Ammonia and Nitrate Concern and Questions

SaltyFishHipser

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Lately I have noticed a steady rise of nitrates and ammonia in my 20 gallon tank, despite preforming 5 gallon changes every weekend. The nitrates are reaching as high as around 60 ppm, and ammonia at 1.5 ppm.
I currently have only one 8.5 inch(21.5 cm) adult female in the tank, but I have a 30 gallon tank and I am planning on getting another. But if this big problem doesn't get solved very soon, I'll have to hold on buying another axolotl.

- I have tried doing more water changes during the week, but I'm afraid that might stress out the bacteria
-I'm waiting for some plants to either arrive in the mail, or finish their quarantine(duckweed, java fern, java moss, dwarf hair grass, water lettuce, a marimo ball, and hornwort), because all of the current plants in the tank are synthetic, so hopefully those might work with nitrate reduction?

In my water testing kit, it says that in order to deplete ammonia and nitrates, I should by "API Ammo Lock" and "API Nitra-Zorb / Aqua Detox?" Is it really necessary to buy that for my tank?

Please give me some recommendations, this is stressing me out a lot and I am extremely concerned for the health and safety of my axie baby, Pyro.
 

Kingfisher

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A few questions:
Was your 20 gallon tank cycled before taking your latest water readings?
What type of filter are you using?
What are your nitrite levels?
 

SaltyFishHipser

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Yes, the tank has been cycled from what I know,
The type of filter I use is a regular hob filter, its specifically a fluval aquaclear 10-30 gallon
My nitrite levels are at 0
 

Hayleyy

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Your nitrates aren't too crazy, just do maybe an extra water change a week if you can to bring it down. Water changes wont damage the bacteria so don't stress about that.The ammonia could be a spike from uneaten food or poop. Check under decorations and in substrate if you have any. The plants will help a lot, though I would recommend quarantining them to make sure you're not bringing in any nasties. I use prime when doing water changes, it detoxifies the ammonia so it doesn't hurt your axolotl. It can give false ammonia readings though, so I'll wait a couple of days before testing again :)
 

landonewts

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I did not know that Prime can give false ammonia readings! I have been treating water with Prime for daily 20% water changes on a new cycled (I think) 10 gallon tank, but ammonia levels are consistently between .25 and 1ppm, not where I’d like them. I moved my juvenile axolotl to a small tank, and even after a water change am getting crazy ammonia levels on both tanks. This knowledge helps! I’m going to let the tank sit for a while and then test again.
 

Stormynyte

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I did not know that Prime can give false ammonia readings! I have been treating water with Prime for daily 20% water changes on a new cycled (I think) 10 gallon tank, but ammonia levels are consistently between .25 and 1ppm, not where I’d like them. I moved my juvenile axolotl to a small tank, and even after a water change am getting crazy ammonia levels on both tanks. This knowledge helps! I’m going to let the tank sit for a while and then test again.
I know this is an old post, but I had the same thing happen. My water was perfect then one day it spiked, and nothing helped lower the ammonia. Come to find out it was my water conditioners. Some that take the chlorine out will change it to ammonia. So no matter how many changes you do, it's just raising the ammonia. Use either Prime or repti water; these both have not given me any problems.
If unsure it's your water conditioner take plain water add the conditioner wait five minutes then test. This is how I found it out. Without anything, the to water was fine then tested with, and the ammonia was off the charts..
Hope this helps anyone else that might run into this
 

landonewts

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My research led me to an understanding (hopefully accurate) that it’s free ammonia, rather than total ammonia, that is the thing to be concerned about with water quality. The API water test that is commonly recommended only tests for total ammonia. I found a test by Seachem that will test for either. That’s the one I’m using now. I like it because it also has a reference test so you can make sure the results are accurate. The wee discs you need to use to run the test are a little hard to deal with, being exactly the size and thickness of the round paper bits that a paper punch spits out, but it gave me some peace of mind. And my axolotl seems healthy and happy.
 
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