Please help! High ammonia, trying everything to fix and nothing is working!

Tacoboi

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I have had my axies since December and January (one was a Christmas present and one was my husband loving it so much he decided we needed a second one 😂). We cycled the tank for over a week before putting them in. All water levels were perfect, and things were hunky-dory for a while. When the first axie got big enough, we put sand in the tank (bought at pet store specifically for aquariums). Ever since then the ammonia has been steadily rising. I changed between 20-50% of the water every time I saw the high level, put prime in the water, used stability, put pure bacteria balls in the water, used ammonia filter sponges on the HOB filters, took the sand completely out thinking that was the problem, went back to changing the water only once a week in case it was too much and I wasn’t letting the cycle really establish, put big rocks in the tank for more surface area for bacteria to grow on, started using ”microbe-life” special blend water treatment, …….. The ammonia just keeps going up. I put Seachem Am-Guard in almost every day, and the axies seem to be OK … but this is getting frustrating!! I’ve attached a picture of my tank with the biggest axie in it (the other one is in a slightly smaller tank because I had to separate them … Oogala (the first one) bit off one of Whosiwhatsit’s legs one day! 😩)).

Please tell me what I’m doing wrong! Do I need to just start completely over? And what do I do with the axies while doing that?

Oh, it’s a 29 gallon tank.

Thanks,
T
EC631513-9091-4702-A420-884E0A482502.jpeg
 
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Tacoboi

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After reading another thread, I now have another question: Am I reading my levels right? I’m using the API kit, and it’s dark green, reading about 4.0 ppm. But that is total ammonia … so am I supposed to divide by 160? In which case my bad ammonia is only 0.025 ppm? Is that right? So I’m freaking out about nothing?! 😬
 
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JM29

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Well, free ammonia (the most toxic) is usually a small part of total ammonia.
Depending on your pH, free ammonia con be 1/5th to 1/1000th of total ammonia.
The axie on your photo seems healthy. Is this photo recent ?
 

AMurry24537

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How are your nitrite and nitrate levels? It usually takes much longer than a week, usually 4-6, but even a little longer with the temperatures you need to house axolotls. Mine personally took around 8 weeks.

Honestly, any kind of ammonia reading is not great, but as long as you're doing consistent and significant water changes (I'd recommend about 50% at least once a day, maybe an additional change 30% every other day). And don't worry about the water changes disrupting the cycle; the amount of bacteria in the water is negligible. Just make sure that there is absolutely NO chlorine in the new water, since this will instantly kill the bacteria.
 

Tacoboi

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Well, free ammonia (the most toxic) is usually a small part of total ammonia.
Depending on your pH, free ammonia con be 1/5th to 1/1000th of total ammonia.
The axie on your photo seems healthy. Is this photo recent ?
Yes, the photo is today. He eats well, seems playful, etc., so I think he looks pretty good, too.
The pH is staying around 7.4-7.6
 

Tacoboi

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How are your nitrite and nitrate levels? It usually takes much longer than a week, usually 4-6, but even a little longer with the temperatures you need to house axolotls. Mine personally took around 8 weeks.

Honestly, any kind of ammonia reading is not great, but as long as you're doing consistent and significant water changes (I'd recommend about 50% at least once a day, maybe an additional change 30% every other day). And don't worry about the water changes disrupting the cycle; the amount of bacteria in the water is negligible. Just make sure that there is absolutely NO chlorine in the new water, since this will instantly kill the bacteria.
Nitrite is less than 0.25ppm, and Nitrate is 0

So, you're saying I need to change the water at least 50% every day and 80% every other day?!
 

JM29

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With a pH of 7,6 free ammonia is about 1/50th of total ammonia.
Most of your total ammonia is NH4+, which is 20 times less toxic than NH3 (free ammonia).
When you read 1 ppm of total ammonia, you have actually 0,02 ppm of free ammonia in your case.

That said, your tank seems to be not cycled and there are no live plants which could use this ammonia which can only increase.
So the advice of AMurry24537 is good for cycling with axie in the tank.
 

AMurry24537

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Nitrite is less than 0.25ppm, and Nitrate is 0

So, you're saying I need to change the water at least 50% every day and 80% every other day?!
Yes. I recommend doing 50% every 24 hours and then, maybe halfway between two of those, doing a 30% change.
 
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    Hey guys, one of my axolotls has developed some fungus on one of her gills, I've started salt baths, but do salt baths need to be done in the fridge, some people said I should have her in the fridge permanently during the process, even when not in the salt bath, is this true? As some people said its unnecessary as long as the tank is below 20°c which it is. Also do I need to get them both out the tank and clean it out?
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    Hi Lilith, you can check the medications page for a list of axolotl safe treatments. Although if the infection is mild, I would stick with fridge and salt baths!
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    I believe the fridge gets to about 54°, so if you can replicate that in the tank, it might be okay. I personally would fridge just to make catching them easier, and if the infection is something in the water column at all, it will hopefully die out while they're AWOL (I'm thinking like ich for fish, not sure if axies have an equivalent)
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    Ok, thank you!
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  • chitoos:
    My three inch axolotl was having trouble pooping up to a few days ago. I wasn't feeding her as often because I was scared I would just add to her constipation. I fridged her until she pooped (twice), and then began to feed her around 6 bloodworms every other day. she's been pooping everyday now, but she's at that age where you can see through her stomach and I always see poop ready to come out but has not yet passed. I don't think she's constipated anymore, but I'm not sure and i don't want to over or underfeed her... any advice?
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    Feed it chopped worms chitoos, its big enough and bloodworm is nutritionaly deficient.
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    Freeze dried , live or frozen bloodworm.
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    Oh ok thanks! I thought she might be ready for something more. do you have any advice about the apparent poop problem?
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    @Lilith, fridging is not required for fungus treatment. Read my thread on treatment.
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    Feed it more, six bloodworm isnt much, dont use freeze dried foods
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    Feed daily , remove uneaten food
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    Gotcha, Thank you!
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    Its probably not pooping because its hardly beign fed, it pooped in the fridge because the lower temp caused it to purge itself. If it stays constipated you can pm me
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