Constipated/impacted axolotl

Della

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G'day all,

I have had my axolotl for about a week now and I am starting to suspect that she is either consipated or impacted. Her stomach looks rather full, her tail is elevated, she is tilting a little and seems a bit wonky on her feet. I have noticed that she has been eating some of the gravel (although she spits the majority of it out). I have very fine gravel in the tank, that I was told should pass through relatively easily by the lady at the aquarium. Other than that, she is eating well ( i feed her a mixed diet of pellets, earthworms and fish) and seems relatively happy (no fungus, white patches and her gills aren't forward) and active.

My question is more about treatment. From what I have read on this forum and others, the best option is to put her in the fridge, but should I do this right away, or do I wait a while. I have only noticed the tilting and swollen stomach over the past couple of days and considering that she is eating fine, I am reluctent to do anything too drastic. Any thoughts? Do I stop feeding her? Is there any specific food to give to try and rectify this problem?

Also, I think she has pooed maybe once since I have had her ( I say maybe because I wasn't sure it is was faeces or whether she spat up some of the pellets, as it looked like undigested pellets). How often should she be pooing?

Thanks

Paul
 

Darkmaverick

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Hi Paul,

I think your guess is right. I am inclined to think impaction. I would advise to remove the gravel and replace with sand or keep it bare bottomed. Are the gravel less than 2 mm in diameter?

I would suggest you fridge your axie. Fridging your axie will destress it, boost its immune system and render harmful pathogens (both bacterial and fungal) less viable.

- Set your fridge to about 5 degree celsius.
- Put your axie in a container large enough to allow it to stretch its limbs and tail comfortably.
- Fill with fresh dechlorinated water enough to submerge it but not allowing it to float.
- Cover with a lid. You can use a perforated lid or netting to prevent it jumping out.
- Use a tea towel to cover it to keep the environment dark.
- Perform 100% water changes daily with clean dechlorinated water.
- You can pre prepare bottles of water in the fridge.
- Continue to offer a variety of nutritious food daily. Try live wriggly food like blackworms, bloodworms, earthworms. You can also try the usual pellet, offer treats of shrimp and fish etc. Otherwise you can also blend everything in a food processor and then roll the resultant mash into a pea sized ball to try offer your axie. Remove uneaten food within 20 min.

I would try fridging your axolotl for 2 weeks and continually monitor for improvement. Please update on the progress every couple of days.

http://www.caudata.org/axolotl-sanctuary/Fridging.shtml

Axies should poo at least once a week if you feed them accordingly. They do look like brownish masses. Absence of poo despite feeding over a long period of time can suggest impaction as the gut is no longer patent to allow the passage of the ingesta.

Cheers.
 

Della

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Thanks Rayson,

The gravel is either 2 or 3 mm, I can't quite remember. Should I still get rid of it? Like I said, I had concerns about using gravel when the saleswoman recommended it, but she ensured me that it was small enough to pass. It definately looks small enough, but then again, I don't know how much she has swallowed!!
How urgently do you think I need to fridge her? I may give her till tomorrow to see if it passes naturally, otherwise I'll chuck her in the fridge.

Does anyone know why she decided to eat the gravel? I hand feed her to minimise it, but she seems to like eating it even if she has been fed???

Cheers

Paul
 

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Hi Paul,

In general, if the gravel is less than 2mm diameter, it should still be relatively safe although no gravel is always guaranteed to be safest.

Hand feeding does signficantly reduce the amount of gravel ingested. In most situations, the ingestion of gravel is not voluntary but rather because of the vacuum like action of feeding whereby everything goes in.

Hungry axolotls do also 'forage' more around the substrate and have a higher likelihood to ingest gravel in the process.

Cheers.
 

Della

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Thanks again,

I thought that she may be hungry, so I fed her again after i noticed her chewing on the gravel.
Is it possible that I'm not feeding her enough? I will generally give her a couple of pallets and either a worm or fish. I was told that I should refrain from feeding her until she is full, as this will lead to fussyness.

Is it o.k to feed her in her current impacted state?

Cheers

Paul
 

Jacquie

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Thanks again,

I thought that she may be hungry, so I fed her again after i noticed her chewing on the gravel.
Is it possible that I'm not feeding her enough? I will generally give her a couple of pallets and either a worm or fish. I was told that I should refrain from feeding her until she is full, as this will lead to fussyness.

Is it o.k to feed her in her current impacted state?

Cheers

Paul
Hi Paul,

Axolotls are oppurtunistic feeders and will snuffle through the substrate at all hours looking for food even if they are fully satiated. Axolotls are also nocturnal, and will look for food during the night. Gravel of all sizes up to two centimeters in diameter can contribute to impaction.

The best way to ascertain if the axolotl is over or underfed is to monitor the belly. The belly should be about as wide as the axolotl's head at the heads widest point, plump but not obese. If the axolotl is too fat, cut the feedings back to once a week. If the axolotl is a little lean, offer more food during feeding session.

As a rough guide: Adult axolotls need only be fed about twice a week. Juveniles need to be fed about once every two days, and very young juveniles every day.

It's actually a very good sign that she is eating. If seriously impacted, the axolotl will not be able to eat until the blockage is cleared.

The best and safest substrates for axolotls is barebottom tank or sand. Appropriate sand types are childrens play sand (cheapest), pool filter sand, or fresh water aquarium sand (expensive). Please do not use beach sand or marine sand. Bare bottom tanks are the easiest to clean and maintain, but is not as 'aesthetically pleasing' as sand.

Would you be able to post a photo of your axolotl?
 

Della

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Just caught her eating gravel again!!!!! I also just fed to try and coax her out to get a good pic. She quite happily ate 4 pellets. She still seems bloated and is still very wonky when walking.
here are some pics

Thanks

Paul
 

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fleafee

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My axol was "constipated" and started to float and couldnt get down, we put him in the fridge, and with in a couple of hours he had done a big poo and was happy again, so I definately say fridge him.

Fiona
 

Darkmaverick

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Hi Paul,

Actually your gravel don't look too bad. Its not fine sand but at the same time it doesn't look too coarse/large either. I don't think there should be a problem.

It could be a possibility that before you acquire your axolotl that it was kept in a tank with large gravel.

Constipation is possible too, as with your initial suspicion. The best panacea for both impaction or constipation is the same - fridging.

Cheers.
 

Della

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Thank you all for your advice and comments,

I've plugged in an old fridge and have let it cool overnight. I will put her in there later on today and keep you posted

Cheers

Paul
 

Della

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G'day all,

I threw her in the fridge around 6:30 last night and checked her again regularly. At 9:30, success!!! She had finally pooed and had also passed a bit of gravel. I left her in the fridge till 12, as I was out, and then put her back in when I got home. I felt her stomach as I put her back (thanks Jaq) and it didn't feel too hard, or that was any gravel left (although, I am a novice at this sort of thing).

Her stomach and cloaca are not as swollen as they were, however, she is still having balance issues!! Her tail is elevated and she is tilting when walking. Is this normal? Will it take her some time to settle down?

I am yet to remove the gravel, but I plan on replacing it with sand on the weekend. I think I may chuck her in the fridge while I am changing the tank over ect.

Cheers

Paul
 

Jacquie

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Hi Paul,

It sounds like she may have been transferred back to the tank too soon. When fridging, it's best to leave the axolotl in the fridge until all gravel is cleared, this may take a few days or even a week.

One of the main advantages of the fridge, is that it provides a constant in temperature (very important to the axolotl), the only time the axolotl should be removed from the fridge is while doing her 100% daily water change with fridged water, after this water change she should be returned directly to the fridge to maintain the stable temperature.

I would leave her in the fridge for one to two weeks, this will allow you time to change the gravel out of the tank at your leisure, and replace with sand while she is enjoying her holiday in the fridge.

When the time comes to transfer the axolotl back to the tank, please ensure the temperatures of both container and tank are at equal temperature (this may take hours) before putting the axolotl back in the tank, as temperature fluctuations cause a great deal of stress in axolotls.
 

Della

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Thanks again Jacq,

I really didn't like the idea of having her in the fridge, which is why I moved her back pretty soon after, but I shall put her back there tonight. I did allow the container to return to tank temp before putting her back, Should I be doing the same when initially putting her in there (i.e use water @ tank temp and then let it gradually get to 4deg?)

Question: What is the best way of changing the water in there? Is it o.k to leave her out of the water while I put the new water in? Or is it better to have 2 containers? I am using a plastic container similar to the one used in the guide
(http://www.caudata.org/axolotl-sanctuary/Fridging.shtml), should I be putting it on really tight, or do I leave a corner loose? BTW dechlorinated water = tap water + water conditioner, right?

Also, when I am changing the tank over, should I keep the existing water and then put that back in or is better to start fresh?


Sorry about the multiple questions, I'd rather be safe than sorry!!!!

Cheers

Paul
 

Jacquie

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I really didn't like the idea of having her in the fridge, which is why I moved her back pretty soon after, but I shall put her back there tonight. I did allow the container to return to tank temp before putting her back, Should I be doing the same when initially putting her in there (i.e use water @ tank temp and then let it gradually get to 4deg?)
When initially placed in the fridge, the tub water will gently chill to the fridge temperature, this does not stress the axolotl as the change is very gradual, allowing time for the axolotl to adjust.

Question: What is the best way of changing the water in there? Is it o.k to leave her out of the water while I put the new water in? Or is it better to have 2 containers? I am using a plastic container similar to the one used in the guide?
I use two containers, I find it simpler and less stressful on the axolotl. I place the axolotl's fridged tub on the kitchen table, place an empty tub beside it, pour the fridged water into the new tub, gently transfer the axolotl over, pop the lid on, wrap with teatowel and place back in fridge.

(I will add this step of the procedure to the fridging guide, thank you for bringing it up).

(http://www.caudata.org/axolotl-sanctuary/Fridging.shtml), should I be putting it on really tight, or do I leave a corner loose? BTW dechlorinated water = tap water + water conditioner, right?
I put the lids on snugly, but I don't hammer them down as the teatowel is also wrapped around the tub.

As long as the water conditioner states on the label that it removes chlorine and chloromine, then yes, it is a dechlorinator.

Also, when I am changing the tank over, should I keep the existing water and then put that back in or is better to start fresh?
Try to preserve as much of your original tank water as possible. Tank ornaments, filter and plants should be kept wet and left to soak in the original tank water as this will preserve your beneficial bacterias which live on all tank surfaces. Do not scrub anything!

You mentioned that you have had the axolotl for a week (and such a pretty axie too). Has the tank been cycled?

If you are not familiar with cycling, this article ("cycling") describes the process of cycling an aquarium, and this article ("water quality") is on maintaining water quality which is most important to an axolotl's health.
 

Della

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You mentioned that you have had the axolotl for a week (and such a pretty axie too). Has the tank been cycled?
Not to the extent that many on this forum recommend. I setup the tank and left it overnight, I then took a sample back to the aquarium for testing. The saleswoman said it was "perfect" and I purchased her and took her home. I have been using a bacterial booster though (high dose for the frist day, smaller doses for 7 days following).

Cycling, along with the gravel, was another conversation that I had the saleswoman. I asked her about letting the tank cycle prior to adding the axolotl and she said that she didn't believe in it, as there was no waste to breakdown and that I was better off putting her in there to aid in the cycling.

My water conditioner doesn't actually mention dechlorination, but does have a list of ingredients. What chemicals are involved in dechlorination and what should I be looking for?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Della
I really didn't like the idea of having her in the fridge, which is why I moved her back pretty soon after, but I shall put her back there tonight. I did allow the container to return to tank temp before putting her back, Should I be doing the same when initially putting her in there (i.e use water @ tank temp and then let it gradually get to 4deg?)

When placed in the fridge, the water will gently chill to the fridge temperature, this does not stress the axolotl as the change is very gradual.
Sorry, I think you misunderstood, I mean't when initally puttin her in the container, do I need to let the water reach RT before I put her in, or is it better to have it a little colder? Or do I just use tank water to begin with?

Cheers

Paul
 

Della

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I have just put her in the fridge again. Her tilting ect seemed to improve a little over the past couple of days, so I was a bit unsure as to whether to put her back in. Ended up putting her back in anyway, as I'll be reconstructing her tank over the next few days and its probably the best place for her.

Going to get some sand tomorrow and set it all up. I have a few questions re: the new setup:

1) Should I leave the filter on while she's in the fridge?

2) Is it worthwhile doing anything extra to the water while she is on her artic adventure? Jacq mentioned to put the fouled up water in the tank (which I'll do), but anything else?? We have a goldfish tank in the house too, I thought of maybe adding a little of that tank water in each day to feed the bacteria. Tossing up whether its worthwhile, considering the posibility of adding any disease, parasites ect.

3) Do I leave the filter on when the sand is settling? I would have thought that while it is in motion, the sand would probabaly clog the filter? Thoughts?

Cheers

Paul
 

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Hi Paul,

I would recommend you keep your filter running at all times. The aeration provided will actually support the growth of beneficial bacteria in your tank that is involved in biological filtration. Switching off the filter can kill off populations of these bacteria, especially those colonising the filter media.

To minimise the 'dust' from sand substrate, you can actually prewash the sand by rinsing it again and again until the water runs clear before you put into the tank. Some people use a pillow case method which functions like a sieve that would retain larger sand particles but let the fine dust be washed out. If your filter traps any residual sand, you can just simply unclog it by rinsing the media in some tank water.

I would not recommend you use water from your goldfish tank to put into your axie tank. You are right that parasites and illnesses can be transferred this way. Goldfish in particular, seems to be a host to many microbial pathogens. Have a read through the two links jacq sent you earlier on cycling and water quality. You can do a 'fishless' cycle by addition of a small piece of shrimp etc. to support healthy bacteria growth. There are more details on the link.

Cheers.
 

Della

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Hi all,

Just a quick update: my axy has now been in the fridge for 2 weeks and seems to have passed all her gravel. I was amazed at how much she had eaten (probably about 1 tablespoon worth!!!). She has been eating an earthworm a day and seems relatively happy.

I have been changing her water daily and have been adding her dirty water to the tank when I have remembered (maybe every second day?).

I was all ready to put her back, when I decided I'd go to the local aquarium to get the water tested. To my suprise, the nitrite levels were through the roof!!! I was advised to do a 70% water change and to add some salt to the water (which I did) and then took the water in for re-testing.

The nitrite levels are still through the roof. The solution from the aquarium was to add a goldfish to the tank to help get the cycling working properly, but from what I have read and from Maverick's advice, it's probably a bad idea.

So what should I do?? Risk the Goldfish, keep adding the old water or is there another solution to dro the nitrite (add frozen brine shrimp) - the water chem levels are as follows:

pH - Neutral
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 2-5
Nitrate - 5

Cheers

Paul
 

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Hi Paul,

Great to hear your axie is doing well. Thanks for the update.

Your tank is in the process of cycling. Its not too bad. The ammonia is converted to nitrites and nitrites has been converted to nitrates. The dynamic shift is evident of active cyling. This is normal and nothing to worry about. The beneficial bacteria population needs to establish itself to be able to cope with the amount of nitrites present so time is the best medicine.

I would recommend you continue fridging your axie for a longer period to allow your tank to be fully cycled before you put it back.

The use of live plants can help buffer ammonia and nitrite spikes.

I would say regular water testing and water changes will be sufficient to keep the parameters in check. I would not add anything else to the tank.

What type of filter are you using? What type of salt are you adding to the tank and why? Is it to increase the water hardness?

Cheers.
 

Della

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Hi Rayson,

Thanks for your continued assistance. I am using an Eheim cannister filter (2010), which I have only cleaned once in dirty aquarium water.
Apparently, adding salt to an aquarium is an effective way of reducing the toxicity of nitrite. This was the advice given to me by the aquarium, but obviously it may be more of a means of reducing the toxicity rather than reducing the total amount. I added about 2 tablespoons of rock salt to my ~45L tank. I also use water conditioning salts for gH and kH.

I'll continue to monitor the tank and see how it goes, its just annoying that the aquarium was out of the master test kits and thus I have to get it tested there.

Should I continue to add the dirty fridge water to the tank as food for the cultures? I also have "Stability" which is a bacteria in a bottle product, any use in adding more of that in? I used it for the first week I had the aquarium, as advised, but still have heaps left.

When getting the water tested I bought some plants for the tank, which should also help.

Cheers

Paul
 
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