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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 13th January 2013   #1
rb6k
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Default Fact Checking

Hey there,

Like lots of people here I regularly surf the internet looking for information about my Axolotl so I can keep up to date and improve how I look after them. What I've noticed recently is there is no real consistency to the information, which is concerning!

I was under the impression that my set up needed to be as follows, this is only what I have done and not a guide on what to do, I am hoping that with some responses I can edit parts of this to be more of a guide for myself, and anyone that fancies reading it, I know they've been done before but there are so many variations I just want to sit and write one myself so I know how it got to the state it is in and whether it is a reliable source.

So here goes:
  • 3ft tank (ie a tank of decent size)
  • A place for the axolotl to 'hide' when they feel like it
  • A water filter
  • An air pump to oxygenate the water
  • No Heater because the water has to be like 19-22 degrees
  • No stones that can fit in the axolotl's mouth
  • Best thing is no substrate or sand. I chose nothing because I felt it would be cleaner
  • Replace 25% of the water every week or so, big clean outs every 3 weeks or so.
  • Clean the filter using a bucket of water from the tank ONLY so that it keeps the bacteria
  • Use dechlorinator on the water before you stick it in the tank (or leave the water to sit for 2 days before using it, which is the free way to dechlorinate.
  • Moth balls are fun for them to play with (although mine ignore them, they look nice though)
  • A plant/weed can help keep things running smoothly, regulating nitrates...
  • Feed them earthworms, or blood worms...amongst other things.
--------------------

Now I think that is everything I've done, if I think of anything else I will add it.

So my biggest questions are:
  • How often should I be changing the water in small quantities?
  • How often should I be doing a big clean? (Some sites say bi-monthly!)
  • Is there a cleaner way to feed them blood worms? I would absolutely love a tube (like some guttering) with semi circle doors cut into it, so I can throw the blood worm into the tube, and they will float to the bottom and be there in the opening ready for the axolotl to eat, I have yet to find something that fits this description though!)
  • Do I need an air pump? Some places say no!
  • Do you need a filter? I am almost certain the answer is yes. BUT! I visited a couple of 'exotic pet refuges' that basically had Axolotl stored in glorified lunch boxes filled halfway to the top.
  • Regarding the filter - I have one that is basically a white sponge in the middle of a filter that sucks water through the sponge. I have seen black 'bio' sponges that are half the length, is the idea here that I buy a half sized white one, and a half sized black one, and it filters out more bio waste? Would this improve the tank for axolotl much?
  • One refuge I visited had adult axolotl walking around in shallow (ish) water with dry parts, while impractical for me, should I be providing a dry bit in the tank ever? I didn't think so, but am imagining I am wrong.

Anything else I think of I'll add in.

Sorry for the long post. I hope it is useful, I really want to spend some time whittling down what is fact, opinion, best practice and poor practice.

Thanks!



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Old 13th January 2013   #2
Kaysie
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Default Re: Fact Checking

If your tank is properly cycled, you should never do a 'big clean'. A test kit for ammonia and nitrite will help you better refine how often you need to do water changes. This really depends on how many axolotls are in the tank, what kind of food you're feeding, etc. In general, at least 20% a week, more frequent (2-3x a week) if your tank isn't cycled.

Bloodworms aren't a good staple. Earthworms are the best staple, with bloodworms, pellets, and other goodies being fed as treats.

If your municipal water source uses chloramines (not chlorine gas), you can NOT dechlorinate by just leaving water out. Many water companies use chloramines now (chlorine gas is the 'old fashioned way'), and these must be removed with a dechlorinating agent. Leaving water out is a thing of the past, and is no longer effective.

Moss balls are a good aquarium addition. Do not add moth balls. Other plants will help use excess nutrients in the tank, but they prefer ammonia and nitrites over nitrates. Again, a water test kit will help you determine your water change regime.

You do not need an air stone if you have a filter running. It's unnecessary. You also don't need a filter, but this helps oxygenate the water, and gives your beneficial bacteria more surface to live on. Sponge filters are ideal.

You don't ever need to provide land for axolotls. They'll never use it. They're completely aquatic.



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Old 14th January 2013   #3
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Default Re: Fact Checking

Thanks Kaysie, I wanted to update the first post with new information as I went along, but there doesn't appear to be an edit function...is that right??

I use dechlorinator anyway, but good to know you're not meant to leave the water overnight.

I think my tank is properly cycled, every so often an ammonia test will go very light green to suggest I need a water change, the NO2 test doesnt change colour, and the NO3 test only ever gets to 10 ish if left a bit too long.

I have 2 axolotl in the tank and they have mainly been eating blood worms - you say these are not a good staple - this genuinely surprises me! I'll switch to earthworms. This is a prime example of the mixed up sources I've been reading, giving me mixed messages.

That moth ball, is meant to say moss ball! Damn auto correct!!! I definitely need to edit that OP.

Intersting re the air stone. So is it either or? I have both in there, is it beneficial to leave both? Should I get rid of the air flow?

Good re the land, I thought as much. What about extremely shallow water? That is what the refuge I visited was using for their adults.



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Old 14th January 2013   #4
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Default Re: Fact Checking

You can't edit your posts after someone has already replied to them. Sorry!

Leaving the water overnight is perfectly fine. It helps de-gas (all dissolved gasses) and equalize the temperature. Just leaving it, however, doesn't remove chloramines. This is a hard one for folks to get, as in the past, just letting it sit would allow the chlorine gas to evaporate. Now, the dechlorinator breaks the chlorine-amine bond, allowing the chlorine gas to evaporate, and the ammonia is dealt with by your biological filter.

Bloodworms, especially frozen are deficient in calcium. Earthworms have an excellent calcium-phosphorous ratio. You can supplement with lots of other food as well. There's an article here.

You can have both an air stone and a filter, but it's not necessary unless your tank is huge. The more aeration you have in your tank, generally the smaller the gills will be, as they need less surface area for oxygen exchange with higher oxygen saturation.

I don't recommend shallow water either. If you want to provide some floating plants for axolotls to lay around in, that's fine. They will hang out at the surface (higher oxygen levels), but they don't ever need to leave the water.



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Old 14th January 2013   #5
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Default Re: Fact Checking

Thanks again,

Are small gills a bad thing? IE would it affect them later in life if there was a malfunction or something, or would they adapt?

I shall start mail ordering earthworms I think. I get some from the garden but I don't want to risk it.



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Old 14th January 2013   #6
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Small gills are not a bad thing. The loss of gills is indicative of issues, but simply having small gills can be related to genetics or highly oxygenated water. Unless you notice that gills are receding, small gills are not a big deal.



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