Question: Is a 10 gallon acceptable for even a juvenile?

Jcd5v

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I currently have my juvenile in a 10 gallon tank. Today I noticed Pearl was acting a little strange, so I checked my parameters and, to my surprise, there was ammonia in the water. I have fish tanks so I haven’t had to cycle a tank in forever (I always use media from another tank). My nitrates were also high which leads me to believe that this juvenile is overloading my bacteria in a 10 gallon tank with a canister filter with 100gph. I’ve only had her since Wednesday so that is really surprising to me. Is even a juvenile gonna be difficult if in a 10 gallon? I didn’t have a turkey blaster so leftover food may be the issue, but will it still be difficult? I have a 25 gallon cube I can upgrade her to, but I was going to get a 20 gallon long because it doesn’t have the wasted height.

If you have an Axolotl in a 10 gallon tank, how often do you do water changes and do you find it manageable?


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Kitan

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Yes, 10 gal is acceptable for an juvenile. 20 cube won't be great as I expect it has less floor room.

Now, no matter what size tank you have, 'lotl's produce a lot of waste. You need a turkey baster for daily poop clean up's and excess food removal. If you don't have a turkey baster, switch to cut up night crawlers as soon as you can and feed one piece at a time so there is no leftovers. Syphon out the poop or use a net. Make sure you are doing a 25% water change weekly.

To get you parameters down, big change today and then moderate changes until they are in the proper range. What are you setting at, parameter wise?
 

Jcd5v

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Yes, 10 gal is acceptable for an juvenile. 20 cube won't be great as I expect it has less floor room.



Now, no matter what size tank you have, 'lotl's produce a lot of waste. You need a turkey baster for daily poop clean up's and excess food removal. If you don't have a turkey baster, switch to cut up night crawlers as soon as you can and feed one piece at a time so there is no leftovers. Syphon out the poop or use a net. Make sure you are doing a 25% water change weekly.



To get you parameters down, big change today and then moderate changes until they are in the proper range. What are you setting at, parameter wise?


The 25 gallon is about 20inches long by 18inches wide, so it actually has a bit more floor space than the 10 gallon. The turkey blaster came in yesterday (it took longer than I thought to ship).

I believe it was 2 ppm ammonia and around 80ppm nitrate so I did an 80% water change (with matching temperature, of course) and then I will recheck parameters tonight and probably do a 25-50% water change. I also added some extra prime to bind any leftover ammonia.

So, I guess my question really boils down to will weekly water changes be enough assuming I’m more diligent about removing uneaten food or am I likely to be doing biweekly or even daily water changes in this small of a tank?





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Kitan

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Dang, 2 ppm is really high!

OH! 25 gal! I misread. And I had assumed a literal cube with all sides even. Yeah, that will be more ideal for you and them, absolutely. Increased water volume will help reduce ammonia concentration and your 'lotl will appreciate the extra floor space :)

25% once a week will likely be fine once you get all the parameters back in check, provided you keep up on removing waste (excess food AND poop) daily. Also I would completely avoid feeding frozen food while in the 10 gal if you are; there is a really high bio load there. Nightcrawlers (cut into small pieces and fed one at a time) tend to be better for that.
 

Jcd5v

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Dang, 2 ppm is really high!



OH! 25 gal! I misread. And I had assumed a literal cube with all sides even. Yeah, that will be more ideal for you and them, absolutely. Increased water volume will help reduce ammonia concentration and your 'lotl will appreciate the extra floor space :)



25% once a week will likely be fine once you get all the parameters back in check, provided you keep up on removing waste (excess food AND poop) daily. Also I would completely avoid feeding frozen food while in the 10 gal if you are; there is a really high bio load there. Nightcrawlers (cut into small pieces and fed one at a time) tend to be better for that.


I’m really stumped honestly. With the seeded filter the tank should be completely cycled by now; However, the opposite seems to be happening. I quickly checked parameters tonight to see if I need a water change (didn’t check nitrate as they aren’t important right now, but will check tomorrow). 4ppm ammonia!!! I don’t understand. There’s no waste in the tank to be producing that. Also 0ppm nitrite which leads me to believe that the cycle is completely crashed. I will confirm that with a nitrate test tomorrow.

I’m feeding cut up worms. I stopped feeding the blood worms after the third feeding bc of how messy they were. I turkey baster out any poops, but ammonia is still being produced at very high levels. I think I’m going to test my tap water tomorrow and make sure I’m not introducing ammonia.

Pearl, thankfully, does not seem to be affected, so hopefully I am managing it well. She has doubled in size, her gills have gotten larger with more lush filaments and she’s eating like a pig. I just wish I could figure this out.


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landonewts

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What are you using to treat the water, and what kind of test kit are you using? I use the API test kit for everything else, but to test ammonia I use a Seachem ammonia test kit. As I understand it, free ammonia is the thing to watch out for. API only shows total ammonia. (And you can get false ammonia readings with Prime, althougnits a great water conditioner, I use it all the time.) I spent a good bit of time freaking out about my water levels in the new axolotl tank until I figured that out. Maybe you’ll get a different result with the Seachem kit?

I think Kitan’s advice is spot on - earthworms and siphon out the tank daily, and of course regular water changes. Earthworms are a great diet. I started a worm farm in a bin in my basement, so I could feed my axolotls locally sourced, artisanal organic gluten free worms. : )

Good luck, it can be a bit scary at first. Water changes are a good stop gap while you dial in everything else.
 

Jcd5v

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What are you using to treat the water, and what kind of test kit are you using? I use the API test kit for everything else, but to test ammonia I use a Seachem ammonia test kit. As I understand it, free ammonia is the thing to watch out for. API only shows total ammonia. (And you can get false ammonia readings with Prime, althougnits a great water conditioner, I use it all the time.) I spent a good bit of time freaking out about my water levels in the new axolotl tank until I figured that out. Maybe you’ll get a different result with the Seachem kit?

I think Kitan’s advice is spot on - earthworms and siphon out the tank daily, and of course regular water changes. Earthworms are a great diet. I started a worm farm in a bin in my basement, so I could feed my axolotls locally sourced, artisanal organic gluten free worms. : )

Good luck, it can be a bit scary at first. Water changes are a good stop gap while you dial in everything else.


I haven’t heard of that before! I will look into getting the seachem ammonia test kit. I use the api test kit and prime so that could very well be my problem.

The 25 gallon is being set up as we speak and it will have a peace lily which I’m hoping will help the filter out a lot. Hopefully I will be able to get it fully setup this week. I just need to find a way to get some extensions for the filter tubes.


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Jcd5v

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Parameters today are 4ppm ammonia (what a surprise...) 0ppm nitrite and 5ppm nitrate. This is with 80% water changes daily. Should I assume that the 4ppm is from the prime and skip a water change tonight and retest tomorrow once the prime is out of the system or just do another water change until I get the new ammonia test kit in?


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Kitan

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It actually sounds like your tank is in the process of cycling, which is good. It does explain the spikes in ammonia and nitrites too, though those have now converted to nitrates. YAY!

Okay so, that said, I would HIGHLY suggest a 50% water change ASAP and then do a double dose of Prime. When you do your water change, be sure to avoid your syphon touching surfaces; you want to pull out water, not beneficial bacteria. Do NOT count on it being a misread.

SCIENCE TIME! To expand on what landonewts was saying, your API test kit measures NH3 and NH4+. NH3 is your toxic, free ammonia while NH4+ is ammonium, a non-toxic salt. Prime is "problematic" two fold here; Prime binds NH3, converting it to NH4+, but ONLY for 24-48 hours, then it turns back into good ol toxic NH3. Now, while it is bound, your beneficial bacteria (BB) can still convert it so that's PERFECT, but not if you arent fully cycled yet. Additionally, the chemicals in Prime break down the coloring in API's ammonia test. What this means is you need to check the color IMMEDIATELY after the 5 minutes have elapsed, other wise you can get a false NEGATIVE as the color fades.

So the Prime will actually help you manage as your tank cycles. One full dose (1 cap full per 10 gal) will neutralize 1 ppm of ammonia for 24 hours. You can double that for 2 ppm :) And then repeat if it continues to rise the next day, until you're back to acceptable levels. Additionally make sure you do water changes if your ammonia gets too high!

This video will also help you determine if your ammonia is at a level that is toxic yet. Use the calculator in the attached links to see if you should be panicking :p
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m20Jn6-ppro&t=305s
 

Jcd5v

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It actually sounds like your tank is in the process of cycling, which is good. It does explain the spikes in ammonia and nitrites too, though those have now converted to nitrates. YAY!



Okay so, that said, I would HIGHLY suggest a 50% water change ASAP and then do a double dose of Prime. When you do your water change, be sure to avoid your syphon touching surfaces; you want to pull out water, not beneficial bacteria. Do NOT count on it being a misread.



SCIENCE TIME! To expand on what landonewts was saying, your API test kit measures NH3 and NH4+. NH3 is your toxic, free ammonia while NH4+ is ammonium, a non-toxic salt. Prime is "problematic" two fold here; Prime binds NH3, converting it to NH4+, but ONLY for 24-48 hours, then it turns back into good ol toxic NH3. Now, while it is bound, your beneficial bacteria (BB) can still convert it so that's PERFECT, but not if you arent fully cycled yet. Additionally, the chemicals in Prime break down the coloring in API's ammonia test. What this means is you need to check the color IMMEDIATELY after the 5 minutes have elapsed, other wise you can get a false NEGATIVE as the color fades.



So the Prime will actually help you manage as your tank cycles. One full dose (1 cap full per 10 gal) will neutralize 1 ppm of ammonia for 24 hours. You can double that for 2 ppm :) And then repeat if it continues to rise the next day, until you're back to acceptable levels. Additionally make sure you do water changes if your ammonia gets too high!



This video will also help you determine if your ammonia is at a level that is toxic yet. Use the calculator in the attached links to see if you should be panicking :p

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m20Jn6-ppro&t=305s


I understand the cycling process, but every time I get close to making progress I go back to getting 4ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite, and 0ppm nitrate. It doesn’t make sense. I’ve gone through periods where I think I’m making progress and I’ll get ammonia nitrite and sometimes nitrate readings but that only lasts for a day or two before I’m back to 4ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite, and 0ppm nitrate.

I do water changes every day with a 5x dose of prime and have been adding seachem stability as well.

This tank just won’t cycle. I’ve never had this much of a problem cycling a tank. Especially when it was seeded.


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Kitan

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I hear you there. I am at like...6 weeks? Mine still hasnt cycled either and I am pretty much in the same boat as you, though I never get nitrites. I just started with Stability since Tetra SafeStart+ was a bust (TWICE). The reason I know so much about it is that I have been researching like crazy to find out why it wont cycle. I just modified my HOB filter to include ceramic rings in hopes that providing extra room for BB will help it kick start.

So in your case, you end up with nitrites and then nitrates and then the cycle crashes. SO, let see if we can figure that out. Now we are getting to someplace where someone with more experience would help XD When you do your water changes, how much daily, are you turning off your filter, and do you make sure the syphon isnt touching surfaces? So if the filter goes dry (during changes) this can kill off your BB. When you use Stability, it takes up to 24 hours for the bacteria to settle in, so if you are doing daily water changes, it may just be removing those too. Perhaps try doing a 50% water change, getting any sand fully clean (since we are starting from scratch), then pouring first-day-dose (1 capful) into the filter, then for the next 7 days, 1/2 capful into the tank itself. Try to avoid water changes during this time, unless ammonia becomes super dangerous. Use that link I sent you to determine, and remember you can use Prime to bind. So every 24 hours, dose Prime as needed to keep the ammonia safe and add your Stability. Keep an eye on your 'lotl and if he stops eating\shows other signs of stress during this. Let me know how that goes. Also make sure your BB have surface to hide in. That's really all I can think of at this point.
 

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I hear you there. I am at like...6 weeks? Mine still hasnt cycled either and I am pretty much in the same boat as you, though I never get nitrites. I just started with Stability since Tetra SafeStart+ was a bust (TWICE). The reason I know so much about it is that I have been researching like crazy to find out why it wont cycle. I just modified my HOB filter to include ceramic rings in hopes that providing extra room for BB will help it kick start.



So in your case, you end up with nitrites and then nitrates and then the cycle crashes. SO, let see if we can figure that out. Now we are getting to someplace where someone with more experience would help XD When you do your water changes, how much daily, are you turning off your filter, and do you make sure the syphon isnt touching surfaces? So if the filter goes dry (during changes) this can kill off your BB. When you use Stability, it takes up to 24 hours for the bacteria to settle in, so if you are doing daily water changes, it may just be removing those too. Perhaps try doing a 50% water change, getting any sand fully clean (since we are starting from scratch), then pouring first-day-dose (1 capful) into the filter, then for the next 7 days, 1/2 capful into the tank itself. Try to avoid water changes during this time, unless ammonia becomes super dangerous. Use that link I sent you to determine, and remember you can use Prime to bind. So every 24 hours, dose Prime as needed to keep the ammonia safe and add your Stability. Keep an eye on your 'lotl and if he stops eating\shows other signs of stress during this. Let me know how that goes. Also make sure your BB have surface to hide in. That's really all I can think of at this point.


The filter is a canister filter so it never goes dry. I didn’t know about the stability taking 24 hours but it usually does have 24 hours between water changes. I don’t have substrate as my Axolotl is too small for it so almost all the BB would be in my filter which should be plenty. The 4ppm ammonia is definitely not safe so I have to do the water changes.


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Jcd5v

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I have come to the conclusion that this tank will never cycle. I took out the old media I had in there and replaced it with new media from another tank and still getting 4ppm ammonia. I skipped yesterday to see if it was just the prime and today I had 8ppm ammonia so definitely not the prime. I decided to add a sponge filter today and I’m going to have my larger tank setup Tuesday with substrate and transfer him to that.

Maybe the new tank will cycle. I honestly don’t know how my Axolotl has not been affected by this.


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Cgilliam9x19

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I saw that you are dosing 5x with prime. It can cause a false positive on ammonia. I can test my tap and it’s fine, tap with prime*** added and it’s green. Go a lighter on your prime and you should be okay! As long as you’re keeping up with water changes :)
 

Jcd5v

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I saw that you are dosing 5x with prime. It can cause a false positive on ammonia. I can test my tap and it’s fine, tap with prime*** added and it’s green. Go a lighter on your prime and you should be okay! As long as you’re keeping up with water changes :)


Doesn’t it dissipate in 24 hours though? That’s why I gilded off for 24 hours and retested. I got an even higher ammonia reading.


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Kitan

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There is something REALLY wrong with those readings. 8 PPM would kill your 'lotl. At the very least it shouldnt be eating. When you have 4 PPM and change 80% of the water it isnt possible to still have 4 ppm. Either something else is causing the ammonia to skyrocket (dying plants?) or your test kit is just misreading. Try testing your water directly out of the tap. Also try taking a sample to a local pet store and getting them to test it. There HAS to be something we are missing.

Daily water changes of up to 80% are likely to making cycling REALLY difficult, but high ammonia is pretty concerning.
 

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I went out of town for a few days and had a pet sitter add a capful of prime everyday. Tonight I have an unreadable amount of ammonia ( a lot darker than 8ppm) 0 nitrites and 20ppm nitrates. I’m thinking it might just be the prime. Otherwise, I think I’d have nitrites.


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Jcd5v

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8ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrites, 10ppm nitrates.
I did an 80% water changes yesterday and only added the appropriate amount of prime.

I still feel like I should be seeing nitrites, but 10ppm nitrates is also a good bit for just 24 hours. I’ve rinsed the filter media out twice though. And it’s been over a month. Even if there were bloodworms decaying in there, wouldn’t it be decayed by now?
Also with the amount of filtration I have, I feel like the bacteria should be able to catch up regardless.

I’ve basically given up on figuring this out. I’ve done everything I can think of. I’m just hoping that once I move her to a larger tank with substrate and a large peace lily that the tank will finally cycle.


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I have a 10 Gallon right now, biggest mistake I have ever made. In the process of getting a larger tank, but it is not fun in a 10 gallon. Maintenance is definitely upped to water changes daily to keep it stable.
 

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what substrate do you have? some substrates actually give off ammonia, don't wash your filter media as that's where most of the beneficial bacteria lives and by washing it you are removing it. i only dose once with prime when i do my water changes i never add it everyday its a water conditioner so that's all i use it for. try seachem stability and follow the instructions i have heard that a lot of tropical fish owners use it so they don't need to do a cycle or need to fill a tank in an emergency,
 
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