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PLEASE HELP - AXOLOTL NOT EATING

Cxlash

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Hi all, I’m hoping you can help (or at least provide some advice). We have 2 axolotls in a 130ish L tank that is fully cycled and had been for months. Recently we had been noticing that the two axolotls had been losing weight and one of them has been losing gill filaments/ they have been shrinking so we took a water sample to the pet shop for testing.we were advised that the nitrate levels were a bit too high and that an extra water change was required (we are unsure what has happened to cause these levels to be high as with our regular weekly water changes these levels have previously remained stable). We did approximately a 40% water change as per the man who looks after axolotls at the pet shop and have increased feeding to 2x per day to increase their weight. One of the axolotls seems to be responding quite well to this, eating 2x per day and acting almost completely normal. However, one of them is not eating and we are quite worried due to how skinny he is. He hasn’t eaten in approximately 3-4 days. He does try to eat at times - he will snap at the food but if he misses it he will refuse to try again. He also has been getting some of the food in his mouth at times but then let’s the worms wriggle straight out (if live) or will just let the pellet come out of his mouth, so not actually digesting any of it. We’re really worried for him so any advice will be greatly appreciated! I will do a complete water test when I get home from work and post those values. This is the tank, and how unhealthy they are looking at this point (the yellow one is the one that is refusing to eat). The black one is the one that has Improved really quickoy and is now eating normally and acting completely normal.
 

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JM29

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Hi,
Even the black one is definitively too skinny. They both seem to have been underfed for long. Their belly ideally should be as wide as their head.
Beyond classic water parameters, which are worth measuring, don't forget to measure water temperature, which should be below 21°C.
Bloodworms (I can see some on the photos) are not very suitable for animals that size and they pollute the water if not quicly eaten.
Earthworms are a good food (given as a whole or cut in pieces) but red wigglers are not always well accepted.

As for your light animal, check if it is not dominated by the black one. If so, it would be better separating them.
 

Cxlash

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Hi,
Even the black one is definitively too skinny. They both seem to have been underfed for long. Their belly ideally should be as wide as their head.
Beyond classic water parameters, which are worth measuring, don't forget to measure water temperature, which should be below 21°C.
Bloodworms (I can see some on the photos) are not very suitable for animals that size and they pollute the water if not quicly eaten.
Earthworms are a good food (given as a whole or cut in pieces) but red wigglers are not always well accepted.

As for your light animal, check if it is not dominated by the black one. If so, it would be better separating them.
Thank you so much for your response! Yes, we had been feeding them the amount and frequency that a pet shop recommended but after seeing how skinny they’ve gotten we’re really starting to question their advice.

Oh I will take that on board and buy some earthworms right away!

Thank you so much again, will update
 

Autistic Catholic

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You could also try other meats as well. Brine shrimp, ghost shrimp, even small cut up salmon can be given as a treat. They are going to need the protein and probably the extra fat wouldn't hurt at the moment either.
 

wolfen

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your sand is way to deep, reduce until it is only a inch deep, remove and tub the axolotls whilst you do this, you may also want to remove the filter temporarily as well as there will be a lot of gasses that will come of it, once the some sand is removed go through the remainder with a fork to turn it over, then do a 80% water change with the water being dechlorinated before adding to the tank, let everything settle for 2 hours then put the filter back in, test the water and if all is good put your axolotls back in.
couple of things you need, freshwater liquid test kit, air-stone, sponge/guard to go over filter inlet to prevent accidents.
any meat frozen food is good ie.. bloodworm etc..
 

Cxlash

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Hi all, I’m hoping you can help (or at least provide some advice). We have 2 axolotls in a 130ish L tank that is fully cycled and had been for months. Recently we had been noticing that the two axolotls had been losing weight and one of them has been losing gill filaments/ they have been shrinking so we took a water sample to the pet shop for testing.we were advised that the nitrate levels were a bit too high and that an extra water change was required (we are unsure what has happened to cause these levels to be high as with our regular weekly water changes these levels have previously remained stable). We did approximately a 40% water change as per the man who looks after axolotls at the pet shop and have increased feeding to 2x per day to increase their weight. One of the axolotls seems to be responding quite well to this, eating 2x per day and acting almost completely normal. However, one of them is not eating and we are quite worried due to how skinny he is. He hasn’t eaten in approximately 3-4 days. He does try to eat at times - he will snap at the food but if he misses it he will refuse to try again. He also has been getting some of the food in his mouth at times but then let’s the worms wriggle straight out (if live) or will just let the pellet come out of his mouth, so not actually digesting any of it. We’re really worried for him so any advice will be greatly appreciated! I will do a complete water test when I get home from work and post those values. This is the tank, and how unhealthy they are looking at this point (the yellow one is the one that is refusing to eat). The black one is the one that has Improved really quickoy and is now eating normally and acting completely normal.
UPDATE: I just tested my water and it has the following parameters:

PH 7.6
Ammonia 0.1-0.2ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 5ppm
GH 179ppm (10 dGH)
KH 304ppm (17dKH)
Temperature fluctuates a little but always remains between 18-20.2 (I know it’s a little high but it’s been really hot in Aus and we’ve been struggling to keep it cooler)
 

Autistic Catholic

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UPDATE: I just tested my water and it has the following parameters:

PH 7.6
Ammonia 0.1-0.2ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 5ppm
GH 179ppm (10 dGH)
KH 304ppm (17dKH)
Temperature fluctuates a little but always remains between 18-20.2 (I know it’s a little high but it’s been really hot in Aus and we’ve been struggling to keep it cooler)
The ammonia is too high. I think that there is a possibility that some leftover food has been getting trapped deep in your sand so I agree with wolfen here that you're going to want to tub them and change out some sand. Everything else seems fine. 20C is a little high but it's not lethal if they aren't exposed to it for too long. One thing I've read which works like magic though is a computer fan contraption with a mesh lid. You'll need USB adapters but if you can aim a computer fan across the surface of the water, it will lower the temperature to where it needs to be and is far less expensive than a chiller.
 

wolfen

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are you testing using liquid or strips?
when was the last water change done and how frequent?
have you noticed any smells coming from the tank?
both of your axolotls have reduced gills so something is wrong with the tank water.
if the ammonia is tested after a water change then is can be residual ammonia from the dechlorination, if it is 24hrs after a water change then there is a issue with your filtration.
nitrates are very low but that can be because of frequent water changes.
your carbonate hardness is very high where as the general hardness is low, which is very strange, should be other way around.
for two adult axolotls four to six cubes of bloodworm etc.. should be given per feeding. this can always be reduced if they get too fat.
what level was the nitrates at when tested at the pet shop?
 

Cxlash

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are you testing using liquid or strips?
when was the last water change done and how frequent?
have you noticed any smells coming from the tank?
both of your axolotls have reduced gills so something is wrong with the tank water.
if the ammonia is tested after a water change then is can be residual ammonia from the dechlorination, if it is 24hrs after a water change then there is a issue with your filtration.
nitrates are very low but that can be because of frequent water changes.
your carbonate hardness is very high where as the general hardness is low, which is very strange, should be other way around.
for two adult axolotls four to six cubes of bloodworm etc.. should be given per feeding. this can always be reduced if they get too fat.
what level was the nitrates at when tested at the pet shop?
Thank you so much for your response! I really appreciate all the help I can get. I’m testing using the API freshwater kit (liquid). The water is usually changed at about 15-20% per week, however I did a 40% water change on Saturday after going to the pet shop so the values I got today are 2-3 days after a water change.

The nitrate levels were ridiculously high when tested at the pet shop - I think approx 90ppm (it was due for a water change that same day)
 

wolfen

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Thank you so much for your response! I really appreciate all the help I can get. I’m testing using the API freshwater kit (liquid). The water is usually changed at about 15-20% per week, however I did a 40% water change on Saturday after going to the pet shop so the values I got today are 2-3 days after a water change.

The nitrate levels were ridiculously high when tested at the pet shop - I think approx 90ppm (it was due for a water change that same day)
even at 90ppm the nitrates are still in the tolerable range 110ppm being the max.
the free ammonia is at 0.0031 with your ph at 7.6, tan at 0.2ppm and temp at 20.2, so your ammonia is at safe levels.
the main concerns are temperature, water oxygenation and gas build up in the sand.
in sand muck and bacteria can form producing gasses that are unpleasant and harmful (the gasses vented give of a bad smell, they will also show a dark layer in the substrate), unless you have inverts or animals that will sift through the sand keep the layer to 1 inch max, sift through it regularly.
the water needs to be oxygenated for both the axolotls and the filter bacteria, having the water oxygenated will also help prevent dead zones in the sand etc.. where the harmful bacteria can breed.
there are numerous methods to cool the tank down, from insulating the tank to reduce external effects, to using chillers. please research which method is more suited for your tank.
at this stage there is no such thing as over feeding them but the waste will need to be removed daily as your bacteria colony isn't coping, whether this is because of a previous water issue or the filter is too small I couldn't say, you would need to post the filter specs.
there are a couple of ways for nitrates to be removed.. 1. water changes, the percentage of water removed is the percentage of nitrates removed, 2. plants, they will absorb nutrients and nitrates, 3. algae, these will also absorb nutrients and nitrates, 4. denitrifying bacteria, these form in areas where there is a reduction of oxygen taking the oxygen from the nitrates instead. for the nitrates to be reduced from 90ppm to 5ppm with small water changes shows that you have dead/low oxygen areas allowing denitrifying bacteria to form.
 

Autistic Catholic

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Thank you so much for your response! I really appreciate all the help I can get. I’m testing using the API freshwater kit (liquid). The water is usually changed at about 15-20% per week, however I did a 40% water change on Saturday after going to the pet shop so the values I got today are 2-3 days after a water change.

The nitrate levels were ridiculously high when tested at the pet shop - I think approx 90ppm (it was due for a water change that same day)
It's possible that the size of your tank, with two axolotls in it, might be a little on the small side for such tiny amounts of water changes. Try maybe going with a 40% weekly water change.

As stated, at this point, there's no such thing as overfeeding, and though you only really want to give them high fat content food as a treat if at all, you could try giving them cut up pieces of raw chicken, salmon, even beef. The important thing is that they put on pounds and the water is safe.
 

Cxlash

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Hi all, I’m hoping you can help (or at least provide some advice). We have 2 axolotls in a 130ish L tank that is fully cycled and had been for months. Recently we had been noticing that the two axolotls had been losing weight and one of them has been losing gill filaments/ they have been shrinking so we took a water sample to the pet shop for testing.we were advised that the nitrate levels were a bit too high and that an extra water change was required (we are unsure what has happened to cause these levels to be high as with our regular weekly water changes these levels have previously remained stable). We did approximately a 40% water change as per the man who looks after axolotls at the pet shop and have increased feeding to 2x per day to increase their weight. One of the axolotls seems to be responding quite well to this, eating 2x per day and acting almost completely normal. However, one of them is not eating and we are quite worried due to how skinny he is. He hasn’t eaten in approximately 3-4 days. He does try to eat at times - he will snap at the food but if he misses it he will refuse to try again. He also has been getting some of the food in his mouth at times but then let’s the worms wriggle straight out (if live) or will just let the pellet come out of his mouth, so not actually digesting any of it. We’re really worried for him so any advice will be greatly appreciated! I will do a complete water test when I get home from work and post those values. This is the tank, and how unhealthy they are looking at this point (the yellow one is the one that is refusing to eat). The black one is the one that has Improved really quickoy and is now eating normally and acting completely normal.
Update - I have taken on board what everyone has said regarding making the sand layer a bit thinner and regarding feeding / cleaning of the tank. I have also booked the yellow one in at an exotic aquatic vet tomorrow to see if there is anything else going on internally.

Thanks again everybody!
 

Autistic Catholic

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Update - I have taken on board what everyone has said regarding making the sand layer a bit thinner and regarding feeding / cleaning of the tank. I have also booked the yellow one in at an exotic aquatic vet tomorrow to see if there is anything else going on internally.

Thanks again everybody!
Keep us updated!
 

Cxlash

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Keep us updated!
U
Hi all, I’m hoping you can help (or at least provide some advice). We have 2 axolotls in a 130ish L tank that is fully cycled and had been for months. Recently we had been noticing that the two axolotls had been losing weight and one of them has been losing gill filaments/ they have been shrinking so we took a water sample to the pet shop for testing.we were advised that the nitrate levels were a bit too high and that an extra water change was required (we are unsure what has happened to cause these levels to be high as with our regular weekly water changes these levels have previously remained stable). We did approximately a 40% water change as per the man who looks after axolotls at the pet shop and have increased feeding to 2x per day to increase their weight. One of the axolotls seems to be responding quite well to this, eating 2x per day and acting almost completely normal. However, one of them is not eating and we are quite worried due to how skinny he is. He hasn’t eaten in approximately 3-4 days. He does try to eat at times - he will snap at the food but if he misses it he will refuse to try again. He also has been getting some of the food in his mouth at times but then let’s the worms wriggle straight out (if live) or will just let the pellet come out of his mouth, so not actually digesting any of it. We’re really worried for him so any advice will be greatly appreciated! I will do a complete water test when I get home from work and post those values. This is the tank, and how unhealthy they are looking at this point (the yellow one is the one that is refusing to eat). The black one is the one that has Improved really quickoy and is now eating normally and acting completely normal.
Unfortunate update - we visited the vet today who advised us that she didn’t believe our beautiful Carlos was going to survive. She believes he may have had an underlying condition as with our feeding regime and water parameters he shouldn’t have been losing weight so fast. We were advised that he would have been struggling quite a bit and that the most humane thing would be to euthanise him 😭

Our other axolotl (Aristotle) is doing well and is expected to be okay
 

Autistic Catholic

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did your vet test for hydrogen sulphide poisoning?
I'm sorry for your loss, but I do agree with wolfen. It is completely irresponsible and unethical of the vet if they didn't test for poisoning and such from the environment considering that you have two axies sharing the tank together. Hopefully, the black one does better soon and sorry for your loss. Carlos looked precious.💙
 

MangoAxolotl

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Unfortunate update - we visited the vet today who advised us that she didn’t believe our beautiful Carlos was going to survive. She believes he may have had an underlying condition as with our feeding regime and water parameters he shouldn’t have been losing weight so fast. We were advised that he would have been struggling quite a bit and that the most humane thing would be to euthanise him 😭

Our other axolotl (Aristotle) is doing well and is expected to be okay
Oh my god! Im so sorry this happened, and i hope you get well soon, i hope aristole is ok, too.
 
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