What do I do now? Skinny, Not Eating, Upside Down

Abigail518

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Hello!
My male axolotl seems to be sick and I’m having trouble figuring out what the best way to help him is. I’m going to try to add everything I can but please let me know if there is any more info you guys need, I just really want to figure out what the best course of action is here.
I’ve had my two axolotls for about a year and a half now. They were housed together at first, but as soon as I learned I had a male and a female they were split up.
I use a sponge filter, substrate is white sand, and he’s fed half an earthworm to an earthworm (depending on how hungry he is) every other night. The water is always kept between 18 and 20* celsius.
I’ll post a picture of him down below, but some notes on his appearance:
-His gills have always been quite small but when I was concerned I’d been told it was likely just genetically how he is since they were never long and the water parameters didn’t point to any issues there. They are curved forward right now, so the little guy definitely is stressed.
-He’s also always been fairly thin, but never THIS skinny, always a body at least slightly wider than his head. Sometimes he’ll go off food for a few days but it’s never resulted in weight loss like this and he’s acted completely normal other than that, which has not been the case this time.
-I can’t tell if the white stuff on him is just his slime coat and the bubbles on him or a fungus. It doesn’t look like most fungus I’ve seen in pictures, but I want to toss any possible problems there could be out there!
Recently, he’s not really been eating. I managed to get him to eat some newt pellets around 4 days ago, and he was still acting normal other than the not eating thing then. I was hoping it was just him not being hungry again, fed him those newt pellets since he took those, did a water change, and let him be.
Since he ate recently I wouldn’t be too concerned, except he started looking really thin.
He started curving his spine slightly last night, and my searches online and through this forum pointed to him being constipated. I was keeping an eye on him and seeing if fridging was my best course of action, but looked down from the tank and then back up to see him laying flat on him back not moving.
I don’t have access to a fridge it would be safe to treat him in, so I immediately set up a small container of dechlorinated water in a cooler that I’ve been keeping at around 53* (Fahrenheit). He’s been in there for about 24 hours now and I did a 100% water change a few hours ago. So far he seems to be doing okay in there, but I’m worried he needs to be eating.
I recently moved, and it meant that despite it being far from my ideal situation, the axolotls both got essentially 100% water changes. There was no way I could cycle the tanks and then have them come be moved back in, the tanks were emptied, refilled, and then they were back in them. Though he was previously in a 20 gallon tank, he spent the last month or so in an approx. 11 gallon tank (so basically a 10 gallon), which I planned to upgrade back to a 20 when I got down here (which is still happening, it’s set to arrive on Thursday or Friday). I completely waited too long to upgrade his tank, and he really should have been in a 20 far sooner than this. I monitored the water levels frequently and kept it where it needed to be, but I’m sure being in that small tank probably caused some extra stress for him. Both axolotls have seemed fine despite big water change and the water tests I have done have shown no indication of a problem, but in this continued series of unfortunate events my remaining test strips got exposed to some moist air and no longer work. I can’t see if it was an ammonia spike, but I have a feeling that was the case.
The only other thing I could think of is possibly an issue with the water conditioner I was using. I was using the API stress coat (and have been in tanks since before I got my lotls), but I just learned that that increases the bioload and also has other negative effects due to the aloe in it. I have ordered new water test kit (not strips) and new aloe-free water conditioner.
As soon as the 20 gallon arrives I’ll be setting it up and cycling it and monitoring it to make sure he is not put back into a dangerous situation but until then I’d love to know the right course of action. I know where I’ve gone wrong in my husbandry recently and will make sure those things are solved and strive to be better in the future, I really feel like I let him down here with this move.
I’m overall feeling like the worst axolotl mom right now and really don’t want to do anything else that might harm him, just help him get better.
Help :(
 

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Abigail518

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Just woke up and he seems absolutely unresponsive.
I think I've lost him ?
 

Giuseppe

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I'm sorry I don't have any advice to offer but it really seems that you've taken excellent care of him and you should feel good about the care and research you put into him
 

Hayleyy

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Sorry there hasn't been any responses for you. Is he still with you? Once you get the new test kit post the results here so we know what the tank is like.
 

Abigail518

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Unfortunately no. As I said he seemed unresponsive that next morning, and it seems he'd passed right before I woke up (my boyfriend had checked in before he left an hour beforehand and he was still hanging in there then).
I did the water tests that same day and they were all seemingly fine (Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrate 0-5, pH 7.6). Unless I'm overlooking something it seems like that wasn't what got to him.
My guesses now are the water conditioner, just the stress of moving, or an underlying genetic issue since I've consistently had trouble getting him to gain weight or grow his gills.
Overall I'm really devastated by the loss, but my boyfriend and I had a little funeral for him and are moving on by giving our remaining lotl all the love and attention possible.
 

Hayleyy

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Very sorry to hear that :(
 
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