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

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Old 2nd November 2008   #1
Jet
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Default Axolotl won't eat and has shrunk in size

Hi there,

I was wondering if anyone is able to help with our Axolotl (Bubbly). We have had him about 5 months, and when we purchased him we were advised by the pet shop he was about 5-6 months of age.

Bubbly was quite healthy until recently, but has gone off his food over the last week or so, and has physically shrunk in size. He is (was) white in colour, but he started getting a pink tinge on his tail, and has practically overrun his whole body, and his gills are very deep pink to red in colour.

I have changed the water (about 15-20%) as I was advised by the pet shop not to do more than this. I alternate his feeding with beef heart and blood worm every couple of days. Out tank is about 80 litre capacity, but I fill it to about 60 litres.

We do have another Axolotl (Splotchy) (for about 2-3 months now) and he/she is quite healthy and growing steadily, and eats what Bubbly won't.

We had Bubbly first, and when we got Splotchy, Bubbly showed it was his territory, but after a couple of weeks, Splotchy has semed to mark the tank as his territory, and Bubbly seems to have backed down. Could this be part of Bubbly's problem?

I'm unsure of the water quality, as I don't have a test kit. Maybe I should invest in one.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



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Old 2nd November 2008   #2
Jennewt
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Default Re: Axolotl won't eat and has shrunk in size

What is the size of the tank exactly? And how is it furnished (plants, hides, etc)? Temperature?

I would recommend getting some test kits. And the 15-20% water change should be happening every week (or daily, if it's been neglected up to this point).

Territoriality is probably part of the problem. The pinkness of the skin and gills could indicate a systemic infection. I would recommend moving Bubbly to a separate quarantine tank; a large bucket or tub could be used if you don't have an extra tank. Adapt Bubbly gradually from his current tank water to fresh dechlorinated water, and then change the water in the quarantine daily.



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Old 3rd November 2008   #3
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Default Re: Axolotl won't eat and has shrunk in size

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Originally Posted by Jennewt View Post
What is the size of the tank exactly? And how is it furnished (plants, hides, etc)? Temperature?

I would recommend getting some test kits. And the 15-20% water change should be happening every week (or daily, if it's been neglected up to this point).

Territoriality is probably part of the problem. The pinkness of the skin and gills could indicate a systemic infection. I would recommend moving Bubbly to a separate quarantine tank; a large bucket or tub could be used if you don't have an extra tank. Adapt Bubbly gradually from his current tank water to fresh dechlorinated water, and then change the water in the quarantine daily.
Hi, and thanks for your prompt reply. The measurements of the tank are 12" wide x 24" long x 21" deep. There are about 6 plants (plastic) of varying thickness and a sunken ship that takes up about 1/3 of the floor area of the tank. I have just taken the temperature of the water and the thermometer was registering 23 deg C (74 deg F). I know this might be a bit high, but the water is at room temperature and away from any windows with direct sunlight. How would the water be cooled apart from putting ice cubes in the tank?



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Old 3rd November 2008   #4
Jacquie
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Default Re: Axolotl won't eat and has shrunk in size

Hi Jet,

Methods to keep a tank cool can be found here: http://www.caudata.org/cc/articles/cooling.shtml

The most important test kit is the 'Ammonia' test kit. Axolotls release a lot of wastes. The Ammonia reading should always be '0' - anything higher is dangerously toxic to the axolotls.

Test tube kits are the most reliable, don't buy test strips as these are notorious for giving inaccurate readings.

How frequently have you been conducting partial water changes and how much of the water do you change?

Axolotls are happy in a temperature range 14-18 degrees celcius. They can tolerate temperatures 19 - 24 degrees celcius as long as the water quality is sound.

What sort of substrate is in the tank? (sand/gravel/barebottom/other)

Is there any water current going on? (filter outtake flow)

Beef heart should only really be fed as an occasional treat, not as part of a staple diet. Bloodworm is good but very messy. Have you considered earthworm? These articles may help in expanding the menu: http://www.caudata.org/cc/articles/foods.shtml, http://www.caudata.org/cc/articles/worms.shtml



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Old 3rd November 2008   #5
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Default Re: Axolotl won't eat and has shrunk in size

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Originally Posted by Havelock View Post
How frequently have you been conducting partial water changes and how much of the water do you change?
I have been partially changing water about every 7-10 days, and out of 60 litres of water, I change about 10-15 Litres. In the last couple of days, I have been changing the water daily.

Quote:
What sort of substrate is in the tank? (sand/gravel/barebottom/other)
The substrate in the tank is gravel (about 1cm), and this was recommended by the pet shop where we bought the axolotls, as we knew nothing about them.

Quote:
Is there any water current going on? (filter outtake flow)
Yes it is a horizontal bar type with a number of holes in it, and the flow is downwards, but I have plants in the path of flow to help slow down the flow.

Quote:
Beef heart should only really be fed as an occasional treat, not as part of a staple diet. Bloodworm is good but very messy. Have you considered earthworm? These articles may help in expanding the menu: http://www.caudata.org/cc/articles/foods.shtml, http://www.caudata.org/cc/articles/worms.shtml
I have tried bloodworm, and as you mentioned it is very messy and breaks up and goes everywhere. You mention earthworm. Is this the garden variety I can dig up, or is there a special frozen type that is bought?



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Old 3rd November 2008   #6
Jacquie
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Default Re: Axolotl won't eat and has shrunk in size

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jet View Post
I have been partially changing water about every 7-10 days, and out of 60 litres of water, I change about 10-15 Litres. In the last couple of days, I have been changing the water daily.
Okay, this is good.

As Jen has advised above, I would keep Bubbly in isolation so if he is sick he does not pass it on to Splotchy.

Keep Bubbly some place cool and while he is in quarantine you can monitor his eating and hopefully he may partake of food without the complications of domination and water quality issues (if there are any).

If you feel you will not be able to keep his temporary home cool, I would advise you to fridge him.

Fridging will relax him and help fight off illness. Fridging will also aid in passing any stones he may have swallowed. If he is not eating, fridging will slow his metobolism to the point where he will not need to eat and the weight loss will also be slowed right down - this will buy you some time to ascertain the problem and correct it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jet View Post
The substrate in the tank is gravel (about 1cm), and this was recommended by the pet shop where we bought the axolotls, as we knew nothing about them.
Petstore advice is often unreliable.

The gravel may be contributing to issues on two fronts.

a) Gravel smaller than two centimetres can be ingested by the axolotls and cause impaction which can lead to death. Loss of appetite is one of the syptoms of impaction.

b) A lot of muck accumulates under the gravel and this is a major contributor to water quality issues. The only way to clear this muck, is to move all of the gravel around.

I would recommend changing to sand or bare bottom tank. These are the best substrates to aid in tank maintenance as muck will sit on the sand's surface in clear view - making for easy spot and removal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jet View Post
Yes it is a horizontal bar type with a number of holes in it, and the flow is downwards, but I have plants in the path of flow to help slow down the flow.
Okay, sounds good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jet View Post
I have tried bloodworm, and as you mentioned it is very messy and breaks up and goes everywhere. You mention earthworm. Is this the garden variety I can dig up, or is there a special frozen type that is bought?
You can use earthworm from the garden as long as no pesticides or chemical fertlizers have been used where the worms come from. I would also check with your neighbours to ascertain if they use either of these chemicals just to make doubly sure as worms can travel.

Earthworm can also be purchased from bait shops and worm farms. Bunnings also sells tubs of earthworms.

Bloodworm as well as being very messy also will find it's way under the gravel with ease and will foul up the water very quickly. If you use sand or barebottom tank this makes for easy spot and removal of any messy leftover food type and axie poop.



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