Question: Axolotl Morphing

haileyvp

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I am in need of some advice. I first started with axolotls a year and a half ago with an albino GFP male and a melanoid GFP female. They bred before I could separate them, and I decided to raise a few of their babies. A few weeks ago I noticed one of the young one's gills starting to shrink, and in the last week or so it has started to morph, with the tail fin reducing as well. They are about 6 months old now, and the one that's morphing is around 6" long. This one was housed with one of its siblings that is doing great, so I'm not sure why it's morphing, as the water parameters and temperature were fine, though the nitrates were a bit high at times between water changes.

With the holidays, I haven't been able to keep a close eye on it, and the gills have reduced rather quickly it seems. The pictures are from this past Tuesday (longer gills) and today, unfortunately I wasn't able to find a picture of it from before the morphing started.

I've since separated it into a tote to provide it with a land section (doing water changes daily) and removed those few smaller rocks seen in the first image (they were larger than the axolotl's head), but I'm not sure at what point to remove the water altogether and convert it to terrestrial only, with moist substrate. I've done a lot of research in the last few days about keeping tiger salamanders as I couldn't find much about morpholotls (as I've seen them called on this site). Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

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WindWolf

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Such a cutie!
You're right, and it's definitely morphing though. Although super rare, it's not completely unheard of for an axolotl to suddenly morph with no known triggers. I'd keep doing what you've been doing so far: provide it with a land area and keep doing regular water changes and feedings. Once axies morph their care is really no different than tiger salamanders. Good luck!
 

haileyvp

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Thanks Ellie! Since my original post I noticed him(?) mainly sticking to the land portion and the gills were completely gone, so I moved him into a new home with coco fibre substrate (the only thing I had available during the holidays, though if he survives and starts eating again I'm thinking about going bioactive like with my reptiles) and a large water dish, and after the first night he hasn't been back to the water. I've also moved him from the cool room the axolotls are in (16°C/61°F) to the main part of my apartment (20-21°C/68-70°F) and he seems to be moving around and reacting a bit more than before.

Unfortunately he hasn't eaten in a week and a half, and even that was a smaller meal than usual. Before the morph he was on a half a nightcrawler every other night, but he refused anything but a quarter piece on Christmas Eve (same date as the first picture, with his longer gills), and doesn't seem interested in anything now. I've read tiger salamanders can't refuse waxworms but my local pet store didn't have any, so I tried butterworms instead, and still nothing. He hasn't seem to have lost any weight, but as he's now a new type of pet (in terms of care) I'm a bit worried, as this is my first terrestrial amphibian.
 

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It's not unusual for them not to eat after morphing, give him a little while to adjust.
Treat it now more or less like a Tiger salamander. I keep my newly morphed tigers in a kidded plastic box with a soil mix of garden soil and lead litter , a couple of places to hide like cut drainpipe tubes, bark, slate Dec and I always had a water bowl big enough for them to hop into. Mine would always hop into the water to feed, maybe they initially found it easier, or old habits does hard I suppose. :happy:
 

RobNeoFuture

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Help my axolotl is morphing! He currently still lives underwater but in low water where he can climb up of the water and he seems to be comfortable and happy but he's really gulping in air at the surface quite a bit (I assume from lose of longer gills) and i also have him the other half of the time in a set up with more water and he likes to hide in there or be floating/standing at the surface. Any tips or advice from your experience? I really just want him to be as happy and comfortable as possible.
 
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  • Lanalotl:
    Hi I recently rescued a lotl (i did weeks of research before rescuing) Hes mabey 5 or 6 years of age..the previous owner could not remember the exact age of him. I got him from her as he was or had been picked on by his tank mate another lotl who was bough with him from every younger age, I noticed one of his gills, a middle one at the end had split in two? And is slightly more floppy? He also appears or mabey I'm just over worried to mabey have lost some feathers, is that normal to lose some?...all levels in the tank are fine, but wondered if theres and advice anyone could give me as an experienced owner to a new one.
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  • Axolotl Queen:
    @Lanalotl Sounds like the gills may have been nipped by the tank mate. If he is in his own tank and the parameters etc are all good, then he should grow them back and they should go back to full health and strength. However, depending on how old the injury is they may not fully grow back if they have been constantly nipped at.
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  • Smknmom421:
    Can anyone tell me why this is happening? We just did a water change and after freaking out and whipping around the tank, an hour later they look like this. It won't let me send a pic. The edges of their gills are white and it looks like they have skin shedding off
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  • Murk:
    That sounds like severe skin damage. If you post a thread on the forum, you can attach pictures.
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  • Murk:
    It sounds like something went wrong with the water change, so this could be very dangerous. Did you use a dechlorinator? Could it be there are traces of chlorine or soap in the water? (Or for example, in the bucket you used?)
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  • Murk:
    Normally, I would recommend taking them out of the tank asap and putting them in a tub with fresh water, but if there's something wrong with your tap water or dechlorinator, that might not help either. Do you have acces to bottled water or rain water?
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  • Sal22:
    I think my axie is dying, he’s never had any issues before, I’ve had him 3 years, today I noticed some fluffy looking stuff coming from his genital area so I took him out of his tank and did a full tank clean to make sure the water wasn’t infected as I thought it was fungus and then I noticed he had a cut on his belly which was only small about 5 hours ago and now it’s spread to all of his belly, what do I do I’m freaking out
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  • Sal22:
    Update about my axie, unfortunately he has died over night, he looked as if he was bruised allover his belly, his mucus layer had also started to come off.
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    Anyone here from DMV?
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  • AlexisJG:
    Hi I have 2 4in juveniles (I’ve had them about 2 weeks and they are doing well I think they’ve grown a little already honestly) but I am supposed to go on a 5-6 day vacation in October about 3-4 months from now. I am wondering how I should go about their care when I am gone. I thought about putting them in separate (fairly big) containers with live plants and/or bubblers with a fan in the dark and either fridging them (my last plan) but I am hoping to to either have someone I trust come feed them and turkey baste waste out or just leave them out and clean the containers before we leave and have someone come check on them once or twice. Does any of this sound like a good or bad idea? I want the best for them. All help appreciated :)
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    @patrickstar116, do you still have your fire salamanders?
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    @Ganaa, I do you may message me if you wish
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    hi.....
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  • JDeslippe21:
    Hi, so I have 2 male axolotls and about an hour ago they were both perfectly fine and now only one of them has his tail curling up and his gills are slightly curled?? But other than that they’re both acting normally
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  • Murk:
    Could be he's just excited, spooked or temporarily stressed, which could pass in a few hours. It could also be an indicator of other problems. Do you have any recent water parameters?
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    Does anyone have any idea how to help with high ammonia levels? I have the API freshwater master kit and everything else’s test results were great besides ammonia. I did a 50% water change and I use API products including ammonia lock.
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  • MuggleMiChu:
    Help! I got my first axolotl two days ago and they have stopped eating. They ate a few frozen blood worms the first day and haven’t eaten or been interested in food since. I feed them frozen blood worms and the tank is around 64 degrees. I do have a filter that moves sometimes and I noticed them swimming up to it, I have a new filter and a fan coming today or tomorrow. I leave the worms in the tank or a little bit before taking them out so I don’t know if they ate when I wasn’t looking. I know it takes a while for them to digest. Does anyone have any tips or knowledge they can share? The pet store I bought them from didn’t have gravel or sand in the tank so I’m not sure if theres an issue or if I’m just impatient. Thank you!
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  • HalfDrunkToast:
    @MuggleMiChu, how big they are? also for substrate, i would not do gravel at all I would either do sand or none at all!
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  • MuggleMiChu:
    They are about 2-3 inches long and I have them in a bare bottom tank
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  • HalfDrunkToast:
    @MuggleMiChu I would say try live black/blood worms untell they are full or just turn there head away ( that's what mine do) if that does not work try to get some live brine shrimp and see if they eat that. baby axolotl prefer live food over frozen food as the frozen food is too cold for them or they can't eat it in one go( that's if you do the blocks) mine eat chopped up frozen thawed shrimp. as for them not eating from what I have experienced with my second axolotl, I got her when she was about an inch long and she ate every day, when they start getting 3-4 inches long they will gradually slow down there eating. and if you really want to do substrate I would do sand because if they do ingest a little bit it won't hurt them.
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  • MuggleMiChu:
    Thank you so much for the information and advice! They are eating again, they ate a lot today. I think it might have been stress from the move or digesting old food, I also noticed they ate some of the food left in the tank (I removed the rest). I’m going to keep the tank bare bottom.
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    @MuggleMiChu,your so welcome im glad to be of help! and I'm glad that they are eating as well!
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