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

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Old 10th June 2011   #1
Jake
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Exclamation Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

Hi,

I set up an axolotl tank for my two axolotls a little over 6 months ago and they were thriving for so long! It is a 55G tank and I have an extensive thread showing it off. I am experienced and knowledgeable regarding axolotl care, causes for illnesses and general aquarium husbandry. There tank is perfectly balanced, even including a chiller for the hotter months in summer. It has plenty of hides and the water parameters are perfect, though I'm waiting on a high range pH test kit as the one I have has said 7.6 the last three weeks tests, so it could be over, however the three remaining white clouds have had no illness, and are in fact managing to breed.

About five weeks ago however all three began gulping for air all the time, as though there is no oxygen. So I adjusted the air stones and let the filter move the water surface (it's usually guarded) however they continued to gulp and also turned their gills forward from the water movement. There is a melanoid female, golden albino male and wild type male and the first to show further illness then the gulping was the wild type who stopped eating. Next the golden albino started to lose his gills, not from fungus but just shrinking and dying filament, all slowly going white. He however continued eating. The female at this point was only gulping and had forward gills so she was of least concern. After a week of not eating the wild type male developed gill fungus.

Firstly I fridged both the males and began salt bathing the wild type, who's fungus is also eating away his finger tips. This axolotl actively tries to escape water and floated all the time in the tank and has once nearly crawled away during a fridge water change. During the following two weeks of fridging the golden albino got significantly better and only now that I'm ready to return him to the tank do his gills go pale again. The wild type sadly had not gotten better and still would not eat. Then we reach today when the female who remained relatively healthy apart from constant air gulping started shedding her outer skin and refused to eat. The female and the golden albino despite eating since the wild type stopped would not eat as they used to. They used to look over every time I moved near the tank and come and bite my finger every time it so much as broke the waters surface whereas recently they pay no attention to me ever and will only eat when the food is taken to directly in front of there mouths (makes feeding far less enjoyable). Now with the development of the females problems she will also be fridged and a witch hunt begins on what is causing these nuisance illnesses!

I have ruled out any bacteria, virus or parasite as none of them have displayed the same symptoms, the fish are still fine and there is no visible characteristic that is present in all three. The filter media was changed recently and I am religious with my maintenance. They are very peaceful toward each other and only used to bite sometimes when feeding.

The only factors I could possibly think would be causing the illness are:
1) The water movement created by the 1000L/ph chiller pump however it is only intake water movement as the output is diverted through an undergravel filter, creating reverse flow and the eheim canister output is guarded to dispel waterflow with a piece of pvc.
2) The possibilty of high pH however the minnows imply this is not a problem.
3) A lack of oxygen due to lack of water movement, however an air pump is running.
4) The water not being hard enough (general hardness is only 125ppm and could easily afford to be 160ppm).
5) An external agent has corrupted the water, such as a cleaning product or deoderant though neither is ever used in the room and could only have come in from a water change bucket kept in the bathroom, though when bathroom is being cleaned its always removed. 6) Something leaching from the driftwood or the iron stone, though the iron stone is virtually inert.
7) The stress caused by the speaker system used for movies (though it is rarely very loud and the sub is at least 6 meters from the tank).
8) Diet as they will only eat earthworms or crickets and refuse anything frozen as though they were snobs!

Please help!!! I have no clue what it could be and there change in vigor was so sudden!!! I have absolutely no idea and have nearly exhausted all options aside from completely redesigning the tank!!!!



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Old 12th June 2011   #2
Jake
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Comp[letely Stumped!!!!

I know people on this thread can be helpful and are collectively an excellent resource so please help me figure out what could be causing this problem! It has been another day or so and now I am getting really confused... Thanks



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Old 12th June 2011   #3
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Comp[letely Stumped!!!!

Hi Jake,

I'm not massively experienced in axi keeping, so I do hope someone who is will come along and offer their expertise.

The main things I would question at this stage is whether the minnows you're keeping with them are in some way stressing your axies or carrying some kind of disease?

The gulping would suggest to me, some possible change to the efficiency of the filter, however I know nothing about undergravel filters. You mention you have a chiller in place, just wondering whether there's been a sudden change in temperature, eg room temperature rising rapidly and then the chiller being turned on to counteract it. Does the chiller have some form of thermostat control; I'd imagine any sudden change in temperature may trigger the gasping.




Last edited by iggiethegecko; 12th June 2011 at 13:03. Reason: missed a word
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Old 12th June 2011   #4
Julia
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Comp[letely Stumped!!!!

I am rather stumped too.

You say you did salt baths, was this because you saw fungus ?

Gill will get smaller if the water is well oxygenated, but that does not explain why they are gulping. What temperature has the tank been at lately and what is the reading for ammonia?



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Old 13th June 2011   #5
Jake
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Comp[letely Stumped!!!!

Thanks for the replies! Ammonia is at zero, nitrite is zero, nitrate is around 20ppm and pH until I get my high range test kit is at 7.6 for all I know. I began the salt baths when the fungus began but it only happened to one axie... I assume the fish are not stressing them as there have been up to fifteen fish in there and were slowly eaten down to three and has been at said three for a month or two. I also assume that it is not a pathogen based issue but rather a water chemistry issue as all are showing different symptoms and appear to be generally stressed. As I said none of them pay any attention to me anymore and now that two are in the fridge and have not changed in condition terribly much and one remains in the tank, who is soon to also be fridged, it is becoming harder and harder to tell what might be bothering them. None of them seem nearly ill enough too be on the verge of death but the young wild type that seems to be worst off at this point has not eaten for a little over five weeks.



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Old 13th June 2011   #6
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

Im leaning towards, like you said, something contaminating the water such as deodorant or bleach something like that - only thing I can think of that explains all the illnesses.. sorry I cant be more help, you could try a large water change and cleaning (thourough) of decorations and stuff like that



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Old 15th June 2011   #7
Jake
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

I think i may have to do the large water change and slow elimination of different things from the tank, mainly the two pieces of driftwood, to see if that makes a difference. I came to this conclusionas there is little else that I see could be doing this. Do the intakes of pumps make enough water flow to bother axies? In one corner of the tank I have aroun 1300l/ph being pulled in all the time... Also my high range test came today and the pH is at 7.8 so no problems there, though minutely lower would be perfect. I have no clue. My other major thought is that given the lack of water movement in my tank it might be worth placing the 1000l/ph pump near the surface to help move around the highly oxygenated water from the surface? Or perhaps just get a more powerful air pump? That is if the oxygenation is the problem (which I doubt)... I guess a 75% water change is on the cards for this weekend...



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Old 18th June 2011   #8
Jake
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

Just today when doing a water change for the fridged axolotls I noticed that the wild type has a red-ish area on his belly, looking almost like internal bleeding visible through his skin. I was wondering if this could be a sign of compaction? I know he was relieving his bowel of small stones from the pet store regularly for the first two weeks I owned him however his formerly healthy appetite would imply a compaction is unlikely. Also I would assume after now a month in the fridge and three weeks of salt, and epsom salt baths daily that such a blockage would have been passed? Do you think its possible though? Could easily explain his stress and lack of eating, and the stress it caused can explain the fungus. I'm just not sure how likely it is. And alas, it also does not help to explain why the other two are also suffering just without common symptoms.

Any help would be great!



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Old 1st July 2011   #9
Jake
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

Hi,

I recently placed both the axies back in the tank as the fridge seemed to be doing little. They are both eating, though the wild type barely does so. They are all still showing symptoms!!! I cant for the life of me figure this out!! I will start removing more and more things from the tank but what next? Completely redoing the tank? Seeing a herpetological vet, which would mean atleast two hours drive and spending more money on vet bills then all of the axies and there tank and setup combined cost. I know that seems like the wrong way to look at it but im not made of money and there being unwell is starting to really stress me out! I have had the hardest two months an axolotl owner can have! Feeding them used to take 5 mins, not 30 mins and all the extra tank work I'm doing! Its just driving me insane! Please help! Should I dose an antibiotic or a viral medication or something?



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Old 1st July 2011   #10
Julia
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

Could you post some pictures of their current tank set up, and pictures of the axolotl please?



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Old 1st July 2011   #11
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

Could you post some pictures of their current tank set up, and pictures of the axolotl please?



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Old 1st July 2011   #12
Jake
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

Hi,

Yes I will take some tomorrow when the light is on, I cant believe i didn't think to do this earlier! though it might not be completely up to date there is another thread you can find through my profile that shows the tank roughly as it is, though some minor adjustments have been made for there living pleasure.

http://www.caudata.org/forum/f46-beg...cape-tank.html

Hope this helps until tomorrow. As I said in my another thread I will, tomorrow, make an absolutely complete, down to the last possible miniscule factors, list or treatment plan for the tank and axies.



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Old 2nd July 2011   #13
Jake
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

I will have to post the pictures tomorrow as I just discovered our home is void of digital cameras and the one we do have (that isn't a poor quality phone camera) does not have the appropriate lens to take a detailed close up of the axies, so for now descriptions will have to do, my apologies and many thanks for the effort you are taking in helping me, I really appreciate it.



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Old 9th July 2011   #14
Jake
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

Sorry it has taken so long but here are the pics of the setup and the axies, though I was unable to get a good shot of the extremely ill wild type. They are all back in the fridge now and I have been taking extremely good care of them and am quickly working on the tank to try and fix whatever problem it may be. Sorry the pictures aren't great, it has been difficult getting hold of a digital camera that has an autofocus with no flash.
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Old 9th July 2011   #15
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

I have already posted on your other thread but have now read this one, my first thought is your under gravel filter, this is definately a no no in my opinion,along with the gravel this is way to dangerous as can be ingested, and the filter will just hold harmful bacteria. If the fish arent being eaten they could also be causing stress, sometimes what has worked for a long time does not mean it will always work. If your axies are adults going without food for a while will not harm them but continually trying to force them to eat will.
I would remove all the axies and pop them in the fridge, remove all the gravel and under gravel filter, check to make sure the wood has not become soft and is breaking down.
Replace the filtration system with an exterior filter if possible as this will keep all the muck away from your axies, replace gravel with sand or leave bare, pop food in and leave for a couple of hours then remove if uneaten, try to stimulate appetite with live red worm or even daphnia, i know they are no that nutritious but the constant movement will help stimulate them, check all your plants to make sure they are all agree able with your axies, im sure someone on here would know if they are or not im afraid I only use java so cant be of help there. I do know that all my plants survive well enough with out the need for a light though.
Dont know about the epsom salt bath either as we only use rock salt, never heard of anyone using that


This of course is only my opinion and im sure there are others who will or wont agree with me.
I wish you all the best and hope you get to the bottom of it soon and all survive.




Last edited by digger; 9th July 2011 at 20:40. Reason: missed info
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Old 10th July 2011   #16
Jake
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

Hi, the undergravel filter is a reverse flow setup and is designed to keep less waste in the gravel, which works remarkably well. Also removing it would mean I would have to find another subtle way to diffuse the immense 1000l/ph that the chillers pump produces... The tank was very well researched and all the plants are flourishing in the tank, with the exception of some bunch plants I bought on a whim around 3months ago, which seem to neither die nor grow and are perpetually just as they were when I bought them, which is very odd...The axies are currently in the fridge and I will be sorting out the tanks few issues soon, though I still find it somewhat unlikely any of these issues are major enough to cause such consistent, long standing stress... I cannot just put the food in as the worms burrow and foul the water very quickly and the fish wereb eing eaten but are now too few and too fast to be caught... It has an external filter, an Eheim 2213, on of the best models available and the nightcrawlers are a species of worm, perhaps the most highly recommended species for their nutritional value... Thank you for the help and I look forward to seeing if these suggestions are successful...




Last edited by Yaimfat; 10th July 2011 at 07:33.
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Old 10th July 2011   #17
Kaysie
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

What is the temperature of your tank? And what is the flow like? 1000l an hour sounds like an awful lot of movement to me.



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Old 11th July 2011   #18
Jake
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Default Re: Three Sick Axies, Completely Stumped!!!!

Hi, the flow is extremely minimal as the eheim has a piece of pvc covering its output to disperse flow and the 1000L/ph is redirected upward through an undergravel filter, causing reverse flow. I was however wondering if the flow created around the intake of such a pump could cause water flow stress?



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