Newts and Salamanders Portal

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!
Did you know that registered users see fewer ads? Register today!

Struggling with the death of my axolotl


New member
Jul 22, 2019
Reaction score

My 9 year old axolotl, Keiko, was euthanised last Wednesday. Im struggling to make sense of what happened, and feeling like I didn't do enough. I hope this thread is appropriate here. I'm not sure what I want out of posting about this but I just needed to talk about it with others who understand axolotls.

My axolotl had been dealing with fungal infections on and off for the last 2 years. I gave salt and tea baths. The fungus would go away only to return some times later. However after bathing it would go away and so I just repeated this every time it happened as it didn't seem to be having any ill effects on her.

This year, though, the infections became much more frequent and the two gills that were affected started to look bad. The filaments had no chance to regenerate in the effected areas. I decided at this point to seek help from a vet. Because my water parameters were perfect (temp never higher than 18 celcius; ammonia and nirite 0ppm; nitrates never above 20ppm), my vet thought that the fungus was caused by my water pH being slightly more acidic than ideal, at about 6.5-6.8 (always so hard to tell on the test! There is barely any colour change between pH thresholds), and so I was advised to raise rhe pH.

I did this by using some API pH up while Keiko was in the fridge. I got the tank to about 7.0 but of course it lowered everytime I did a water change. I tried to coubteract this by adding a few drops of the solution to the new water each time, but it felt so imprecise and I worried that the weekly fluctuations in pH was stressing her. As my tank is quite deep, I decided that it would be best to raise the pH naturally by better oxygenating the water. I did this by lowering the water level andraising the spray bar above the water. I had also planned to introduce some live plants but unfortunately Keiko died before they finished quarantine.

During this time, Keiko did not seem to be suffering with the fungus. She still had a great appetite and hunted her worms with vigour. She had become less active, spending most of her time in her favourite hide, but I thought this was due to her age. I did start to get worried about this so I rearranged her tank and she seemed to be exploring a bit after that. The fungus was still there but had become less frequent, and was quickly dropping off on its own. Her gills started to look much better. What was bothering me was that her tail was always curled round and when she walked, her back end would go up and she seemed a bit wobbly. I chalked this down to the fungus on her cloaca causing irritation as it was present at the vet visit, and I had foujd no information online about what it could otherwise be. I had wanted to take her back to the vet to talk about this but I wasn't sure that the vet would do anything other than recommend I continue working on the pH. I have had a lot of difficult things to deal with in my personal life this year which caused me to put off the next vet visit. After another pet developed a sudden and life threatening illness (made a full recovery after a couple of vet visits) I decided to just monitor Keiko's condition, which didnt change at all, and continue with the pH improvements.

It was then that I came across a thread on this forum about an axolotl who, like Keiko, was a bit wobbly on its feet with its tail up. This was due to impaction. That axolotl made a full recovery after being fridged, and offered food in the fridge. I realised that this must be Keiko's problem as that day I had found some poo in her tank which had woody bits in, which came from one of the worms in my compost bin. I was aware of impaction before this but thought it mustnt be the problem as she had a good appetite, was pooing as normal, did not appear as if full, and had a sand substrate.

I had her in the fridge for 12 days and fed her twice, as the axolotl in the thread i was following was fed during treatment. I fed her on the first day I think, then the 10th after she had not pooed at all. I thought feeding her might encourage her body to empty her digestive tract. But she suddenly started looking strange, was better the next day, then looking ill again. I got her an appointment and the vet said that i had fridged as he would have suggested, and if that hadnt worked it would really be best to euthanise her, but I could do tests if i wanted. I was shocked but agreed to euthanasia after processing as I didn't want her to suffer at all.

I'm not sad over my decision to euthanise as it was the best thing for her. Rather, i am worried that she suffered unneccessarily. I am worried that she was impacted all that time and I failed to realise. I am also worried that she wasnt actually impacted and she was just irritated by the fungus, and that fridging her caused her to die. I really dont know what went wrong in the fridge. Maybe i shouldnt have fed her.

Im really devastated at this loss. I really loved Keiko and I had her since I was a teenager. Back then I was too stupid to be given an axolotl but I did my research and always improved my care when I found out I did something wrong. I had given her a good quality of life. My vet said that I had good husbandry so tere must have been an immune issue causing her to be unable to fight off the fungus. It is so frustrating to have failed in this instance and for that to have such a bad consequence when I had done such a good job before. I just wanted to get this off my chest as I have been struggling since she died.


Well-known member
Feb 6, 2009
Reaction score
Sorry for your loss.
9 is a good age for an axolotl and it sound like you have spent a lot of time and effort to get things right so don't worry that you didn't do enough. You did more than enough.
General chit-chat
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
    Chat Bot: Captive Bread has joined the room. +1