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Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

This is a discussion on Several questions from a prospective axie keeper within the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) forums, part of the Beginner Newt, Salamander, Axolotl & Help Topics category; Hello, Im a newcomer (you can find my introductory post through my profile), and full of questions. I recently obtained ...

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Old 7th January 2010   #1 (permalink)
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Default Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

Hello, Im a newcomer (you can find my introductory post through my profile), and full of questions.

I recently obtained a thirty-gallon tank and stand (a Christmas gift from my girlfriend, Baroque on Caudata) and am hoping to eventually house an axolotl (or two) in it.

It has an old hood, that I can replace. The room it will be kept in is in the finished cellar and has only one small, opaque-curtained window, and as such it it naturally cool (though I can change the temp with a single-room thermostat) and dark. I intend to keep live plants, so I will need at least dim light, but know I must provide shady/dark areas for the axie. So, any recommendations on hoods and lighting?

I have two bags of substrate that Ive yet to open, one Eco-complete Aquarium Sand (black) and one Flourite (red). Are these acceptable substrates for the axie? Theyre both sandy-fine, and I know axies are prone to nomming anything that gets in their way. Also, what is the best method for keeping this substrate clean? I have used a siphoning tube on my gravel aquarium, but Im assuming Id lose the substrate that way. We plan on using a nice flat stone we have for a feeding area to keep clean, but I doubt our axie will be nice like a bunny and only excrete in one area, hahah.

I have three large pieces of driftwood, all rather soft. An employee at our fish store recommended dousing them in hot water to pull out the tannins (which I was told are harmless but can make the water reddish)--she recommended just throwing them in the dishwasher (without detergent or anything) but then the cashier said that was a bad idea, because soap stays in from previous washes. Were considering soaking them in a bucket were getting anyway for tank cleanings.

We have both aquarium store bought rocks (among them sugar quartz, pagoda stone), that I know well have to rinse, but I also have an assortment of rocks I collected from a salt-water beach. Are the latter acceptable, and if so, what is the best cleaning method?

I intend on keeping live plants, what are best for the dim lighting and the axie? I currently have anubias and java fern in my old tank for my betta and have had good luck with them. I like grassy-looking plants, and plants that wont shed profusely and mess up the water with its excessive decay (bad luck with moneywort).

Most importantly and perhaps most difficult to answer: I strongly desire to house my axolotl with tank mates. In particular, my father currently has what I believe is a Plecostomus in his ten-gallon that he did not know would grow so large, and I think hed be a lot happier in a larger tank. From what Ive read, theyre nocturnal and dark-enjoying like axies, and theyre algae eaters, so Im assuming it would be a good relationship. Has anyone ever had this combination, and does anyone know if it would be safe for the both of them? Also, my girl and I currently have three male guppies (two cobra, one tequila sunrise), and were considering breeding them and housing some with the axie as both a possible food source (if he goes for them) or just upper-level-swimming pretties. Is this a good idea? I like the thought of allowing the axolotl to behave as he would and get some mental stimuli from hunting if he wishes to. And if he doesnt eat them, theyd just be nice to have. Aside from these, are there any other known good combinations?

Finally, the axolotl itself. Im considering a male and would like a white coloration with pink gills and dark eyes (the pink eyes freak my girlie out). I do not know whether I should keep one or two (tank size?) and would like to know what the best is for THEM (are they sociable, would they prefer company or solace, gender differences in behavior, et cetera). Perhaps two boys? I dont think Im ready for breeding at all, so Id like to avoid it. Also, if I get two, Id like to get different colors (both for aesthetic purposes and for easily telling them apart). My girl showed me a photo of a pink-white one with piebald black spots like a cow, and Im extremely interested to learn more (I really, really like cows.)

That is the end of my novel for now, feel free to answer any or all of my questions--just as you know the answers. Thanks for your time!
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Old 7th January 2010   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

Axolotl Sanctuary Will have a lot of information regarding the plants/rocks. As for the number of axies for your tank, 2 is fine because 30 gallons is large enough. As for tank mates, I would not recommend the placo, they can get quite large and their "armor" could damage an axie if they were to get in a scuffle. As for guppies, lots of people use guppies as occasional treats, so you can put a few in, but odds are they won't last long. I am not sure what cow coloration you are talking about, as it would be a rare occurance to find an axie like that. Those substrates sound ok, as long as they are meant for aquariums, are not created with some sort of special fertilizers, and are not large enough to cause impaction. For cleaning, a siphon vacuum is your best bet, and if done carefully will not such up your substrate. I tried to answer all you questions as best as possible, and good luck with your axies! (p.s. I am from CT, not too far from you!)
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Old 7th January 2010   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

Hi :)

I'll try and answer your questions as well as i can, and i'm sure others will help with the ones i can't

Sand - I'm sure the sand you've bought is fine, sand does not cause impaction. Just make sure you rinse the residue off of the sand at first (around 10 times) before placing in the tank otherwise you'll have some problems with murky water for a little while. The best way to do this is hose a bucket of the sand and swill it around stirring it up, then pouring off the residue

Cleaning - a regular tank siphon / vacum thing is fine for cleaning up detritus etc and helps during water changes. Sucking up sand isn't really much of a problem if you're careful, but people commonly use turkey basters to remove any uneaten food.

number of axie's - dimensions of tank would be a large help, as 30gal's should be fine for 2, though it could be short and tall which would be more suitable for one

Driftwood - boiling for a 3 - 4 hours is a good way to sterilize the wood, as well as speeding up the removal of tannins. If you don't want to leave your house all smelly then soaking in a (preferably warm) bucket of water for a few days helps clear the tannins, though it depends on the wood. I've had some that took over 3 weeks of constant soaking in clean water every day, and another which was done after 3 days :)
I think the salt water rocks are best avoided to be honest, there'll still be residual salt in these no matter how much you clean them, which can affect the tank's balance.

Plants - I find that my axie prefers the broad leafed plants as it likes to rest on top of them, though a variety is probably best and see which he / she goes for. But go for a lot of them if you don't mind the extra work when cleaning as they help with maintaining good tank conditions - chemically.

Companions - This link will help http://www.caudata.org/forum/f46-beg...-axolotls.html Guppies are fine with Axo's as you've already found. Shrimp may be something you want to look into as well? Cherry and ghost shrimp can help with uneaten food and can prove to be a tasty treat Although the plec is a bad combo.

Hope this helps,

If any of my info is incorrect please correct me please guys
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Old 7th January 2010   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

OH, the driftwood, I would not recommend the dishwashing option. I'd soak the wood, or boil it, I have ever heard of baking it to ensure any contaminants are eliminated. Pretty much no matter what, if the wood is dark, it will leak tannins. Not always a lot, but usually at least a little. There are a few options to reduce that, just search online. Soft wood sounds like it is going to decompose eventually and produce a lot of small pieces of driftwood falling off and littering you tank, just a heads up.
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Old 8th January 2010   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

Shizeric: The sands are aquarium-specific, the Eco-one is even prewashed and packaged with treated water. Thanks for your answers, and I’ll check out that link!

Niall W: Turkey baster sounds like a good idea for small, specific debris, thanks! Dimensions of the tank are: 24” long, 18” tall, 12” deep.

I’ll look into the broad leafed plants, then! I know my betta, Atlas, used to love lying on the big leaves of the anubias plant.

It’s too bad to hear about the pleco, from the link! I shall have to strive to find him a better environment elsewhere, then, because the tank he’s in is far too small for him. Looks like guppies will be perfect, though, and I’ll look into shrimp!
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Old 8th January 2010   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

One trick I've been trying with both Anubias and java fern is to grow it exclusively on fixtures I can move easily, which helps make the regular vacuuming go more easily -- no re-planting of uprooted plants, just a little scooting around the tank. Both species take readily to rocks and driftwood. Just thought I'd throw that out there for your consideration.
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Old 8th January 2010   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

Good to know! I've kept both plants before and will definitely be putting them in the new tank.
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Old 8th January 2010   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

I noticed you want to put a Pleco catfish in the tank. I have to say this is a horrible
idea. Pleco catfish are aggressive fish. I have seen them atttack large fish and suck off the scales and tear their flesh. Adding one of these to your Axie tank can only doom your Axie to a painful DEATH!!! Do Not Do It!!! There are no fish that can be considered 100% safe. Even those Mountain minnows aka white clouds can pick at their gills and stress them or cause infections. Stay away from the fish. The only safe tank cleaners is a sponge on a stick and syphon hose.
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Old 8th January 2010   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

This post is full of New Englanders! (not you Bill..boo Pennsylvania).
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Old 8th January 2010   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

BillYannone: Yeah, so I heard. (& I didn't want him specifically for the cleaning, but for his own good, because his current tank is too small for him). Though I did hear they only suck on other fish if starving. Still, I'm going to stay away, because I don't want any accidental damage from his spiny fins.

Shizeric: Yay New England! Land of bubblers, Del's frozen lemonade, and where wicked means very!

Hopefully I can end up finding a New Englander axolotl seller, too. I'd feel a lot better coming from closer.
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Old 8th January 2010   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

Mine made a trip all the way from Texas, so the long trip isn't too big a deal (unless the USPS messes up, which had happened with awful results). How large is the tank the placo is in?
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Old 8th January 2010   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Several questions from a prospective axie keeper

The pleco is in my father's 10 gallon. He wasn't told how big the fish would get.
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