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***Healthy Gills Survey***

This is a discussion on ***Healthy Gills Survey*** within the Axolotl General Discussion forums, part of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) category; Hello fellow members! I am trying to collect some data on contributing factors for large feathery gills in axolotls. I ...

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Old 30th August 2015   #1 (permalink)
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Arrow ***Healthy Gills Survey***

Hello fellow members!

I am trying to collect some data on contributing factors for large feathery gills in axolotls. I know this is a topic that has been heavily discussed, but I am looking for some anecdotal and quantifiable data.

If you keep any axolotls with beautiful gills, please contribute (it would be greatly appreciated! )

I've compiled a simplified list of non-genetic related, environmental parameters that I feel have an impact on gill health.

Post a picture of your axie and provide the following information please:

[1] Nitrate levels (in ppm)
[2] General Hardness (in ppm or dGH)
[3] ph
[4] Temperature range
[5] Approximate age of Axolotl
[6] Diet of Axolotl
[7] Type of filtration
[8] Type of filter output (ex. Spraybar)
[9] Type of media in filter
[10] Amount of surface agitation (subjective, I know )
[11] Pump with Airstone - yes/no?
[12] Live plants - yes/no?
[13] Substrate/Barebottom?
[14] Tank dimensions and water depth


I know this is asking a lot, but I think this information may be helpful to others as well.
Thank you everyone, I look forward to your input and pictures!



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Old 5th September 2015   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: ***Healthy Gills Survey***

My two little guys live in a tank at school. When I got them they did not have very fluffy gills (one good the other very poor) and they were a little pale. The older one was 8 (female) and was healthy enough but gills a little pale and the other was 14months old and on the edge of starvation with very fine gills. He was kept in a little gold fish type tank with a waterfall filter. He was fed on 3 pellets a day. The oldest has been with me for about 6 months and the younger 3 months. Their gills definitely got thicker and darker while with me. No pictures at home so can't attach.

Essentially they are kept in classroom temperature - water stays at about 22C without any cooling. I use an in-tank filter/aerator with spray bar pointing back towards the filter/tank wall and the end pressed onto the glass, all to reduce water movement. The water is hard and I test it every fortnight and do weekly 20% water changes. No adjustments are ever needed according to the test kit colour key. Only plastic plants, terracotta pot, cuttlefish, two natural slate tiles, large piece of driftwood, some shells and large egg sized rocks. No other substrate anymore, I removed the gravel as I worried about them eating it while I was not there and I also removed the guppies as they would not eat them (weekend emergency food supply) but the guppies were trying to eat the axolotl gills. They now share the tank with some golden apple snails.

The students feed them up to 2-3 times a day, three times a week with no feeding on the weekend. They don't like the pellets (spit them straight out) so they are on a diet of beef strips (size of a worm), chicken livers/heart and worms from our worm farm. We occasionally also find empty snail shells in the tank. I think the tank is about 1m long, 50cm wide and 60cm deep. I use to cover it over every night but no longer bother because when the students lifted the lids on and off they often dropped it down and scared the axolotls.

I hope this helps.

Note: they laid a batch of eggs 10 days ago and 14 already hatched. I believe the warmer water is the cause of the egg hatching early.



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Old 5th September 2015   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: ***Healthy Gills Survey***

This girl had amazing gill feathers, kept in the same tank as this melanoid boy who had regular, if not short feathers. They were together their whole lives and came from the same breeder.

I had to rehome them when I moved long distance about a year ago, so I don't know some of the info you're looking for but I will answer what I can.
The tank stayed about 62 degrees.
She was about a year old.
Mostly earth worms, some chopped nightcrawlers, sometimes blood worms.
Homemade canister filtration that was suitable for up to 125 gallons, this was a 50 gallon tank. Also had multiple diy sponge filters in the tank. And a few long lucky bamboo plants in the back corners for nitrite filtration.
Spraybar
In order from top to bottom; Filter floss, sponge, purigen, 3 bags of ceramic media, and about 15 acrylic dish scrubbers. In a 4 foot long PVC tube.
A lot of surface disruption, from the spray bar and multiple sponge filters running. Also had a little bubble wand but that wasn't very powerful.
Air stone in each sponge filter.
The tank had times with no plants, times with some plants, but mostly I'd say it was light on plants. I guess that's compared to how I keep my tanks now, which is densely planted. Picture of the tank shows the majority of plant life at it's most heavily planted time.
Tank was bare bottom for a long time and switched to sand about 4 months prior to rehoming.
Not 100% sure on what size a 50 is, 36x18x18? I think. Water was kept topped off most the time although there was a ton of evaporation as the tank was open and had two fans and an ac vent pointed at it.
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Old 5th September 2015   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: ***Healthy Gills Survey***

Thank you so much for your replies guys.

Renette, is the spraybar from your submersible filter also submerged or does the output break the surface at all? Do you have aeration with a separate air pump?

Copper, that DIY filtration system sounds quite impressive. How often did you have to replace and/or recharge the purigen media? She does indeed have some nice looking gills. Any idea if your water was hard or soft, how much so? Water changes were probably not needed frequently with your setup, as you had an obscene amount of surface area and oxygenation for aerobic bacteria and a nitrate removal system in place. Although, phosphates may still accumulate now that I think about it.



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Old 5th September 2015   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: ***Healthy Gills Survey***

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Originally Posted by Fimbriae View Post
Copper, that DIY filtration system sounds quite impressive. How often did you have to replace and/or recharge the purigen media? She does indeed have some nice looking gills. Any idea if your water was hard or soft, how much so? Water changes were probably not needed frequently with your setup, as you had an obscene amount of surface area and oxygenation for aerobic bacteria and a nitrate removal system in place. Although, phosphates may still accumulate now that I think about it.
I have only recharged the purigen once and it was a month ago to set up my new tank, it was sitting in my bucket of fish tank stuff for the past few months in between moving and finally setting up this new tank I've got now. Seems to have worked good, I let it dry out a few times in between soaking it in prime water to get rid of the bleach. The tank had lots of big awesome rocks in it, really the only thing I wish I had kept were those rocks that they're on in the pictures, specifically the one the golden is on because that was an awesome hide. I assume the rocks helped keep the water hard, but I don't know. And yes as far as water changes I didn't have a testing kit so I still did small weekly water changes and trusted my over the top filtration to do the rest.



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Old 6th September 2015   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: ***Healthy Gills Survey***

Hey thanks for the info. Did your golden have large gills the whole time she was with you, or was there a time when they looked smaller and eventually got bigger again?
Does that purigen get noticeably brown or darker, when it has become exhausted?
I am thinking of running it in my canister, because in one week's time nitrates rise by 20ppm in my 20 gallon with two axies. It has seven plants including 2 mosses in it. By the time I do my weekly water change the nitrates are at 40ppm, after the change they are about 20ppm.
I know the filter is handling the load just fine because there is never any trace of ammonia or nitrite. I put some Fluval clearmax through a trial run to see if it would drop nitrates at all as it claimed to do. It does nothing, in fact it turned my white filter baskets brown. Also reviews and tests show it had no impact on nitrates in the water column. Clearmax = waste of time.



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Old 6th September 2015   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: ***Healthy Gills Survey***

Found this picture, her when I first got her, about 4-5", still in the bag! From what I can see she had pretty nice gills from the jump. Good genes I suppose.
Just looked it up and when purigen is dark dark brown it's ready to be recharged. I'd say that probably takes a while to happen, maybe a few months?
I just got this off their forum from one of their moderators;
"There is a common misconception that Purigen removes such contaminates. This is not the case, Purigen controls them by removing the nitrogenous organic waste that is converted into these compounds. When using Purigen, people see their nitrates gradually drop and they believe that it is actually removing them when, in fact, it is actually removing the waste that causes them.
I guess it really doesn't matter if it controls them by removing the waste or the contaminates themselves, either way they are controlled."


So I'd give it a try, it's pretty cheap for one package of it and it's super easy to use, just toss it in the filter. Also plants that live outside of the water are better for eating nitrates, so if you can find some Pothos household plant at a hardware store you can put them on the top of your tank, or get a cheap small HOB filter and empty it then just stuff it with pothos hanging out. If you don't do the HOB way the best bet would probably be to get some foam and put holes in it then put the pothos stems in the holes, that way they stay up and float on the water with the roots down in the water.
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Old 7th September 2015   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: ***Healthy Gills Survey***

I change 20% once a week and the whole filter and bar are under the water with an air tube. The aeration and filter are all in one and I wash the plastic filter and filter wool in the water I am about to toss every time I change the water. I rinse the charcoal the same way about once a month and swap over half the filter wool.



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Old 7th September 2015   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: ***Healthy Gills Survey***

Hmm I was under the impression that almost all organic waste has to go through the nitrogen cycle...ammonia > nitrite > nitrate. "nitrogenous waste" would sound like solid organic matter that has already gone through this cycle, so really purigen is targeting the solids and not the dissolved nitrates from it (in the water column). I don't really see what the difference would be haha. Good tip regarding the emersed plants (growing out above the water surface), and how they use more nitrates. I think I will give the purigen a shot. The only chem filtration I run right now is carbon. Renette, do you replace the carbon monthly or just rinse it and put the same stuff back in the filter? I thought carbon absorbs chemicals and impurities from the water, and if it isn't replaced altogether it will leach those contaminants back in to it.
Thanks for your thoughts on this!



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Old 7th September 2015   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: ***Healthy Gills Survey***

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Originally Posted by Fimbriae View Post
Hmm I was under the impression that almost all organic waste has to go through the nitrogen cycle...ammonia > nitrite > nitrate. "nitrogenous waste" would sound like solid organic matter that has already gone through this cycle, so really purigen is targeting the solids and not the dissolved nitrates from it (in the water column). I don't really see what the difference would be haha. Good tip regarding the emersed plants (growing out above the water surface), and how they use more nitrates. I think I will give the purigen a shot. The only chem filtration I run right now is carbon. Renette, do you replace the carbon monthly or just rinse it and put the same stuff back in the filter? I thought carbon absorbs chemicals and impurities from the water, and if it isn't replaced altogether it will leach those contaminants back in to it.
Thanks for your thoughts on this!
Carbon is only useful when the tank has medications in it. It sucks medication out of the water. People say it removes odors, but that shouldn't be a problem so long as you keep the tank well maintained. The general consensus is that activated carbon is a waste of perfectly good space in your filter!



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Old 7th September 2015   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: ***Healthy Gills Survey***

The charcoal is in a sealed bag and I went to replace it when one of the other teachers rinsed it and said she never replaced hers as it holds just enough of the good stuff (same reason for keeping half the filter wool) that keep the tank water in balance. It made sense to me as I used an old filter from another axolotl tank to cycle mine as I only had a few days notice that I would be getting one. I don't really know as I am so new to all of this with my first water animal keeping experience being the adoption of my two axolotls 6 months ago.



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Old 7th September 2015   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: ***Healthy Gills Survey***

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fimbriae View Post
Hmm I was under the impression that almost all organic waste has to go through the nitrogen cycle...ammonia > nitrite > nitrate. "nitrogenous waste" would sound like solid organic matter that has already gone through this cycle, so really purigen is targeting the solids and not the dissolved nitrates from it (in the water column). I don't really see what the difference would be haha. Good tip regarding the emersed plants (growing out above the water surface), and how they use more nitrates. I think I will give the purigen a shot. The only chem filtration I run right now is carbon. Renette, do you replace the carbon monthly or just rinse it and put the same stuff back in the filter? I thought carbon absorbs chemicals and impurities from the water, and if it isn't replaced altogether it will leach those contaminants back in to it.
Thanks for your thoughts on this!
Carbon is only useful when the tank has medications in it. It sucks medication out of the water. People say it removes odors, but that shouldn't be a problem so long as you keep the tank well maintained. The general consensus is that activated carbon is a waste of perfectly good space in your filter!



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Old 8th September 2015   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: ***Healthy Gills Survey***

I tend to agree that carbon isn't of much benefit, some people also claim it maintains water clarity. I had some extra space in my filter so that's what went in it. I will end up swapping it out for purigen though. I didn't see much benefit to adding more bio media for surface area, as the size of the colony is relative to the amount of food and o2 that sustains it. . Renette, the "good stuff" -aerobic nitrifying bacteria (nitrobacter and nitrosomonas) are meant to colonize the bio type media of your filter vs the carbon bag. Not that we can tell them where to live . Since the function of activated carbon isn't really needed though, there shouldn't be any harm in keeping it colonized. Just keep it mind that it won't remove medications or chemicals, if you are expecting it to (as it's probably exhausted).



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