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

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Old 18th July 2009   #1
jackbobac
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Unhappy Possible parasite/infection/illness?

So heres my story:
I have a wild (about) 7-month-old axolotl and a (about) 10-month-old gfp leucistic axolotl. I keep them both in a 20 gallon long tank with 3 olive nerite snails and about 5 or so plants. There is some rock and wood with a fine sand substrate. There is a aquaclear 30 gallon backpack filter and a coralife 18 watt freshwater plant light.
I went camping for four days and left my axies in the care of my mom. While I was gone the weather was fairly hot and I hadn't explained to my mom to put the frozen water bottles that were in the freezer into the tank once the temperature goes over 70 or so. I think that direct sunlight was also let into the tank from my blinds being opened. Anyway, when I came back the temp was about 77 and I noticed quite a bit of algea had grown. I also closly watched my gfp axolotl (Nathan) and I noticed some white stuff on his gills. He did this weird thing where he would bow his body and "scratch" his white spot with his back leg. I looked very closly at both Nathan and Ruben (the wild axolotl) and found a few translucent worm/thing latched on to different places on them. This and my general feeling that they felt down in the dumps led me to fridge them while I figure out this predicament.
I put them in their own containers with fridge settings at 5 degrees Celcius. Then around 9 o' clock I gave them both a salt bath then changed their filth water with pre chilled water and did the same at 9 o' clock this morning. As far as I can tell they look the same. I think they they are overall healthier since the fridging. I was wondering about some things regarding this situation.

What should I do with my tank?
What should I do with my axies?
How long should I continue to fridge and salt bathe them?
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Old 18th July 2009   #2
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Default Re: Possible parasite/infection/illness?

Also I feed these guys on a diet of primarily salmon pellets and freeze-dried bloodworms.



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Old 18th July 2009   #3
Rayson
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Default Re: Possible parasite/infection/illness?

Hi Jackbobac,

You did very well. Fridging and salt baths are the way to go. Your axie has a parasite problem. Its not fungus. Fortunately salt baths are effective in treating parasites as well. Axies with a parasite problem can also have a greyish coating on their skin and would tend to scratch a lot. They would writhe and use their hind legs to try scratch their gills.

What should I do with my axies?

Continue with fridging and salt baths. Assess how it goes. If the condition improves, just persist with the current plan. If you don't see significant resolution by end of the 1st week, you might need to bring the axie to a vet or commence a treatment for anchorworms.

Offer blackworms and earthworms. They actually provide all the ample nutrients to help recovery.

How long should I continue to fridge and salt bathe them?

Fridging actually relies a lot on bolstering the immunity. For antibodies development, maturation and diffrentiation of different white cells, it would take about 3 weeks to be fully established. Hence i recommend you keep to this regime for a minimum of 3 weeks. (A couple of days to a week of fridging might slow down pathogens but will NOT eradicate them or allow the axie's immunity to build up sufficiently in time).

You will need to perform salt baths at least twice a day for the first 5 days. Space the treatment period out at equal intervals. For eg. 9am and 9pm sessions. (1 or 2 hr difference is ok) Soak for 10 mins each time. Thereafer, reduce the salt baths to once a day until end of 2nd week. Monitor throughout. I would advise you hold back on dimilin (anchorworm treatment) first. Sometimes just the salt baths are enough

What should I do with my tank?

I recommend while fridging your axies, perform water parameter checks. If nitrogenous wastes are high, reduce via water changes. Monitor tank temperature. If heat is an issue, you can fridge your axie until the heatwave is over.

I have attached a link to a thread that discusses treatment for anchorworms. This is for your reference.

http://www.caudata.org/forum/showthr...hlight=dimilin

If you are very worried, have any other questions or emergency, you can also private message, email or leave me a messenger note.

CHeers.





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Old 18th July 2009   #4
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Default Re: Possible parasite/infection/illness?

Next thing is to workout how the anchor worms got introduced into the tank, then you can take steps to ensure it doesn't happen again.



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Old 20th July 2009   #5
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Default Re: Possible parasite/infection/illness?

OK so i've been salt bathing and fridging for about 4 days now. Ruben and Nathan havn't eaten anything that I offer which I understand as pretty typical. Ruben seems to have gotten much skinnier since his enfridgement and I have mixed feelings on that. Anyhoo the worms which I understand as 'anchorworms' from you guys, are still numerous on both the axies. I am still a little confused on what to do with my tank. My instincts tell me that if I put the guys back in, they will again attract anchor worms. My questions are:

-Won't the axies get worms again if I put them in the tank?
-What can I do to get rid of the probable existance of worms in my tank?
-How long should I go without them eating before I should get concerned?

Thanks guys! This is the only place that does this kinda thing



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Old 21st July 2009   #6
Rayson
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Default Re: Possible parasite/infection/illness?

Hi Jackobac,

Won't the axies get worms again if I put them in the tank?

Yes they will. Hence you got to treat the tank as well. Read my comment below.

-What can I do to get rid of the probable existance of worms in my tank?

Anchorworms can be difficult to eradicate because they can burrow deep into the skin and even muscle layers of the axolotl. The wounds caused by the burrowing subsequently predisposes them to opportunistic bacterial and fungal infections.

The first thing you need to do is to ensure good tank conditions for your axies - good water parameters, temperature, low currents, good nutrition etc. to avoid infections due to immunosuppression from environmentally attributed stress. You may also consider fridging your axie while you you wait to bring it to your vet and treat your main tank. All axies and feeder fish in the tank will need to be treated, not just the sick one. This is because the anchorworm can cross species (fish & Axies) and set up a life cycle in a carrier.

Dimilin (Diflubenzuron) is an effective treatment against copepod crustacean parasites such as Lernaea (Anchor Worm) and Ergasilus (gill maggots). Diflubenzuron works by interfering with the development of the new chitin exoskeleton of the anchorworm and thus breaks the life cycle.

I would advise you to bring your axie to a vet who can then order in the medication and advise you on dosages. Normally very low concentrations of the drug is used. I am not sure if you can get them from aquarium shops over the counter in your country. I do know they are used commonly in ornamental fish industries especially goldfish and koi farms. You might like to enquire with your local ornamental fish farm/distributor?

One thing to note that is that when you use dimilin, there should be a repeat treatment 2 weeks after the initial treatment to remove all stages of the parasite. The recommended dosage rate is 0.03mg / litre but please follow your vet's advice.

Vets can also manually remove anchorworm from axies under anaesthesia. It is important to remove every bit of the anchorworm, even the embedded portion (anchor) under the skin otherwise the embedded foreign body will just be a nidus for secondary infections to set in and even cause foreign body reaction which is like an over excessive tissue repair. I would highly advise you against trying to remove the parasite yourself.

The next thing you have to do is to sterilise your main tank. I know this sounds contrary to everything that has been said conventionally. Stripping the tank down and restarting from scratch sounds drastic but im afraid this is the only way i can think of to permanently break the life cycle of anchorworms.

This is the tricky bit if you consider the pros and cons. Do you have another fully cycled tank on standby? You might have to put your axie in this new tank for a while or fridge your axie during the treatment period. You should only transfer your axie/animals into the fully sterilised tank after they are fully treated.

The thing with sterilising your tank is that you are basically nuking everything in there, including the beneficial bacteria. That means you have to start cycling the water again etc. You cannot reuse anything that is not sterilised. That includes substrate, plants, ornaments, filter, nets etc. Draining and refilling the tank is not good enough because these diseases can linger on. Everything must be removed and sterilized.

There are many ways to disinfect an aquarium. Some people use bleach or a heavy salt mix to clean while others will use potassium permanganate. No matter what way you do it, remember to rinse many times in fresh water.

To remove bleach odours, use vinegar and baking soda. Rinse until there is no smell. This can be a very long process of soaking and rinsing. Scrubbing down the tank and equipment with salt is safer because a little bit of salt residue does not hurt axolotls. Put some salt on a clean rag and the gentle abrasion of the salt will help remove stubborn algae.

Potassium permanganate is a chemical that can be used to sterilize tanks. It is available at most pool supply stores. No matter which way you clean your tank and equipment, remember to rinse many times in fresh water.

Some people heat up the tank water to 98 degrees (with no animals inside) for a couple of days, then drain the tank and let it sit dry for a week. The dry tank will kill the parasites because there will be no animal host. Then comes the fun of setting up your aquarium again.

I personally recommend cleaning the tank with lukewarm saturated saline solution over bleach or potassium permanganate.

-How long should I go without them eating before I should get concerned?

Axies can safely go without food for 2 months in the fridge. However, having them eat at any time is always encouraged. I would recommend you try getting some live blackworms and bits of shrimp to tempt them.

Cheers



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Old 21st July 2009   #7
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Default Re: Possible parasite/infection/illness?

Well I'm going to plan on fridging for about 3 weeks. During that time I'm going to heat up my aquarium to around 100 degrees for a day then empty it and let it sit in the sun for a few more days.

-I was wondering will the anchorworms simply fall out if the treatment is successful or will they just die and have to be removed via tweezers or a vet?
- Same with dimlin, if I have to use it, will the worms just dissapear?

Sorry if I'm probing a dead topic but I didn't see anything on this in the reference post or anywhere else



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Old 22nd July 2009   #8
Rayson
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Default Re: Possible parasite/infection/illness?

Hi Jackobac,

Heating up your tank will not kill all the anchorworms. Please follow the directions as indicated in the above post to sterilise your tank. (Scrubbing with saturated salt solution, leave to air dry in the sun etc.)

Fridging can help destress the axie but will also not completely treat the anchorworms. I recommend you bring it to a vet. Dimilin is the medication used to treat anchorworms. Successful treatment with dimilin will firstly kill the anchorworms so they do not proliferate or cause further damage. However, a part of the anchorworms will be embedded underneath the axie's skin. In some cases, the anchorworms will just fall off, however, they might leave the bit embedded still under the skin. It is best to let the vet remove them. If the embedded bit is not removed, it will remain as a constant chronic inflammation/swelling spot and prone to infections.

Cheers.



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Old 23rd April 2012   #9
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Default Re: Possible parasite/infection/illness?

hi jack, yours axolotl have a parasite named lernaea sp, this parasite will kill your axolotl, its infected with infected fishes, you must desprend it one by one and clean your watherbowl,



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Old 23rd April 2012   #10
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Default Re: Possible parasite/infection/illness?

Logan, since this thread is almost 3 years old, I don't think this poster comes around any more.

Do you have any proof or reasoning behind naming that species of parasite as opposed to any other?



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