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

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Old 29th November 2013   #1
Jelle
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Default Curled gills

Hey,

I've had my axolotl for about 5 months now, and I got it three weeks after it hatched (about 1,5 cm).

He's growing fast and hits the 15 cm now. One thing worries me though. He has HUGE gills, much bigger than those of fully grown axolotls that I have seen on this forum and he just can't get them straight up. They're curled forward very extremely all the time, they even touch his eyes sometimes.. I've read that this is a stress indicator that is likely caused by current caused by a filter. This cannot be the cause as my filter has a very gentle outflow, turned to the glass wall and hidden behind a piece of fake rock and I even tried switching the filter off for 2 days, which did not help.
Its tail is straight, though.

I bought a set of water test strips and they did not show anything abnormal.
I feed him a cublicle of frozen blood worms each day, sometimes altered with a bunch of live bloodworms and daphnia and a piece of frozen fish fillets every 2 or 3 days. He eats and poops well and he looks healthy to me apart from the gills.

Anyone who've had this before? Is it possible that its gills are just too heavy for him to keep them straight?

greets Jelle



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Old 29th November 2013   #2
nai live
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Default Re: Curled gills

Curled gills are supposed to be a stress sign but many axolotls do it when there are no obvious problems. Is the water quality and temp ok ?Some pics would be good of the axoltol and its setup. You may wish to rethink your feeding regime, at 15cm the axolotl will do well on earthworms, frozen bloodworm and frozen fish are not a great diet.



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Old 29th November 2013   #3
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Default Re: Curled gills

Hello,

Yes the water quality is OK and the temperature varies between 12 and 15 C. The only problem I can think of is that the temperature is not very stable, as I do not have any temperature control elements. It just adapts to the temperature in my bedroom where the tank is. Could this be a stress factor?

I will post some photos of my axolotl and its tank this weekend. Thanks for your comment on the food, I will try to give him a more varied diet.

greets Jelle



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Old 1st December 2013   #4
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Default Re: Curled gills

Here's some photos of my axolotl. I took him out of its tank today to cover the bottom with sand, which might be better for him than the foam fake rock bottom that I had before.
Click the image to open in full size.

He's had this weird lump on its tail since I got him, don't know what it is but it doesn't seem to bother him.
Click the image to open in full size.

Here's the setup. It's a 50 cm tank with fake rock on the bottom and the background, and fake (plastic) plants (don't worry about the temp indication, I took this picture last summer. The water is much cooler now, around 15 C).
Click the image to open in full size.



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Old 3rd December 2013   #5
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Default Re: Curled gills

His gills are beautiful! Where does he hang out most in the tank? What kind of filter is it (Hang-on-back, internal, other)? My leucistic used to wedge himself where the drop-off/mouth of my internal filter used to sit in my tank which caused a lot of forceful gill curling- in the new tank I have an extremely strong HOB that I have a baffle for that slows the current while redirecting it at the wall- it's possible he's just not quite strong/built enough yet that when he's sitting close to it, or even spending a lot of time in any kind of current, that it would push them forward.

Is there any other strange behaviour you've noticed that prompted you to post, or just his gills? Most of the time gill curling comes coupled with a kink in the tail and other signs of stress- floating, lethargy, refusing to eat, etc.

He's stunning though, you've done a great job raising him!



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Old 3rd December 2013   #6
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Default Re: Curled gills

Thank you!!

It's my very first aquatic pet and read A LOT on this site and others to make sure I do everything right. The fact that his gills are curled just confuses me as I can't figure out why he does that.
He does not seem to have a favorite spot in the tank but he avoids the area of the filter. It's a mechanical filter that is attached to the back wall. I attached a piece of fake rock in front of it to minimize the outflow and to hide the filter (see the photo). When I turned the filter off for two days I immediately found him on top of the narrow wall that hides the filter!
The rest of the tank, apart from the area 10 cm around the filter, has absolutely static water. All particles that are floating there are hanging still.

I can't see anything abnormal on his behaviour. He eats and poops like a dinosaur, walks around a little and takes a gulp of air every 15 minutes (is that too often?)

Here he is being very little, note the lump on the tail that's already visible
Click the image to open in full size.

Here's a video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0HZ_CM6wq0



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Old 3rd December 2013   #7
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Default Re: Curled gills

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jelle View Post
Thank you!!

It's my very first aquatic pet and read A LOT on this site and others to make sure I do everything right. The fact that his gills are curled just confuses me as I can't figure out why he does that.
He does not seem to have a favorite spot in the tank but he avoids the area of the filter. It's a mechanical filter that is attached to the back wall. I attached a piece of fake rock in front of it to minimize the outflow and to hide the filter (see the photo). When I turned the filter off for two days I immediately found him on top of the narrow wall that hides the filter!
The rest of the tank, apart from the area 10 cm around the filter, has absolutely static water. All particles that are floating there are hanging still.

I can't see anything abnormal on his behaviour. He eats and poops like a dinosaur, walks around a little and takes a gulp of air every 15 minutes (is that too often?)

Here he is being very little, note the lump on the tail that's already visible
Click the image to open in full size.

Here's a video:
Young axolotl eating piece of fish - YouTube
I'm glad you've taken to him so well! I know when I saw my first lotl at my LFS, I immediately knew he was the one and I am forever in love! Is he any better now that the foam is gone?

Do you have a spare aerator around? Although i don't know if it would cause the gills to curl substantially (especially without a tail kink), it might do a bit of good in terms of water movement to your filter (there needs to be some kind of movement to prevent 'deadzones' in the system- although this is a primary concern in fish-keeping vs. axolotls, so I'm not sure of the applicability/necessity) - another thing could be your hide you have for him (I just had to remove 'aquarium safe' decorations from my LFS that were leaching god-knows-what into my tank that's caused me a hell of a time), is it an aquarium grade piece? If it is real wood/coco/husk that could potentially be an issue- but I think again there would be more happening than his gills being forward.

Try and get an aerator for him with a stone to see if that makes any difference in his trips to the surface and the gills. Also- have you noticed anything hanging off of him lately? in this shot (http://i140.photobucket.com/albums/r...psafda34a2.jpg) there appears to be a Y like formation (hard to tell from the photo, but it almost looks like an anchor worm) hanging in the top of the frame- they enjoy being behind gills and folds of legs- it's worth checking out as a precaution at the very least :)



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Old 4th December 2013   #8
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Default Re: Curled gills

Hello,

I will look for an aerator, he might like that. Thanks!
I bought the hides/ornaments at an aquarium shop and the package said they were 100% aquarium safe with non-leaking and non-toxic paints.

His gills appear to be a bit less curled after I put the sand in the tank, but they still aren't straight.
The thing in the photo you refer to is something sticking to the underside of the tub I put my axolotl in when I was cleaning the tank.



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Old 4th December 2013   #9
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Default Re: Curled gills

Not sure if I'm much help or not, but I do recall reading somewhere on here about gill size. The less oxygen in the water, the larger the gills.
I'm wondering if, because your water is very still, maybe there's less oxygen?
Also, swimming to the top to breath and gill flicking is normal breathing behavior :)

Please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm still learning myself



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Old 4th December 2013   #10
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Default Re: Curled gills

The filter outflow is 5 cm under the water surface so it is possible that the water has a quite low oxygen level. Maybe a straw in the outflow mouth, sticking through the surface and creating a small fountain helps?
Also, will adding a few real plants help to increase the oxygen level significantly? Or does a tank have to be fully planted to provide enough oxygen?

I like the large gills on my axolotl but if it's bad for its health off course I need to fix the low oxy level.



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Old 4th December 2013   #11
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Default Re: Curled gills

An air stone or bubble wall will be fine and a lot of axies like to ride in the bubbles to the top



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Old 4th December 2013   #12
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Default Re: Curled gills

I can't comment on plants creating oxygen in the tank (I've never been able to keep a planted tank long enough to invest long term interest in the benefits haha) but i know an aerator with an air stone will be cheaper for you than buying a wackload of plants :) I've managed to collect a bunch of them over the years through buying used tanks, but last time I saw one in store it was $14CAD - most plants around me cost that much individually haha.



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Old 4th December 2013   #13
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Default Re: Curled gills

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarkandii View Post
I can't comment on plants creating oxygen in the tank (I've never been able to keep a planted tank long enough to invest long term interest in the benefits haha) but i know an aerator with an air stone will be cheaper for you than buying a wackload of plants :) I've managed to collect a bunch of them over the years through buying used tanks, but last time I saw one in store it was $14CAD - most plants around me cost that much individually haha.
Marimo "moss balls" they aren't really moss but a type of algae are great tank plants for axolotls. Mine plays with his marimo rolling them about and sitting on them. They also help reduce waste in the water.



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Old 4th December 2013   #14
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Default Re: Curled gills

Feel that, Sugarkandii. I couldn't even keep Java Moss or Fern alive - the shame! >.< And - oh my goodness, is that a Harlequin? How beautiful!

Plants are great for lowering nitrates and for introducing oxygen but the best way I've found of introducing oxygen is what layna said - an airstone. An air pump can usually be gotten more cheaply from another tank owner, and airstones can come as cheaply as 4 - for 4 Jazz Airstones from Interpet, which are very small and create a fine stream of bubbles.

Sometimes gills can curl forward as a sign of heat stress, but you'd probably see irritable behaviour and skin problems too. I use fans to keep my temperature consistent and they work a treat. Obviously, checking for all the other possible causes is good, but it may be they're simply heavy and that's why they bend forward. It isn't easy being fabulous :)

The bit behind the tail looks to me like it wanted to be a mini-tail that never quite grew. I had my suspicions your baby was a chimera - and indeed, with its patterning, it does have a Harlequin/Chimera vibe. That mini tail might be part of that process. But obviously checking for anchor worms, etc, makes good sense.

As for the tank parameters, not to bash the strip tests but I usually find the liquid test kits much more reliable. You can buy a full API Master Test Kit on Amazon for 20.



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Old 5th December 2013   #15
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Default Re: Curled gills

I don't know what type it is. You tell me :)
But its parents look like plain leucistics to me.
I will visit the pet store this afternoon, I hope they have air stones.



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