HELP! Axolotl vomiting and having trouble to swim up!

LeoTheDoctor

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in the past 45 days my axolotl has been having some issues. First, one day he wasn't able to swim up to the top of the tank to get air. He tried and gave up. I helped him get air once and he seemed to be relieved. After a few minutes he pooped and seemed even better. He was able to go up after pooping. I realised that it was due to feeding and decreased his food. I used to feed him every day because Frankie's aquatics did, but I think it was a bad choice. Now I was feeding him once every 3 days. He seemed okay for some time, but last week, after I fed him, he was having troubles swiming up again, except this time, trying very hard he was able to get to the top and get some air. It seems that now every time I feed him he has difficulties to swim up and get air. The worst happened now, I fed him about 11 hours ago and he was trying to swim up right now and couldn't make it. After that, he started to open and close his mouth a lot until he vomited basically all the food I gave him today. I'm very worried about him, please I need all the help I can get.

He is 9 months old. I feed him pellets made specifically for axolotls and he has always loved it.
There was a change in the size of the pellets in the last two weeks. I bought a bigger size, but gave him less of them. I think I didn't get the amount quite right. He has pooped more or less once every 11 days. I think I'm going to lower the amount of food and observe.

-there is no substrate in the tank

What should I do and when should I try feeding him again?
 

AMurry24537

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in the past 45 days my axolotl has been having some issues. First, one day he wasn't able to swim up to the top of the tank to get air. He tried and gave up. I helped him get air once and he seemed to be relieved. After a few minutes he pooped and seemed even better. He was able to go up after pooping. I realised that it was due to feeding and decreased his food. I used to feed him every day because Frankie's aquatics did, but I think it was a bad choice. Now I was feeding him once every 3 days. He seemed okay for some time, but last week, after I fed him, he was having troubles swiming up again, except this time, trying very hard he was able to get to the top and get some air. It seems that now every time I feed him he has difficulties to swim up and get air. The worst happened now, I fed him about 11 hours ago and he was trying to swim up right now and couldn't make it. After that, he started to open and close his mouth a lot until he vomited basically all the food I gave him today. I'm very worried about him, please I need all the help I can get.

He is 9 months old. I feed him pellets made specifically for axolotls and he has always loved it.
There was a change in the size of the pellets in the last two weeks. I bought a bigger size, but gave him less of them. I think I didn't get the amount quite right. He has pooped more or less once every 11 days. I think I'm going to lower the amount of food and observe.

-there is no substrate in the tank

What should I do and when should I try feeding him again?
It's interesting to me that your axolotl needs to go to the surface so often. I know different axolotls have different quirks, but mine, for example, has only ever tried approaching the surface when the oxygen content of the water was really low due to an improperly functioning filter. May I ask what kind of filter you use in your tank?

Can you give more info on the food (brand, number of pellets typically given, method of feeding, etc.)?

Also potentially helpful information: what are the parameters of your water (temperature, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate)?

Does he show any signs of bloating or skin irritation, especially around the cloaca area? Pictures of him would also be ideal so we can see his size/weight (preferably both top down and side view photos).

For now, I'd recommend tubbing him in a shallow container (just deep enough to have him be fully submerged), do a 100% water change every 12 hours or so, try feeding him in a day or two, and see what happens.
 

LeoTheDoctor

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It's interesting to me that your axolotl needs to go to the surface so often. I know different axolotls have different quirks, but mine, for example, has only ever tried approaching the surface when the oxygen content of the water was really low due to an improperly functioning filter. May I ask what kind of filter you use in your tank?

Can you give more info on the food (brand, number of pellets typically given, method of feeding, etc.)?

Also potentially helpful information: what are the parameters of your water (temperature, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate)?

Does he show any signs of bloating or skin irritation, especially around the cloaca area? Pictures of him would also be ideal so we can see his size/weight (preferably both top down and side view photos).

For now, I'd recommend tubbing him in a shallow container (just deep enough to have him be fully submerged), do a 100% water change every 12 hours or so, try feeding him in a day or two, and see what happens.
Thank you for answering. The filter is a sarlobetter 160 L/s. I have this small filter because I heard people saying the water flow must not be too strong.

I tested the parameters after what happened. Temperature is always varying from 17-20ºC since I got a chiller. These are the lowest temperatures I'm able to maintain here in Brazil. The ammonia might be high, I tested it and got scared, the test has never been this green before. I think it's somewhere around 0.004. It's too high for an axolotl. I'm already doing water changes. This might actually be one reason why he vomited.

I usually put the pellets in front of him with a feeder and he eats it instantly. At the day he vomited I gave him one pellet after the other, I don't know if that has something to do with it. Also, I usually feed him around 10 pretty small pellets. I use to do that everyday but stopped after the swimming up issue started. Now I ended up buying bigger pellets (from the same brand) and gave him less. I gave him 3 pellets 7 days ago and yesterday I gave him 5 in a row. Then, a few hours later, he vomited. The pellets are from JBL "NovoLotl".

His cloaca seems a bit big, but not too much. Actually, it has been this size since he started to be bigger. His belly doesn't seem very big. But one thing that concerns me is that when these problems start he always acts weird with his belly. Sometimes he curves his body to the left side. It's always to the left. His skin seems normal.

Now he seems better. He is not going to the surface anymore and is walking around and resting normally. He just goes to the surface after being fed. I normally don't see him doing that on days that I don't feed him. So it makes me think the food has something to do with it.

I think I might have overfed him and with the ammonia high plus being incapable of getting air, all this might have led him to vomiting. One thing that caught my attention is that he just vomited after not being able to swim up to the surface. Can the air help if he feels overfed?

I just took some photos, tell me if you need better ones.
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AMurry24537

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Based on what you mentioned, I would suggest trying out a different food temporarily. If you can buy/grow earthworms (I wouldn't recommend picking them up off the ground because they may have pesticides or other chemicals inside them), that would be best. Otherwise, maybe try some other pellets. I don't know what's available in your area, so this probably won't be helpful, but I recommend these online retailers: Uncle Jim's Worm Farm (for worms, obviously) and Invert Aquatics (for pellets).

I would also recommend considering a sponge filter of some kind. All you need to set it up is the filter, an air pump, and airline tubing. You can usually get a size up without a problem (for example, I use a filter/air pump combo designed for 20-40 gallons in my 20 gallon rather than one designed for 10-20) because they have very low flow, but still really good filtration. I recommend it because they also oxygenate the water really well.

I also wonder what might happen if you tried feeding your axolotl just a tiny bit at a time, such as 1 or 2 pellets a day? It might be worth the experiment
 

LeoTheDoctor

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Based on what you mentioned, I would suggest trying out a different food temporarily. If you can buy/grow earthworms (I wouldn't recommend picking them up off the ground because they may have pesticides or other chemicals inside them), that would be best. Otherwise, maybe try some other pellets. I don't know what's available in your area, so this probably won't be helpful, but I recommend these online retailers: Uncle Jim's Worm Farm (for worms, obviously) and Invert Aquatics (for pellets).

I would also recommend considering a sponge filter of some kind. All you need to set it up is the filter, an air pump, and airline tubing. You can usually get a size up without a problem (for example, I use a filter/air pump combo designed for 20-40 gallons in my 20 gallon rather than one designed for 10-20) because they have very low flow, but still really good filtration. I recommend it because they also oxygenate the water really well.

I also wonder what might happen if you tried feeding your axolotl just a tiny bit at a time, such as 1 or 2 pellets a day? It might be worth the experiment
Thanks for the help, dude. So, one day after he vomited, I fed him one pellet and observed his behaviour. He seemed very hungry, but I decided to just give him one this time to test his reaction. He didn't vomit again, which is great. Also, he hasn't been swimming up to get air as frequently as he was. I also fed him one pellet yesterday (48 hours after the last pellet). So far, he seems great. But he is probably still hungry. I didn't give him 2 pellets this time because I wanted to test one more time that he wouldn't puke with only one pellet. Next time I feed him I'll give him 2 pellets and observe (that'll be 48 hours after the last feeding). My main goal is to observe if he'll start swimming up to get air again and if his behaviour will change after the feeding.

I just bought a new food for him and it arrived today. It contains a variety of insects that are good for axolotls. So, I want to start giving him a more varied diet, but still maintaining his usual pellets as well. I'll give him this new food next week after I observe what will happen with his behaviour after I offer him 2 pellets of the usual NovoLotl. I'm doing this for comparisong purposes.

One other important fact that might be contributing to him being better is that I'm doing daily water changes since the day he puked. Before that I only changed it once a week. So that might be part of the reason he isn't swimming up for air or vomiting. I actually read that high ammonia might cause vomiting on axolotls as well (but there are other more obvious factors that are more probable). And if my filter is the problem, than it makes total sense he would be better with more water changes. That might actually help keep the oxygen levels sufficient.

The filter can very well be a problem, I've noticed it's quite dirty. The problem is that it isn't common stuff. Apparently my thermometer wasn't properly made for aquariums. It is just after all this that I noticed it's oxidizing. So I took it out of my sump. I don't know if that affected anything. I hope that didn't hurt my axie. I'll change the filter and hopefully the bomb too. I'll keep updating the thread until I'm sure he is better.
 
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    Bloodworms are not a great sole diet for small axolotl or bigger ones, though many people do use them exclusively. Your better off using eartworms which are considered a complete diet
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    okay, thanks
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    I just noticed two of the ghost shrimp in my axie tank have horsehair worms. I removed them immediately. Can these worms affect the axolotl and what would be the treatment?
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    Hello guys! I was wondering about nitrates in an axolotl tank. If there are 0 nitrates, will that harm the axolotl?
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    0 nitrates doesn't sound dangerous, but it does sound very unlikely if the tank is fully cycled. Are you positive you're performing the test correctly? If you're using the API one, that is by far the trickiest test to do right. If the reading is correct, I would guess that either your tank is not cycled, you just did like a 100% water change, or that you have plants sucking up the nitrates, but even those shouldn't leave you with 0.
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    0 is fine unless the tank isn't cycled. Most tanks definitely won't run at 0, but I've had fast growing emergent plants drop nutrients so low that other plants like floaters were choked out and began dying so it isn't impossible. Some less sensitive kits may read 0 but they are just not precise enough to give an accurate low level reading too.
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    Hey Yall my Axolotl has this like tail thats like a dent on the top, I was told it was meant stress but idk whats stressing out my Axolotl. The plants recently gotten moved since they were falling apart but like she's been eating/pooping fine and the temp and water tests are good for the Axolotl. So I don't really know whats causing her to be stress. Does anyone know anything?
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    Post a picture of the dent (in the "Sick Axolotl" thread) please
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  • Toothpickthelotl:
    Hey guys! I’m having an issue with my filter and was hoping for some suggestions. I use an aqua clear 20-50 gallon filter for my 20 gallon axolotl tank. It has worked great since I got it back in December! Recently though, I’ve noticed the flow of the water has turned into more of an intense trickle than a constant flow (if that makes any sense?) I thought it may be something was stuck in the filter or maybe the sponge needed to be swished around in tank water, so I did both of these and it still trickles. It’s a very strong trickle, so the tank is still getting good filtration. It is just so loud and I was wondering if this has happened to anyone else and if there’s a way to fix it?
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  • AMurry24537:
    Hmm, I don't know much about those filters, and I'm having trouble picturing what you mean, but could it be simply that your filtration media is arranged in a different way? Or maybe you're losing water content to evaporation? Just throwing out ideas. 😁 Again, I don't really know much about that kind of filter
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  • CrazyForLotls:
    Hello all. My male axolotl's cloaca hasn't been looking quite right for 13 days. When I first noticed it, I immediately checked the temperature of his tank and it was around 70-71. Way too warm for him, so I took him out and have had him tubbed in the basement ever since. The temperature of his water is now 64-65. The issue seems to be that one 'half' of his cloaca is flared out and has white fuzzy stuff on it. It almost looks like a bunch of little white spikes of hair. Only one half is this way. Sometimes said half is flared out almost all the way, and other times it's almost completely back inside of him. I had him in tea baths overnight for probably five days, and then a solid 24 hours of mild tea for around three days. I don't remember exactly, my apologies.
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  • CrazyForLotls:
    Since it was looking better (not flared out so I couldn't tell if it was still fuzzy) I put him back in plain, dechlorinated water. He gets daily water changes, always dechlorinated. The tea I used was plain black tea. The brand was Lipton and it came in a large box, purchased from the grocery store. Does anybody know what this could be? I found a couple old threads with a similar issue, but nobody ever replied to them. I can post a thread if you'd like some pictures, but they aren't very good. My camera was having trouble focusing and my axolotl kept moving.
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  • Nexbane:
    @Audrey22, A salt bath *might* be a good idea, but I have never heard of them used for anything but axolotls. I would think as simplistic of a setup as possible would be best. Are you a member of the newts & salamanders group on facebook? You might have better luck getting more information quickly there! lots of the same members as here.
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    Ok ill on Facebook too. Thanks. I've heard tea or salt and also neosporin. Do axolots breathe and absorb through their skin like sallies? Thats what I'm afraid of. Because I don't want them to absorb salt if that will hurt them. Anyways, I'll look at Facebook too
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  • gulickje:
    I need guidance… my lotls been struggling. How do i tell if theres anything noticably wrong woth Trudeau? I dont see a way to post a pic here. Hes got like a pinkish spine like down back but everything else looks normal i think. Trixie( my MEL) has been pretty good i think. Both in same tank. Eat same food etc.
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    @gulickje, could you make a thread in the sick axolotls section? You can put pictures there and it's easier for multiple people with axolotl knowledge to help you out. For now, we can't do much without seeing it and asking lots of questions. What is the water temperature? What's the tank like? (substrate, water conditions, any sharp decorations?) What are your water parameters? Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, etc.
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    CrazyForLotls: @gulickje, could you make a thread in the sick axolotls section? You can put pictures there and... +1
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