• Axolotls are illegal in California. Please read this thread for detailed information and links to the actual laws: https://www.caudata.org/forum/f1173-advanced-newt-salamander-topics/f1175-herpetological-science-politics/f1176-laws-legality-ethics/66386-axolotls-illegal-california-here-relevant-laws.html

Help with new axolotl tank and parameters


New member
Hello! I`m new to this forum and also new to having aquatic pets.

About two weeks ago I got my first axolotl (he`s a baby), I have a 100L tank with dune sand in it. When I first got the tank I asked the shop to send me some water from a already cycled tank to help with the process, and it did, first few days of having the axolotl in the tank I had 0 ammonia and 0 NO2. However, after my first partial water change (a week after having the axolotl), my ammonia and NO2 actually got higher!

I have the temperature set at about 17,5 - 18C with the help of a chiller and a hang on back filter and ph is at about 7,5 with no big variations. I`ve already tested my tap water for ammonia and the results were 0 ppm. I have been using OverNite and Ocean Blend, also Prime for everytime I add new water to the tank.

Yesterday my ammonia was at 0.25ppm and NO2 at 1ppm, so today I did another water change (of about 25% or so) and no big changes, NO2 still 1ppm and ammonia seemed a little lighter, between 0 and 0.25, but not quite 0.25 yet.

I`ve been having a very hard time keeping the substrate clean, being that I`m feeding him bloodworms every day, so I`ve been wanting to remove all his sand or maybe remove some of it and adding tiles on top of them, however I`m worried if I remove the sand and add new stuff in that`ll make my ammonia levels even higher?

Also I tried having live plants in the water (fox tales) but they died and I think that just made everything worse as parts of the plants ended up literally everywhere and I still havent been able to get all the fallen peaces out of the substrate (also they were all over the chillers bomb entrance and filter, not sure if I should do something else about it besides removing them with my hands?)

I bought some marble tiles from a construction store yesterday, currently trying to remove all the glue from the pieces and considering trying it out in the tank, would marble be okay or would it be harmful for the axie?

(here`s what the marble tiles look like: https://www.leroymerlin.com.br/mosaico-marmore-brilhante-bege-dm16-beige-polished-29x29cm-colormix_88197725#avaliacoes)

Sorry for the huge post, really hope some of you more experienced axolotl owners can help me out with this, thanks!
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New member
marble should be ok, i cant load the picture but as long as its real marble there shouldn't be anything that can leach into the tank, sand can trap all the nasty gunk and may be why you have trouble with your levels.

bloodworms are such a mess, i have a bare bottom tank right now and i still have to watch for ammonia spikes after feeding if i do it in the tank.
hope someone more experienced can help with your other questions!
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New member
Unfortunately to cycle a tank it first needs ammonia to convert and feed the nitrites and then the nitrites convert and produce nitrates. By you doing water changes to remove the ammonia is going to slow the cycling process.

Are able to get used filter media or gravel from a cycled tank, from a friend or from the same shop that gave you the water? If you can place it in with your new filter media. That would help speed up the cycling.


New member
How big is the axolotl? If it's under 5 inches you want to remove the sand asap, as it can cause impaction with little ones. It can affect your cycle because substrate holds a good amount of bacteria, but if sounds like it wasn't cycled. Water doesn't hold beneficial bacteria so getting the water from an established tank is only going to bring in bacteria food source. Like Kingfisher said you want filter media from a tank, it's a super quick way of doing it. Bottled bacteria can also be used.
I use this site to know what's safe. It says marble isn't :( https://www.caudata.org/axolotl-sanctuary/Aquascape.shtml Do some more googling to confirm


New member
thanks for the help guys

unfortunatelly i dont know anyone who can help with filter media

since the post I have removed all the sand from the tank, I've been only doing water changes once or twice a week, whenever I seem to get darker results in ammonia test kits. I've stopped feeding him blood worms and started feeding him small earthworms, to avoid getting the tank dirty.

I've also added some purigen and bio glass to the filter (ocean tech hf800)

I have three different brands of ammonia test kits, one of them only gives me 0 ammonia, which I suspect means the test kit is not working, the other two seem to be in agreement, one of them shows 0,25 mg/l and the other one doesnt have a 0,25 in the scale, so its showing me 0,5 mg/l... I also have the seachem ammonia alert and it's always around the safe mark or slightly greener, whenever it gets fully on the alert mark I do a small water change of about 20%

NO2 doesnt seem to get lower or higher than 0,25 before and after water changes, it seems to always be the same

also got a no3 test kit, it was 50, then after tpa went to 10 and after another tpa 5, so i suppose maybe tpas are not helping?

ph is now 7 and temperature still about 17 to 18C

My axolotl doesn/t seem stressed over water quality, his gills are not bent forward and his tale tip is not bent either. He's just been really active after I added some new fake plants on the tank, which made me worried at first,but after some research it seems he's just a very active baby.

any idea on how often I should do the water changes? :/


New member
I would think doing water changes once or twice a week would be fine for a small juvenile axolotl in that size of tank.

For testing your water parameters, maybe you should look into getting an API freshwater master testing kit. The kit give pretty good results.