Why Is My Axolotl Floating? (Explained)

For an axolotl, floating can be a perfectly normal activity, but it can also be symptomatic of something incredibly more serious that regards your pet directly or its aquatic environment.

For this reason, it becomes essential for pet owners to be able to differentiate when an axolotl is floating as normal activity or if this is a sign of a problem, and what you need to do about it.

Why Is My Axolotl Floating

Is Floating Normal for an Axolotl?

Not really. Axolotls are amphibians that generally dwell at the bottom of aquariums with their feet on the ground so to speak. Generally, a floating axolotl will indicate a problem that might be too much ammonia in the tank, bloating, or impaction after eating.

In its natural habitat, this amphibian usually hovers at the bottom of a body of water. This behavior is used as a defense mechanism to guarantee survival.

When an axolotl, whether adult or baby, chooses to float it may be as a defense mechanism against a predator present at the bottom of the tank or body of water.

An Axolotl may float for a break, but risks swallowing air. This will lead to increased buoyancy which may make it much more difficult to return to the bottom of its tank.

Who Are Axolotl Predators?

Axolotl predators can be larger fish or birds, particularly herons and storks.

What Can I Do if My Axolotl is Floating Due to Buoyancy?

If your axolotl is not bloated or constipated and has merely swallowed a bit of air increasing its buoyancy, either blow on it or nudge it very gently to aid it in its descent to the bottom of the tank. It should begin walking again once there.

What If My Axolotl is Not Moving and Floating?

If your axolotl is inert and floating on the water surface a little too long, you may attempt to nudge it. If it does not scare and continues to float inert, then your pet has a problem. Here are several reasons your axolotl may be inert and floating:

1.) Bloating

Bloating Axolotl

Most aquariums will feature bubblers. Bubbles are good for water quality as they improve the quality of life in the tank by assisting in water oxidation.

The problem is that your amphibian may involuntarily swallow air bubbles, and this will cause it digestive distress and bloating. Bloating impedes healthy digestion.

Your pet may swallow air bubbles during eating or if your particular amphibian is an aggressive eater it may lead to a buildup of gas in the digestive tract which provokes bloating. A sign of bloating distress is when your axolotl floats on its back on the water’s surface.

2.) Impaction

Is Fine Gravel OK For Axolotl

Impaction generally may be caused by your axolotl swallowing gravel from the surface of the aquarium tank. There are axolotl owners that insist gravel ingestion is positive as it aids in digestion, but these amphibians live perfectly normal and healthy lives without eating gravel as part of their diet.

Because an axolotl will spontaneously ingest anything it comes upon, smaller rocks and gravel should be avoided when setting up an aquarium tank that will house an axolotl.

The ingestion of gravel or small rocks will lead to impaction where your pet is unable to rid itself of these materials in the digestive tract. Impaction is a primary cause of undesirable floating axolotls and can injure the amphibian by blocking food and air.

3.) Excessive Ammonia Present in the Tank

Ammonia is a common waste found in aquarium environments. It is a toxic gas formed by the axolotl’s organic matter as it breaks down. It is a by-product of your pet’s metabolism and waste elimination.

When ammonia levels are too high in an aquarium the water quality will be comprised, meaning the quality of life within the water is also lower.

Your axolotl may swallow bad water and cause it to float as a reaction to the stress. It is also worthwhile to note that any increase above 0 ppm within your aquarium may cause your axolotl to suffer ammonia burns.

4.) Improper Feeding

If you place unsoaked feed in your axolotl’s tank or pellets that sink, they will tend to absorb water, even if already ingested. This may contribute to your pet suffering bloating and trigger floating as a consequence.

How Can I Prevent My Axolotl from Floating?

Floating, especially when prolonged, usually indicates that something in the aquarium environment has gone awry.

This means you need to identify the problem and provide a solution without delay, as floating is a symptom of a potentially dangerous and fatal problem. Here are several techniques to enact to protect your axolotl’s well-being.

1.) Change the Type of Food And How You are Feeding Your Axolotl

Can You Feed Axolotls Ham

Hold off from feeding your pet for two to three days. Do not attempt to feed your pet until bloating has subsided.

Be aware of what your axolotl eats to avoid providing foods that contribute to bloating. Feed the correct food in the correct amount and respect the intervals between feedings.

2.) Eliminate Excess Ammonia Present in the Aquarium’s Water

Use testing strips available at your aquarium shop, and verify if your tank water has too much ammonia present or chlorine. If there is excess ammonia, this is most likely the case of floating.

Lower the tank’s ammonia level by substituting at least half of the water contained in the tank with fresh clean water. Fresh water should be dechlorinated.

3.) Verify And Maintain the Proper Water Temperature

Axolotl, like other species of amphibians, is a cold-blooded creature. Therefore, water tank temperatures must be maintained at levels that are comfortable for your axolotl to survive.

With water temperature, even the slightest fluctuation can injure your pet. Baby axolotls are particularly sensitive to water temperature.

4.) Keep Your Pet Cool

Your axolotl needs refrigeration, so acquire a water chiller or fan for your tank. This is necessary to lower the blood temperature of your amphibian which will help in expelling ingested gravel.

5.) Substitute the Gravel in the Tank

If you insist on having a substrate in your tank, choose one that is larger than the head of your pet to discourage ingestion and avoid impaction.

See also: Is Fine Gravel OK For Axolotl?

6.) Keep Your Tank Clean

Clean the tank at regular intervals to remove excrement and other waste by-products. If the water is dirty it will stress your pet causing it to float.

7.) Consider Adding Floating Plants to the Tank

If you have an axolotl that appears to want to spend more time at the water’s surface than on the bottom of the tank, discourage this behavior as a protective measure by adding floating plants to the water’s surface.

See also: 9 Best Plants For Axolotls

Is My Floating Axolotl Dying?

Maybe. Floating is not always dangerous, nor is it always a sign of distress. Your axolotl may be playing or may be communicating an environmental or health problem.

It is vital that you interpret correctly your pet’s actions. Floating front legs may mean it’s playing, while floating back legs may mean it is defecating or considering mating.

Floating for extended periods, however, indicates there is a serious health issue, and your pet may be at risk of dying.

Other symptoms to watch for together with the floating, include losing gills, shedding skin, and refusing to eat. If your amphibian continues to float, intervene immediately.

Axolotls rarely float for lengthy periods, and this is a warning sign. You may bìneed to involve your veterinarian or an amphibian expert for assistance.

Susan R Elliston

I have over 11 years of experience as a vet working with a wonderful variety of species of innocent and lovely animals. Whilst I still work two days a week for a local practice, I realized that I could help more people by sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers.

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