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Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) A dedicated topic for those seeking help with Axolotls, showing off your photos, or just to talk about them.


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Old 11th June 2010   #1
Daz
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Default New Axolotl owner, read plenty (now: diary of Fred's new owner)

Hi all, I'm Darren, I'm from Somerset in England and I've recently adopted a nice 8month old Axolotl called Fred.

Background

I was interested in and looking into owning an Axy when a friend of a friend expressed she could no longer keep hers. She said he was an 8 month old Albino (which I now know is Luecistic).

I had bought a tank a week prior to getting Fred, it was second hand 60 litre purchased from guy round the corner from me. It has been well cycled with years of fish use however the water and substrate was drained for transport.

As soon as i got the tank in I added well rinsed sand as my chosen substrate and filled with about 55 litres of water. I treated the water with dechlorinator and turned the filter on to cycle. This is how i left it for about a week, with all the new plastic plants and hiding area in.

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A day or two before I was due to pick Fred up the tank was still quite dusty from the sand particles. I used to filter aid and within an hour or two it was crystal clear.

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Freds previous home

I picked Fred up and he was already to leave in a nice icecream tub of water. I noticed the water was pretty murky so asked to see the existing tank. It was filthy with green stale unfiltered water, you couldn't even see the water through the tanks glass.

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This was strange though as the owner, a girl, was extremely attached to Fred. She's had him since birth and had learnt to keep him without reading up anything.

Her words were he's really hardy (which I'm sure isn't usually the case). She had taught him to feed by hand, and he had acquired a taste for Tuna flavored cat biscuits. This seems to be something he won't shake off and still loves them.

He had been kept in a conservatory, which must have been a lot hotter than the average living room, especially mine but Fred seems fine.



Fred now he's in his new home

After a few days in the tank Fred is now really getting content, he stays in his log all day pretty much but as soon as I get home from work he's out and about.

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He enjoys being fed the biscuits by my hand and generally seems pretty happy, although sometimes he has a cautious personality to him.

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I've moved the large round hedge to the back now to give him an area of open space to play and swim and a darker area to hide. He seems to like that.

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Now something I've began reading up on is Nitrite and Nitrate and Ammonia levels. It'll have been a week on Sunday since we got him so I will test the water then. I appreciate I should have been keeping an eye on these levels however I generally didn't know about it until this forum. The very reputable fish shop i've been to (fish keepers not shop keepers) didn't express any concern about this.

Concerns

My only concern right now is temperature. Sods law here in England it's started getting muggy indoors. I've got his lid off, moved the filter high to get more air flowing and have a large room fan on the tank permanantly. This is keeping it at around 22 degrees when its about 24 outside. It'll only warm for a little while longer and Fred doesn't seem to upset. I don't think he's stressed, his tails straight and his gills flat usually but you guys are the experts.

My other concern is that the last few days I noticed white gravel in the tank, the thing is I don't have any white gravel.

I've read that sometimes the silly things can eat the substrate when hungry or accidentally. This morning I woke up to this pile. I can't imagine it's comfortable and I would imagine sand is a little gentler on them but if you think this is a problem let me know:

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If you wanna get a good old butchers of him then I;ve uploaded a youtube vid for you to check out:


Are the strips of fans on ebay any good for keeping the tank cool? If so I'll buy one:

AQUARIUM COOLING FANS UK SELLER 6 FAN MODEL on eBay (end time 29-Jun-10 22:32:18 BST)

So please if theres anything I'm doing really wrong please let me know. So far he's been great and is just starting to show his personality.

I'm really glad I found this place and hope to make some good friends here.




Last edited by dazkeirle; 11th June 2010 at 19:15.
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Old 11th June 2010   #2
El Duque
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

I am a little worried as it sounds like you may have made the same mistake as I did.

Is everything in the tank new filter etc? If so the tank will be starting a brand new cycle, did you have some ammonia source in the tank when you had it running for a week, pellets or fish flakes etc? if you did not the bacteria you need would have had no ammonia to 'eat'. You should start changing about 10 litres of water every day and buy a good water test kit will cost around 30 but you WILL need it and will get value for money in longevity.
You have managed to avoid most common mistakes on the best part so well done, but the tank and water levels are at the top of your priority list, you should do a 20% water change now as it has been a week and is due regardless of the cycle.

The passing of gravel is great and can take a long time I had two who took about 5-6 weeks to pass gravel. I really hope she has passed all the gravel in her system. However, as your tank sounds like it is cycling and she is possibly still impacted you may want to fridge her to chill her out, although please wait for a second opinion...

You should also look into feeding some Earthworm or even bloodworm, shrimp, wax worm or some suitable pellets. Earthworms are the recommended main food the others have some drawbacks. I would imagine a cat needs different nutrition than an Axolotl I can not imagine the biscuits are not very good for her.

I hope I covered everything



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Old 11th June 2010   #3
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

Hi there, thanks for the reply.

No the filter was not new, in fact it was very used and quite filthy (although the tank pretty clean) but no chemicals were used on the base, sides or the filter so surely a fair bit of bacteria? I did clean the crud out of the filter but i didn't scrub it which is why I was pretty sure that I wouldn't need to worry too much about the cycling bacteria. It was left cycling for quite some time with the used filter, a week i think.

To be honest I would have preferred a bit more time to leave the tank cycling maybe with some feeder fish but Fred needed a home ASAP and I didn't like the conditions he was in.

Let me make it clear, I will be getting a testing kit tomorrow and after reading through this forum I appreciate that levels are important.

As for worms etc. I do plan to buy him tomorrow from the pet store, I just didn't think it would be wise to change his food the same time as his surroundings to avoid stress.

Water change is planned for tomorrow, and will get a water testing kit at the same time as a selection of alternative food for me to try him on.

Another quick question, he seems to like chilling out under the filter, is this because he likes the feeling of the current on his skin?




Last edited by dazkeirle; 11th June 2010 at 19:20.
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Old 11th June 2010   #4
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

No I would say he is chilling next to the filter because he knows that is the cleaner water, when you clean a filter you have to clean in some water from the aquarium you just scrubbed all the good stuff off and if it was dry for a while the bacteria would all die, I think maybe you should by some new filter media but wait for a second opinion, but again if you had no ammonia in the tank when it was running any bacteria that may have still been alive in the filter would have died, I am fairly sure you are starting a brand new cycle.
please do a water change now it is only 10litres it wont take 10minutes.
both of my Axolotl reguarly floated by the filter outlet when I was going through the ammonia and nitrite spike's
Could you please provide the brand name of the biscuits you are feeding I am certain these can not be good the fat content among other things will be a lot higher for a cat than an Axolotl

Take a look at these pages
Axolotl Sanctuary
Caudata Culture Articles - Cycling
Caudata Culture Home Page
Axolotls: The Fascinating Mexican Axolotl and the Tiger Salamander

But again please do a 20% change now and do so every night

Also looking at the video it looks to me as though she is struggling not to float, and remove those small bits ofgravel as soon as you see them




Last edited by tomkeogh; 11th June 2010 at 19:29.
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Old 11th June 2010   #5
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

Alright man, I'll do a water change now instead of tomorrow, it's no bother.

I did state I didn't scrub the filter out and when cleaning it it was tank water i was using.

Regarding Nitrate, nitrite and ammonia levels could you please tell me in a nut shell what levels I'm looking for?

Is it PH 7-7.5, Nitrate as low as possible and some Nitrites? Or should Nitrites and Nitrates be 0?

I really wish that these levels and their importance were made more prominent when researching axys or in pet shops. While axolotl.org does mention these levels and their importance it's written so over complicatedly that I'm finding it hard to decipher what's good and bad.

The little fella has been eating these biscuits for 8 months so I don't think they can be that bad for him, and I was warned that he doesn't really like trout / axy pellets but I also appreciate he shouldn't eat high fat foods, it's just he has been up until now and I can't really help that.

Tomorrow will be worms and other food galore, but right now I'll do the water change.



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Old 11th June 2010   #6
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

The Aquarium fans work very well... but if you've already got a screen/open top with a fan blowing over it you probably won't see enough improvement to warrant spending the money.
Someone kick my.... uh.. I mean correct me if I'm wrong.
Knowing your parameters as Tom said is very important and guides you in your quest for Axolotl Nirvana.
I'm sure you do... but remove any gravel that shows up ASAP.

Oh... and also as Tom pointed out... the cat biscuits are bugger all (did I use that correctly?) for Axolotl food.

Good Luck.



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Old 11th June 2010   #7
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

I really don't want to sound patronising but just because she has been eating them reguarly happily enough does not mean they are good, I would happily eat chocolate and kebabs everyday doesn't mean I should

Take a look at the cycling page I linked it will help you understand you want ammonia 0 nitrite 0 and nitrate less than 40 I believe.

You still have not told me if you had an ammonia source in the tank before the Axolotl I am not sure if the bacteria can last too long without it,

Am sorry thought you said you DID scrub the filter sorry! if you didnt have the filter dry for too long and had ammonia source for the bacteria you should not be cycling for long but there will still be a small cycle do your daily water change based on the readings if ammonia or nitrite have any noticable reading do a change if they are 0 or trace leave it another 24 hours

Do you have a syphon to clean the floor?

I am sorry if any of my replies offend you they mean no offence just trying to look out for your little fella



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Old 11th June 2010   #8
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

Mac...you sort of used it in the right context you got the jist of it, but I am afraid my American cousin it was not quiet right for the sentance



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Old 11th June 2010   #9
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

haha, you don't offend me friend.

So far in my world of Axolotl you're the first person to give me any advice.

Dude, I've just done a 20% water change as ordered ( :) ) with fresh but chlorinated water, this also helped drop the tank degree too.

Yes there was an ammonia source in the tank prior to Fred, but not in the same water or with the same substrate. Same tank and filter though.

Thanks for your guideline readings, why it couldn't just say that on the site I don't know. I guess sometimes people who know a lot sometimes over complicate things.

I have been hand picking all gravel I find out, I don't like the idea of him eating them again. The only time I leave them is when he's next to hem so I don't spook him and then when he moves about I pick them up. I'm sure when i get on softer food and with the softer substrate he will be a happier dude, although he seams pretty happy now.

I agree on what you say about food, I will spend as long as it takes weening him off of the biscuits and onto something healthier.

Mac, not sure on what you mean but good going having a try at the lingo. Cat biscuits are clearly bad so I will make sure his diet gets changed. I'd much rather feed him live worms especially as I'm 1 - 2 minutes from the pet shop.



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Old 11th June 2010   #10
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

I am struggling to understand the situation with filter a bit, my fault not yours! but if I am reading correctly as long as and sorry to repeat the filter has been running constantly (I know you cleaned but cant imagine that took long) has had a constant supply of ammonia you should be a few steps further than you would have been from scratch so you may only have a week or two to cycle and as long as you test readings and change water accordingly you should be fine.

The water change will have diluted any ammonia or nitrite a bit so he will be happier it is also good temp dropped although be sure not to drop temp too much too fast, imagine you having freezing water poured on your head!

I too found it frustrating that nothing is ever written down in big dumb terms but you will get to grips pretty fast, also this forum is great, read back on posts and you will learn a great deal

Also when you are at the pet shop as them for some air line tubing it will be no more than 50p per metre and is great as a syphon to spot clean poop etc, my Axolotl are so used to the tube that I can syphon muck off of them and they let me

You may have to sacrifice a little I cant remember if you have mentioned where the tank is but my tank is in my bedroom and my window is wide open and curtains drawn right back and has been that way for months even when it was snowing and I still struggle to maintain 19degree

Also can you tell me what filter you have please?



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Old 11th June 2010   #11
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

yo ive got the same tank and filter theyre sold new as a package but fear it will soon be getting abit small for my axie so bear in mind you may need to upgrade in the future if hes a big boy!

It is good you have a good size hide in there for the little guy as for keepin it cool ive been experiencing the recent hot weather so tried the evaporation method (as i cant afford a chiller) using a couple of airstones and cheap 5 desk fan blowing over the water i got abit worried when my tank hit 24degrees last week so got the fan and managed an amazing 6degree temp drop down to 18!

As long as the water quality is good (as the others said), you seem to be on the right track and have a nice little set up, how big is he? i found when mine got bigger i removed a few of the plants n decor that use up floor space and noticed a he became alot more active and made use of the space he still like to have a good climb through the plants though.

A quick question about the filter as mine is the same. Mine produces one hell of a current, if i dont diffuse it with plants and sponge it sends my axie flying are you experiencing this as i diddnt expect it to be as powerful as this being such a cheap piece of kit?

Oooh and feeding wise i find it hard to get hold of earthworms but my axie loves nice juicy gutloaded crickets he cant get enough of them, i feed them lots of fruit, seeds, salad, bug grub, fish flakes,cereal, porridge oats and calcium supplement so it all goes into my axie i just chuck em in the tank and watch gomez pick em off the surface one by one, magic!

I'd say you just gotta get him off those cat biscuits i know what would happen if i ate nothing but biscuits, id turn into a bloody biscuit haha! try guppys, you will have to quarantine them as you probably know but axies cant resist moving prey and should snap em up in no time and develop a taste for flesh. A small tank for breeding guppies will keep you in constant supply and eliminate the need for quarantine.

The people on here are great and will help you every step of the way keep up the good work and keep us posted!



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Old 11th June 2010   #12
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

Hi thanks that's all really useful.

I have a fan on the tank which is keeping it fairly cool (22) but i think a top fan like the one mentioned will be good judging by what you're saying.

Yeah the tank is the elite system and the filter a stingray 25 i think. It does have a current but what i've done is put it in the corner and used the direction nozzle to direct the outflow at the wall, it seams to create better current on the surface and has even dropped the temp a bit.

I'll get some airstones as you recommend. I'd seen them but hadn't realized they'd help keep it all cool.

As for food, sorry to labour the point but I didn't get him hooked on then, the previous owner did and I appreciate the need to get him off of them.

I actually today moved the big spherical plant to the back where he doesn't hang out and straight away he was there playing in the floorspace so I see where you're coming from. Perhaps I'll get rid of the fake grass that's taking u a lot of room, even if it does look uber cool.

I don't know a lot about feeding him guppies, but I am lucky enough to have 2-3 fish shops in walking distance, can i just go and buy a few guppies every couple of days and throw em in? Isn't this kind of unethical? I'm not against a bit of murder but Fred doesn't look the type. Although would be cool to see him swimming about.

I've no issue about upgrading, I bought the tank with a view ok keeping a single baby axolotl, the opportunity came up to adopt the adult. If he gets too big I'd happily buy more stuff, I've no problem with spending money on cool aquarium stuff. :)



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Old 11th June 2010   #13
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

sorry didn't mention, he's about 7 inches long.



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Old 11th June 2010   #14
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

I just saw that you said Chlorinated water when you did a water change. Chlorine is very dangerous to such delicate skinned creatures. You'll need to get some dechlorinator!



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Old 12th June 2010   #15
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

I'm sorry, that should have read de-chlorinated, but good spotting, at least i know your reading this . Im sorry I've been sat at a computer all day and am typo-prone.

Ted I've taken your advice and setup a large desk style fan over the tank, the temperature is going down which is good.

Regarding the filter area, I think I've solved the issue. As you saw in my pics i have the grassy area which he just goes nowhere near. As this is a bit of a no-go zone I've basically reversed the tank and have the first 4 inches out of bounds next to the filter and so now all the current and suction is far away from him.

While I was at it I've moved all the plants and things further back giving him much more room to walk around.

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Old 12th June 2010   #16
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

after doing a fair amount of reading i will be doing daily 20% water changes until i can get a pipette style water test kit, and not the strip types due to accuracy.



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Old 12th June 2010   #17
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

I got a test tube water test kit for I think 33 it is a bit of dough but depending how often you use I imagine it will be a year before I have to start refilling.

I also have the elite 60 system you have...It is big enough for an adult but I would say upgrade if you get the chance but it is acceptable so do not worry too much

I found the stingray filter too powerful I have come across a few users on here that use it but I think it is too much...if you have 20 you could pick up the filter I am now using it is called an eheim pick up designed for a 45litre aquarium, water flow has never been a problem for me even when I had a 2inch baby in there. But again this is your decision.

I would also say I think you should buy some raptomin sticks. they are still not ideal food for an Axolotl but will be much better than the biscuits and as they are hard she may take to them easier than wriggly soft food. but I sure do hope she loves worms. also maybe get some live bloodworm I am sure she would not resist eating them

Good luck with everything let us know how it goes

Edit: although your tank is at 22deg this still is not great this is the temp my guys get a bit mopey and feel sorry for them self they are much happier at 18deg when I manage it




Last edited by tomkeogh; 12th June 2010 at 07:26.
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Old 12th June 2010   #18
El Duque
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

Also on the guppies you will have to house them in a separate tank for a month to make sure they have no illness etc



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Old 12th June 2010   #19
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

Tis cool i fully understand your not the one who got him hooked on biscuits. As for guppys your best off having your own supply so you know for a fact they havnt got disease of parasites, fish from shops need to be quarantined for at least 30days just to be sure theyre safe! Airstones need an air pump to work, theyre not that pricey mine was about 10 and it definitely helps with the evaporation cooling method.

This is what ive managed to do with my elite 60 set up ive managed to diffuse the flow to almost nothing and hide the filter quite nicely you cant even see it! (I have taken a few of the plants on the floor out since too for more space)
http://www.caudata.org/forum/f46-beg...nk-set-up.html

im sure over they next few weeks you'll experiment with your setup and get a good idea of what your axie likes its taken me a good 3 months to nail it but i think ive sussed it and my axie is lovin it!

Peace dude!



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Old 12th June 2010   #20
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Default Re: New Axolotl owner, read plenty, just want to confirm a few things.

morning all,

well a night using the large fan overhead method and tank is down to 19 degrees so thanks for that.

As for these infamous cat biscuits here's the lowdown on what is in them, perhaps you can advise what has been ingesting too much of and what he has deficiencies in. Perhaps then i can get food to sort it out.

They're called Bob Martin prime cuts - tuna chunks.

Tuna minimum 70%, rice powder, starches, antioxidents EC additives.

Typical Analysis: Moisture 28%, protein 38%, oil and fat 3.5%, fibre 1%, ash 5.5%

How bad is this in comparison to your Axy food sources? seems pretty low in fat to me, but what do I know?

Now just gotta sit back (or try and tease him out) so that he can check of his improved tank design. I find he's pretty blind so needs a bit of teasing with motion near his head, a small net usually does the trick.

Ed the water block does sound cool, does the additional pump add to noise? so far 've been impressed with ow quiet the setup is as i don't use a lamp as he seems to hate it, and i only have the one, albeit strong, filter which is also really quiet.

Ed your tank setup looks excellent, I will continue to adapt mine as times goes on but so far this month I've probably blow 160 on him, and today I'm sure with food and kits it'll be another 60. May have to wait for the next payday for further enhancements otherwise the fellas getting more spending money than me (and I'm the one doing the work).

El duque, I will look into a smaller filter, this one will come in handy when I get a larger tank. Will buy some Raptomin sticks too. I plan to buy a large selection today of food of different types to experiment with.

Will be off to the shops in an hour or so and then need to go and plant 1000 odd Venus Flytraps at my new nursery :) the weather here is getting awesome.



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