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


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Old 10th October 2010   #1
mkw
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Default White Lumps

Hi,

I just wondered if anyone can shed any light on these? They appeared recently and don't seem to be bothering my axy but i just want to make sure they aren't anything big!

Nothing has changed before these appeared.

Sorry for the quality of the pic, i just had my phone to hand at the time!

Cheers!

Click the image to open in full size.



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Old 10th October 2010   #2
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Default Re: White Lumps

Do they look fluffy? Like cotton wool?



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Old 11th October 2010   #3
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Default Re: White Lumps

That looks like ich (Ichthyophthirius multifilis) which is a protozan infection that usually infects fish kept in poor conditions or that are under stress from a recent change in their environment. There are medications for this disease for fish but the most important response is to correct whatever problems that exist in your tank.

I've just spent several hours researching the internet for information about Axolotls (amphibians in general) and Ich. The consensus seems to be that 1. amphibians are NOT susceptible to Ich and 2. the medications that treat Ich are really hard on amphibians. So, don't do that.

How long have you had this animal, how large is it or how old do you think it is? What is your tank set up? water conditions? etc.



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Old 11th October 2010   #4
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Default Re: White Lumps

No they don't look like cotton wool to start with.

Erm, the tank is a 60 litre, and my axolotl is around 6-7 inches long and i've had it since march. Only change in the tank was sand about 2 months ago to Caribsea Tahitian Moon sand and thats the lot, i use live earthworms and bloodworms for food, tank temp is 18-20 degrees...

Can't test the water cause i don't have a kit but i do weekley 20% changes.

Do you reckon treating with melafix would help to clear whatever this may be?

Anything else, let me know.



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Old 11th October 2010   #5
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Default Re: White Lumps

If this is ich then be careful not to treat it with standard medicines. Most of all do not turn up the temperature to speed cure as the temperatures usually used for tropical fish will kill your axolotl long before the ich. The ich grows slowly at low temperatures, so you are in for a prolonged treatment.

Axolotls do catch this infection. The cysts drop off, multiply and release about a thousand infective swimming organisms. The cysts do not rupture and the life cycle is eventually broken if at least 1g per litre salt is present in the water. I suggest you salt supplement at 1.5g per litre for several weeks. You could use a higher salt concentration but do not exceed 3g per litre.

Methylene blue is an axolotl safe standard medicine but it hammers the bacteria in the filter and kills off the plants. Quinine and malachite green are reputed to be good ways of killing the axolotl. Salt also damages some plants especially at levels above 3g/L.



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Old 11th October 2010   #6
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Default Re: White Lumps

Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanblue View Post
If this is ich then be careful not to treat it with standard medicines. Most of all do not turn up the temperature to speed cure as the temperatures usually used for tropical fish will kill your axolotl long before the ich. The ich grows slowly at low temperatures, so you are in for a prolonged treatment.

Axolotls do catch this infection. The cysts drop off, multiply and release about a thousand infective swimming organisms. The cysts do not rupture and the life cycle is eventually broken if at least 1g per litre salt is present in the water. I suggest you salt supplement at 1.5g per litre for several weeks. You could use a higher salt concentration but do not exceed 3g per litre.

Methylene blue is an axolotl safe standard medicine but it hammers the bacteria in the filter and kills off the plants. Quinine and malachite green are reputed to be good ways of killing the axolotl. Salt also damages some plants especially at levels above 3g/L.
So just to clarify your saying salt the tank? Not just do salt baths? And is this with standard household salt?



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Old 11th October 2010   #7
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Default Re: White Lumps

Yes, salt the tank. This is a long term treatment because the life cycle of ich at about 18C is several weeks. It might be better to use a modified Holtfreter's solution. The salts in these solutions are the main reason lab axolotls do not often get ich.

My axolotls permanently inhabit water equivalent to 1.25g salt per litre. There are formulae on the linked axolotl site but my recipe is.
Calcium Chloride 4g -current brand Kontrol Krystals Combat-dehumidifier crystals from a hardware store.
Table salt (Currently Morrison's Bettabuy) 40g
Magnesium sulphate (epsom salts) 10g-get it from a chemist-horticultural brands are sometimes heavily contaminated with iron sulphate.
Lo-salt 4g- a readily avaliable mix of potassium chloride with salt. (Morrisons do not stock it nearly everyone else does!)


The free running additives in table salt appear to be harmless.

Directions

Dissolve the Calcium chloride first in about 200ml water. It will get hot and is irritant, add it slowly and stir well. Then chuck in the other ingredients and make up to 1 litre.

(If you dissolve the magnesium sulphate first the calcium chloride will become coated by a layer of calcium sulphate and not dissolve-if you try to make up a more concentrated stock solution calcium sulphate will precipitate out!)

Finally get a tight closing container to store your unused calcium chloride or you will have a horrible damp mess next time you need it!

Use 25ml of this stock solution for every litre of water. If your tank looses water by evaporation make up with unsalted water. Use the solution for standard water changes.

You might want to use a slightly larger level of supplementalion say 35ml/L for the first month or so to give an equivalent salt level of about 1.75g/L.



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Old 11th October 2010   #8
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Default Re: White Lumps

I'll try the salt combo, i thought that having salt in the tank would be a bad thing!

Anyways, my next question is...What is the disease doing to my axy? Will it be causing any discomfort or long lasting damage while the treatment is going on?



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Old 11th October 2010   #9
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Default Re: White Lumps

Reactions to salt in the water need to be considered on a species by species approach. Most freshwater organisms tolerate levels which are less than the salt concentration of their blood well, but some do not. Some fish from low salt environments, such as some of the tetras will not breed if salt is present, others such as guppies tolerate brackish above blood concentration (about 8-9g/L) and with adaptation up to higher than sea water (about 35g/L). Axolotls have been placed in solutions of 30% sea water equivalent to 10.5g/L when they survived but showed metabolic changes which could be interpreted as stressful.

Most amphibians, including axolotls seem to thrive with a higher concentration of salt than is probably present in the natural environment. If Salts are present in the water then less energy is expended trying to maintain blood levels.

Ich causes damage where the parasites are and when the parasite exits there is a skin wound. In a bad attack secondary infection can overwhelm the victim. The number of spots present at the moment are not that bad but the aim is to prevent more developing. The salt itself will not cause discomfort at these levels.

To summarise Axolotls tolerate salt up to 6/7/8g per litre and ich cannot tolerate more than 1g/litre.

Has there been any contact with fish? It is possible there has been a low level infection since you bought your axolotl but fish are the most obvious source.



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Old 12th October 2010   #10
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Default Re: White Lumps

I've been and got the salt i need, i can't find any calcium chloride though

There have been guppies in the tank but they didn't last very long! Maybe that was the problem. Anyway, i'll start treatment as soon as i can and let you know how it goes.



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Old 22nd October 2010   #11
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Default Re: White Lumps

Hi,

So i've had the tank salted at a level of 1.5g/l since your advice but the lumps are still there and now she won't eat anything. I've tried earth worms, blood worms, prawn, pellets etc and she seems to show and interest and come to see whats what but won't actually eat anything, ocasionally grabbing something then spitting it straight out.

The gills have gone white and theres been a lot of floating about on the surface for hours at a time, things aren't looking good.

Do you have any recommendations on what to try next?



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Old 22nd October 2010   #12
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Default Re: White Lumps

Man, I don't think I would have agreed with salting the entire tank. It seems like a no brainer that the Axolotl would stop eating. If things aren't getting any better I would try fridging and daily water changes.




Last edited by Shizeric; 22nd October 2010 at 15:30.
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Old 22nd October 2010   #13
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Default Re: White Lumps

Professionals who raise axolotls for scientific research always use Holtfreter's Solution (or some similar concoction) in their tanks as described by Oceanblue above. Google up "Indiana Axolotl Colony" for a reference.

They don't use it as temporary "treatment" but maintain their animals in this solution all the time. The purpose for that is to make certain that the water your animals are in provides them with all of the components they need to repair and replace their skin, bones, etc.

Hobbyists who have success maintain axolotls and don't rely on Holtfreter's solution to keep their animals in prime condition are either lucky that the water conditions out of their tap supply these important minerals or have some other technique that they use (whether they are aware of it or not) that meets these needs.

The most common solution to axolotl problems is to "change the water." This works by reducing the built up animal waste and also by replenishing lost minerals.



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Old 22nd October 2010   #14
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Default Re: White Lumps

If the Axolotls are raised in that solution, and that is how they are kept at all times, I can see why that would be a successful manor in which to keep the animals. However, when an animal is used to being kept in freshwater is all of the sudden kept in a saltwater solution, I can see why abnormal behavior (including loss of appetite) would occur.

If things are only getting worse after attempting this solution, I would try returning the Axolotl to fresh, clean water and see what happens.



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Old 22nd October 2010   #15
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Default Re: White Lumps

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shizeric View Post
Man, I don't think I would have agreed with salting the entire tank. It seems like a no brainer that the Axolotl would stop eating. If things aren't getting any better I would try fridging and daily water changes.
I don't understand why the axolotl would automatically stop eating in your opinion? If you read the posts above it seems common practice to have at least some salt in the tank.



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Old 22nd October 2010   #16
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Default Re: White Lumps

Is fridging wise at this point? I don't want to cause any further problems that will increase the spread of the lumps or prevent them from clearing up.



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Old 22nd October 2010   #17
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Default Re: White Lumps

I think the addition of an irritant (the salt) could cause an Axolotl to display behaviors indicating stress. It does not seem your Axolotl's health is not improving, and the longer it goes without eating the worse. It's been a week and the suggested treatment hasn't worked, and your Axolotl has become more ill. I would advise friding with clean, fresh water in an attempt to return the Axolotl's appetite.



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Old 22nd October 2010   #18
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Default Re: White Lumps

Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanblue View Post
Yes, salt the tank. This is a long term treatment because the life cycle of ich at about 18C is several weeks. It might be better to use a modified Holtfreter's solution. The salts in these solutions are the main reason lab axolotls do not often get ich.

My axolotls permanently inhabit water equivalent to 1.25g salt per litre. There are formulae on the linked axolotl site but my recipe is.
Calcium Chloride 4g -current brand Kontrol Krystals Combat-dehumidifier crystals from a hardware store.
Table salt (Currently Morrison's Bettabuy) 40g
Magnesium sulphate (epsom salts) 10g-get it from a chemist-horticultural brands are sometimes heavily contaminated with iron sulphate.
Lo-salt 4g- a readily avaliable mix of potassium chloride with salt. (Morrisons do not stock it nearly everyone else does!)


The free running additives in table salt appear to be harmless.

Directions

Dissolve the Calcium chloride first in about 200ml water. It will get hot and is irritant, add it slowly and stir well. Then chuck in the other ingredients and make up to 1 litre.

(If you dissolve the magnesium sulphate first the calcium chloride will become coated by a layer of calcium sulphate and not dissolve-if you try to make up a more concentrated stock solution calcium sulphate will precipitate out!)

Finally get a tight closing container to store your unused calcium chloride or you will have a horrible damp mess next time you need it!

Use 25ml of this stock solution for every litre of water. If your tank looses water by evaporation make up with unsalted water. Use the solution for standard water changes.

You might want to use a slightly larger level of supplementalion say 35ml/L for the first month or so to give an equivalent salt level of about 1.75g/L.
This is really useful information - I've seen the formula for Holtfreter's solution before but never instructions which are as "user friendly" as these.

You say your axolotls are in a permanent 1.25g/l solution of this ... do you add this solution to fresh water when you are doing water changes? Do you monitor concentration levels in your tank somehow or allow for rising concentration due to evaporation?



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Old 22nd October 2010   #19
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Default Re: White Lumps

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shizeric View Post
I think the addition of an irritant (the salt) could cause an Axolotl to display behaviors indicating stress. It does not seem your Axolotl's health is not improving, and the longer it goes without eating the worse. It's been a week and the suggested treatment hasn't worked, and your Axolotl has become more ill. I would advise friding with clean, fresh water in an attempt to return the Axolotl's appetite.
Doesn't fridging generally reduce the animals appetite?



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Old 22nd October 2010   #20
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Default Re: White Lumps

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shizeric View Post
...all of the sudden kept in a saltwater solution, I can see why abnormal behavior (including loss of appetite) would occur.

If things are only getting worse after attempting this solution, I would try returning the Axolotl to fresh, clean water and see what happens.
I'm starting to see how and why using Holtfreter's solution is beneficial but perhaps Shizeric has a point here as well? Perhaps this axolotl has now gone into shock. I humbly postulate that it may be an idea to [I]re-freshen[I] your tank water by doing some water changes and then slowly add the Holtfreter's solution to your tank over a period of a few days to allow your axolotl to become accustomed to the unfamiliar chemicals.

Does anyone with more experience than me also think this could be a good course of action?



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