Month Long Ammonia Spike and White Fuzz

IggyPop

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Hello! I have had Cthulhu for almost a year now. I've had troubles in the past but nothing like this. For almost the entire month of January, he has had a really bad Ammonia spike. I can never get it lower than .25 mg/L. I've done big water changes, cleaned out his filter, frequent water changes, Prime, I removed his sand a few days ago. I even did a deep clean of his tank where I took him out, did a big water change (75%) and scrubbed everything with a scrubber. Nothing has helped. Please help if you can think of anything.

In addition to the ammonia spike, I noticed a little bit of white fuzz on the top of his right gill today. I was putting in the flower pot I just got (rinsed off of course) and noticed it when he climbed in. I'm really scared it might be a fungal infection. There is always white sludge that builds up on my spray bar and the sides of my tank that I can't ever seem to get rid off. When I did a deep clean of his tank, they came back in almost 2 day. I'm wondering if the rust on my hood is contributing at all either. He also hasn't been eating very well. I'll cut a worm into 4ths and he'll only eat one piece. Normally he'll eat a whole worm ever three or four days. He flutters his gills more often, I think. I'm just very worried about my baby. Please help if you can think of anything to better the situation. I'm not sure what to do anymore.

I was also wondering if maybe doing a 100% water change and scrubbing down everything in his tank with hot water and cleaning out his tank with hot water would help at all or if when I fill it back up if it would shock him. I don't have another tank I can keep him in to let the tank cycle.

I have (hopefully) attached a few picture (I did the best I could) of his gills and his tank set up. He is in a 25 gallon and he has a Penn Plax Cascade filter. I cleaned it out January 26th.
https://imgur.com/a/CaYWVp1
https://imgur.com/a/coWep1T
https://imgur.com/a/kgpT0y8
https://imgur.com/a/aSWqqfS
https://imgur.com/a/kL2m3vg
https://imgur.com/a/MR3kubc
https://imgur.com/a/a8FZwAG
 

Hayleyy

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How long after water changes are you testing the water? And what test kit are you using? Prime can show incorrect ammonia results, I usually wait at least a day after using prime before testing.
Has the sand you took out dried out? Or have you kept it in aquarium water? Substrate is a really good source of good bacteria so removing it can throw the tanks cycle out more.
Doing a deep clean on a tank isn't good for the cycle, it removes both the good and bad bacteria, especially if non-dechlorinated water is used. I would advise against any big cleans unless there is an really bad infection in the tank. Your tank will probably have to go through the cycle again. If you can't tub the axie you can have him in the tank while it cycles. Get some bottled bacteria and use as per instructions. If you know anyone with a cycled tank ask to borrow some decorations or filter media to put beneficial bacteria back in. Do small (15% of so) water changes every 1 or 2 days to keep the axie happy, but not too much that the cycle will slow significantly. Aquatic plants can help a cycle along too.
The fuzz looks like a little bit of fungus. This is easily cured with either salt or tea baths. There are links on the sick axolotl page, but I can attach them if you like :)
If you need more help let me know, but keep us updated anyways!
 

IggyPop

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I'm moving the testing to twice a day. The test I posted was from the morning test I did. The test in the afternoon was a little better. It was a lighter green color and I let it sit overnight and it turned green. I'm using an API ammonia test kit with the little test tube. I've had it for about a year. Is it possible that it has gone bad at all? I know the test strips go bad like crazy but I'm not sure about the chemical tests.

I threw away the sand and have a bare bottom tank now. I have a few decor pieces that I left in there and it was about a week after I cleaned out the filter so I hope it didn't threw my tank cycle too much. I'm looking into getting a big piece of slate for him to add but I don't know if I'll do sand again and if I do it'll definitely a lighter color. I had black sand and I am worried that I missed a lot of poop to clean whenever he pooped.

I won't do a big water change or deep clean.

Do you still recommend adding the bottled bacteria in without a big water change? Just to be clear, the bottled bacteria would be like an Instant Cycle or Quick Start from API?

I have two other fish tanks that do not have axies in them but they are cycled. Would it be okay to take the decor pieces from there and add them to his tank?

I have a moss ball but with this big spike I'm thinking about adding another one to see if it would help at all. I tried doing aquatic plants in one of my other tanks and had very little luck. I'm still very new to axie keeping so I'm hesitant to try two things I'm very new to in a tank together.

I will start doing daily 15% changes this week and keep you posted.

So far as the white spots go, when I checked on him later, it was gone. I think he knocked it off of himself or something. Would you still advice a bath for him? I'll check on him tonight and see if he has anything like that. I frequently find little white fuzz floating in his tank. Is there a way to safely treat his tank for fungus? I'm not sure what to look for if there is fungus in his tank if it is not on him. Asides from him fluttering his gills, I don't really see him acting all that different. I think he is swimming around a little bit more but I figured that might be due to taking away all of his sand.
 

Hayleyy

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Yep so prime is known to throw API liquid ammonia test results so it is possible that you are getting incorrect readings. Leaving the test overnight will turn the colour darker so go by the colour it is 5 mins after putting it all together. Wait at least a day after a water change before testing it so you get an accurate reading. I'll also suggest testing your water supply (before adding dechlorinator). My water source has some ammonia so it's good to take that into account.
There might be a use by/best before date on the test kit, I'm not exactly sure. I'm not at home so can't check mine.
You can add beneficial bacteria without having to do a water change. I use seachem stability, but those ones you listed should do the job.
You absolutely can add anything from your other tanks, provided there aren't any health issues in the tanks. That will help a lot!
Another moss ball can only do good things. Other beginner plants that don't need substrate and are okay with axolotl tanks are java fern and anubias. There are others as well if you want some more suggestions.
For the fungus, in tank treatment would be to add indian almond leaves. They're commonly used for betta tanks so shouldn't be too hard to find. One leaf should be enough and it will eventually disintegrate. The only problem is it will drop pH, which you would need to counteract with crushed coral. People also use in tank tea treatment, I'll find a link for you. What temperature does the tank sit at? Fungus is less likely to occur in colder tanks so lowering the temperature may help.
Don't worry about a salt bath unless you see it on him again. Do you have any wood in your tank?
 

IggyPop

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I've tested it before and it didn't have any ammonia but I'll check again. I'll make sure to wait before testing. I didn't do a whole lot last night so I'll test it right when I get home today and see how things are doing. I never knew that Prime threw the reading. That would help a lot.

I'll check the test tonight and see if there is a date. I feel like I've looked before but I didn't see any. We have another test kit for our other fish tanks so I'll see if that one gives a different reading or not.

When should I add that? I'll have to order some I think. Do you think that removing my sand would throw my cycle that much that I need to add Stability or Quick Start?

I'll look into some plants without substrate and add a moss ball and such. I feel like that would be such an easy way to help. I also really like the way natural plants look! I would love some more suggestions for easy plants to add in the tank. If you have any good sites for starting to do plants, that would also be very appreciated!

I have some crushed coral I can add so I'll definitely look into adding some Indian Almond Leaves. I've been really worried about any sort of infection so I'll definitely do that.

His tank stays at about 60-62F or 17C. I try not to let it drop below 60 or go above really 69 if I can help it.

I do not have any wood in the tank. I do have a little coconut decoration but it's not wood.
 

Hayleyy

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Removing substrate can have a big effect on the cycle. If I had to remove mine I would probably do a bit at a time, over a week or two. Unless of course there is a health issue requiring it to be removed.
You can add bottled bacteria whenever you have it, though I would see how it goes with you adding material from your other tank(s) before buying it.
This is the website I always refer to when buying anything for my tank. There's lots of great info https://www.caudata.org/axolotl-sanctuary/Aquascape.shtml
17 degrees sounds perfect, so no need to lower it any more. I only asked about the wood because new wood can grow fungus on it, which I found out when setting up a betta tank.
 

IggyPop

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Awesome! Thank you so much for your help. I'll watch the cycle on my tank and add other decor pieces from my other tanks and add some bottled bacteria if needed and add an Indian Almond Leaf to my tank in addition to nightly 15-25% water changes.
 

IggyPop

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Just checked the baby boy again and he has white spots on his gills agin. This time in front. I have the leaves coming in on Friday but should I wait and just treat the whole tank? Should I treat him and the tank? I have some aquarium salts, should I give him a salt bath tomorrow night? What is the best course of action? Would he need fridged as well or just a bath?
 

IggyPop

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Thank you so much for your help. I'll give him a salt bath when I get home from school and hopefully the leaves will be here Friday and I'll start treating the tank. Thank you for the guide. I have been doing a little research and this was very helpful.
 

Hayleyy

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:) I'm here if you have any more questions, best of luck!
 
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