In search of clear answer/ feeding 1.5yo axolotl

notaphrodite

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Hello! I have an axolotl approx. 1.5 years old named Warchild ( I believe he’s a boy). I got him as a little tadpole guy at a local reptile shop, I had wanted one for years and done tons of tons of reading on them, went in for a bearded dragon though and came out with my bebe. He was with others and was getting picked on soo

Anywhoo, I’ve always been a more paranoid pet owner than most and really try to provide ideal conditions for all of my animals. I’m willing to go find a vet but not sure if regular checkups are a normal thing for axolotl owners and wonder about the stress of transport..

In your opinion/experience does he look healthy?

In regards to his weight,
When he was about (6mos?) I posted a pic asking about his gill health and was told instead he was super skinny, sooo I have been trying to fatten him up since. Some days he looks so chonky- but I worry because he will only eat bloodworms. I’ve tried everyone’s tips in regards to how often to feed to encourage a food change etc., I’ve tried every type of feeder worm presented every type of way and- no matter what I try he spits them out. But I’ve heard bloodworms aren’t nutritious enough and I’ve also heard they’re fine. I’m willing to spend for the good stuff but it just goes to waste.. is he too fat? Can he be healthy with a diet of only bloodworms? I’ve tried pellets, too. Fresh worms, frozen, alive dead rinsed not chopped up full literalllllly and he just says “this is trash mother” and spits it out after a bit. Thoughts?? 😬 **i feed frozen bloodworms, i was doing 4-6 cubes and he was eating that up QUICKLY, now i can only find them in a brick and i break off a chunk. He always seems to be looking for food.. I worry he’s malnourished ☹️ But also thiccc.. idk

Also, I’ve always wondered about his small gills. His filter is ridiculously nice w low water flow and parameters are always Gucci.. I’ve heard small gills are fine because it means the 02 level is really good, but I’ve never actually seen an axie with gills like mine! One side is a tiny bit fluffy but not really, the other not at all + one nub gill that has never grown since babyhood.. are axies gills just unique?

Any tips help, thank you!
Sorry that was long, I love him so much and want him to live a long happy life 🥺
And if a checkup is seriously recommended I’ll do that as well!
++ bonus pics of adorable bebe :)

thank youuuuuu ...
 

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GulfCoastAxolotls

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Hello! I have an axolotl approx. 1.5 years old named Warchild ( I believe he’s a boy). I got him as a little tadpole guy at a local reptile shop, I had wanted one for years and done tons of tons of reading on them, went in for a bearded dragon though and came out with my bebe. He was with others and was getting picked on soo

Anywhoo, I’ve always been a more paranoid pet owner than most and really try to provide ideal conditions for all of my animals. I’m willing to go find a vet but not sure if regular checkups are a normal thing for axolotl owners and wonder about the stress of transport..

In your opinion/experience does he look healthy?

In regards to his weight,
When he was about (6mos?) I posted a pic asking about his gill health and was told instead he was super skinny, sooo I have been trying to fatten him up since. Some days he looks so chonky- but I worry because he will only eat bloodworms. I’ve tried everyone’s tips in regards to how often to feed to encourage a food change etc., I’ve tried every type of feeder worm presented every type of way and- no matter what I try he spits them out. But I’ve heard bloodworms aren’t nutritious enough and I’ve also heard they’re fine. I’m willing to spend for the good stuff but it just goes to waste.. is he too fat? Can he be healthy with a diet of only bloodworms? I’ve tried pellets, too. Fresh worms, frozen, alive dead rinsed not chopped up full literalllllly and he just says “this is trash mother” and spits it out after a bit. Thoughts?? 😬 **i feed frozen bloodworms, i was doing 4-6 cubes and he was eating that up QUICKLY, now i can only find them in a brick and i break off a chunk. He always seems to be looking for food.. I worry he’s malnourished ☹️ But also thiccc.. idk

Also, I’ve always wondered about his small gills. His filter is ridiculously nice w low water flow and parameters are always Gucci.. I’ve heard small gills are fine because it means the 02 level is really good, but I’ve never actually seen an axie with gills like mine! One side is a tiny bit fluffy but not really, the other not at all + one nub gill that has never grown since babyhood.. are axies gills just unique?

Any tips help, thank you!
Sorry that was long, I love him so much and want him to live a long happy life 🥺
And if a checkup is seriously recommended I’ll do that as well!
++ bonus pics of adorable bebe :)

thank youuuuuu ...
Hello! I see no one has responded yet so I will try to answer some of your questions

First and foremost, you have a boy. so congrats.

Secondly, he is a bit on the chonky side. That could partly be from diet. Bloodworms are basically like feeding them french fries. They really have very little nutritional value. Part of the reason you're having issues transitioning him to something else is because you keep giving him those. Axolotls can go 2-3 weeks with no food. People tend to panic when they dont eat for a day or two, but sometimes it can take letting them go for a few days or even a week without eating to try to get them used to eating something else. I went through something similar with my black melanoid. He refused anything but blackworms becasue that's what he was rasied on before we got him. Took months to get him to consistently eat earthworms, but he is so much healthier now.

As far as the gills go, that could be water chemistry issues or lack of good nutrition, or both. You say you parameters are always good, but what are they exactly? (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and pH) and do you use a liquid test kit or strips? Small gills is not a sign of too much O2. Just like large gills don't necessarily indicate low O2. Shrunken gills are an indicator of an overall health issue
 

notaphrodite

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Thank you for replying!!!

The temp stays in the low 60s, pH I battled with for a while but stays 7.5ish, nitrites/ammonia around 0 and I do regular partial water changes and my last nitrate test was around 40ppm

I’ve heard the potato chip thing before. I had a feeling he was chunky.. So do you recommend continuing to buy the good nightcrawlers and offering them and eventually he will eat them? I feel bad chopping them up when he doesn’t eat them but I will!
 

GulfCoastAxolotls

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Thank you for replying!!!

The temp stays in the low 60s, pH I battled with for a while but stays 7.5ish, nitrites/ammonia around 0 and I do regular partial water changes and my last nitrate test was around 40ppm

I’ve heard the potato chip thing before. I had a feeling he was chunky.. So do you recommend continuing to buy the good nightcrawlers and offering them and eventually he will eat them? I feel bad chopping them up when he doesn’t eat them but I will!

Your water parameters sound fine. out of curiosity, what water conditioner/dechlorinator do you use?

I would definitely keep trying to get him transitioned to earthworms. European nightcrawlers are my food of choice because of their nutritional content. Red wigglers are also ok, but can produce a bitter slime when they are stressed so you made need to rinse them or blanche them in hot water before offering them to him. Once you get him used to eating something other than bloodworms, it will be much easier to incorporate other things for variety. It's just going to be getting him off the bloodworms that will be the hard part. They can be stubborn little things. I jokingly call my black mel my fussy toddler because he would take a bite of something, munch it for a second and then spit it out in little pieces like a toddler with broccoli bits. Like I said, it took months to get him to eat something other than blackworms, but I just refused to give them to him anymore and he'd eventually get hungry enough that he'd eat the pellets, repashy grub pie or worms I offered.
 

notaphrodite

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Yes omg that’s EXACTLY what he does. Literally once- ever- he ate 1/2 worm and kept it down, but almost always he will eat them and when I check back they will be spat out regardless of preparation/worm type. SO STUBBORN!! My boyfriend always says there must be something wrong w him because all the axolotl he sees online just eat their worms up “how do they survive in the wild” is all he ever says lmao. I’ll take your advice and try to starve him into it, we have a local fish shop that always had quality feeders so access is no problem! The longest I went before giving up was 1 week so I’ll try holding out a little longer. Thanks!

For water conditioner currently I’m using a Fluval brand..
 

GulfCoastAxolotls

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Yes omg that’s EXACTLY what he does. Literally once- ever- he ate 1/2 worm and kept it down, but almost always he will eat them and when I check back they will be spat out regardless of preparation/worm type. SO STUBBORN!! My boyfriend always says there must be something wrong w him because all the axolotl he sees online just eat their worms up “how do they survive in the wild” is all he ever says lmao. I’ll take your advice and try to starve him into it, we have a local fish shop that always had quality feeders so access is no problem! The longest I went before giving up was 1 week so I’ll try holding out a little longer. Thanks!

For water conditioner currently I’m using a Fluval brand..
HA I say the same thing. A sigh, followed by "you would never survive in the wild kid" comes out of my mouth at least once a week. Another food option you can try just to get him away from the bloodworms is repashy grub pie. Its a powder that you mix with hot water and it turns into a jell-like food. It smells disgusting but its very nutrient dense. I usually only use it as a treat because of its fat content, but all of my axies go bananas for it. I find it usually has a better acceptance rate than pellets too for axies that aren't used to eating a variety of food.

As far as the water conditioner goes, I cannot find an ingredient list for the Fluval water conditioner. It just says "contains herbal extracts" which concerns me a bit. Aloe is very toxic to axolotls and many "fish safe" water conditioners contain aloe and other harmful ingredients. Prime by Seachem is the gold standard of water conditioners and I never recommend anything else. To be on the safe side, I would consider changing to that instead.
 

AMurry24537

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You could also try sneaking in a couple of pellets alongside the bloodworms to help get him/her (The body shape actually looks more female to me and some females do have a visible cloaca bump. It could just be that the dwarf bodyshape is making it look more female, but I wouldn't rule out it being a female until it's been bred.) a bit more acclimated to new foods.
 

notaphrodite

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HA I say the same thing. A sigh, followed by "you would never survive in the wild kid" comes out of my mouth at least once a week. Another food option you can try just to get him away from the bloodworms is repashy grub pie. Its a powder that you mix with hot water and it turns into a jell-like food. It smells disgusting but its very nutrient dense. I usually only use it as a treat because of its fat content, but all of my axies go bananas for it. I find it usually has a better acceptance rate than pellets too for axies that aren't used to eating a variety of food.

As far as the water conditioner goes, I cannot find an ingredient list for the Fluval water conditioner. It just says "contains herbal extracts" which concerns me a bit. Aloe is very toxic to axolotls and many "fish safe" water conditioners contain aloe and other harmful ingredients. Prime by Seachem is the gold standard of water conditioners and I never recommend anything else. To be on the safe side, I would consider changing to that instead.
I’m on my way to the store right now for a new conditioner!!!!!! I had never thought about the specific herbal extracts and have been using the conditioner his whole life.. switching it RIGHT away and picking up some feeding options. Thank you so much for the suggestion 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺
 

GulfCoastAxolotls

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I’m on my way to the store right now for a new conditioner!!!!!! I had never thought about the specific herbal extracts and have been using the conditioner his whole life.. switching it RIGHT away and picking up some feeding options. Thank you so much for the suggestion 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺
If it is something you've been using his whole life, then it cant be TOO bad, but I just tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to chemicals with axolotls. Keep me posted how he is doing with his new food options :)
 

notaphrodite

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Update: we have eaten 1” chunks of nightcrawler 2x and not spit them out! Do you have any recommendations on how regular/much to offer him earthworm? Also, the water even just looks better with the Prime... I’m sure it’s too soon to tell on the gills but I like it better already- thank you!
 

GulfCoastAxolotls

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Update: we have eaten 1” chunks of nightcrawler 2x and not spit them out! Do you have any recommendations on how regular/much to offer him earthworm? Also, the water even just looks better with the Prime... I’m sure it’s too soon to tell on the gills but I like it better already- thank you!
YAY! so glad things are working out well so far. At his age, a worm (or 2 depending on size of worm) every other day should be plenty of food
 
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