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HELP! Axolotl laying on it's side!

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Hi, our approximately 1 year old axolotl has started laying on his side today. We've had him for almost a year, since he was a baby & never experienced this before. He hasn't eaten in about a week either, which is out of character for him. His gills are forward & his tail is curled. He's obviously stressed.

We tested his water, Nitrites were 0.1 - 0.2, Amonia was 0 & Nitrates were 40, which is too high. We cleaned the tank, changed 50% of the water & used Prime, to prime the water & put him back in but he's still been side laying until we "right" him. Think we've also been letting the water temperature fluctuate too much & too often but never above 20 degrees Celsius... it's Summer in Australia.

In early December we put in a new "side mount" filter & last week we put in a new air stone, both of which I now realise are probably too big & moving the water too much. I'll buy new, smaller ones first thing tomorrow.

Just don't want him to be too stressed or die over night. Do we fridge him? If so, what's the process?

Thanks, Sarah
 
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WaterLily05

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It may be stress related. Do everything you can to keep the temps stable. Lower the water flow, maybe take out the air stone. What are the water parameters after the water change? You don't want ANY nitrites and the lower the nitrates, the better! What is the tank size? Are there any other tank mates? What is his diet?
 
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Hi WaterLily05, thanks SO much for your reply. We REALLY appreciate it!

He's my 15 year old son's axie, I think he's been a bit slack with keeping the tank clean, water changes & I must admit we didn't know that we have to keep the water temperature stable, we had just been keep


ing it between 16 & 20 degrees Celsius. I've since read on Axolotl.org that variations this large & often are stressful, so we've been more diligent about this now. It's been harder to do because Perth has been experiencing heat waves this Summer, unlike last Summer, when we first had him & were neurotic about his care as a result!

His tank is 58cm W x 41cm H x 31cm D, approximately 70 litres. He's an only axie, without any other tank mates. He's currently fed frozen Axolotl food, which is a combination of whole fish, trimmed beef heart, prawns, octopus, clay meat & blood worm, but again, I've since read that this is not his ideal diet. As a baby we fed him on blood worms. I'll get him some more of these & some earth worms. We garden organically & have heaps of earth worms in our garden.

We managed to reduce the water flow from the filter with a clean cloth. If we remove the air stone will this affect oxygen levels in the water? We'll re-test the water this morning.

On a positive note, he's laying straight & has been since I last "righted" him over 9 hours ago. I did worry that we were going to wake to a dead axie, but his gills are still floofing & his eyes are bright & shiny.

When the pet store is open I'm going to go a get a smaller, internal filter, with a flow rate for the size of his tank. We stupidly thought higher was better!
 

WaterLily05

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He's my 15 year old son's axie
Aw, I got my first axie when I was 15🥰
I think he's been a bit slack with keeping the tank clean, water changes & I must admit we didn't know that we have to keep the water temperature stable, we had just been keep


ing it between 16 & 20 degrees Celsius. I've since read on Axolotl.org that variations this large & often are stressful, so we've been more diligent about this now. It's been harder to do because Perth has been experiencing heat waves this Summer, unlike last Summer, when we first had him & were neurotic about his care as a result!
Sometimes keeping up on the tank maintenance can be a struggle, especially with a busy schedule! You might consider live plants, they help keep up on water quality by using up ammonia and nitrates, and therefore keeping the water healthier for the axolotl. Consistency is definitely a key factor in axolotls health. My first axolotl‘s tank stayed consistently at about 70 F (21 C) the first few months of his life. I didn’t realize how badly it was stressing him out until his gill fluff was almost entirely gone! After correcting the temp, his gills grew back and got to be fluffier than ever. I’ve heard it is extremely hot over there right now! I always forget freezing, snowy December for me is hot summer for y’all over there! I have found that plugging in a small desk fan and having it blown directly over as much of the surface of the tank as possible really helps keep it consistent. Mine stays about 17 C that way, but even if it takes yours down to a consistent 19 or so, im sure the axie will appreciate it!
We managed to reduce the water flow from the filter with a clean cloth. If we remove the air stone will this affect oxygen levels in the water? We'll re-test the water this morning.
Since you buffered the flow from the filter, you should be good to leave the air stone. Axolotls have the ability to swim up and get air from the surface, but since he’s having a hard time right now he may not be able to, in which case the bubbler will be helpful
 
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Hi, thanks again for your reply & the information. Apologies for the late reply.

We've been more diligent about keeping the water temperature between 16 - 18 degrees Celsius. We've always had a desk fan above the tank, plugged into a thermometer, which switches on when it gets too hot. We also have the back & sides of the tank insulated, with a thin layer of foil foam.

I changed the water filter back to a low flow submersible cannister type & put a spray bar on it, facing the side of the tank, to further reduce the flow. I also changed the air stone to a smaller one.

We've checked the water a further 3 times. Ammonia & Nitrites are still 0 & Nitrates are less than 10. So the water quality is all good.

He's still staying upright but isn't as active as usual, still isn't eating much (or at all?) & hasn't done a poop in a while. I've also noticed that when he does move, he's not using his back legs at all. He seems to just drag them. His gills are still forward too, right?

Wondering if he may be constipated &/or impacted? We don't have any substrate, just porcelain tiles.

Wondering if we should tub &/or fridge him? But we've never had to cause to do this in the 12 months that we've had him, so we don't know much about it. We have got a proper tubbing crate however.

I've attached photos FYI. TIA, Sarah
 

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Autistic Catholic

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There was a person on this forum who had an Axolotl's legs become paralyzed after exposure to ammonia. It recovered but it looks like what happened to your son's axolotl here. I hope he's okay now.
 
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  • FragileCorpse:
    Hey, my yellow spotted salamander has gotten a bit fat, he doesnt wanna move too much, and I notice he lays with his back legs flat out in front of him, but keeps his chest off the ground with his front legs. He CAN use his back legs to move around, but Im a little concerned about his back legs being flat out like that, and Im wondering snce he doesnt do a whole lot, will he lose function of his back legs? Kinda like a human would if they never used them? Also what is a slamander poop suppsoed to look like? I was told to spot clean poops and pees but after 4 months of feeding him and having him I havent ever seen a single thing I can identify s a poop...
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  • FragileCorpse:
    ...other than these little oblong shaped bits of dirt thats compacted together, I figure those must be poops because how else is the dirt getting compacted into an oblong shape like that? And he tends to roll those to his front entryway of his rock cave for me to move them away from the entrance. Are those poops? Mine will ONLY eat sal bugs. otherwise known as potato bugs, roly polys, etc. Hes never struck at anything else ive given him. Are the roly polys even enough nutrients for him? Ive captured like 400 of them for the winter months.
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  • FragileCorpse:
    When i lay a roly poly a bit far away from him, he WILLuse his back legs to come out, so he IS using them sometimes, its just concerning to see him with his legs flat out like that. Is that just normal for them?
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  • FragileCorpse:
    *also actually unsure of his sex, if the sex of the salamander means anything in this instance, I as told females are bigger and fatter, so I assume it might be a female tbh.
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  • FragileCorpse:
    Please let me know if amyone knows amything, as I can not get adequate info anywhere else.
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  • SamAxolotl:
    @FragileCorpse, the chat room is a good way to get some basic answers. if you're looking for more detailed answers, go to caudata.org home page and then scroll down to newt and salamander help. I think you might be able to get some more answers from there from people with experience with newts/ salamanders specifically. you could probably also contact a breeder and see if they have advice for you. Some vets also have info on exotic animals as well. local wildlife centers/ rehab facilities/ rescues may also be a good resource to look into. hope your little guy feels better soon!
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  • FragileCorpse:
    I cant contact the vet or facilities because they keep trying to take my salamander and fine me cuz i dont have a permit. however i foudn him outside dying and nursed him back to health. So I need to be discreet about getting info. However, if anything actually becomes wrong with him, in order to save him I will have to surrender him to a vet. But thanks for the info I appreciate that
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  • FragileCorpse:
    We are about to be slammed by a category 4 hurricane. I need you guys to tell me how to saf ely transport my salamander. What kind of mobile go-terrarium can I make for him??? Can it be a plastic tote full of eco earth (cocount husk) and maybe his hidey rock and I can keep a spray bottle to keep him moist??? wtf do I do???? I have a bunch of his bugs in plastic containers thankfully so I can bring them with us. But he hates vibrations, trying to bring him out in a car or something is gonna be scary. Can these guys die of fright like a guinea pig can kind of deal???
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    Maybe I should just go literally buy a smaller more mobile terrarium? Hes in a giant glass beast right now.
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    Man I wish I had more than one day to plan!!! My house wont even survive this!
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  • SamAxolotl:
    @FragileCorpse, I think a plastic tub would be fine along with a spray bottle to keep it humid (I've seen a lot of people keep reptiles etc in plastic tubs their whole lives happily) Not sure about the fear/ shock aspect, but maybe bring a towel or blanket to put over the tote (if it's a clear tote, that is) as well to keep it dark for him so he doesn't get spooked by so much movement that will be going on. I've used that for other animals and it seems to be effective for keeping them calm. See if you can get your hands on some earthworms for food. they're nutritionally dense and it looks like that's one of the main things your salamander would be fed in captivity. Crickets were another suggestion for food as well. praying you all stay safe!
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    SamAxolotl: @FragileCorpse, I think a plastic tub would be fine along with a spray bottle to keep it humid... +1
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