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Axolotl tank set-ups, filters, substrate Discussions on tanks, temperature, filters, gravel, lights etc.

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Old 15th May 2019   #1
Freffles
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Default Another substrate / ammonia thread!

I know there is a wealth of information that I haven't read yet so sorry if I should know the answers but don't.

Total noob axolotl owner here. Have had no success getting started with axolotl. Been told not to conflicting information by several different fish shops regarding how to set up the tank and obviously got some bad advice along the way. I assume the people that were selling axolotl in their shop actually knew how to look after them and I'm pretty sure now that's not necessarily the case.

Won't bore you with the history or just talk about my current setup. Have the Aqua One lifestyle 127 litre tank and I have had this for about 5 weeks now. The most recent expert I spoke to advised that putting gravel in the tank was fine so we've got some aquarium gravel that is about 5 mm and slightly larger. Had about 1 cm on the base of the tank. Started up using just the filter that's built into the tank. Seemed ok but there were no ceramic noodles or anything like that. Filled the tank put in all the chemicals for the pH and so on and put the axie in the same day. Was an emergency situation, had to get him out of the 32 l tank that the previous expert had suggested was adequate. So the axie seemed to enjoy the new environment and I was trying to keep on top of the tank maintenance on a day-to-day basis. For the first couple of weeks I fed him in a bowl outside of the tank so we didn't end up with any food scraps or missed the food and stinking up the water. after a couple of weeks the water still was pretty clean but ammonia levels we're not going down. We started to feed him in his tank and kept a pretty watchful eye over his food so that we could see when he was eating get rid of any leftovers. Despite cleaning (gravel cleaner) and testing and some smallish water changes (15%) the ammonia levels have continued to increase. My personal theory is because I have been unable to thoroughly clean the gravel and there were there is some waste that's festering in there that is keeping the ammonia level through the roof. I'm using ammo lock to keep things bearable for the axie.

So now I'm thinking of getting rid of the gravel so I can better clean the tank. In the past, in the 32ltr tank I'd had a bare tank and also had tried sand and neither one was a success in terms of getting the tank to cycle. I now suspect though that it was due more to the tank being too small rather than any other issue.

So before I jump in and rip out all the gravel I just wanted to touch base with the community regarding options. I read the stickies regarding substrate options and I was a little bit confused. Bare tank I understand. River rocks I understand. But I couldn't see any advantage to sand.

I'm currently leaning towards ripping out all the gravel and going with a bare tank until I can get the tank to cycle. Once it starts to cycle then I'm thinking of putting in some River rocks but not too many, leaving it substantially bare.

I'd be interested in any ideas you all may have. Be gentle with me, doing my best but I feel like I've been told some BS along the way by those I put my (undeserved) trust in.



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Old 15th May 2019   #2
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Default Re: Another substrate / ammonia thread!

To my understanding sand gives your axolotl something to grip as it moves around. Some people also use it for tank decor. It is completely optional though



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Old 15th May 2019   #3
Hayley
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Default Re: Another substrate / ammonia thread!

You do absolutely want to get rid of the gravel asap as it can be very dangerous for axolotls. Pet stores often give out wrong advice, especially on axolotls, which is why websites like this are so valuable. I'm glad your here!
I am currently using barebottom as I was raising juveniles. They're big enough to be on sand but I'm enjoying having no substrate. Sand will provide more grip for their feet but I haven't found barebottom to be an issue, though I do have lots of hides and plants for them to grip. Sand, and any substrate for that matter, will hold beneficial bacteria which is needed for a healthy cycle. If you go barebottom a appropriately sized filter will do the job, as well as any decorations. Sand can also be aesthetically pleasing. I've used it before and loved it. Big rocks are great, I have a few in my tank that one of my axolotls likes to sit on. You'll just need to check that the rocks are safe to use with axolotls (I can link a guide to this if you need).
Are you familiar with the nitrogen cycle, or would you like me to get you some guides? What additives have gone into the tank so far? I'm not sure what the chemicals for pH are, lots of bottled stuff can be bad for axies (apart from dechlorinator and some meds, of course).



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Old 16th May 2019   #4
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Default Re: Another substrate / ammonia thread!

Hi Hayley. Yeah been given a load of conflicting stuff along the way. One shop even told us we needed a heater because the water temp needed to be within 22-24.

Actually been struggling for about 6 months, but only 5 weeks with the new bigger tank. First tank was way too small despite what the expert said. Could never get it to cycle. Had started that tank barebottom and after a month or so and ammonia still through the roof advised to try undergravel filter. Tried that and no dice. All that did was take away about 20% of the water and replaced it with gravel.

So, onto a new and improved setup. The gravel will be coming out this weekend. Axie has picked up some here and there but he's spat it out again. 5 weeks in this tank and no hint of a cycle beginning. Ammonia is through the roof and I'm adding ammo lock every second day. I think there must be plenty of poop buried in that gravel that I'm not getting during the clean. This tank has a built in filter and I've added a DIY skimmer/polisher because I was getting a slick on the top. As far as chemicals are concerned, I've used KH and GH powder when I initially filled the tank and also API quick start, stress coat+, . Also have used a bit of aqua one algae eliminator and Seachem clarity when there was foam and a slick on the top of the water. I've also tried Seachem Stability as alternative to quick start but no luck. I've gone through a lot of chemicals, most in the smaller tank because I was doing LOTS of water changes. Now I'm not doing much changing because I figured it wasn't helping a lot in terms of establishing a cycle.

Yes, I would appreciate any guides I can get my hands on. I've attached a picture of the current setup. Thanks!
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Last edited by Freffles; 16th May 2019 at 11:49. Reason: Typo
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Old 17th May 2019   #5
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Default Re: Another substrate / ammonia thread!

Definitely remove the gravel like you said. I would do barebottom for now so you can easily clean and monitor axolotls droppings to make sure he's not impacted. I can't tell from pictures, what sort of filter is it? My recommendation would be to completely remove the axolotl from the tank and move him to a small Tupperware or bin and change the water 100% every single day. Meanwhile, do a fishless cycle of the tank. https://www.buildyouraquarium.com/ho...ishless-cycle/
This might seem like a big hassle but the tank will cycle faster without the constant water changes and chemical additions necessary to make it safe for the axolotl to live in the tank while it cycles, and the axolotl will be much healthier and safer until the cycle is done. This will also allow you to carefully monitor his body condition and overall health. Once the tank is cycled you can add him to his new home



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Old 20th May 2019   #6
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Default Re: Another substrate / ammonia thread!

Over the weekend I have drained and cleaned the tank and remover the gravel. When I filled it again I used only the KH and GH powders and stress coat+. This tank has a built in filter so I discarded the activated charcoal and added ceramic noodles with filter floss over the top of that. I also reinstalled my DIY skimmer but turned the flow down a bit to minimise water movement.

Put the axie back in same day figuring that the clean water had to be better than being stuck in a tiny fish bowl.

Regarding fishless cycling, I understand the benefits but keeping an axie in a Tupperware tub for several weeks seems a bit harsh. Would be happy to give it a go if it was for a short time. They don't seem very happy when cramped up in a small space 😢

We do have a glass fish bowl that we've used for feeding in the past which holds about a gallon so the axie could go in there for a bit.. I also have a small (10 gallon) goldfish tank that is cycled from which I can take a filter pad or two to seed the axie tank.



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Old 26th May 2019   #7
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Default Re: Another substrate / ammonia thread!

Okay great that you have been making some changes! Noodles in the filter are a great idea, they hold heaps of bacteria. Can you link the GH/KH powders? I know there are some axolotl safe but I just want to double check they are okay. Avoid the clarity additive and algae cleaners as they can be detrimental. The only chemicals you want to add are dechlorinators and suitable GH raisers, stability I think is okay though I am not 100%.
You can keep your axie tubbed for a few weeks, it seems stressful to them but it's less stressful than a cycling tank. Just be sure to change tub water daily.
Using seeded media is a fantastic idea, it'll help your axie tank a lot.
I'll link the reference I use for aquascaping axolotl tanks :) https://www.caudata.org/axolotl-sanc...quascape.shtml



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Old 26th May 2019   #8
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Default Re: Another substrate / ammonia thread!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hayleyy View Post
Can you link the GH/KH powders?
I don't think I can, they are a "store brand" from Lots of Fins in Narre Warren (Victoria). I've only added those when filling the tank from empty.

I also scored a second hand chiller and pump on gumtree (Resun CL-650) but I'm in no particular hurry to set that up. Will maybe do that next weekend.

So far the new tank setup is going ok, only been a week so no time for anything to go wrong! He's been happier I think and we're now feeding him earthworms whenever possible and he's liking that. I haven't added the seeded pads yet but I will do that in the next couple of days. If nothing is happening by the end of the week then I will consider tubbing from there on.

I'll check out that link for sure. Thanks for the help.



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Old 26th May 2019   #9
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Default Re: Another substrate / ammonia thread!

Here is a pic of the kH and gH packaging. May be helpful???
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Old 28th May 2019   #10
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Default Re: Another substrate / ammonia thread!

I haven't seen that one but it might be safe. I tried to find more info online but couldn't find much about unsafe GH raisers so I'll assume it's okay.
I love winter, my chiller is barely on! Best of luck :)



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Old 12th June 2019   #11
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Default Re: Another substrate / ammonia thread!

I think I've finally got it sorted. I seeded the tank with some filter material from my much smaller goldfish tank and that seems to have done the trick. I had already discarded the activated carbon pads and added filter floss and ceramic noodles.

I've had two good test results in 3 days. Today's are posted below. My reading of them is Ammonia =0, Nitrites =0 and Nitrates =20ppm. Testing was the same 3 days ago.

I'll let it go for a week, my daughter wants to get another axolotl but I want to be sure we're ready to go.
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Old 12th June 2019   #12
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Default Re: Another substrate / ammonia thread!

I think I've finally got it sorted. I seeded the tank with some filter material from my much smaller goldfish tank and that seems to have done the trick. I had already discarded the activated carbon pads and added filter floss and ceramic noodles.

I've had two good test results in 3 days. Today's are posted below. My reading of them is Ammonia =0, Nitrites =0 and Nitrates =20ppm. Testing was the same 3 days ago.

I'll let it go for a week, my daughter wants to get another axolotl but I want to be sure we're ready to go.



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Old 14th June 2019   #13
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Default Re: Another substrate / ammonia thread!

Great to see!! Looking good!



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