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Old 14th January 2019   #1
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Default HUGE ammonia problem in my axolotl tank. Any other ways to bring it down?

Hello, everyone! I'm new here so I'm still getting the hang of this, but I have read several different forums on here since obtaining my axolotls so I'll try to name everything necessary.

In August of 2018, I unexpectedly received my first axolotl ever, Ram, a golden albino. I kept her in a 5.5-gallon tank for a few weeks (with daily water changes) while a 20 gallon was cycling for her. Once the cycling was complete, I put her into the new and I didn't have any problems for the longest time - well, at least not until I moved back home.

When I moved back home from my college dorm, I obviously brought her with me and due to spacing reasons, I was only able to have a 10-gallon tank set up for her. That's where all my problems began. In October of 2018, I decided to get a second axolotl, Yuno, my melanoid. Yuno's tank was already cycled and I've never had an ammonia problem with her ever.

For the longest time, everything seemed to be going fine until the day I discovered a trace amount of ammonia in Ram's tank. Due to my work schedule, I began slacking on water changes and I'm sure that's how it first occurred. From there, I began doing daily 25% water changes for her but for whatever reason, that only seemed to make the issue worse. I then upgraded them both from a sponge filter to a 10-gallon aqueon filter. I was sure that was going to make a difference in Ram's tank, but all it did was require me to change out the expensive filter cartridges, no lie, every three to five days, depending on how much she pooped between then.

After that, things just plummeted downhill. My poor baby ended up getting ammonia burn when I was at work and I came back to such a horrible sight. Her gill feather that are normally a bright pink were then pure white and after a couple of hours, fell out completely. I left her in the fridge overnight in hopes of relieving her pain as much as I could while I struggled to set up a rehab tank and for the next three weeks, she spent her time in there. Even now, her gill feathers have still not completely grown back.

As of right now, she's back in her original 20-gallon with two 20-gallon aqueon filters, those ammonia reducing sponge thingies (I'm sorry, I can't recall the actual name) in the filter, some ghost shrimp as my clean-up crew, and all while I'm doing every other day 25% water changes for her. Even with all that, the ammonia is still present and slowly growing and I'm honestly running out of options. I've been using a number of chemicals in hopes of helping the ammonia, but none seem to be doing much.

Here's a list of all the chemicals I've been using: API Stress Coat, API Quick Start, Seachem Prime, Seachem Stability, Microbe-Lift Special Blend, and Tetra Safe Start. Are there any other chemicals you would recommend? I'll honestly try anything at this point.

Also, before anyone asks, here are my parameters:
GH: 0
KH: 80
pH: 7.0
Nitrite: 3
Nitrate: 40
Ammonia: 0.50
Temperature: anywhere between 62-64F

I use test strips for all those results except for ammonia; I use the drip test for that. Thankfully, the ammonia isn't too high yet, but I know it's going to get there at some point as it did before. I'm honestly trying absolutely everything I can think of to help her and it's so strange considering my other axie has never had an ammonia issue and I do everything the same for both of them.

I even recently cut down her intake of food to one earthworm every other day and that still doesn't seem to be helping much. Please, if you have any ideas as to why this is happening or any advice for me to do better, please share. I can't even begin to say how badly I've been worrying over her.
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Old 22nd January 2019   #2
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Default Re: HUGE ammonia problem in my axolotl tank. Any other ways to bring it down?

From the results the tank isn't cycled, or crashed. Either keep Ram in the tank but do small water changes every day or two or have Ram in a "hospital tank" where you change 100% of the water every day. With the latter method you can let her tank cycle without doing any water changes.
Doing big water changes every day can affect the cycle as you are removing a lot of the beneficial bacteria's food source. What was the reason you had to change the filter cartridges so often? And what were the cartridges, just sponge or other media?

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