fungus takeover?! Tried everything!

khowansky

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Hey everyone,

I'm a new axo owner and am losing my mind with a persistent fungal problem. (or at least I think it's fungus). It's VERY slimy and white. It covers everything from the sand to the fake plants to the pvc pipes. Things will stay clear for about 24-48 hours before the total takeover returns. We're using chlorinated water and the temp is about 62 and she's in a 20 gallon long tank. She's eating european nightcrawlers, no mess left in tank, all poops removed within a few hours. The water values are all within normal range based on the full api testkit workup. Here's what we've tried:

1. just scrub everything and put it back - didn't work
2. Scrub everything and 50% water change - didn't work
3. Scrub everything and 50% water change add cherry shrimp to eat it (she just ate them of course!) - didn't work
3. Take out EVERYTHING. Removed sand, plants, pipes, scrubbed every inch of the tank with baking soda. Boiled everything in the tank. Only put one pvc pipe (post boiling for 20 min) back into the tank with a brand new filter, brand new tubing. IT CAME BACK IN 48 HOURS! (we put tank starter in here too)

This has been a persistent problem for about a month.

We're at a loss here at what to try. This morning our axo (Baxter) had a small fuzz on one of her gills, so now I'm worried it's got her too. We now have her in a larger Tupperware and are planning on doing 90% water changes daily for her. And are thinking we'll just keep doing 25% water changes in the empty tank with a few tablespoon of non-iodized salt until it goes away? Is there something we're missing? We've spent so much time and money trying to stabilize the tank, we just want her to be happy and healthy! She seems completely unfazed, eating great, growing a lot, curious.

I can't get a good picture of it, but someone else posted about a similar problem and these are her pictures, ours look just like it: Photo 2018-10-03 11-48-37 Photo 2018-10-03 11-48-37 (4)

Has anyone overcome this problem? Is there something we're missing? Any help would be appreciated.

-Kristina
 

Murk

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Does the water itself look cloudy as well? Sudden white slime sounds more like a bacterial bloom than a fungus - though that wouldn't attach to the axolotl's gills.

Even more, the fact that you scrubbed and boiled everything and it came back quickly makes me think bacteria too: first, your tank obviously isn't cycled anymore (because you killed all beneficial bacteria by boiling them); second, that sounds much too fast for fungus.
Do you have a picture of the axolotl?

If it's a bacterial bloom rather than a fungus problem, that's... well, better. For one it's far less dangerous to your axolotl, and there's a chance it might go away on its own with time.

Some more questions! I'm sure not all of them will be relevant, but the more you can answer the easier it is for us!
- Was the tank cycled before you encountered the problem?
- You've had these problems for a month and are a "new owner": how long had the tank been running before you got these problems?
- You say water values are all " within normal range" - just to be sure, could you give us the specific ammonia, nitrites, nitrates values?
- You say " We're using chlorinated water" - I'm hoping that's a typo and you mean dechlorinated water? What kind of dechlorinator do you use?
- You also mentioned "tank starter". Which?
- Are any of the plants alive, or only fake? If live plants, how many (and do you know which)?
- What kind of filter and lighting (and if lighting: how long, and any direct sunlight)?
- How often do you usually do water changes (aside from all the recent massive water changes)? How much water do you change?

I think that's all! It's a curious case, but I've read similar things before. If you can answer some of the questions above that would be great!
 

khowansky

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Hey Murk!

Thanks so much for your help! I really really appreciate it!

-water itself does look cloudy but it seems to "settle" as in it gets less cloudy as the slime settles on the walls and bottom of the tank
-it's possible it was just floating in the water and got tangled in the gills, unclear!
-her gills and tail aren't curled, she seems happy to me? I attached a photo post meal and a little video of her hanging with her bff (aka her reflection)
-I don't think the tank was properly cycled before this problem occurred (I got some bad advice from where I got her and was told I didn't need to cycle since she's not a fish...that was stupid on my part, it is cycled now)
-the tank was running for about 24 hours before I got her and the tank stayed clear for about a week after I got her before the problems started
-ammonia between 0 and 0.25, nitrite 0, nitrate 0, ph 8
-omg YES DEcholorinated water that was a typo, yikes.
-dechlorinator is: tetra aquasafe plus
-tank starter is: api quick start
-plants are fake but we did have three moss balls in there about an inch long, also had cholla wood which we boiled extensively before putting in
-no lighting on the tank, minimal direct sunlight but some, there's a nearby window but we keep the blinds down to keep it cool in there for her, we're using aquaneat aquarium bio sponge filter for up to 60 gallons
-we didn't really have a chance to get into a routine with water changes before all this started after week 1. we've been doing anywhere between EVERYTHING and 25%. the last round we did a 100% water change and restarted the tank with the api quick start.

I super appreciate your expertise here!!
 

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Murk

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OK, that definitely makes me think "bacterial bloom" rather than fungus.
Which is positive, because it's not really dangerous.
If someone disagrees, please do chime in!

The main problems with bacterial blooms are:
- It's a symptom of an unstable tank - the bloom itself is not really dangerous, the cause might be.
- It could lead to low oxygen levels, which is a bit annoying to axolotls, but not really dangerous.
- It looks super gross.

Your water parameters are OK for now, but do note that the tank is probably not cycled.
0 nitrates in a tank without many plants - probably not cycled (depending on when you did the 100% water change).
This makes sense: you've been doing so much cleaning and water changes that your cycle will have had to start over.

It's not really a problem, either. Doing a cycle with the axolotl in the tank is quite possible. Just try to keep the coming ammonia and nitrite spike low (test regularly; if you see a spike, do a little water change - not too much).

I'm going to give my favourite advice: give it some time.
The axolotl looks healthy and happy, you obviously keep a good eye on the water safety - unless something suddenly changes, you'll be fine.

Honestly, I'm not sure what would have caused this, but it could be anything; tap water, lack of surface area in an uncycled tank, something weird in the filter or the marimo's, the pH is also on the high side.
I think it doesn't really matter. If I had to bet, I'd bet that if you take the time to get the tank cycled, the white slime will disappear on its own.

Inaction is a very scary solution (and if someone else has a better idea, I'd listen to them), but it often works. I'm curious to see how it develops!
 
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khowansky

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whew! I'm glad you think it's nothing really bad! You're totally right time is a scary thing. Would you recommend doing 25% daily water changes until it clears? 100% do nothing and wait it out? Either way monitoring the water values daily. For either do you think I should be her back in the tank? I just worry that the water gets really cloudy and has gross stuff floating around, I don't want her to eat it!

Thanks again, you're great!
 

Murk

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If you're going to be regularly testing the water anyway, you can just base the water changes on that. Whenever you get a reading of ammonia or nitrites above .25mg/l, do a water change (25% seems decent). As long as the ammonia and nitrites stay below that (and nitrates somewhere below 50), I would try not to do much water changes.

See how that impacts the white slime. I think it'll get worse for a while, but I'm hopeful it will recede on its own after that.
 

khowansky

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Just wanted to check in now that it's been a few days! We re-cycled the tank and followed your advice, just checking the water daily and doing 25% water changes when any of the parameters get too high. SO FAR SO GOOD! This is the longest we've gone in a month without slime, keeping fingers crossed!
 
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    @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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    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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    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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