View Full Version : New Slate Bottom Axolotl Tank!

30th September 2009, 00:22
I just revamped my 30 gallon breeder (because of gravel size issues) by laying a new floor of slate tile on the bottom. I got three tiles from Lowes ($1.69 each) and they cut them to size for me for free. Then I got some silicone from Home Depot (GE Silicone I which is not mildew resistant aka it will not hurt the Axolotls $3.75 a tube) and then I laid them down on the bottom. It takes about 3 hours to dry and I let it cure for about 24 hours after. I figured I could share my new tank with everyone, especially if anyone has issues with gravel size and keeping their tank clean like I did. So here it is:

Side View



I think they like it.
(Missing right gills)
GFP vs. Shrimp

30th September 2009, 00:28
Hey i really like your tile idea. I am currently trying to decide what to do with my tank. I don't really like sand too much but plain bottom seems kinda boring. Thanks for sharing

oregon newt
30th September 2009, 00:49
I really like your idea. Just a suggestion, you might want some more hides.

30th September 2009, 01:08
Yeah I do need to work on the hides. And as far as sand goes I went from sand to an average large rock and sand I hated because its impossible to siphon as the large rocks I hate that the axolotls couldn't get to worms or food sometimes and they would simply rot. I love the slate bottom and it seems like they do too. I'm going to try to either make or find some suitable hides and also maybe some sot of pots for my plants. The water is so clear its amazing and I assume itll be easy to keep clean.

30th September 2009, 01:29
Very good idea. Practical, attractive and relatively economical and easy to achieve.

30th September 2009, 01:44
Thanks! If anyone has good hide ideas or for leveling or anything that would look nice since my tank does have some height to it let me know. I'm thinking about some fake wood or something.

30th September 2009, 02:41
I was thinking about using mosaic tiles on the bottom of my tank but i'm not sure if the mortar (under the tile) or the grout (between the tile) would be suitable for inside an axy's tank due to chemicals and such. I know when you put down tile say in a bathroom you are also supposed to seal it with a spray on chemical i dont know if i should follow through with this part or if its unnecessary. Mostly i'm concerned about the mortar and the grout. Any information would be helpful. I know the mortar is called thin set mortar or organic mastic mortar: Tile Mortar - Thin Set Mortar for Tiling - Mortar for Tile (http://homerenovations.about.com/od/floors/a/arttilemortar.htm) Not sure what grout to use. Thanks in advance

30th September 2009, 02:49
That slate is amazing! I think that was really imaginative!
My roommate bought some nice wood online, the wood she got was quite a big piece of cypress. I think the site might have been .. aquariumplants.com It's an American company that sells live plants and real woods, if you don't want to use fake woods. Just as a warning...the pictures make the wood look a lot smaller than they really are...

30th September 2009, 02:55
I am actually not all too sure about mortar in the bottom of your fish tank. I also thought about using different tiles and materials as opposed to the slate and silicone. Theres a few things you must consider. First is whether or not it will change your water parameters significantly. As for grout I am not sure what it may do to the water parameters and whether or not it would affect the water chemistry. Also you need to think of any chemicals in the substances you are using and whether or not they will be harmful to you aquarium inhabitants. That's why I used the silicone I did. its cheaper than pet store aquarium silicone yet does the same job and doesn't have mildew resistant chemicals in it like other commercial silicone products do. All in all I think you could do the idea of a mosaic floor but you would want to rinse all of the tile/stone pieces off first and make sure they are not going to chage your water chemistry. As for the grout I would play it safe and simply use silicone sealant. Just make sure you get a SILICONE Caulk, not a vinyl or anything else like a vinyl-silicone mix. Also make sure it is not mildew resistant. Like I said, the GE Silicone I is a safe one to use. That one comes in White or Clear but others you can get in various colors. If you want to play it really safe, you can even just get it at your local pet shop. Usually in black or clear. I hope that helps.

30th September 2009, 03:42
I love the slate bottom! How heavy is each piece? I'd like to use this in my 55g without too much stress on the tank.
Thanks for the great photos.

30th September 2009, 04:44
Each piece I would say is about 5 pounds and they come in 12" by 12" tiles. A 55 gallon is 48" by 12" so you would need 4 tiles. I had them cut a half inch off a single side of each tile in order for them to fit with a slight gap on either side for silicone. I also had them trim an inch off of one tile (the center tile) on a second side. This allowed me to fit the three tiles side by side with slight room for silicone. So if you wanted to do this same thing I would say go to Lowes or Home Depot (The Lowes by me had more easily matched tiles and the ability to cut them while Home Depot had better pricing so I went to both). And get 4 tiles and have them cut about a half inch (more like 1cm) off of one side of each tile then have them cut another 1cm off of a second side of two tiles (which you would use as the center 2 tiles). The four tiles should fit together easily and you can use a thin bead of silicone caulk to hold them in place. An additional 20 pounds to your tank shouldn't be an issue or cause any stress to the tank especially since in a 55 gallon tank there would normally be about 100 pounds of gravel (which the 20 pounds of slate will replace) plus 400+ pounds of water (A gallon of water is 8.3 pounds and ideal amount of gravel is approximately 2 pounds per gallon of water).

7th October 2009, 05:21
wow! i'm gonna do that too! looks really really nice! but.. how do u know if it's secure or if it's leaking?? @_@

7th October 2009, 09:44
Tank looks absoloutely amazing!!! LOVE IT...And definately easier to clean...thanks for the great idea :)

7th October 2009, 13:12
I think this is a great idea, something I would consider doing. One question though.... is slate a bit slippery as the only reason I dont use a barebottom tank is because I like to think they have a bit of grip which glass doesnt give, would this be the same for slate?

8th October 2009, 02:41
Wow. That tank is absolutely beautiful.
The background makes it seem so professional. :']

8th October 2009, 02:52
Nice pictures. Do you have any more pictures of old 1 gill?

14th October 2009, 04:26
You first want to make sure the tank is clean and dried out and the surfaces are ready to accept silicone. I would suggest using some ethyl alcohol because it will clean the edges up and it evaporates readily. As far as knowing its sealed... I would say just give it plenty of time to cure over and make sure you got in between every crack.

As far as slippery-ness... I don't believe it is at all slippery. The main reason I did it was for the look and effectiveness (and of course the 0 risk of impaction). As opposed to glass, the axolotls can get their grip on it, it looks nice, and I can also clean it easily. So far its been win-win. Cost wise it isn't bad either.

For the background I used this stuff called Sea-View that i bought at Petco for about 5 bucks. Its like a kind of contact cement you rub on the tank and backing then smooth out any bubbles (it is very similar to applying tint to windows). It's great because besides being slightly messy (I did it outside) it really turns out nice and you can even peel it off easily.

As for old 1-gill... (Who I have thought of calling Harvey since hes kind of like 2-face)- I will post more pictures once I can get a few good shots and he cooperates with me. The GFP seems to like the spotlight a little more.

14th October 2009, 16:46
Ooh, that looks great! I love the idea and I imagine it does make cleaning all that much easier. I have sand in the bottom of my tank right now but might consider doing this when I upgrade to a larger size aquarium. It certainly sounds cost-effective.

I thought about keeping my tank bare on the bottom but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't as one of my axies seems to love pacing back and forth on the sand (and I imagine this would be quite a bit more difficult in a tank with only glass on the bottom). It looks like this stuff would provide some "grip" as well -- is it slightly textured (not completely smooth), or are the pictures deceiving me?

15th October 2009, 02:13
I have a tank where I did exactly the same thing. However, I had to let the silicone dry for several weeks. It took forever for the vinegar smell to go away.

For anyone doing this, I would recommend NOT putting any silicone UNDER the slate tiles. I think that this is why mine took forever to stop gassing out the vinegar smell.

15th October 2009, 21:32
The pictures aren't deceiving you, it does have some texture to it- even the "smooth" spots have a bit of texture. And as far as the silicone- I made the same mistake at first (I also put silicone underneath of the tiles) but luckily I am OCD and it didn't turn out as well the first time around so I took a couple hours to pull up the already glued down tiles and scrape out semi-cured silicone. Talk about a headache,,,Literally and figuratively- I had a couple fans going and still nearly passed out from the fumes. A respirator is highly recommended (as well as not using mass amounts of silicone, especially underneath the tiles).

And here's another photo update of my tank with some Mopani Wood (it's a little dirty but bear with me)






Somehow Harvey (one-gill) seems to elude me any time I take pictures. I'll get him eventually.

15th October 2009, 21:42
Looks even better with the wood! Beautiful tank - and some happy Axies :D

Tom Highum
16th October 2009, 02:32
How long does it take for the gills to grow back? Where did you get the shrimp?

16th October 2009, 04:53
How long does it take for the gills to grow back? Where did you get the shrimp?

For my Golden Albino it took may be 2 weeks for his one gill to grow back. As for Harvey, He wont ever grow gills on the right side. I guess it's just a genetic defect but I've had him almost 6 months maybe and he still hasn't shown any growth in his right gills. As for the shrimp they are Ghost Shrimp which are pretty available on the web and in most pet shops as feeders. I generally get them at a specialty fish shop near me called The Hidden Reef and they're like 5/$1.00 which is nice when they tend to get eaten from time to time.

I finally snapped a shot of Harvey so here it is (and a few others of course-please bear with the mess):
Harvey (His right gill is missing)
Caught him in plain sight. He likes to hide. Clear view of his missing right gills.
Of course I have to include the other two.
Golden Albino

I want to give credit to Michael Shromm as all of these axolotls were purchased from him and are amazing and healthy specimens. Thanks!

Coastal Groovin
16th October 2009, 23:08
This is a great idea but I don't see why you would have to glue these tiles down. Their weight should be enough to keep them down flat with the glass. Any waste that got under would be minimal. and easy enough to remove.

17th October 2009, 11:09
Your tank is amazing :smile:
I love it
I'm thinking i might try something similar
hope you don't mind me copying some of your ideas
My tank is 60cm long x 30 wide x 45 height i'm not sure how many litres that is?
Before you mentioned about the load on the tank do you think that my tank will be ok to put in a slate bottom?
I noticed that in your earlier photos was a shrimp i've have also been thinking i'd like to put some in with my axie how do you find them together?


17th October 2009, 16:09
This is a great idea but I don't see why you would have to glue these tiles down. Their weight should be enough to keep them down flat with the glass. Any waste that got under would be minimal. and easy enough to remove.

The reason I silicone-ed them around the edges was because they weren't a perfect fit. I also did it because I wanted ti to be a permanent fix. The slate tiles can also easily chip from the edges and they would ideally need to be ground down on the edges since they can be decently sharp. Using the silicone keeps them solid in place and covers the edges. As for wast and such I like to keep it to a minimal so that I don't have to at some point get under the tiles and clean (they're not perfectly flat or square- they have ridges, meant for gluing them to floors, on the bottom where stuff could collect).

Your tank is amazing :smile:
I love it
I'm thinking i might try something similar
hope you don't mind me copying some of your ideas
My tank is 60cm long x 30 wide x 45 height i'm not sure how many litres that is?
Before you mentioned about the load on the tank do you think that my tank will be ok to put in a slate bottom?
I noticed that in your earlier photos was a shrimp i've have also been thinking i'd like to put some in with my axie how do you find them together?


As for your tank, I'm sure it would be fine because your tank is approximately 20 US gallons so it would require about 40 pounds of gravel and the tiles will weigh less than that. The only thing you may have to worry about is cutting them to fit, but you could always overlap them or something. As far as the shrimp with my axolotls, they seem to do fine only thing is the axolotls like to eat them (which is fine with me). They seem to entertain the axolotls especially when the axies try to sneak up on them for a quick snack. They are pretty cool to watch.

19th October 2009, 12:00
Thanks for the great info
I'll have to get some shrimp
i've seen shrimp here they look very similar to the one in your photo
called glass shrimp
Thanks again :happy:

4th June 2010, 00:35
Wow, that is amazing! After 2 months and 2 rounds of substrate changes I am considering this option. I don't plan to silicone mine down though as I will need to sell this tank and get a larger one in about a year. Do you think it would work for me to just put silicone around the sharp edges on the tiles and then add the tiles to the tank once the silicone has cured?


18th June 2010, 02:54
I saw this and loved the idea, so I did it in my tank too. Just giving you the credit.

3rd July 2010, 02:04
Wow this looks so good!
The only thing i dont like is the plants, I dont know how i would keep my plants down.
Even if i bought the ones with the weight to them, it still doesnt look that great.
Maybe i should silcone it down or something.
I have Moon Sand and i think its a pain.
The slate looks great and i LOVE IT!

Great Tank

17th November 2010, 07:04
Hey thanks, sorry havent been on here in a little while, glad to hear people are still appreciating my tank, I\As far as the plants go I drilled holes in the very very very dense mopani wood and rooted them in there and they seem to take on their own from there- I have to get some new pictures up because the moss is starting to grow all by itself and the Wood is looking better.

26th December 2011, 04:24
Hey there - I am at my wit's end with trying to find a substrate that works for me and my axies, which are currently living in buckets waiting for their new tank to be ready (just moved back home and although I have a 55 that I just vacated it's currently full of gravel - but I will be using cycled water from there to start them off)!

I love the slate idea, and if I can combine part of my tank slate and the other part "glued down" sand and river rocks I think it would look awesome. HOWEVER, the tank is not mine and I can't glue anything to it. How would the folks here suggest accomplishing this? I'm wondering if I use plexiglass or something to glue the substrate to then lower it into the tank, would that work or would waste just get into the sides and sit underneath the plexi?


14th December 2016, 04:56
I really, really love the look of your tile bottom. Is this tile safe for axies? I am so confused as to what is ok and what isn't when using tile.

Daltile Continental Slate Asian Black 12 in. x 12 in. Porcelain Floor and Wall Tile (15 sq. ft. / case)-CS5312121P6 - The Home Depot (http://www.homedepot.com/p/Daltile-Continental-Slate-Asian-Black-12-in-x-12-in-Porcelain-Floor-and-Wall-Tile-15-sq-ft-case-CS5312121P6/202623239)

15th December 2016, 15:21
Love your new tank bottom!
Just a quick question, is it possible to make a tiled slate bottom? As in it would look similar to a checkerboard?

17th December 2016, 01:25
Is this the right stuff?

31st December 2016, 05:00
Wow, this looks amazing! I really thought about a slate bottom for my tank, but I never got around to it, so I have sand instead. I might use slate for my quarantine tank... we will see!

Has anyone got a substrate in their quarantine tank? I just think bare-bottom is so boring..! but easy to keep clean which is a necessary bonus for a quarantine tank, I suppose.

Really great work, your tank looks awesome, and the new pictures with the wood centrepiece are incredible! Did you buy the wood with the plants on it already?

1st June 2017, 21:03
Hi, I'm still doing a lot of research before getting an axolotl. I love the idea of slate on the bottom instead of sand. I think you said you didn't put silicone on the bottom of the tiles, is that correct? How did you attach the tile to the bottom of the tank?

Thank you.:happy: