Sick or morphing Axolotl URGENT!

Tinamlat

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Be warned, this is gonna be a fairly wordy post, sorry but there’s a lot of info.

This is my first time posting on here, so first, some background info.

I got my first Axolotl, Mushu, in April of 2019. He was gifted to me as a surprise so the first month or so was rocky because I had to cycle him in-tank, and I’m pretty inexperienced with aquatics. Fast forward a few months, no more stress, water parameters good, he’s healthy and grew well but was still way small for his age and still is (he’s only about 6 inches at about 10/11 months. I didn’t realize how small he was until I got another Axolotl, Onyx, around Christmas. Overall he was healthy though, so I moved him to a 20 gallon and decided to get him a friend (Onyx). Yes I know 20 is on the small side for 2 but I didn’t have the money or room for a larger one. They have been doing good together, Onyx looks healthy and happy, but over the past two weeks Mushu has been getting very ill. I stupidly did not quarantine my new addition, so that may have something to do with it, but like I said Onyx has been totally fine and it didn’t happen right away. I have also been having some issues with the water parameters (mainly just nitrites for some reason) but I just did a 100% water change so the levels are fine now.

Symptoms he’s been having

In the beginning

First curled gills, then curled tail
Prominent veins in tail and hind legs

Newer symptoms
Shedding slime coat
Itching gills
Gills recently beginning to recede
Skinny
Now refusing to eat anything at all
Sitting at the surface a lot
Going up for air often


Some of the new symptoms are now making me think that he may be morphing, he was even laying on top of the almond leaf in put in the tank to sit partially out of the water. This is after the water parameters have been corrected. He continues to not want to eat too!

Some things I’ve already tried:

I adjusted the water flow for his gills
I added nitrate absorbing filter media and added some water conditioner for nitrates
I added Indian almond leaves to the tank to soothe the skin
I did frequent water changes
I tried some melafix for a possible bacterial infection (I know I shouldn’t add random chemicals but I couldn’t think of what else to do)

Current parameter:
Temp: 65 degrees F
Ammonia: .25
Nitrates: 0
Nitrites: 10
pH: 6.8

Some thoughts:
I’m wondering if he is trying to morph from water issues or genetics? I’ve also heard young tiger salamanders look exactly like Axolotls and maybe he is one but I didn’t know? Could maybe explain his stress and his growth problems? What do I do if he does morph? I don’t have money for a vet, so any ideas or advice would be great.

I’m attaching pictures to show his curling tail and sitting on the leaf and him being skinny.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP
 

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hunterwho

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Welcome to the forum, first of all!
Second, that doesn't look like morphing to me. It might be, but it seems more likely to be either an infection of some sort or stress from water parameters.

1. How did you give him the Melafix? Is it in the tank itself, or was the Melafix-treated water in a separate container? Melafix contains tea tree oil, which might have hurt his skin, and it decreases water aeration, which might explain the frequent surface-sitting.
2. Looking at your parameters, it seems like your cycle might have crashed, or your tank might still be cycling. Nitrates aren't the biggest problem you have; nitrites and ammonia are. If you just did a 100% water change and you turned off your filter for an extended period during said change, it might have killed the beneficial bacteria in the filter and stopped your cycle.
3. The shedding slime coat/itching gills make it seem like he might be having skin issues. These can be caused by infection or stress. When did these symptoms start?

In the event he does morph, this forum also has a lot of resources for morphed axolotl care.
Best of luck with your axolotl!
 

RobNeoFuture

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Is this axolotl fully developed? To me he looks sick if anything, perhaps some salt baths tho? I'm no expert tho, good luck!
 

vagus

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Welcome to the forum, first of all!
Second, that doesn't look like morphing to me. It might be, but it seems more likely to be either an infection of some sort or stress from water parameters.
I agree. If there is ammonia present, your nitrogen cycle has likely crashed. Also, axolotls prefer hard water with a pH around 7.4 to 7.6. If this were my axolotl, I would fridge it so it can try to heal (keeping an eye open for any signs of opportunistic fungal infections), then re-cycle my tank to that ammonia and nitrites are 0, nitrate is being produced, and the pH is more ideal before re-introducing the axolotl.
 
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