Red-Leg Infection and Other Inquiries

the1banana

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https://imgur.com/a/o1cot6m

Hello, caudata.org!

I'm a new axolotl owner (have had my little buddy Puck, a gold-type axolotl for about eight months now), and I think so far, I've been doing an ok job. I've done my best to do be the best owner I can. I perform regular water chemistry tests to monitor nitrite, ammonia and nitrate levels, made sure I was using a proper substrate, and feed him a mixed diet of blood worms, mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, pellets and very recently, nightcrawlers. His enclosure is kept between 60-64 with a small cooling device.
I figure it's important for me to engage actively with a community to really make sure I give Puck the best life possible, and one of the motivating factors is my recent discovery of an ailment called "Red-leg" syndrome. Puck's actual coloration varies a little bit based on the time of day and his activity level, but at times his arms lean towards the pink and I wanted to make absolutely sure that it was or was not red-leg syndrome, and act upon it accordingly.
At the same time, I wanted to verify details on a few inconsistencies between sources relating to axolotl care (which I imagine is only natural given that they're relatively uncommon pets).
The first being, why is fridging axolotls so prominently indicated as a "cure-all" method of helping an axolotl resolve health issues when Wikipedia and other axolotl information sources indicate more than a day's exposure to lower temperatures can quickly lead to disease and death? What's actually true here?
The second is, how often should I actually be feeding him? If I feed him nightcrawlers, I leave a three-four day gap, or if I feed him a small block of thawed bloodworms/shrimp, I feed him every other day. He seems a bit overweight and I don't want him to have health complications as a result.
Lastly, why are his gills so short? Do they have a growth spurt with their gills or have I inadvertently stunted his growth somehow?

Sorry for the barrage of questions! I want to care for him as responsibly as possible.
 

Hayleyy

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Hello! Great that you're doing all you can to be informed about axolotl care!
From your pictures I don't think yours has red leg. It will be very bright red and I don't think it comes and goes. Lighter coloured axolotls can go red (gills, tail and limbs mainly) when they are active/eating but it does fade in periods of inactivity. For a diagnosis of red leg you would really have to see a vet with caudate experience.
As for fridging I would save it as a last resort option. It can help with digestion as it forces the body to expel gas/poop. Usually if you have a chiller I would suggest using that to lower the temperature and only fridge if it isn't working. It can also buy time until you can visit a vet. 5 degrees is probably the lowest you want your axolotl while fridging. I think it's hard to tell what's actually true because so many people swear on different things. They are cold water animals, but in extreme temperatures it can always be detrimental in the long run.
Feeding differs between individual axolotls. I feed mine one nightcrawler a day, sometimes every 2 days. Other people feed once or twice a week and their axolotls still have great body condition. A good guide is for the belly to be as wide as the head is. If the belly is larger you can feed less and see how they go.
Gills are affected by both genetics and water quality. Some will never have the nice big gills you see no matter how good the water is. You can help them be their best by keeping the water clean and cool and make sure to test for water hardness. My water is soft so I have been increasing it, and my axolotls gills are getting bigger than before! Some people also swear by sponge filters giving their axolotls nice big gills.
Hope this helps!
 

the1banana

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Hello! Great that you're doing all you can to be informed about axolotl care!
From your pictures I don't think yours has red leg. It will be very bright red and I don't think it comes and goes. Lighter coloured axolotls can go red (gills, tail and limbs mainly) when they are active/eating but it does fade in periods of inactivity. For a diagnosis of red leg you would really have to see a vet with caudate experience.
As for fridging I would save it as a last resort option. It can help with digestion as it forces the body to expel gas/poop. Usually if you have a chiller I would suggest using that to lower the temperature and only fridge if it isn't working. It can also buy time until you can visit a vet. 5 degrees is probably the lowest you want your axolotl while fridging. I think it's hard to tell what's actually true because so many people swear on different things. They are cold water animals, but in extreme temperatures it can always be detrimental in the long run.
Feeding differs between individual axolotls. I feed mine one nightcrawler a day, sometimes every 2 days. Other people feed once or twice a week and their axolotls still have great body condition. A good guide is for the belly to be as wide as the head is. If the belly is larger you can feed less and see how they go.
Gills are affected by both genetics and water quality. Some will never have the nice big gills you see no matter how good the water is. You can help them be their best by keeping the water clean and cool and make sure to test for water hardness. My water is soft so I have been increasing it, and my axolotls gills are getting bigger than before! Some people also swear by sponge filters giving their axolotls nice big gills.
Hope this helps!

Thanks for the informative and detailed response! I'm glad my little buddy is healthy and happy. :happy:


I'll look into water hardness; it's one aspect I haven't explored yet.
 

the1banana

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Hello! Great that you're doing all you can to be informed about axolotl care!
From your pictures I don't think yours has red leg. It will be very bright red and I don't think it comes and goes. Lighter coloured axolotls can go red (gills, tail and limbs mainly) when they are active/eating but it does fade in periods of inactivity. For a diagnosis of red leg you would really have to see a vet with caudate experience.
As for fridging I would save it as a last resort option. It can help with digestion as it forces the body to expel gas/poop. Usually if you have a chiller I would suggest using that to lower the temperature and only fridge if it isn't working. It can also buy time until you can visit a vet. 5 degrees is probably the lowest you want your axolotl while fridging. I think it's hard to tell what's actually true because so many people swear on different things. They are cold water animals, but in extreme temperatures it can always be detrimental in the long run.
Feeding differs between individual axolotls. I feed mine one nightcrawler a day, sometimes every 2 days. Other people feed once or twice a week and their axolotls still have great body condition. A good guide is for the belly to be as wide as the head is. If the belly is larger you can feed less and see how they go.
Gills are affected by both genetics and water quality. Some will never have the nice big gills you see no matter how good the water is. You can help them be their best by keeping the water clean and cool and make sure to test for water hardness. My water is soft so I have been increasing it, and my axolotls gills are getting bigger than before! Some people also swear by sponge filters giving their axolotls nice big gills.
Hope this helps!
Small update here!
I just got a GH/KH testing kit, and remarkably, it's at perfect tolerance levels (GH approximately 10 degrees, kH approximately 6 degrees), so if his gills are a little gangly it's probably genetics or it's just going to take some time to grow and flourish.

Cosmetics don't really matter to me in the end, I'm just glad his home environment is as comfortable as it can be for him. I love my little squishy boy.
 
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