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

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Old 23rd December 2015   #1
Hannah
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Exclamation Does my rescue need special treatment?

Hello fellow axolotl keepers.

I brought home my first axie tonight--one that I've had my eyes on for a while at a local aquatics store--and I went in a little half-cocked because I've been watching the little guy slowly waste away in his environment there. He stopped eating, is clearly emaciated, and his gills are disheveled. I don't have a picture right now simply because I don't want to disturb him. He is resting now his brand new ten gallon here at home. He has live plants, very little circulation, fine sand substrate, and a nice natural cave to hide in.

The temperature of the tank is currently 68 degrees, so it's a little higher than I want it but I will adjust that soon. I want to try to feed him some bloodworms tomorrow evening. The environment he had before was cluttered, unfiltered, full of minnows, and he had an inconsistent feeding schedule. We assume he was just rotting in ammonia. They say he was completely fine up until a few weeks ago.

I'm not sure if it's just me being hopeful, but he seems a little perkier in this new tank. I added a teaspoon of aquarium salt to encourage the function of his gills--I was too afraid to put more in even though he has ten gallons--and the water has been cycling for about a week. It's not perfect, but it's a heck of a lot better than he had, and I made sure to treat it for chlorine and bad gunk.

I have done mountains of research already, but I have no actual experience with axolotls, so I don't want to mess up. Is there anything that I can do that would definitely help him?

Thank you!

- Hannah



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Old 23rd December 2015   #2
Hannah
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Default Re: Does my rescue need special treatment?

I have an update on my axolotl. He didn't seem to move at all through the night--just hunkered down against the cold sand behind some moss and driftwood. I used a turkey baster to add some bloodworms to a bowl in his tank and gently moved him over to it. I'm not sure if it's a good sign that he let me pick him up without any struggle? Anyways, he actually ate, so that is wonderful. Now he's alternating between sitting in the bowl and nosing through his bloodworms.

I have some pictures of his condition. Also, one of his sides looks flat, like the cartilage isn't there? The other is more rounded, as if he has "ribs". I'm not sure if that's just a defect or caused by his emaciation.

- Hannah

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Old 23rd December 2015   #3
Chris
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Default Re: Does my rescue need special treatment?

He doesn't look good, at least he has eaten some blood worms which is a good sign!

If your Axolotl was healthy you'd have a hard time handling him, its more likely that your Axolotl is just very weak.

Blood worm is not nutritionally complete and your Axolotl will need as much nutrition as he can get. Id recommend purchasing some pellets or cut up earth worm which you can mix with the blood worm when feeding which will help with the recovery.

Also, make sure you monitor the water parameters, Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, as your tank probably isn't cycled.

Your tanks substrate seems to have quite a lot of stones which are above 3mm in size, these can pose a potential issue as they could be ingested and cause impaction or other issues with the digestive tract.



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Old 23rd December 2015   #4
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Default Re: Does my rescue need special treatment?

Thank you for your advice and input. I was wondering about the substrate myself. I have those larger stones under the sand and they've been mixed up a little, so I will spread more sand over top of them again to hide it. I will also pick up a few worms and offer those to him. He had a bowl movement, which is encouraging.

- Hannah



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Old 25th December 2015   #5
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Default Re: Does my rescue need special treatment?

Just FYI axolotl have been known to dig so the larger stones will still be a hazard once he is feeling more frisky.



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Old 25th December 2015   #6
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Default Re: Does my rescue need special treatment?

If he shows signs of major improvement and puts on weight I'm going to move him into a 20 gallon tank, and I'll make sure it's nothing but sand. He won't be in this for long, and it will be converted into a fish tank afterward.

- Hannah



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Old 27th December 2015   #7
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Default Re: Does my rescue need special treatment?

I think you are doing well, I would have done the same thing, get bloodworms and a small bowl for them to get food out of. An axie that is willing to eat is always a good sign. Just keep giving it bloodworms and it knows when to stop eating. I am not saying put tons of food on the plate but be generous. With warmer temperatures, their metabolism works faster so they want to eat.

Man I miss having a little food plate for my axles, they have gotten too big and just move the plate around.



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Old 27th December 2015   #8
Peter Pan Pollywogs
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Default Re: Does my rescue need special treatment?

When I rescued an axolotl in very poor condition she wouldn't eat night crawler worms - I assume she was not accustomed to them. She didn't care for blood worms, but responded well to frozen brine shrimp cubes. I always "hand feed" my axolotls with reptile feeding tongs - you can wiggle it around and slowly draw it away from them to entice them to chase, or pique interest.

I keep my axolotls in reverse osmosis filtered water - I have never treated it with chemicals or measured any levels in the water. They thrive in it! The rescued one perked up within a week of being in the clean, fresh water, around 20 degrees Celsius which is 68 Fahrenheit.

I also use large river stones as substrate - they're way too large to even garner attention from a Lotl; they look lovely, and the free space beneath/between them makes for easy suck-up cleaning with a siphon.

I've attached a photo of my rocks to consider
And photos of the little melanoid that I rescued. You can see one of her arms appears to have been "removed" or "damaged" some how, and her tail was rotting off. That is indeed exposed bone you see, protruding from her tail.

It's so nice to see someone who is caring and responsible, and rescuing a poor Axolotl. I'm happy you found yours and are doing a great job!
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Old 31st December 2015   #9
Hannah
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Default Re: Does my rescue need special treatment?

Thank you everyone! He is actually doing amazing now. He's unrecognizable. He wouldn't accept any night crawlers even though I tried to entice him with small pieces, but blood worms and brine shrimp better watch out. He just sits in his bowl and snaps until they're gone. He has a little pot belly now and his gills are night and day. The substrate is still giving me trouble but I'm going to be moving him into a new tank now that his health has turned around, and this will just be a plant tank that I can take starts from.

- Hannah

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