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Axolotl tank set-ups, filters, substrate>Could I get some help analyzing my water test?
squirrelyscout 20:06 15th June 2016
Hey everyone,
Future Lottie owner, and trying to make sure I do everything right.
I'm currently cycling a 10 gal until I can pick up my 36 gal and stand, which could be a week or two. In my tank, I currently have 1/4 inch of "Super Naturals Premium Aquarium Substrate," (I'm nervous about this so here's a pic of the grain size and a Marina Slim S10 filter (this will be swapped out when I upgrade). I heard it's fine to start cycling in a different tank if you use the same water and media?

The water has been cycling in the 10 gal almost a week, I know this isn't enough nearly enough time to establish a cycle, but I was wondering if anyone could tell me where I am.
Sorry for it being sideways!
I was also wondering if you guys can give me advice on my water conditions:
What concerns me here is my PH and my crazy high alkaline level. I have no experience with lowering/monitoring the PH of aquariums so this makes me very nervous. Ammonia is alkaline, does that mean I'm still early in my cycle? Is anything actually cycling? I need to get another test kit to get my tapwater baseline, I thought I was buying three sets of tests and I got one set of three. -_-
Can anyone help me with these wonky water conditions, and offer advice on how to lower my PH if necessary?
Thanks! <3

AxolotlChris 07:42 16th June 2016
Yes you can use your existing water and filter media to seed your new tank. You must rinse the old filter media into your new one using tank water so not to kill the bacteria.

Your substrate seems fine, looks to be about 2mm in size.

Cycling can take 4-6 weeks, what are you putting in your tank to create ammonia?
Are you using dechlorinator?

You will need a liquid test kit to monitor your nitrogen cycle, because you have to check for levels of Ammonia, Nitrites, and NitrAtes. A lot of users on this forum use and recommend this test kit including myself: Welcome to API Fishcare: FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT This liquid test kit is far more reliable that the test strip versions.

The cycling process can take from 4-6 weeks. For your tank to be cycled, a beneficial bacteria needs to be present to break down the Ammonia and Nitrites into Nitrates. Ammonia and Nitrites are toxic to Axolotl and are produced from your Axolotls waste and decomposing food. Nitrates are a less toxic by product. During cycling the beneficial bacteria will colonize your tanks surfaces such as substrate, ornaments, filter, and begin to feed on the Ammonia turning it into Nitrites, then a different bacteria will colonise your tank and begin to break down the Nitrites into Nitrates. The bacteria is known as a biofilter, as it filters the ammonia and nitrites into less harmful nitrates. Nitrate is the last toxin in the nitrogen cycle, a reading of Nitrate between 20-40ppm shows that your cycle is established since the different bacteria has colonised your tank and is able to complete a full conversion of Ammonia > Nitrite > Nitrate. Nitrate is removed via water changes when the level reaches 40ppm.

Read these links on the cycling process:
Caudata Culture Articles - Water Quality
Caudata Culture Articles - Cycling
How to Cycle a Fish Tank
It can be quite hard to get to grips with the cycling process but stick at it and ask any questions you need.

Get the test kit, then you can start producing the right results that are trust worthy.

squirrelyscout 20:21 19th June 2016
Thanks for your reply!
I'm currently doing a fishless cycle using flake food. Also, I set-up the 36 gal yesterday and moved all my media over.
And I bought the test kit.
I'm frustrated because I feel like my nitrites should be higher by now. :/ It's day 8.

Sufia 12:45 20th June 2016
Originally Posted by squirrelyscout:
Thanks for your reply!
I'm currently doing a fishless cycle using flake food. Also, I set-up the 36 gal yesterday and moved all my media over.
And I bought the test kit.
I'm frustrated because I feel like my nitrites should be higher by now. :/ It's day 8.
Have you tried another source of ammonia to kickstart the tank? As strange as it sounds, I threw in a raw peeled prawn (shrimp) from the local seafood market. This instantly threw my ammonia levels in excess of 4 ppm. I only left it in the tank overnight because anything longer would only serve to foul the tank.

I mention this because I've adopted the fish flake method and found it only prolonged the cycling. That being said, patience is key when cycling a tank, and trying to rush it will probably result in an unnatural spike later on due to inadequate cycling.

AxolotlChris 12:57 20th June 2016
Sufia is right, using something a little more potent like a shrimp should speed things up.

squirrelyscout 18:36 20th June 2016
Thank you guys so much for the help, you're the best.
I'm thinking about using household ammonia. Do you have any experience with that? How many drops would I need for a 36 gal?
It's so hard to be patient, but the reptile show where I'll hopefully get my axies is over six weeks from now, so I have plenty of time to get things perfect.

AxolotlChris 07:53 21st June 2016
If your use liquid ammonia, do a couple drops from a pipette, and then test the water after to see how high it rises the ammonia, then you can lower or raise the dose depending on your results

Tags:water conditions
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