0ppm Nitrates What do I do?

Kennakat123

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So... I’m cycling a tank so I can get my axolotl, but my level are all at 0ppm. Yes I know it’s good that ammonia and nitrite are but what about nitrate? Do axolotls really need nitrate? If so how do I get my nitrates to go up? What will happen if I don’t have any nitrates? PLZ HELP!!!!
 

GulfCoastAxolotls

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So... I’m cycling a tank so I can get my axolotl, but my level are all at 0ppm. Yes I know it’s good that ammonia and nitrite are but what about nitrate? Do axolotls really need nitrate? If so how do I get my nitrates to go up? What will happen if I don’t have any nitrates? PLZ HELP!!!!
I think you may be misunderstanding what nitrates are so let me give you a quick breakdown of the nitrogen cycle here:

Axolotls (and any aquatic species really) produce waste in the form of ammonia. In the presence of ammonia, nitrifying bacteria develops to convert that ammonia into nitrites. When nitrites are present, another type of nitrifying bacteria develops to break the nitrites down into nitrates. Therefore, you will never see nitrates in your tank without first introducing ammonia and allowing those bacteria colonies to develop. (ive also attached a little graphic I made for my website that may help with the visual)

As far as the health of your axolotl is concerned, the general rule is:
Ammonia = very bad/toxic
Nitrites = bad/toxic
Nitrates = still bad/toxic, just less so that the others.

The appearance of nitrates in your tank does nothing except indicate that you have nitrifying bacteria present to breakdown that waste, which is good, but that doesn't mean nitrates are good.

I'm not sure exactly what you've been doing to cycle your tank, but adding an ammonia source is your first step. Using plain liquid ammonia to dose your tank is a common way of doing that. Generally I dose new tanks to about 2ppm. You can then add starter bacteria if you would like to help speed up the process. Microbelift Special Blend is my personal preference, though I know a lot of people who use Dr. Tims One and Only. You'll want to test you tank every couple days to monitor for a rise in nitrites/drop in ammonia. You can then add a bit more ammonia to keep feeding that bacteria. You'll then start to see a rise in nitrates. Add more ammonia and bacteria. When the ammonia reading drops to zero, the nitrite drops to zero and the nitrate is at a measurable level, the aquarium is considered to be cycled. This process can take 4-6 weeks so be patient. Before you add any animals to the aquarium, do at least a 20% water change to lower the level of the nitrates. Different animals tolerate nitrates at different levels, but a safe rule of thumb is to keep your nitrate level below 40ppm. Typically, a 20 to 30% water change each week is enough to keep levels in a safe range, but this is also dependent on the size of your tank. A 20 gallon long tank is the minimum for an axolotl.

That should get your started. Let me know if you have any questions.
 

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Kennakat123

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I think you may be misunderstanding what nitrates are so let me give you a quick breakdown of the nitrogen cycle here:

Axolotls (and any aquatic species really) produce waste in the form of ammonia. In the presence of ammonia, nitrifying bacteria develops to convert that ammonia into nitrites. When nitrites are present, another type of nitrifying bacteria develops to break the nitrites down into nitrates. Therefore, you will never see nitrates in your tank without first introducing ammonia and allowing those bacteria colonies to develop. (ive also attached a little graphic I made for my website that may help with the visual)

As far as the health of your axolotl is concerned, the general rule is:
Ammonia = very bad/toxic
Nitrites = bad/toxic
Nitrates = still bad/toxic, just less so that the others.

The appearance of nitrates in your tank does nothing except indicate that you have nitrifying bacteria present to breakdown that waste, which is good, but that doesn't mean nitrates are good.

I'm not sure exactly what you've been doing to cycle your tank, but adding an ammonia source is your first step. Using plain liquid ammonia to dose your tank is a common way of doing that. Generally I dose new tanks to about 2ppm. You can then add starter bacteria if you would like to help speed up the process. Microbelift Special Blend is my personal preference, though I know a lot of people who use Dr. Tims One and Only. You'll want to test you tank every couple days to monitor for a rise in nitrites/drop in ammonia. You can then add a bit more ammonia to keep feeding that bacteria. You'll then start to see a rise in nitrates. Add more ammonia and bacteria. When the ammonia reading drops to zero, the nitrite drops to zero and the nitrate is at a measurable level, the aquarium is considered to be cycled. This process can take 4-6 weeks so be patient. Before you add any animals to the aquarium, do at least a 20% water change to lower the level of the nitrates. Different animals tolerate nitrates at different levels, but a safe rule of thumb is to keep your nitrate level below 40ppm. Typically, a 20 to 30% water change each week is enough to keep levels in a safe range, but this is also dependent on the size of your tank. A 20 gallon long tank is the minimum for an axolotl.

That should get your started. Let me know if you have any questions.
Ok well can I put my axolotl in the tank without the good bacteria (nitrates)? Or do I need to get them in the tank?
 

GulfCoastAxolotls

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Ok well can I put my axolotl in the tank without the good bacteria (nitrates)? Or do I need to get them in the tank?
Im still not sure you're understanding the nitrogen cycle process and what its purpose is. Nitrates are not bacteria. Nitrates are a broken down version of ammonia produced by bacteria breaking down waste. I would not recommend putting an axolotl into an non-cycled aquarium as it causes unnecessary stress that can be lethal to an axolotl. Axolotls are very sensitive to water quality and are not an easy animal to keep. They require weekly, if not daily, tank maintenance. Having a good understanding of water chemistry is essential.
 

JM29

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So... I’m cycling a tank so I can get my axolotl, but my level are all at 0ppm. Yes I know it’s good that ammonia and nitrite are but what about nitrate? Do axolotls really need nitrate? If so how do I get my nitrates to go up? What will happen if I don’t have any nitrates? PLZ HELP!!!!

With so little information about your tank, it's impossible to give you any advice.

What is its volume ?
Is there sand ? Gravel ?
Are there natural (living) plants in it ?
Are there decaying organic matters which could have initiated your nitrogen cycle ?
What is the water temperature ? (low temperatures are well for axolotls but the cycle may be slower to establish)
 

Kennakat123

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With so little information about your tank, it's impossible to give you any advice.

What is its volume ?
Is there sand ? Gravel ?
Are there natural (living) plants in it ?
Are there decaying organic matters which could have initiated your nitrogen cycle ?
What is the water temperature ? (low temperatures are well for axolotls but the cycle may be slower to establish)
The volume is 30 gallons. I have rocks for substrate and no live plants. All of my decorations and substrate ways soaked in water before putting in tank. The temperature is low. I don’t have an exact measurement.
 

GulfCoastAxolotls

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The volume is 30 gallons. I have rocks for substrate and no live plants. All of my decorations and substrate ways soaked in water before putting in tank. The temperature is low. I don’t have an exact measurement.
What size rocks are you using for substrate? gravel is a huge no-no for axolotls, as are most smaller decorative stones. For young axolotls (under 6 inches) the tank really should be bare bottom or tiles. Only at about 6 inches can you use ultra fine grain sand.

Knowing the exact temperature of your tank is also very important. You can find good digital thermometers fairly inexpensively in most lfs or online.
 

GulfCoastAxolotls

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Ok thank you for that information. My rocks are about 2 in wide.
Those may not be safe long term. Adult axolotls have large mouths and I've seen horror stories about axolotls eating stones the size of their heads.
 

Kennakat123

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Those may not be safe long term. Adult axolotls have large mouths and I've seen horror stories about axolotls eating stones the size of their heads.
Ok. Thank you so much for helping me!😊I’m new to this so I wanted to make sure before I get my axolotl, and he gets hurt.
 
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    I believe the fridge gets to about 54°, so if you can replicate that in the tank, it might be okay. I personally would fridge just to make catching them easier, and if the infection is something in the water column at all, it will hopefully die out while they're AWOL (I'm thinking like ich for fish, not sure if axies have an equivalent)
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    Feed it chopped worms chitoos, its big enough and bloodworm is nutritionaly deficient.
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    Freeze dried , live or frozen bloodworm.
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    @Lilith, fridging is not required for fungus treatment. Read my thread on treatment.
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