Does Lavender look healthy/is this normal behaviour?

faebugz

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Lavender is my wild type who I rescued, her growth was severely stunted. She's grown about half an inch since I got her about 6 weeks ago, and she has successfully learned to walk, swim, and put on weight! This is my first time owning an axolotl so my only issue is I don't have a baseline to compare to for behaviour/mobility techniques (not sure what to call it lol)












She has passed a few large and a few small pieces of gravel from her previous tank since I got her (hard to miss as its bright blue).
It seems like she still has some in her, because of how her belly hangs, but honestly I could just be overfeeding her (she was so skinny when I got her, I've been feeding her 1-3 earthworms a day, fasting every 3-5 days for 24 hours)
There was a huge poop in the tank (like half the size of her head) next to some blue gravel this morning. This was after 3 small earthworms last night following a fast day.
The video was taken just now.
It seems like she's swimming a lot better but she still seems to struggle to reach the top. Normal?
She seems much more buoyant than usual, she looks like she's having fun hanging out up near the top and sinking down slowly. Normal?

It seems like the fast day then worms acted like a laxative to get some gravel out. Should I continue this? Should I be trying harder to get the gravel out, or just keep doing what I'm doing?

She seems much happier now from when I got her- she hid in her log constantly but now she's always out and about, attacking anything that remotely seems to have a pulse

TL;DR is her behaviour normal? Should I continue feeding as I am?
 

vagus

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Hi Faebugz,

Gonna lay it to ya straight-

I will assume that you have read all the pages over at Axolotls: The Fascinating Mexican Axolotl and the Tiger Salamander. If not, I highly recommend it.
And as with all new axolotl owners I will advise that they are tough critters so long as you are mindful of water quality and temperature. If those are good and they have a healthy appetite, they are typically in good shape.

That said, gravel in the digestive system is a serious concern, and even if you see no bowel movements with gravel in them, it is possible some is still in there and could cause trouble at a later date. There is no "laxative" for axolotls, though I have heard some people using fattier grubs like Waxworms. I have never done this, so I can't attest to it.

The bad news to watch for- if you see what looks like fine translucent "worms" hanging from the axolotls vent, then the stones have terminally damaged the intestines, and the axolotl with need to be euthanized. The axolotl may still be active and have an appetite, but the stones will have done damage to the intestines that their natural regeneration can't repair, and you aren't likely to find a vet that can fix.

The other bad symptom will be signs of prolapse. This can potentially be fixed by a vet with reptile and amphibian experience if noticed soon enough. It is always good to know who your exotic pet vets in your area are before you potentially need them.

As it stands, I would switch to a bare bottom tank so you don't have grit making a potential situation worse, but otherwise just keep your routine and be mindful of changes. As to the various swimming and floating behaviors, those look normal to me from here. Younger axolotls do lots of weird things when moving around their environment. And not knowing how big the axolotl is or the earthworms, a good rule of thumb in my experience is to feed as much as the axolotl will eat in 5 minutes, offering food every day for the first year or so, and moving to every other day as they get to 2-3 years old.
 

faebugz

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Hi Faebugz,

Gonna lay it to ya straight-

I will assume that you have read all the pages over at Axolotls: The Fascinating Mexican Axolotl and the Tiger Salamander. If not, I highly recommend it.
And as with all new axolotl owners I will advise that they are tough critters so long as you are mindful of water quality and temperature. If those are good and they have a healthy appetite, they are typically in good shape.

That said, gravel in the digestive system is a serious concern, and even if you see no bowel movements with gravel in them, it is possible some is still in there and could cause trouble at a later date. There is no "laxative" for axolotls, though I have heard some people using fattier grubs like Waxworms. I have never done this, so I can't attest to it.

The bad news to watch for- if you see what looks like fine translucent "worms" hanging from the axolotls vent, then the stones have terminally damaged the intestines, and the axolotl with need to be euthanized. The axolotl may still be active and have an appetite, but the stones will have done damage to the intestines that their natural regeneration can't repair, and you aren't likely to find a vet that can fix.

The other bad symptom will be signs of prolapse. This can potentially be fixed by a vet with reptile and amphibian experience if noticed soon enough. It is always good to know who your exotic pet vets in your area are before you potentially need them.

As it stands, I would switch to a bare bottom tank so you don't have grit making a potential situation worse, but otherwise just keep your routine and be mindful of changes. As to the various swimming and floating behaviors, those look normal to me from here. Younger axolotls do lots of weird things when moving around their environment. And not knowing how big the axolotl is or the earthworms, a good rule of thumb in my experience is to feed as much as the axolotl will eat in 5 minutes, offering food every day for the first year or so, and moving to every other day as they get to 2-3 years old.
Thank you for the detailed response!

Yes, I have done extensive reading (everything on that site and many others, and tons of old and new questions on this forum). Of course, it's no trade for experience, but I at least have some experience keeping fish and other "contained ecosystem" animals. So, the water quality and temperature are good, at least.

Luckily neither of those bad signs have happened!! I've kept a close eye on her, but she honestly would have to be very resilient to have made it this long.

Her previous owner was a late friend of mine who kept her in a large, very overstocked goldfish/pleco/algae eater tank. It was pretty filthy and had a lot of current, she spent most of her time starving in a hide.
She was in there for 1-2 years, which is why her growth was so stunted. She was about 5 inches, barely, when I got her, and looked anorexic. In less than two months, she has gotten to 6 inches and is nice and round. The tank she came from had fairly small gravel, luckily, and was very rounded. No sharp edges, so while I imagine it sucks to pass it's at least not cutting her up.

The reason I chose sand initially is because she was struggling to walk, she's better now but it was difficult for her to relearn. I did sift the sand thoroughly through a fine mesh strainer to remove anything that might cause issues, do you think that's enough? I don't want to cause stress by forcing her to walk without sand.

Hmm, I'm not sure how to apply the 5 minute rule to my situation. I feed her by hand, partly because I don't want her ingesting sand, partly because she won't eat anything not waving above her head, and partly because it was how I helped her learn how to walk and swim again. It's also really cute watching her chase after the worm. I usually make her work for it, so I don't know how the 5 minute rule of thumb would apply here... She gulps them down pretty fast once she gets them!

The worms vary in size from about 1 inch long to 4 inches long, and are either common earthworms or Canadian nightcrawlers, all from my compost pile. If the worm is bigger, she only gets one, smaller, she gets more.

I'm estimating she's at least 2-3 years old, but I honestly have no idea. Seeing as she's having a growth spurt, should I feed her as an adolescent?

Thanks again for your thoughtful answer, and I apologize for the lengthy reply!
 
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    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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    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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    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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  • 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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    @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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    @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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