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How To Care For A Sick Axolotl!

Caring for an axolotl can be a challenge even when you are sure it’s happy and healthy, but if you have a sick axolotl on your hands, you might be really concerned.

Axolotls can develop health conditions even when they are kept in a good environment, and it will be up to you to deal with any issues that occur; the more quickly you can do so, the faster your axolotl should recover.

Being aware of the health of your tank inhabitants is crucial, because it’s easy for a disease to spread quickly, and often, this is a sign that something is wrong within your tank.

You should always be monitoring the conditions of your tank, checking the water parameters, watching the behavior of the inhabitants, and noting any changes.

This sort of vigilance ensures that you will quickly detect problems that need to be addressed, increasing the chances of solving them before any major damage is done.

It can be very difficult to deal with a sick axolotl; these creatures are quite alien, and knowing what to do and how to solve health issues can be challenging at the best of times. If you are staring in despair at your poorly amphibian and wondering what to do, you are not alone.

What Are The Signs Of A Sick Axolotl?

Axolotls can get sick in many different ways, so there are a lot of symptoms that you may see; any abnormal behavior is a sign that you should be checking whether your axolotl is sick.

Some common symptoms include: loss of appetite, curled tail, curled gills, gill deterioration, gulping air from the surface a lot, frantic swimming, floating upside down, and loss of color.

You might also see fungal infections, or bright red skin if the ammonia in your tank gets too high – which is extremely dangerous and painful for your axolotl.

Many of the above symptoms will be caused by stress and poor water quality, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on these things and check for contamination, unusual water parameters, and incompatibility with tank inhabitants.

If you think your axolotl is stressed, consider also providing more hiding spots for it, and check whether it is being bothered by something else in the tank.

Your axolotl may also get skin infections that can result in patches of color appearing on the skin, such as the “red leg” bacteria (Aeromonas hydrophila), which causes inflammation around the tops of the axolotl’s legs.

You may see your axolotl scratching at the inflammation, which is a good sign that it is uncomfortable.

Any noticeable patches of color on your axolotl’s skin are an indication that there is a bacterial or fungal infection, as it should be a uniform color (often pale pink, but this depends on the type).

How To Care For A Sick Axolotl!

Caring for a sick axolotl can be a challenge because you need to know what’s wrong with it in order to fix it – so start by assessing what its symptoms are, and how serious they seem.

In general, most symptoms can be explained by the tank conditions being unsuitable for the axolotl; it will suffer if the ammonia levels are raised, and if the nitrates and nitrite levels are too high, its gills will start to deteriorate.

Often, you will need to start doing regular water changes to bring down these three levels and restore balance to the tank.

If your axolotl has a fungal or bacterial infection, you may need to research the specific issue, but often, you can do things like adding Indian Almond Leaves to the tank (these have antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties), or using an aquarium salt to dose the tank and kill the fungus.

Use three tablespoons of aquarium salt for every five gallons in the tank, and maintain this ratio until the fungus is gone. In more serious cases, you may need to get a broad spectrum treatment and add it to your tank, following the packet instructions.

If your axolotl is showing signs of chemical burns due to ammonia buildup (bright red, inflamed skin all over), you should remove it to a clean aquarium.

Add dechlorinated water at the right temperature, and keep your axolotl cool. Change its water regularly and don’t put it back until healed.

How Can I Prevent My Axolotl From Getting Sick In The Future?

The best way to keep your axolotl healthy is to ensure its environment is right for it, and this means monitoring your water conditions and quickly correcting any issues that you see.

Maintaining the proper temperature and keeping the tank clean should reduce the risk of fungal and bacterial infections and ensure the axolotl stays healthy.

You should also always check that any tank mates your axolotl will be sharing with are compatible, and not causing undue stress or injuries.

Because axolotls have poor eyesight, make sure there are no sharp objects in the tank that it could cut itself on, as this will leave it more vulnerable to infections.

Most axolotls are fairly resilient and do not get diseases easily, so as long as you are watching the water parameters and performing regular cleaning, your axolotl should stay healthy most of the time.

It’s recommended that you do a 25 percent water change once per week to keep the levels of nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia down and ensure that your pet stays healthy; you want these to measure close to zero at all times.


A sick axolotl will be miserable and may exhibit unusual behavior, such as frantic swimming, floating upside down, and loss of appetite. If you think your axolotl is sick, you should immediately check the water quality and look for any imbalances that might be causing the issue, and you should also check that the water is clean. In serious situations, you may need to put your axolotl in a separate container in the fridge while it recovers (read up on how to do this safely first), but sometimes treatment with Indian Almond Leaves and aquarium salt will be sufficient.