Caudata.org: Newts and Salamanders Portal

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!
Did you know that registered users see fewer ads? Register today!

Illness/Sickness: Fungus or Bacteria or what?

RufflesMom

New member
Joined
Feb 24, 2024
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Oklahoma
Hello all,
I need help with my mother's sick axolotls. Sorry if this is lengthy. I feel like it needs a little back story.
She had a thriving, well established planted tank with healthy fish, dwarf shrimp and pond snails. It has been up and running for at least 15 years.
About 2 years ago a friend gave her 2 newly hatched axolotls and we raised them from a couple of days old and added the to her aquarium as juveniles (about 4 inches long). They have been in the tank since then and they have done really well.
About 2 months ago I finally convinced my mom that we should change the substrate because her tank had pea sized river rock which I didn't think was good for the axolotls.
We collected all the critters in tubs and buckets and removed the rocks and replaced with sand. Replanted and added all of the critters back to the tank with about 60% of the original water. We did not change any filter media as we were trying to preserve the biological filter. We also replaced the decorations to give them safer places to hide. Because some of the old decorations had slightly sharp edges and holes that were too small for them to squeeze through but they tried anyway, sometimes causing some injuries.
After the redecorating they seemed stressed the male mellowed a little bit but the female was just swimming around like crazy uprooting the plants all of the time.
The tank is a lot more light colored now and we think that stressed her out.
Then my mom's friend suggested she get some feeder fish for them so maybe they would concentrate on them and settle down. That and earthworms is what her friend feeds her axolotls. Which we did and they seemed more satisfied hunting the feeder fish.
So now to the problem. About aweek after adding the feeders we noticed the male had stringy looking off-white gunk on his gills and we separated him immediately and did salt baths for 15 minutes twice a day for 3 days and treated him with mercurichrome and tea in a tub in the fridge. He lost most of his frills off of the top 2 gill stalks on both sides. The we noticed a small spot on one of the females gills. And we started treating her the same. We then returned them to the tank and treated the entire tank with furan2 thinking it was columnaris. Everyone seemed better and the males frills started growing back. but about a week later we noticed the same thin on his lips and the female got it on her gills as well. They have been tubbed for about 2 weeks now with the same treatment as above. And just trying to give them tim to completely heal. Now tonight the female has white fluffy looking stuff on her gills. It looks more cotton than the other. But I am at a loss as to what to do now or how to proceed. I am doing 100% water changes every day. And offering food but they won't eat.
Any helpful tips would be appreciated.
20240401_220610.jpg
20240401_220707.jpg
20240401_220717.jpg
20240401_220728.jpg
 

wolfen

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 12, 2022
Messages
1,931
Reaction score
767
Location
england
make sure to monitor your water parameters and chemistry when doing something such as a substrate change, this is because the substrate can hold part of the biological filtration causing an increase in nitrogen compounds, the substrate can also leach minerals into the water altering the chemistry.
columnaris thrives under the same conditions axolotls do ie.. cold moderate/hard water (seems to find its way into the water the same as algae), this means that when an axolotl is stressed, ill etc.. it becomes susceptible and ends up with a fungal infection, columnaris can be kept under control by having a low level of salt in the water.
if your axolotl already has a fungal infection use 3.5g/l non-iodised salt in the water, because the level is very low it can be done in tank without the need for tubbing.
once the fungal issue has been resolved reduce the salt content to 2g/l, this will help prevent reinfection whilst also giving other health benefits.
using 100% holtfreters + 0.2g/l magnesium sulphate can also be used to treat fungus without the need for tubbing and 50% holtfreters + 0.1g/l magnesium sulphate can be used as a preventative whilst also providing essential salts/minerals, see here for more details.. Axolotls - Requirements & Water Conditions in Captivity
unfortunately although a small amount of salt or holtfreters is benificial to axolotls your plants may not tolerate the salinity.
 

RufflesMom

New member
Joined
Feb 24, 2024
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Oklahoma
make sure to monitor your water parameters and chemistry when doing something such as a substrate change, this is because the substrate can hold part of the biological filtration causing an increase in nitrogen compounds, the substrate can also leach minerals into the water altering the chemistry.
columnaris thrives under the same conditions axolotls do ie.. cold moderate/hard water (seems to find its way into the water the same as algae), this means that when an axolotl is stressed, ill etc.. it becomes susceptible and ends up with a fungal infection, columnaris can be kept under control by having a low level of salt in the water.
if your axolotl already has a fungal infection use 3.5g/l non-iodised salt in the water, because the level is very low it can be done in tank without the need for tubbing.
once the fungal issue has been resolved reduce the salt content to 2g/l, this will help prevent reinfection whilst also giving other health benefits.
using 100% holtfreters + 0.2g/l magnesium sulphate can also be used to treat fungus without the need for tubbing and 50% holtfreters + 0.1g/l magnesium sulphate can be used as a preventative whilst also providing essential salts/minerals, see here for more details.. Axolotls - Requirements & Water Conditions in Captivity
unfortunately although a small amount of salt or holtfreters is benificial to axolotls your plants may not tolerate the salinity.
Thank you for the speedy reply.
I have looked at the holtfreters and other solution recipes and I am just not sure of my ability to correctly calculate, mix and utilize it without messing something up. I did calculate 3.5 g/l for her 55 gallon aquarium to be 728 g of non-iodized salt. So I'm assuming that I would add that to the aquarium and then reacclimate the axolotls. How would I know when the fungus was completely gone because they have appeared to be cleared up before and a few days later it's back. And how would I then lower the salt to 2 g/l ? I mean I know that I would need to do a water change or two but how would I know when I get it down to that?
Thank you again for your help. We really don't want to lose them.
 

wolfen

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 12, 2022
Messages
1,931
Reaction score
767
Location
england
dissolve the required amount of salt into 1 litre boiling water, stir till dissolved, allow to cool, then add to the tank when doing a water change, although at first they may be more active they will soon settle down, continue treating at 3.5 g/l until they have been clear for one week then reduce to 2 g/l by either doing a 50% water change using only water and dechlorinator or by gradual reduction by adding 2 g/l to the replacement water.
although being kept in water with a level of 3.5 g/l wont affect them after being used for treating fungus there isn't any benefit (unless for treatment of chronic edema) so it can be reduced to a lower level, this makes it less harsh on plants whilst still protecting the axolotls.
 

RufflesMom

New member
Joined
Feb 24, 2024
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Oklahoma
So I have had them out of the fridge for several hours to let the temp reach the same as the aquarium. But they seem to be swelling as they warm up. Is that normal?? The male keeps turning on his side. I haven't done anything else except let them warm up gradually in the tubs.
 

RufflesMom

New member
Joined
Feb 24, 2024
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Oklahoma
After the tub water reached the same temp as the aquarium I did start adding the 3g/l salted tank water to their tubs in small amounts over about an hour and by the time I put them in the tank the male seems totally unresponsive. I think he may be dead but I'm not sure how to tell. I left him in the tank because the shrimp usually flock to anything dead but they still are not bothering him after about 30 minutes so I still have some hope.
I will check on him in the morning.
If you have any other advice that may help it would be appreciated.
 

Autistic Catholic

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 27, 2022
Messages
765
Reaction score
257
Location
Virginia
After the tub water reached the same temp as the aquarium I did start adding the 3g/l salted tank water to their tubs in small amounts over about an hour and by the time I put them in the tank the male seems totally unresponsive. I think he may be dead but I'm not sure how to tell. I left him in the tank because the shrimp usually flock to anything dead but they still are not bothering him after about 30 minutes so I still have some hope.
I will check on him in the morning.
If you have any other advice that may help it would be appreciated.
I hope he's okay, but if he's dead, it would be better to keep him in a hospital tub as the corpse could sky-rocket ammonia to danger levels.
 

wolfen

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 12, 2022
Messages
1,931
Reaction score
767
Location
england
I didn't realise they where still being tubbed in the fridge (I should have realised and told you to stop fridging them), sudden swelling is organ failure from being at too low a temperature for too long (fridging slows the metabolism down but can also cause organs to shut down so it should only be done as a last resort).
salt will help slow the swelling if it is due to osmosis but not if it is due to organ issues.
a vet may be required to find out if the fluid can be drained and whether the organs are in total failure.
 

RufflesMom

New member
Joined
Feb 24, 2024
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Oklahoma
Thank you so much for you're input and assistance. Unfortunately the male (golden albino) didn't make it.
Th female seems to be acting relatively normal in the tank. I have not seen her eat even though I offered her earthworms and pellets but she does have dwarf shrimp and a school of fish to snack on so I wouldn't necessarily know if she has eaten any of them.
I regret that the fridging may have killed the male. We were acting on a write up we found by one of the axolotl labs. They were fridged for about 2 weeks at 50 degrees. Along with the other treatments (mercurichrome and salt baths) and the swelling didn't occur until his water temp came up to around 65 degrees. I will definitely check in here if I have any issues in the future to talk to real people. Thank you again for your advice.
 

wolfen

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 12, 2022
Messages
1,931
Reaction score
767
Location
england
50°f/10°c isn't that low a temperature for axolotls and are normally still quite active, below 50°f/10°c they become sluggish with their metabolism reduced sometimes causing organ failure (this is normally at temperatures closer to 40°f/4°c-5°c), but a large/fast temperature swing from 50°f/10°c to 65°f/18°c-19°c could have put a massive strain on his organs causing fluid build up (edema) and ultimately death.
sorry for your loss
 

Autistic Catholic

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 27, 2022
Messages
765
Reaction score
257
Location
Virginia
Thank you so much for you're input and assistance. Unfortunately the male (golden albino) didn't make it.
Th female seems to be acting relatively normal in the tank. I have not seen her eat even though I offered her earthworms and pellets but she does have dwarf shrimp and a school of fish to snack on so I wouldn't necessarily know if she has eaten any of them.
I regret that the fridging may have killed the male. We were acting on a write up we found by one of the axolotl labs. They were fridged for about 2 weeks at 50 degrees. Along with the other treatments (mercurichrome and salt baths) and the swelling didn't occur until his water temp came up to around 65 degrees. I will definitely check in here if I have any issues in the future to talk to real people. Thank you again for your advice.
Sorry for your loss. It wasn't your fault. Accidents happen and he had a fungal infection too. Correlation doesn't equal causation. Whatever the exact cause though, it definitely wasn't your fault. You did what you could and as wolfen has stated, the 50 F temperature shouldn't have caused any issues.
 

RufflesMom

New member
Joined
Feb 24, 2024
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Oklahoma
Today the female is acting really wound up and trying to stay at the top of the tank or in the bubbles of the airstone. Do they struggle to breath when they have lost the little filaments off of their gills? She is only missing them on one side.
 

wolfen

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 12, 2022
Messages
1,931
Reaction score
767
Location
england
a lack of gill filaments can make it difficult to get oxygen from the water.
make sure that all the water parameters are good, because you've had your axolotls tubbed unless the tank/filter bacteria has been fed (filter bacteria require waste to survive) you can have a depletion in biological filtration capacity.
warmer temperatures can also reduce water oxygen, try to get it between 59°f/15°c-18°f/64°c (ideal axolotl temperatures)
 

mugwai36

New member
Joined
Apr 11, 2018
Messages
1
Reaction score
0
Location
coulumbia, south carolina
I have 4 axolotls. All with a fungal infection we are confident is columaris. We have dropped the water temp to 50 f with a chiller and are tubbing once daily for 20 min in a holtfeters solution with furazone & methyl blue. 3 of them are recovering great. But one is not. She has more growth on her gills but the ones on her stomach are gone. She looks a bit bloated as well. She is very pale regularly but now her limbs seem almost grayish & her torso is noticeably more pink. PLEASE HELP!!
 

Autistic Catholic

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 27, 2022
Messages
765
Reaction score
257
Location
Virginia
I have 4 axolotls. All with a fungal infection we are confident is columaris. We have dropped the water temp to 50 f with a chiller and are tubbing once daily for 20 min in a holtfeters solution with furazone & methyl blue. 3 of them are recovering great. But one is not. She has more growth on her gills but the ones on her stomach are gone. She looks a bit bloated as well. She is very pale regularly but now her limbs seem almost grayish & her torso is noticeably more pink. PLEASE HELP!!
I'm sorry...I don't think fungus is actually columnaris (latter is bacteria if I'm not mistaken). There may be other factors effecting the one not recovering well and it might be you are doing all you can already.
 

wolfen

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 12, 2022
Messages
1,931
Reaction score
767
Location
england
make sure the axolotl with fungal issues is housed in water containing 100% holtfreters + 0.2g/l magnesium sulphate, use daily baths of methylene blue mixed with acriflavine, the body fungal patches can be swabbed with potassium permanganate.
the redness is a concern as it could signify an internal infection and may require antibiotics, ensure that unwell axolotls is kept separate from others and that hands are washed before and after any handling etc..
 
General chit-chat
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
  • Shane douglas:
    with axolotls would I basically have to keep buying and buying new axolotls to prevent inbred breeding which costs a lot of money??
    +1
    Unlike
  • Thorninmyside:
    Not necessarily but if you’re wanting to continue to grow your breeding capacity then yes. Breeding axolotls isn’t a cheap hobby nor is it a get rich quick scheme. It costs a lot of money and time and deditcation
    +1
    Unlike
  • stanleyc:
    @Thorninmyside, I Lauren chen
    +1
    Unlike
  • Clareclare:
    Would Chinese fire belly newts be more or less inclined towards an aquatic eft set up versus Japanese . I'm raising them and have abandoned the terrarium at about 5 months old and switched to the aquatic setups you describe. I'm wondering if I could do this as soon as they morph?
    +1
    Unlike
    Clareclare: Would Chinese fire belly newts be more or less inclined towards an aquatic eft set up versus... +1
    Top