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

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Old 29th January 2009   #1
suffolk axi
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Default new here with a sick axoltol

hi everyone, i signed up because my axolotl is looking a little unwell, first off a bit of back ground, me an my girlfriend bought our axi about 6 months ago, after a bit of research we set up a tank 18inch by 12 by 48, we dont have a heater but the water sits at 19degrees centigrade in our house, we have a spray bar pump supplying bubbles as it drips, the water flow is minimal. we change the water monthly 75% and we have always hand fed bloodworm cubes every other day, the tank is on a table in our front room with a contstant dim blue light but the room is lit all day, the tank has a hollow log in it and a large pebble floor.
about a week ago our axi seemed to be less interested in food and stopped swimming about so much (used to reguly go on swimming / floating trips from end to end), the water was due change at the time so we did a change and filter change. now our axi is refusing food every other feed and stays still and moves away from food, the toe tips are dark and axi's face is a red colour, the gills are pointed forward.
we are not sure what to do, is this just to do with our axi being a female and "coming of age"??? having done a bit more reading up i notice we need to add some variation to axi's diet and we have sent some water away for a test! any suggestions?
here's a few pics if it helps, the red colouring doesnt show up much because of the flash!

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Old 30th January 2009   #2
Rayson
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Default Re: new here with a sick axoltol

Hi Suffolk axi,

I think the best way to investigate this is to create a problem list and then tackle each issue. Based on my understanding (from your history) as well as observations from the photos, the problem list i have identified is as follows.

- Inappetance
- Forward facing gills
- Possible behavioural change/lethargy (subjective)
- Red face (a bit vague)
- 75% monthly water changes
- Pebbles as substrate
- Dark coloured toe tips

Inappetance, forward facing gills and lethargy can be indicative of stress or the onset of illness. I would recommend you continue monitoring your axie for other signs such as curled tail tip, production of excess mucus on the skin, discolouration or lesion growths on the skin and gills.

The best way to treat and prevent this is to provide optimal conditions in terms of management and husbandry which i would elaborate below. In the event if you notice your axolotl's condition is deteriorating, you may like to consider fridging him. Fridging the axie would destress it and render the conditions less hospitable for opportunistic pathogens to proliferate. Fridging will boost your axie's immune system and buy you some time to work on the underlying problems, be it due to the water in the tank or illness in your axie.

To fridge your axie, adjust your fridge temperature to about 4 degree celsius. You can then place your axie in a container large enough to allow it to stretch out comfortably. Provide a lid (you can perforate it or use a netting) to prevent it jumping out. Water level should be such that it allows the axie to be fully submerged but yet not too much such that it floats. You can continue offering food daily. You should also perform daily water changes with clean dechlorinated water pre prepared by keeping in bottles stored in the fridge. This would prevent temperature related shocks.

Based on the photos, i couldn't really tell what you mean by 'red face'. I see a red streak across its face but i would thought that was a piece of bloodworm. If you refer to 'red face' as increased or darker pigmentation on the head region, i would not be overly concerned. However, if you notice a laceration, wound, bruise, or blood spots (petechial and ecchymoses), there is a possibility there may be a trauma. Again fridging should help in this case. If you notice increasing reddish hue and prominent blood vessels (due to plebitis, vasculitis), there may be a concern for scepticaemia (bacterial toxins in blood). However, i feel this is unlikely in this case as these cases tend to present with other signs of illness such as bloat.

The dark toe tips are indicative of maturity. This is normal and nothing to be concerned about.

I am concerned about the 75% monthly water changes. I would advise on 20% water changes conducted weekly rather than one huge change end of the month. This is because huge water changes would cause fluctuations in temperature and parameters that itself is very stressful to the axolotl. You should also aim to keep the bioslime (slimy layer) on your tank surfaces intact. Do not scrub them off. They are the beneficial bacteria that help in breaking down nitrogenous wastes. You should also use a good quality water ager (dechlorinator) that can effectively remove chlorines, chloramines and heavy metals whenever you change the water. Follow the instructions as directed on the product.

It is this point that i would also recommend you invest in a good colourimetric solution type test kit. There are master kits that contain all the tests you require. It is good practice to perform regular checks on water parameters. This allows you to evaluate when its time to change water and to assess if poor water quality is the cause of illness or stress in the axolotl. Although dipstick type test kits are cheaper, they are highly inaccurate so do not get those.

Another potential problem is the use of pebbles as substrate. Although most of the pebbles seem larger than the axie's head, i am concerned there may be smaller ones that can potentially cause an impaction when ingested. Furthermore the crevices render cleaning the tank difficult and as such translate to difficulty in managing water chemistry. You can use a bare bottomed tank or use sand as a substrate. Suitable sand includes freshwater aquarium sand, pool filter sand and childrens'play sand.

You have done a good job ensuring the axie is kept under minimal water flow, dim conditions and providing a stable 19 degree celsius water temperature. Continue to do so. You are also doing great offering a variety of food. Although you have provided one hiding log, you may like to add another hiding place.

Lastly, i wanted to mention that inappetance itself can also be normal in the sense that a matured axolotl will require less frequent feeds as compared to younger axolotls. Also, temperature plays a large part. If you have recently experience a cold spell or change of seasons, where the temperature has fallen, your axolotl may be reacting to the temperature change by eating less.

Please keep us updated and feel free to message if you have any further queries.

Regards



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Old 30th January 2009   #3
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Default Re: new here with a sick axoltol

i know this is very off topic, but i must say, I love the Spongebob Squarepants decorations!



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Old 30th January 2009   #4
frances dansie
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Default Re: new here with a sick axoltol

Hi,
sorry to hear of your problems.
I think you will find that the set up for your axie is most likely the main reason for this.
When you change the water do you remove the pebbles and clean under them?
If not there will be plenty of gunk that will make the water bad.
If you do once a month is not really often enough to be removing this.
My advice would be to remove your axie to the fridge, clear the tank of the pebbles and leave the floor bare or maybe some sand.
I would also add some plants, artificial are ok but live help maintain healthy water balance.
The plants will also give your axie more cover as they do not care for the light, having no eyelids.
The more places to hide the happier it will be.
The food issue is not so easy as there are many different schools of thought on this, me personally i like to provide live food if possible as this is more stimulating for the axie.
Earth worms are the closest in nutrition ( i believe) to the sorts of food they eat in the wild.
Also i would invest in a water test kit youself this would enable you to check the water regularly and take immediate action if problems occur.

!0-20% water changes weekly should be fine in a cycled tank and less stressful to the axie.
Good luck and i hope this is of some help.



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Old 30th January 2009   #5
suffolk axi
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Default Re: new here with a sick axoltol

thanks for the help, we'll try putting stompy in the fridge and changing the water more regularly, we change the water using a syphon to remove the old water and draw all the uneaten worms and poo out form under the pebbles, all the pebles are bigger than stomps head so stomp cant eat them. we were under the impression that monthly 75% changes were ok because of how big stomp's tank is the water detreiation was minimal and we temperature match the water by leaving it in the room for a day to warm up first, we'll change to weekly tho cos its not a major job to do

are we meant to turn stomp's light off over night, it is on 24/7 and has never seemed to cause trouble as it is a very dark blue so it only just lights the tank, im just curious cos if stomp is destined for a spell in the fridge in the dark then is there any point having a light on over night.



thanks nattles we wanted stomp to feel happy so we tried to copy bikini bottom



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Old 31st January 2009   #6
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Default Re: new here with a sick axoltol

Hi suffolk Axi,

Firstly Cool coloured axolotl you have there.

To me your axolotl appears abit on the heavy side and I would suggest that thie would be a leading cause of laziness. The size of your pebble substrate is good your axolotl would not be able to ingest pebbles of this size. It may however provide some issues with regards to cleaning making it hard to remove waste that has fallen down between them.

If your tank is cycled then 20% weekly water changes will be adequate if combined with daily spot cleaning of waste.

Lose the light at night when you go to bed and drop your feeding rate to once every 3 or 4 days.

Honestly your axolotl looks a bit stressed and fat otherwise it looks quite healthy.

Good Luck



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Old 31st January 2009   #7
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Talking Re: new here with a sick axoltol

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nattles88 View Post
i know this is very off topic, but i must say, I love the Spongebob Squarepants decorations!
lol so do I! I have a model of Gary the snail in my tank



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Old 3rd February 2009   #8
suffolk axi
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Default Re: new here with a sick axoltol

thanks for the further replies, stompy seems to be worse, we got the water checked twice and it is perfect, the temperature is still 18 degrees, we're now starting to turn the light off over night, we bought some alternative food - crustation and insect larve although so far we have only tried the larve and stompy didnt want it, we're not going to try again until saturday to see if it is that we are feeding too often. stompy has now started to loose the red colouring / "hairs" from around his antlers, stomp is also spending a lot of time hanging around under the pump instead of in the hollow log, are there any other possible suggestions / things to try??



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Old 3rd February 2009   #9
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Default Re: new here with a sick axoltol

Poor Stomp. Think I'd go for the sticking her in the fridge option, on minimal rations (use the search facility on here for tips on how to do it), changing the water daily and keeping her in the dark. If she's planning some fungal infection, that may stop it in its tracks! Hope she recovers. I have to say mine go through phases of refusing food, and hurtling around the tank -- this usually heralds an egg-laying frenzy (the male goes on hunger strike in sympathy, I think). Good luck



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Old 4th February 2009   #10
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Default Re: new here with a sick axoltol

Hi

I suggest Fridging your axolotl for a few days. The cold lowers their metabolism which decreases there need for food and also helps them to destress.

Good Luck



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Old 9th February 2009   #11
suffolk axi
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Default Re: new here with a sick axoltol

thanks for all the replies we are putting stompy in the fridge today hopefully this will help her get well again , we will keep you updated with her condition.



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Old 10th February 2009   #12
suffolk axi
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Default Re: new here with a sick axoltol

how do i "de fridge" stompy, do i just take her out the fridge and allow the water to return to room temperature and then put her back in the tank??



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Old 11th February 2009   #13
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Default Re: new here with a sick axoltol

Yes, absolutely correct.

-Eva



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