New Axolotl Owner - Need Help

antiimatter

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Hello, I'm new here to the forum but I have lurked around for a few weeks now. I bought a leucistic axolotl off of a friend on my Facebook about two months ago and he has seemed happy for all the time he's been with me.

Last week I was feeding him some minnows (out of earthworms I know they are better) and I noticed that his gill on the right has side was a little messed up looking. I at first thought perhaps one of the little minnows had gotten to his gill; However, the next day I noticed his gills had worsened overnight. Now, the entire middle gill is missing on the right side, with only a little nub where the post part used to be. The upper of his three gills on the ride side had now grown somw sort of white patch at the tip, and the little feathers started to fall off.

I researched to the best of my ability what could be causing this and basically from what I understand it could be a fungus or my water parameters are bad.. Now I had my water tested at the local aquarium store and got 180 nitrates, 1 ammonia . can't remember the rest but I will get back with them. I'm trying to cycle his water 20% a day with dechlorinated tap water.

What else can I do? The previous owner didn't seem to know much about caring for the little guy.. Needless to say Ireally have grown attached to henry so I don't want to lose him! Please help me!!

Thanks:)
 

smurfrider

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Your nitrates are way to high, should not be above 40. You need to do much larger daily water changes until the nitrates are under control. Until then you might want to put your axie in a small container of cool dechlorinated water with total water changes everyday.
 

antiimatter

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Is the nitrates the definite cause of his gill issue? He doesn't seem to be acting differently. He eats normally every day and he is pretty active. Is there a way to speed up the process of powering his nitrates? And I think I got the number wrong-the girl at Petco did a test with a paper strip and told me 180. The aquarium store told me it was 60. 60 is still high, but I'm wondering If there could be another cause.
 

Alkylhalide

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Yes, the ammonia. It is way to high to have a lotl living in permanently, you really need to get him out until the levels become stable. And 60nitrate over 1week caused the same issue you are speaking of in one of my lotls. I had to start doing large water changes daily to keep nitrates down(cycled tank but overcrowded, so nitrates would accumulate to fast)
I ended up getting a bigger tank which is cycling right now, but from the levels you are getting close to finishing the cycle, so i would remove your axie from the tank and put in a tub 100%water changes daily and dont touch the tank water until it is stable. You can put the dirty water from the tub everyday into the tank.

Your water levels are not high enough to do immediate damage, but leaving axies in it for to long may really hurt your lotl, these levels are slowly poisoning your lotl and the only way to fix it is clean water.
I dont mean to scare you but it doesnt take long, it is much easier to put them in a tub for this last part of your tank cycling, if you take the lotl out of the tank now and let the water stabalise it should only take about a week to finish and then you can do one large water change to bring the nitrate down around 10-20ppm and you will be fine :)

I have been through water quality issues, exact same levels but ammonia is very dangerous. It should be 0. My lotls made it :) it took two weeks in tubs before their gills started to get better though. Weird thin is only 2/5of my lotls seemed effected.
 

antiimatter

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Thank you for the help guys. Ill get him in a tub today and start doing larger changes. How much water should I be changing? Do I really need to let the water condition over a 24r period? I only have only small gallon jug that I use to add/remove water. This makes it difficult to do a large change at once if I only have a gallon of conditioned water handy!

Why was his tank not already established when I got him? The previous owner said he was two years old - and his hands are dark on the fingertips which I read was a sign of maturity.. She gave me the tank and conditioner with a filter.

I did read that a fast flow could be bothering him, if so are there signs I should look for to indicate this? My filter is a whisper 30 if that helps.

I just took a look at him this morning and the gills on the other side of his head are turning white too :(( I'll post some pictures of him.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ulphovoh9pe9j44/VVkO9cRrdF

The middle gill degraded first, then his top one. Now the gills on the left side of his head seem to he damaged and turning white on the ends as well.
 
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layna

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You should invest in a bucket for the water changes :D
If the white stuff looks like cotton wool, then it is most likely fungus but i cant get on your pic (work blocks the website grr)

If the filter dried out or was off for a good few hours then it can crash the cycle, or it may never have been cycled depending on her cleaning schedule ect..i dont know lol.

If he is in tub 1, when you swap him to tub 2 every day (vice versa), add the water from tub 1 to his tank to for an ammonia source :D
This will keep the tank cycling whilst he is in a tub.
 
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auntiejude

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That looks like chemical burn to me - very probably cause by poor water quality. The white stuff looks like healing skin, just leave it alone.

But he'll recover given a bit of TLC and good conditions - get your tank cycled properly. If a filter is turned off for any length of time all the good bacteria die, so you do have to start all over again I'm afraid.

Watr in tub should be changed competely every 24 hours - as mentioned before moving axie to a clean tub is easiest. I use plastic shoe storer boxes.
 

antiimatter

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OK, henry is in the fridge now... Following the instructions as per the link above.

He doesnt seem very happy in there. Also if he poops in that tub do I siphon it out? When I fed him tonight he wasn't his usual self.. He didn't show as much interest :( his gills are flat against his head as well, I'm not sure what that means.
 

Alkylhalide

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Please take him out of the fridge, he is not going to die. Fridgin os stressful i only recommend it when the lotl will die if they dontgo in the fridge (bacterial or viral infections, high temperatures etc) for just water quality, good food and clean water is all they need to recover :) and if there is fungus, salt baths.

I describe the fridge as being a place to give them a chance of living when they probably wouldnt outside the fridge as it slows their metabolism and helps them heal. But it also makes them eat less and low temps can be stressful.
 

mackinthebox

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Frequent water changes of 50% or more would be a good idea, daily would be best, until your cycle is complete
You dont want to remove all the water or all of the ammonia as the cycle will still need it to feed the growing bacteria
What kind of filter do you have in the tank? my lotl had the same thing happen to him, his gills looked identical
After some investigation I found him frequently passing the filter inlet as he stalked the tank for food, as he passed he would get sucked in by the current and his gills would get caught and tugged off in the inlet, it has some pretty sharp plastic edges
I stuck a piece of foam over the inlet from an old sponge filter and he has grown back most of his gill now

definitely keep doing water changes but also watch to see if his gills are getting caught on anything sharp in the tank as well
 

antiimatter

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OK, henry is out of the fridge again now -.-
He threw up all the worms he ate earlier tho :(
Why did he do that? I read somewhere that axolotls will regurgitate their food if it is going to spoil in their stomachs!
Are regular earthworms from Walmart fine? They call them "nightcrawlers."

Also my filter is a whisper 30. To me it seems rather large, and it produces a lot of current it seems like.. But this isbthe filter I was given when i got Henry.
 

mackinthebox

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Ive got the same filter
I wold definitely put a piece of foam on the intake
that filter can make some fairly strong suction and his gill can get caught in the intake

as for the worms, i have fed all my axies canadian nightcrawlers from walmart with no issue
I would clean them in dechlorinated water or tank water (not in the tank obviously) before feeding the lotl
if its his first time eating worms he might not like how they wiggled in his tummy
leave em in there a few hours and he might eat it back up
otherwise continue to offer them and he should keep em down when he gets use to how they feel in his stomach
he may have also regurgitated them from being moved around a bit, could make him queezy or stressed out a bit
 

antiimatter

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Thanks, you've been very helpful.
Is the intake the slits at the bottom? Also do I need to immediately remove his waste from his tank/tub?
How does the cycle work.. His waste makes ammonia and then ammonia eats up nitrate? I'm sure its more complex than that :/
 

pondweed

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My guess would be he regurgitated the worms because of his time in the fridge. You tried to feed him while he was in there, right? When they're in he cold and their metabolism slows, they can't digest food as efficiently - nor do they need to eat as much.
 

mackinthebox

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Thanks, you've been very helpful.
Is the intake the slits at the bottom? Also do I need to immediately remove his waste from his tank/tub?
How does the cycle work.. His waste makes ammonia and then ammonia eats up nitrate? I'm sure its more complex than that :/
check this out:
★ The Aquarium Cycle - Illustrated Video ★ - YouTube

yeah, the intake is the plastic tube with the slots in the bottom, just put some sponge or filter material over it, they even make prefilters
I see them all the time on ebay :p
I just cut up a piece of sponge from another filter and made it fit

 

layna

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antiimatter

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Hey, my filter doesn't have that little tube like yours..
Is it supposed to? There's a hole on the back that just shoots out water at a high speed though. Maybe the tube used to connect there or something.

He's in the tub, I'm letting the water temperature come to the same as his tank. I'll try refeeding him later. He's probably mad at me :(
 

antiimatter

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Hey guys an update:
Henry seems to be very timid when I look at him now. He won't come towards me anymore and when I get up close to his tank and look at him he backs up.

How does the tail look when they are stressed. Its curled but I don't know if his whole tail curves or the end or what.

He's eating normally again though. Hopefully I didn't traumatize the little dude :(

He looks like he's having trouble balancing when he swims! Maybe im just freaking out. But his back legs were swaying back and fourth
 
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