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Old 15th May 2015   #1
Squidhunter669
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Talking Gravel Substrate

So I guess it's just me and Wikipedia against everyone on this, but here goes.

I have been raising axolotls for about 3 years now, all on fine-coarse gravel substrate. on several occasions I have watched my axes selecting specific sized stones and swallowing/regurgitating them. Out of the three, none have suffered impaction or other bowel problems. I believe that impaction is caused by the build up of the shell material in commercial dry-food and NOT having small gastroliths available in your tank. Also, your axes are going to swallow any non-digestible aggregate you have in your tank smaller than their head. Sand binds feces and dehydrates the digestive system, causing constipation.



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Old 15th May 2015   #2
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

So much for grabbing the popcorn, no one even wants to start a fight this time, I guess xD
Neither will I, but I do have a few questions/comments.

Quote:
Out of the three, none have suffered impaction or other bowel problems.
Out of what three? Three axies? Three years? Three impaction cases?

Quote:
I believe that impaction is caused by the build up of the shell material in commercial dry-food and NOT having small gastroliths available in your tank.
But how many people actually feed their axies commercial dry-food? I feel most keepers either don't feed dry food/pellets at all, or, they feed soft pellets.

Quote:
Sand binds feces and dehydrates the digestive system, causing constipation.
Do you have any references you could share?

I am not trying to start a argument or anything FYI :)



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Old 16th May 2015   #3
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

I am not wanting to start a fight but I would be interested to see what SOLID evidence he has to back up his claim. The OP has not given much at all but nothing he has offered to the table so far is making me feel at all inclined to start using gravel. Three years of no issues from the use of gravel is not really enough evidence. Neither is the reference to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information and I would take information there with a HUGE grain of salt. I would also like to know how it has been determined that his axolotls are in fact choosing which stones to consume.

*Has packet of chocolate and chips at the ready*



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Old 16th May 2015   #4
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

Keeping axolotls on 3mm rounded gravel is common practice with many German keepers it is also an old style care practice in other countries. I know several experienced UK and US keepers who have used gravel for decades with no reported problems. Yes the axolotls will consume some but it if it passes through the system what problem does it cause ? Also feeding pellets onto gravel would increase the likelihood of its ingestion compared to eating big worms.
Gravel impaction is a risk, I don't recommend its use nor do I use it myself but I find it ironic how new keepers jump on the bandwagon over gravel whilst they can't maintain water quality, low temps or provide a decent diet themselves. I would sooner see an axolotl on small rounded gravel than in a tank at 20c+ with substandard water quality.



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Old 16th May 2015   #5
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

My daughters first Axolotl died ingesting a stone.... She learned a very harsh lesson at the expense of her Axolotl... This is why I prefer not to have any substrate.. I feel sand and pebbles are more for aquascaping than anything else.. I know its a good foundation for good bacteria to colonize, But there are alternatives...

I think It all comes down to personal preference regardless of what anyone may think or say



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Old 16th May 2015   #6
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

Quote:
Originally Posted by xxianxx View Post
Keeping axolotls on 3mm rounded gravel is common practice with many German keepers it is also an old style care practice in other countries. I know several experienced UK and US keepers who have used gravel for decades with no reported problems. Yes the axolotls will consume some but it if it passes through the system what problem does it cause ? Also feeding pellets onto gravel would increase the likelihood of its ingestion compared to eating big worms.
Gravel impaction is a risk, I don't recommend its use nor do I use it myself but I find it ironic how new keepers jump on the bandwagon over gravel whilst they can't maintain water quality, low temps or provide a decent diet themselves. I would sooner see an axolotl on small rounded gravel than in a tank at 20c+ with substandard water quality.
How does sand vs gravel affect temp?



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Old 16th May 2015   #7
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

Years ago I kept axolotls on pea size gravel and didn't have any known issues but I don't believe that was solid evidence that can be used on the debate or whether to use gravel or not. Nai live, I do think you have a good point on providing optimum conditions otherwise. water quality and diet is more important. And the consumption of gravel can be minimised a little with hand feeding above the gravel or using a feeding dish. I would just like to have more solid evidence provided from the OP on his claim as I am curious more than anything. Still, at the moment from my research I am not inclined to use gravel, nor would I recommend using gravel to others.



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Old 16th May 2015   #8
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

Quote:
Originally Posted by BabySinclair View Post
How does sand vs gravel affect temp?
Appropriate sized rounded gravel appears to be less of an issue than substandard environmental conditions. Check the sick axolotl section on this site, 99% of probs are down to poor conditions caused by owner's not following basic care advice. The worst people for slating others for using gravel are noobs who are probably failing to care for their own pet properly, as I said its "ironic". I use bare bottomed tanks as I feel that other substrates can be problematical. Using sand creates more cleaning probs and the axolotls eat it, loads of it in fact as you can see if you ever switch from sand to a barebottomed tank, they pass it for weeks. Gravel can potentially be a prob depending on the size of the axolotl and the gravel. The trend for using free " AstroTurf" samples is unbelievable and is down to cheapskate owners not wanting to pay for aquarium safe fake grass, they would rather use a potentially unsafe product in a manner it was not designed for with zero regard for their pet.



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Old 16th May 2015   #9
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

Take a look at the pictures
https://www.google.com/search?q=axol...iw=768&bih=927

That alone should condem the use of small rocks, gravel and pebbles.



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Old 16th May 2015   #10
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

Quote:
Originally Posted by BabySinclair View Post
Take a look at the pictures
https://www.google.com/search?q=axol...iw=768&bih=927

That alone should condem the use of small rocks, gravel and pebbles.
Which is why i used the term "appropriate sized gravel" , reported that German keepers used "3mm" gravel, i also specified " rounded gravel". I also said I don't use it or recomend it, I was merely reporting that a number of highly experienced keepers use this type of gravel with no probs. I have asked a couple of them to comment in this thread on my face book group (axolotl care). They may choose not to as they really don't care to be slated by noobs for a care practice they think is fine and have successfully used for decades.



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Old 16th May 2015   #11
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

A gravel debate in this forum has been coming for a long time. This forum is anti gravel, which is fine, gravel poses a genuine impaction danger but when some experienced keepers use it with no probs its worth asking why. Size and shape of the gravel obviously has a role to play.



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Old 16th May 2015   #12
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

A healthy debate is always good which is why I would like to see more solid evidence to back up the OP's claim. Nai live, it would be good to see some of the experienced keepers you referred to contribute to this thread. I would be interested to see what they can offer. Whilst I don't use gravel and usually advise against others using gravel I do think sometimes people on this forum can be a bit harsh on those who do and do tend to overlook more important factors in care such as water quality (which seems to be much more commonly an issue that pops up in the sick axolotl section.



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Old 16th May 2015   #13
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

I think part of the reason so many people latch onto gravel as something that is important is that you can see it, feel it, and see the impact of it on some pretty scary pictures. Poor water conditions are a much bigger danger, but you can't see ammonia, can't feel nitrite, and the pictures of sick axies, well, they could be sick from any number of things.

You may not be able to tell someone how to solve their water problems (or even to tell if they do have them), but gravel - that you can see, and since it is Bad you can be a Good Person by advising them to Take It Out.

And yes, that comment about fake grass ... that has been bugging me that people are putting something like carpet in their axie tanks. It looks pretty, but is it really axolotl safe? It is meant to be walked on, not eaten off of, so there is nothing to say it won't leach potentially harmful chemicals, which may have a long-term effect.



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Old 16th May 2015   #14
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

Also, I ran across this - sand isn't even safe for all axolotls. Neko to Meoto: Cute and Dumb

It would be very nice if the gravel issue were studied, since it makes sense that not all gravel (or sand) is equal. Some sand is pretty sharp. Some gravel is well-rounded and small. And, at what point does "sand" become "gravel"? If we could provide intelligent guidelines (e.g., avoid gravel with sharp edges and irregular shapes), perhaps the people who currently decide that the anti-gravel crowd is overly-cautious would be more likely to listen to the warnings.

Clearly, the German keepers (who post some awesome pictures of gorgeous axolotls on facebook) are not having problems with their gravel. (Either that, or perhaps this is Darwinism at work and the axolotls that survive to breed are less likely to consume large amount of gravel. ) I wish that gravel was sold here, since I don't much like bare bottom tanks, but dislike sand.



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Old 16th May 2015   #15
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Default

I think that the diet has a bit to do with what substrate is safe for your critters. (This may have been stated already.) If your hand feed your lotls worms near the surface of the water I bet that the chances of them swallowing any gravel or sand is lowered as opposed to axie pellets or messy blood worms?



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Old 16th May 2015   #16
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

Now that I've finished my popcorn I'm ready to join the discussion.

Confession: I prefer small rounded gravel (1-2mm).

I see myself as an experienced owner though the number of my posts and my rep doesn't show it. I've been keeping axolotls since 2008. Before I got my first ones, I joined a small but very informative forum and a little later I even was chosen to be a mod there. blueberlin (who left caudata a while ago ) also wrote there. Sadly, we started fighting behind the scenes a few years later and the forum was shut down, so there's nothing left to refer to.

I started with sand, and it got messy real fast and started to foul after a few month. It was definitely my fault; I didn't know that I had to stir it frequently to prevent the sand from packing.
Plus, plants don't like to grow in sand, and it's nearly impossible to fix plants in sand, so the axies won't pull them out.

Since I upgraded my tank from 100x40x40cm to 140x50x50cm back then, I took my chance and changed to said small gravel.
It's easier to keep it clean. I also have the feeling that it's easier for the axies to spit out the grains when they accidentally suck some of them while eating.

Yes, I lost three axies, but it had nothing to do with the substrate. I had all of them anatomized and two of them ultrasounded when they got sick, and there were no grains of gravel in their digestive tract. I barely ever find gravel in their poop (I remove their droppings as soon as I spot them with a turkey baster, therefore I can see what undigested parts are in there…sounds pretty gross as I write it down. )

Therefore I dare to say: If the gravel is small enough the risk of constipation isn't higher than if they sit on sand.




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Old 16th May 2015   #17
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

The Vast experienced, the experienced and the least experienced... I think as we fit in any of these categories, we all have been made aware of the impact or results of all these substrates.. We've read articles and seen photo's from researchers and the experienced..
Our Axolotls depend on us for nurturing, health and comfort.... They don't have a say or a choice... They are either happy and healthy in the environment we create or they suffer in silence with the likelihood of death..
When it comes down to it, regardless of the rights or wrongs, its totally up to the keeper.. We already know in some cases they have died as my daughters first one did after swallowing a stone... At the expense of your Lotl is not the way to learn a lesson.
So, before you make any decision, please consider the health and wellbeing of you Axolotls...



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Old 16th May 2015   #18
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

Jikaru, are you responding to my post, or are you talking in general?

If you meant me I want to clarify again: I'm not talking about pebbles. This is my gravel:


Click the image to open in full size.

Of course, I wouldn't keep babies that eat bloodworms on this gravel. They would eat more gravel than worms.



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Old 16th May 2015   #19
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

haha...No qannp. Its not aimed at you.... I am generalizing... When it comes down to it everyone has their preferences.... Whatever advice is given, either way its totally up to the individual.....

okay...... you want some popcorn??



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Old 16th May 2015   #20
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Default Re: Gravel Substrate

Oh no, BabySinclare and tammieaxie please don't generalize. When I wrote about the popcorn, I was just too lazy and tired, and I'm aware that most people here prefer sand. I just didn't want to burn my fingers agreeing with OP.

Users like Skudo and Auntiejude (and many others) are always friendly and give the same advice again and again to unexperienced owners while they could easily do their own research.



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