top.

I will report in tomorrow.

cheers

Selkie



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Old 28th January 2015   #13
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

Well she's been in the fridge at 7C for 4 days now. She's looking good. gills seem fluffier. no swelling gut or anything. but she's passed nothing and still won't eat. What am I actually waiting for? If her metabolism is slowed, I understand if she wont eat but at what stage do I return her to the tank? This is like Schrodinger's cat.

She hasn't eaten for three weeks now.



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Old 28th January 2015   #14
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

Well, you have the tank water cleaned up, a test kit to check water (right), and she seems to be doing well, so now is as good a time as any to reintroduce her to the tank. Review the how-to in the the fridging guide, and good luck! :-)

Perhaps hand-feeding would help get her to eat again?



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Old 28th January 2015   #15
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

Quote:
Originally Posted by selkie View Post
Well she's been in the fridge at 7C for 4 days now. She's looking good. gills seem fluffier. no swelling gut or anything. but she's passed nothing and still won't eat. What am I actually waiting for? If her metabolism is slowed, I understand if she wont eat but at what stage do I return her to the tank? This is like Schrodinger's cat.

She hasn't eaten for three weeks now.
axies can go a while without food
i find that after a long fast (perhaps cause im away for a week or they have been sick) bloodworms are great to start back up the appetite
they release an irresistable odor for the axie and they dont usually puke them up
gradually get her back to eating



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Old 30th January 2015   #16
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

Update. Hikaru was still in the fridge and no longer floating on the top. She also seems to have passed a small amount of poop last night. Still not eating. I've put her in the tupperware container in an esky (chiller bin) I've refilled the tank and put dechlorinator in.

I was intending to get the temp to ambient then test the quality before putting her in it.

Should I put her back in the fridge until the water is tested? or should the fresh water be fine with the dechlorinator added?



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Old 30th January 2015   #17
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

The fresh dechlorinated water should be fine.

It is good that you are warming her up gradually.

Are you dechlorinating the water before it goes in the tank?

Have you bought a test kit yet?

Good luck!



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Old 31st January 2015   #18
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

No, the tank was empty so I filled it and put the dechlorinator in the water in the tank. I assume it will take a few hours to dechloinate. UM should I put her back in the fridge? she's only been out half an hour and in the chiller.

Actually I better put her back in the fridge while I sort this out.

I bought a new filter, plants, dechlorinator, test kits for nitrates, ammonia, PH.

Sand and large pebbles on the bottom.

I washed the sand first really well but the water is still a little cloudy.. I assume it will settle?



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Old 31st January 2015   #19
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

The wonderful thing about dechlorinator is that it works really, really fast. Almost instantly. Mix it in, and you are done.

Other "actions" of tap water conditioners aren't as fast, like ammonia neutralization, if I recall correctly. Like minutes instead of seconds, or something like that.

It is best if dechorinator goes in the water before it goes in the tank, but a close second best is to put the dechorinator in the tank and then add the water.

Slightly cloudy water from sand is usually OK.

Have fun!



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Old 31st January 2015   #20
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Default Re: Neglected Axolotl

I've just tested the water (with a dropper kit not strips)
PH 7
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0

So I guess I can taKe Hukaru out of the fridge again, slowly warm her up and in she goes!! :) Fingers crossed :)

Thank you so much for your patience Laura :)



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