Health Check Please

Demeter

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On the Feb 1 2019 I took in a mistreated albino axolotl named Lemonade. A friend's younger brother bought him while still in high school but now he is staying at the dorms for college. Poor Lemonade was not being taken care of so I asked if I could have him. I've never owned an axolotl but I did my research and got things all set up before I brought him home.

He pooped the night I got him so I decided to feed him a couple pre-soaked shrimp pellets. He ate them just fine. Last night I bought some earth worms and he happily ate the two I offered. If he's eating I feel he is okay but he just looks rather rough.

He is in a 10gal for the moment. It has pool filter sand as a substrate, 2 hides and a few plastic plants. Temperature has been steady at ~68F. I seeded the HOB filter with media from my other tanks but I'm still doing daily 25% water changes just in case. Checked the ammonia last night and there was 0.


He was in a nasty half filled 10gal tank with a carbon bubbler, another air stone and without a running filter. For some reason there was also a heater but the water temp was ~69F. I tested for ammonia and nitrates in the old tank and while there was no ammonia it was at the highest reading for nitrates. I could see lots of poo and left over blood worms in the tank. I asked what they have been feeding him so far and it seems an entire block of frozen blood worms was the answer. I believe he is 2-3 years old.

https://www.caudata.org/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=54967&stc=1&d=1549221227

His tail is not normal. Looks to be broken :(
https://www.caudata.org/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=54968&stc=1&d=1549221227

This is him today, do his gills look normal?
https://www.caudata.org/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=54969&stc=1&d=1549221227

I know very well he should be in a larger tank, 20gal long preferably but for now the 10gal will have to do. I plan to feed earth worms, culled fry, frozen shrimp, and cherry shrimp. If possible, can he also be fed pre-soaked carnivore pellets?

How often should I be feeding him and how much? Does his body condition look okay? What about his gills? Anything I can do about the tail?
 

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Hayleyy

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The tail looks as if it was broken/cut and healed that way, so it is likely to stay like that. Gills look fine to me, they may be short because he was kept with an airstone (too much oxygen in the water can shrink gills) or that's his genetics.
He looks chunkier than I usually see males but judging by the bulge under the tail it isn't female lol. I just feed earthworms, sometimes pellets or frozen food if my axies go off worms (which happens regularly for me). I believe carnivore pellets are fine. I feed mine one worm a day (or around 10 pellets, or 1 frozen cube). Each axie is different so just feed whatever he will eat in one setting, once per day.
The sand doesn't look fine grained enough for me, though pool sand is usually fine. Would like to see what others think. You can feed him on a dish to minimise the risk of eating substrate.
When you can upgrade to a 20gal but he'll be okay for a while until you can. It sounds like you're doing a lot of research which is great to see!
 

Demeter

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He certainly does appear more tubby than photos of healthy males. I'm thinking of starting him on a diet. I didn't feed him yesterday and today I gave him 1 worm. Now he's chilling in a fake ceramic cichlid rock. I have a large shell about the size of my palm for his food dish, but I prefer hand feeding for now.

I'm a little worries about the sand size too but it was the only stuff I had on hand. I may pick up a bag of play sand next time and switch it out. His new sponge filter came in the mail along with a hunk of mopani wood. The wood is soaking in another tank with the sponge (to cycle it). I don't want to risk changing the pH in his tank with the new wood.
 

Hayleyy

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I don't think he is unhealthy at that weight, though I think I've always had females so have always had chunky axolotls. See how he goes with one worm a day :)
You can put the sponge filter in the tank with the filter you already have, this will cycle it super fast. I actually use one in addition to a HOB filter.
If you find the wood still brings down the pH you can use some crushed coral to get it to a good level :)
 

Demeter

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Alrighty I'll give that a go. I actually fed him a culled fish yesterday and he seemed to enjoy that. I haven't seen any poo though. I know their poo is soft and falls apart quickly but I feel like I would of seen some crud on the sand. How often do they poo anyways?

As for the wood and sponge, I'll still wait a bit before adding it. I'd rather let the bristle nose pleco fry munch on the wood and get all the soft stuff off. The sponge is in there too so it will be cycled soon enough, I don't want to have too much flow in Lemon's tank with both filters running.
 

Hayleyy

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Mine always walk through poop so I can never tell how often they're pooping, only that they are because of the little chunks on the sand haha. I think they will around twice a week? It will depend on temperature and how much they eat.
My HOB filter sits much higher than my water level so I've got some filter sponge attached to the output all the way to the water surface. I barely have any water current at all :) Smaller tanks do just fine with sponge filters but if you do upgrade to anything above a 20gal I'd recommend reattaching the HOB. Goodluck with it!
 

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Good to know! He's been a little more active than the first few days. He's out and about, even following my movements around the room. Do they tend to beg like fish do? I swear he's begging to be fed.

While I fed him a worm I got a measurement on him at around 6in. If the tail wasn't broken he'd be 7in.
 

Hayleyy

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Mine always beg, regardless of how hungry they are. Some like to follow you around the tank! They all have different personalities, it's always fun to hear how others act.
 
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