New Axolotl Tank Cycling Trouble :(

kaixingin

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Hello! I'm new to the site but Ive read so many threads on here about tank cycling that I've gone and confused myself. We recently got a juvenile golden axolotl, he/she is 4.25inches right now. We didn't know about tank cycling until a week before we got them and have been struggling ever since. Currently, the baby is in a 5 gallon tank with a basic charcoal filter JUST FOR NOW. The big tank gives me readings of 0 for all levels (PH is stable at 7.2) no matter what I do. We've tried leaving brine shrimp and fish food to straight up adding his poopy water to try and give the bacteria something to eat but the ammonia never exceeds 0.25PPM... We have been adding Seachem stability as instructed as some people believe in this process but we're wondering if that is what is stalling the readings? We dont want to do fish-in cycling (ie. guppies) because we dont have anywhere for them after the cycle and dont want them to be eaten. We have two betta fish with heaters that could potentially be used so long as they wouldnt be injured in the process.
Should we go for straight Ammonium Chloride? None of our local fish supplies stores are open for the quarantine so bacteria starters that arent branded are not an option. Is axolotl-in cycling an option since we're home every day? We want whats best for him and want him to have more space as soon as possible but dont want to mess this up.
We really appreciate any help and will continue reading more posts.

TLDR;
Problem: Permanent tank not cycling (all readings staying at 0) and dont want to use fish-in
Products: Seachem Stability and Tetra Aquasafe+ and brine shrimp etc
Routine: Axolotl in 5gal with daily 50% or more water changes + food/waste removal as needed + water testing daily

Axolotl: 3 months 4.25 inches golden albino eats well, active swimmer, poops twice a day lol
Filter: EHEIM Classic 250 for 66 US GAL
Tank: 20 long (temporarily in 5gallon with charcoal filter)
Substrate: CaribSea sand
Food: frozen brine shrimp until we can find earthworms in stock
Decor: undergravel bubbler + stone bubbler, multi level rock platform (smoothed), marimo moss balls + live plants once cycle is over?
Water Test: API Freshwater Master Test Kit
 

John

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Wow that's a very complete first post. I am blown away! Well, welcome to the forum. Here is what I would do. Keep the axolotl in a medium sized sterilite tub, or similar, for a period 4-6 weeks while the tank cycles. Change the water every 1-3 days with dechlorinated tap water. The smartest way to do it would be to actually get 2 of the same container and fill them both up with water at the same time. Then when you do your first water change, just pick the axolotl up and put it in the second container, pour out the water from the first container, then repeat from then on at each water change.

So why do that? Because you can use the old water from each water change and put it in your new tank to cycle it. Just keep doing it until the readings seem on track (a few weeks?), then you can just pour the waste axolotl water down the drain, and then when things seem stable in the aquarium, move your new friend into its new home.

Yes, it will be a little less pleasant to look at for a few weeks but it should work very well. Just make sure to treat the water in the 2 containers the same way and keep the containers together so they stay the same temperature. I have kept axolotls like this in the past and it should work well for a few weeks, provided you're careful when transferring it to the clean tub (I use my hand, but you can use a soft, very fine mesh net if you like).
 

kaixingin

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Hi John! Thank you so much, I've learned a ton from your forum so I appreciate all of you and your community's hard work!
Wow you can really just pick them up? That amazes me! xD He (We think its a he) is pretty friendly but I'm afraid to hurt him or stress him. How did you go about getting your little ones used to handling?
At first, I was switching him between two of those one gallon portable tarantula containers because it gave more floor space but he seemed kind of stressed being so cramped which is why we got the 5gallon. Also, when we were dumping the tub water, we had to remove some of the big tanks water to prevent overflow but was wondering if that was counter-intuitive... I'd be happy to try some bigger tubs; which quart size would you recommend and do you have any recommendations for things to put in his tub for his well-being?
Despite trying to be extra thorough, I forgot to add that he/she is named Sauron xD
 

gwnm

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seachem stability is a bacteria in a bottle, it helps to add the bacteria to your filter, so you are already cycled without the need to wait. i know a lot of people use it for tropical fish and swear by it
personally i have my 3 little ones in small tank i have a sponge filter and a bag of cycled filter media out of my established fish tank.
my 3 are tiny not even 3" yet so the tank i have them in is small, they will be moving into a 10g soon once they have reached 3" and need more room which is already cycling with its own sponge filter and i will also add the filter out of the old tank into the new one so it will help with cycling as well i also use seachem prime to the water as it helps with any ammonia spike that might happen as well as its a good water conditioner
 

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Hi John! Thank you so much, I've learned a ton from your forum so I appreciate all of you and your community's hard work!
Wow you can really just pick them up? That amazes me! xD He (We think its a he) is pretty friendly but I'm afraid to hurt him or stress him. How did you go about getting your little ones used to handling?
At first, I was switching him between two of those one gallon portable tarantula containers because it gave more floor space but he seemed kind of stressed being so cramped which is why we got the 5gallon. Also, when we were dumping the tub water, we had to remove some of the big tanks water to prevent overflow but was wondering if that was counter-intuitive... I'd be happy to try some bigger tubs; which quart size would you recommend and do you have any recommendations for things to put in his tub for his well-being?
Despite trying to be extra thorough, I forgot to add that he/she is named Sauron xD
I wouldn't say handling - you're talking about like 2 seconds of contact. I would suggest using a fine net. As for tub size, I would say 3-4 gallons would work well.
 

John

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seachem stability is a bacteria in a bottle, it helps to add the bacteria to your filter, so you are already cycled without the need to wait.
Let's just be clear on this, seachem stability does not make your tank "already cycled". It can potentially lessen the time necessary to cycle a tank but it certainly isn't a substitute for the process (nor does it claim to me). I am a chemist, and I'm particularly interested in water chemistry, so I hope that helps lend some credence to what I have said here.
 

kaixingin

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I wouldn't say handling - you're talking about like 2 seconds of contact. I would suggest using a fine net. As for tub size, I would say 3-4 gallons would work well.
Of course but still! 2 seconds is a feat indeed and shows you've gained their trust. We got some 4 gallon tubs from sterilite that are quite stout. Will we be removing 4 gallons from the 20 gallon tank each time we dump it? Also, should we be adding his waste directly to the big tank instead of flushing it? Thanks again!
 

kaixingin

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seachem stability is a bacteria in a bottle, it helps to add the bacteria to your filter, so you are already cycled without the need to wait. i know a lot of people use it for tropical fish and swear by it
personally i have my 3 little ones in small tank i have a sponge filter and a bag of cycled filter media out of my established fish tank.
my 3 are tiny not even 3" yet so the tank i have them in is small, they will be moving into a 10g soon once they have reached 3" and need more room which is already cycling with its own sponge filter and i will also add the filter out of the old tank into the new one so it will help with cycling as well i also use seachem prime to the water as it helps with any ammonia spike that might happen as well as its a good water conditioner
Ahh I wish I had established filter media because that would make me feel a lot more confident. I havent been able to add enough ammonia to feed the bacteria so I'm not sure its even working anyways. I might try Dr. Tims N. Bacteria next and just get the ammonia up somehow. Its all very troublesome but I'm sure its worth it :) Thanks for your reply!!
 

Chinadog

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seachem stability is a bacteria in a bottle, it helps to add the bacteria to your filter, so you are already cycled without the need to wait. i know a lot of people use it for tropical fish and swear by it
personally i have my 3 little ones in small tank i have a sponge filter and a bag of cycled filter media out of my established fish tank.
my 3 are tiny not even 3" yet so the tank i have them in is small, they will be moving into a 10g soon once they have reached 3" and need more room which is already cycling with its own sponge filter and i will also add the filter out of the old tank into the new one so it will help with cycling as well i also use seachem prime to the water as it helps with any ammonia spike that might happen as well as its a good water conditioner
Have you actually used the Seachem product? I use similar products to kickstart the filters for my Koi pool every spring, but they're no magic bullet. I have to be very careful what I feed them and monitor water quality daily for the first month or so. I'm not saying products like that don't work, but I'd say they help the cycling process rather than complete it right away.
 

gwnm

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have to say i haven't used it but i know those who have, i cycled my fishtank slowly but i have on occasion over the past year or so thrown in some aquarium filter bombs, found more that it helps to keep my water a bit more clear rather than needing to boost my filter. i think with regards to fish it can work same as the tetra start as they don't have such a high bioload as an axie would i think. new to axies so not sure if bioload is as bad as a full tank of fish.
 
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