Juvenile axolotl not eating

Fluffinmuffins

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I just got this little dude on Wednesday morning. I tried offering bloodworms immediately while he was tubbed, but his gills were curled forward and he was obviously very unhappy with the move. I transitioned him to an uncycled tank which isn’t ideal I know, but I was stuck with that being my only alternative. I asked my feed supplier if they had any cycled media, plants, anything that I could use to help kick the process into gear but no luck. Water parameters are:
Ph-7.6
Ammonia-.2 (water changes daily 30-50%)
Nitrite-0
Nitrate-5.
Tank temperature is 68 degrees.

he is about 2 inches in length. Just a little thing. Initially when I got him, he had a floating problem at the top of the tank. He is now comfortably on the bottom with no difficulty staying down, but for the life of me he will not eat. I have tried bloodworms, frozen brine shrimp, worms chopped up, and crickets (although these are too big for him I realized.) I contacted the former owner and they fed frozen bloodworms. I have tried dangling them with tweezers, same with the brine shrimp, turkey blaster, tried feeding at the top of the tank in case that’s what he’s used to, etc. and I haven’t seen him so much as snap at anything to eat it. I tried to find love baby brine shrimp, blackworms, daphnia, but have had no luck. I put a little glass dish in there before my water change with frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp, but will remove that within the next few minutes because of the ammonia spikes it can cause. He originally had a fine sand substrate in the bottom that I am certain he ate none of, but I removed it until he’s a little older so he currently has a bare bottom tank.He looks lovely and healthy, aside from me not witnessing his eating habits. Is this normal?Should I be overly concerned or give him more time to adjust? Food options that I haven’t tried yet? I’ve gotten great help here before. Maybe you guys know something I don’t!
 

Linkisnotzelda

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Hello again, Fluffinmuffins. Sorry if you're sick of hearing my voice (seeing my messages...whatever), but I do have some suggestions...
When I first got my axolotl, he wouldn't eat the food right away, especially if I was watching him. This becomes a bit risky, especially with the uncycled tank, but to reduce this risk you can try using the worms, as they don't pollute the water as fast. Drop some chopped up worms near him, leave him for a couple of minutes, and see if you had any success. My axolotl loves pellets, and that was what I had success at first with feeding him, but all axies are different. He might still be trying to adjust, but getting some food in his belly will make him feel more at home.
 

Fluffinmuffins

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Not at all! I am doing some online searching for live daphnia or hatched brine shrimp to reduce the time I’d have to spend trying to hatch them myself. I’ll attempt to feed him again soon. He does seem to be on alert when I’m around, but still no eating. I don’t want to stress him as he seems quite content, so I’m trying sporadically throughout the day. I will try the sinking pellets as well and see if he has any preference to those. Tons of aquarium stores in my area and can’t find anything live or to be hatched 🙄
 

Fluffinmuffins

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This last attempt I wiggled a single bloodwork in his face with the tongs. He didn’t budge lol. I tickled his nose and under his mouth with it, and he snapped it away. He ate a total of 1 bloodworm, but at least he ate something! It was exciting to see him eat for me for the first time. At least I have an indication he has some sort of appetite and is adjusting.
 

Linkisnotzelda

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That's a great start! Hand feeding him is also a great way to build trust, and he trusted you immediately! It took Oaki like 2 months before he would let anything I was holding touch him without him freaking out! It is very likely that he will start eating more now, since he has registered that worm in face=food. They are so cute when they eat!
 

Fluffinmuffins

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He seems to look at me when I enter the room so that’s always nice lol. They are the most adorable little things. Eating was just so exciting. He doesn’t seem to be afraid of hands or the tongs so I’ll try at varying times throughout the day and see which he prefers. Hopefully this is a good start!
 

Fluffinmuffins

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Tried again and he ate another 3 worms before swimming off uninterested in continuing. I’m so pleased ❤ Thank you for all of your help in my new journey!
 

Linkisnotzelda

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No problem at all! Does he (or she), have a name yet? It can be hard when you don't know what gender they are. I thought I was getting "boy vibes" from Oaki, and it turns out I was right! I did name him a gender-neutral name just in case lol.
 

Fluffinmuffins

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I’ve thought of a few, but have no idea if it’s male or female so I haven’t settled yet. I liked Ponyo and Squirtle 😊
 

Fluffinmuffins

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I’ve also thankfully been able to acquire a seeded sponge filter from a trusted source. It will be shipped the beginning of next week to hopefully help my cycle along and save me some stress!
 

jax

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Personally I'd go easy on the water changes, 50% per day is a lot. It will be quite hard for the cycle to establish at this rate. Also make sure you are using a water treatment to control chlorine etc. I only do 20% per week. Is there a filter in the tank?

I have 2 that share a tank. One rarely eats live food, worms etc preferring dried shrimp and pellets. The other one love worms but will eat absolutely anything. Guess some are just more fussy than others. Glad to hear he has eaten. Its a very good sign.
 

Fluffinmuffins

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I use Seachem prime as a water conditioner. There is also a filter for a 30 gallon tank, although mine is 20. I’m doing daily water changes to keep the ammonia from poisoning him, but can cut it down to 20% daily if that is safe for him.
 

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This is going to be terrible sounding advice but it worked for my most stubborn eater. Could you quarantine some very tiny shrimp or something and let your axolotl try hunting them? Mine refused to eat worms, pellets, and sometimes even frozen food until she got to try hunting her own food then she started gobbling down anything we put in front of her face, including fingers.
 

Fluffinmuffins

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I found an online provider of live daphnia that I will (attempt) to keep going at home to provide him/her a live food source for a while. Found them through this site actually so that was very convenient! I called around to try to locate any live cultures, or live food, hatching eggs, etc. in my area and no dice. Wiggling frozen bloodworms constantly isn’t ideal for me, so the live daphnia should definitely assist me there! He did eat a small amount this morning, but if he can hunt food I’d much prefer that for the time being!
 

Linkisnotzelda

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Haha the shrimp are a good treat and provide good enrichment from my experience. I've been trying to breed ghost shrimp, but it hasn't been going well. Thinking maybe I had too many in my little tank, I put a couple in Oaki's tank. He didn't appear interested, but the next day they were nowhere to be found... I'm a volunteer at a zoo, and one of the best ways they keep the animals fit and happy is to use "enrichment techniques" that force the animal to be engaged and hunt or function like they would in the wild. Even if you don't use live food 24/7, changing the feeding location and making the food harder to find helps an animal feel in control and at home in their environment.
 
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