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Old 22nd November 2012   #1
Winglet
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Default Help with water parameters

I'm very new to axolotyl keeping, and need some help with my water readings... which ones are okay & which need rectifying, as well as how to rectify them & how to change what I'm doing to ensure better water quality.

I have a 3 foot tank with sand substrate, in-tank filter (Fluval set on lowest water flow with arm to dissipate the water output), and two axolotyls about 7 months old (no other creatures live in the tank). I feed commercial axolotyl pellets. Other items in the tank are plastic aquarium plants, one bunch of live plant, an aquarium ornament, and a piece of driftwood purchased from the aquarium shop. All items were rinsed thoroughly before adding to the tank, and the driftwood submerged in a bucket of water for 3 days prior to adding it. We've only had the axolotyls for a week, and I've changed about a quarter of the water the other day... adding water conditioner & live bacteria to the water before adding it to the tank.

Readings today are:

- pH = 6
(having read another thread in caudata.org I've purchased crushed coral today & added some to the filter)

- ammonia = 2

- nitrites = 0

- nitrates = 5

- carbonate hardness (KH) = 53.7

- general hardness (GH) = 17.9

- temperature is from 16 to 18 degrees Celsius

Please help... I'm concerned that I don't know what I'm doing & that my beautiful Rose & Foley will suffer for it.




Last edited by Winglet; 22nd November 2012 at 07:06. Reason: Added temperature to parameters
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Old 22nd November 2012   #2
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

So are your axies in there? I would be mainly concerned that your ammonia is too high and may cause ammonia burns. are you sure your nitrates are at 5.00 ppm? i think you may have nitrItes and nitrAtes mixed? I would assume that your tank is not cycled and thus the cycling process starts. So you need to be doing 30-40% water changes every day until those levels balance out, ammonia should be 0, nitrite should also be 0 and nitrate should be at/below 40 ppm. One final question what testing kit are you using?



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Old 22nd November 2012   #3
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

Yep.. they're in the tank.

Definitely have the nitrites & nitrates around the right way. So ammonia at 2 ppm is still too high?

Testing with API test kits.

So if I do a 40% water change every day, should I test all the levels every day as well just before I do each water change to see how they're travelling?

When I'm adding new water, is it right to add water conditioner & live bacteria? Should I also add salts to harden the water (Melbourne water being soft)?



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Old 22nd November 2012   #4
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

not many people test for water hardness because axies are fairly receptive to both, 2 ppm is definitely way too high, i dont get why nitrate would be 5? unless you mean 50 ppm? The only live bacteria i would recommend is Dr Tim's One and Only live bacteria, which is only available online to aussies. Do you mean adding bacteria every change? Are they strips or dropper kits?



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Old 22nd November 2012   #5
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

I'll retest the nitrate now & let you know what reading I get. I read it as 5 ppm when I tested it earlier.

Yes, I mean adding bacteria every water change.

They're dropper kits.

Back in 5 minutes when I've retested the nitrate level.



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Old 22nd November 2012   #6
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

No there's no need to add bacteria every water change, just dechlorinator.



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Old 22nd November 2012   #7
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

I forgot to say THANK YOU Olivia... I appreciate your help a great deal.

I've retested the following:

pH = 6.0

ammonia = between 1ppm & 2ppm

nitrite = 0

nitrate = 5.0 ppm (definitely 5, not 50)



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Old 22nd November 2012   #8
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

Hmm okay so your tank has started the cycling process, if you want to continue to keep your axies in there you will have to keep the ammonia below 1.00ppm. otherwise they will freak. Do 30% changes everyday and top up with fresh dechlorinated water, if you are going to add bacteria then do it once (Dr Tim's, you cannot overdose) and that will speed up the cycle as you will quickly get sick of doing water changes you want at the end your nitrate to be at or below 40 ppm, ammonia 0 and nitrite 0. Im very confused as to why you have ammonia readings and no nitrites, but ill leave that to an expert (perhaps just timing)
By the way, you're more than welcome. :)



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Old 22nd November 2012   #9
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

Thanks so much Olivia for your assistance.

I'll get onto the daily water changes & keep a close eye on the levels.



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Old 23rd November 2012   #10
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

You need to change the amount of water necessary to keep your ammonia below 1.0ppm. This could be as little as 10% a day. You'll have to do water changes, then test your water to see if you've done enough to bring it within normal limits.

Nitrates of 5ppm is fine, as it is usually found in tap water. Keep it under 40.

What kind of water conditioner are you using? If you're using one that 'binds' or 'detoxifies' ammonia, your tank will never cycle on its own. Having live plants will also slow your cycle, as they use ammonia and nitrites as a food source.

I would forgo the bacteria. The vast majority of these products are completely useless. Unless you bought refrigerated, live bacteria, you're just adding dead bacteria (and their waste products!) to your tank.



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Old 23rd November 2012   #11
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

So what kind of conditioner do I get?

The one I have is an API one;

Tap Water Conditioner
Dechorinates aquarium water
Removes chlorine, chloramines
Detoxifies heavy metals


I'm starting to get really annoyed at the supposedly well-recommended aquarium store that I obtained so much information from, especially as I went in there several times before finding caudata.org & spoke to someone who breeds axolotyls.

I specifically told them that I've never kept axolotyls before, and that I'm setting up a new tank & haven't had an aquarium for over 20 years. I asked specifically about what I'd need to test for in the water, and was only initially sold a pH test kit & the water conditioner & bacteria. I asked how long I'd need to leave the tank set up before I bought the axolotyls, and was given erroneous information on that, too.

After finding caudata.org I've been back to point out to them that no-one there mentioned testing for ammonia, nitrites & nitrates, and bought a complete test kit. They then said I should also test for water hardness, so more money spent on another test kit that now seems pointless. They also said I'd need to add salts to the tank due to Melbourne's soft water, so more money spent (I haven't added any salts at this point). If I can find the receipt I'll be returning the salts & the water hardness kit.

Having costed the whole setup before jumping in, the cost has now jumped another 33% over & above our initial outlay.

It really takes the polish of what was supposed to be an enjoyable addition to our household, and now I'm fearful that they're in distress because of the conditions & that I've set things up to fail from the start.



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Old 24th November 2012   #12
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

So... having relaxed a little since my last post about an hour ago, I've tested only the pH & the ammonia to see if either have improved since my latest water change last night (of about 30% of the water in the tank, and only added water conditioner & not the bacteria).

I've also removed the only live plant. Scared myself half to death seeing what I thought was white slime on Rose, but it was some waste, which I've scooped out with the net, together with any bits of live plant that had floated off the main plant when I took it out.

pH is slowly increasing, and is at 6.6

ammonia has dropped dramatically, and is at about 0.25 ppm (it may be less than that, as the colour seems somewhere between 0 & 0.25)

I haven't measured the nitrites & nitrates again at this stage.


Should I be testing all the parameters at a certain length of time after each water change? I figure immediately afterwards is pointless, as I'll really be getting a combination of the 'new' water's reading & the 'old' water's reading, which won't be a true reflection of how the tank is travelling.



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Old 24th November 2012   #13
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

I usually just do the ammonia unless I want a complete reading which I do maybe once a week, don't worry about what the aquarium said, they usually have no idea. API is fine, as long as doesn't say it detoxifies ammonia then you're all good! Don't stress too much with pH the crushed coral will bring it back up. It will literally take about a month for your tank to cycle completely and you probably won't see an immediate change, the most frustrating thing is that it all seems that nothing is happening until boom one day you get no ammonia, no nitrite and nitrates. Stay positive, it will all work



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Old 24th November 2012   #14
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

Thanks Kaysie & Olivia.

Readings tonight just before doing a 10% water change were:

pH = 6.0 (but a 'proper' 6.0, rather than the colour appearing to look like pH was below 6.0)

ammonia = 1.0 ppm (or just under rather than just over)

nitrites & nitrates same as before (0 & 5 respectively)

I feel more relaxed now that I've been feeding Rose & Foley this afternoon using a reptile 'tweezer' thing. Rose & I worked out how best to use it together, and had some fun doing so. She's quite confident & forthright in her conditioning of my behaviour. Foley was more cautious, and it took several attempts before he stopped swimming off when he & the tweezers met.. usually due to me not releasing the pellet in time for him to eat it as he lunged for it.

The reason I feel more relaxed after feeding them is that they were both very agile & active when presented with each tasty morsel, which makes me feel less like I've imprisoned them in a death cell & more like there's light at the end of the tunnel. Rose recognises me, or at least my movement near the tank, as she looks skyward for something to eat more often when she sees me. Today, for the first time, she stood on her hind feet at about a 45 degree angle, as she put her entire head & front half of her body up towards the air in anticipation of a feed.



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Old 24th November 2012   #15
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

didnt see it mentioned but youll know that your cycle has begun once you start seeing nitrites.

my tapwater here is nearly 20ppm nitrates out of the tap (we drink bottled water) so 5ppm is not a bad source.



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Old 25th November 2012   #16
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

I don't condone leaving ammonia at high levels however I have to point out that my axolotl was in the tank for three weeks while the ammonia level was at 4-5. This wasn't because I was a bad owner, but because I was unaware of cycling and didn't have a test kit which is vital information that the pet shop failed to tell me about. Any way, my point is that my male isn't dead, nor did he develop a skin irritation such as 'ammonia burn' from exposure to high levels. I guess I'm just trying to put your mind at ease and let you know that there's been a happy ending with an axolotl who's endured far worse water parameters



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Old 25th November 2012   #17
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Default Re: Help with water parameters

Well when i first got mine, i was too unaware, and i didnt do water changes every week so the ammonia was probably much higher, i also never used a gravel cleaner/siphon. I think they're much more hardy than we give them credit for.



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