Question: Setting up tank for new axolotl + axolotl-in cycling

thijazi59

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Hello everyone,

New to the forum, and so excited to see what I can learn from all of the axolotl owners here on Caudata! About two weeks ago, I rescued an axolotl from a very odd and inexperienced breeder at a strange animal fair. The axolotl was in a tiny tank with nearly 30 others, all of them about 5 inch juveniles, and I couldn't help but want to take a chance at giving at least one of the axolotls a better chance at survival.

Now, I'm not much of an aquarium person, so there is a lot I didn't know about dealing with an axolotl. After the first week of having him, Mo (that's his name) got pretty sick, as his gills were fairly curled. I didn't know what cycling was (and I'm still learning), or much about feeding and care beyond the basics. I assumed it was a water quality issue, so I put him in a cold pot for three days, and just recently returned him to the original tank. He looks like he is doing a lot better now; he is pretty active and loving the new bloodworms I bought for him, but I'm still not sure I'm doing everything right, so I'd love some help.


I have him in a 10 gallon tank with a few decorations, a small Anubias nana (thinking I should get more) to help with ammonia levels, and keeping it bare-bottom. I also have the following (below) sponge filter, which claims to work for up to 15 gallons of water.

I have been changing about 30 % of the water each day and adding some dechlorinator to continue an axolotl-in cycling method, because I don't have the capacity to keep the axolotl out of the tank all the time. I also really think moving him back and forth between spaces really stresses him out.

I just started taking readings with a master kit, doing so every one or two days:
12/28/ 2018 - pH is 7.6-7.8, ammonia is 0.25 - 0.5, nitrites are 0, nitrates are 0 - 5 (for nitrates, it's been a bit hard to tell the exact color of the sample)
12/30/2018 - pH is 7.6-7.8, ammonia is 0.25-0.5, nitrites are 0, nitrates are 0 - 5 (for nitrates, it's been a bit hard to tell the exact color of the sample)


So, main questions (sorry if they seem to be too many, I'm just a new and concerned parent!):
1. How do I know that I am cycling correctly? I'm assuming it all started the first week I got him. What should be happening to my ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels?
2. Is the sponge filter big and good enough? Should I ever clean it?
3. Are the water changes enough? Does anyone have any tips about water changes?
4. Are there any other signs besides gills curving forward that would be a real indicator that things aren't going well?
5. I've been having trouble getting all of the poop off the bottom of the tank - will that hurt him?

Images of Mo and the tank are attached.

Any help would be so, so appreciated!
 

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Sablette

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After a recent tank crash I had to start from scratch but had no other tank to seed from so I had to do an axie in cycle. Took about a month and a ton of research but things went pretty well. I'm no expert on the nitrogen cycle but here is what I did--

I didn't do daily water changes but a partial one after every time my axie pooped (2-3 days). This would allow a bit of ammonia buildup but nothing too strong. Usually it would sit around 0.5ppm which is seems to be the max your axie should be exposed to in this method. At that point it's all down to maintaining it. Measure next time they poop. 1.0 or higher? Change accordingly (Anywhere from 20-40% depending on the reading). Dose with Prime first, THEN add dechlorinated water. People are mixed when it comes to bacteria in a bottle but Stability feels like it helped out a lot when doing this. But be prepared to have a lot of ugly biofilm at the bottom of a bare bottom tank. Just hit the one month mark and today's readings are 0.25 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites, 10 Nitrates.

As for the sponge filter, it's fine. I use the exact same one! After letting bacteria build up for a month or two (after you start getting nitrate readings) clean one at a time. Prepare a container of dechlorinated water (But not too cold) and squeeze them out a few times. Plop it back in. Wait a day or two before doing the same to the other sponge. This is to assure you don't kill off your bacteria all at once. Gills curling along with Tail Curling and "flaking" are indicators of stress and potential ammonia burns but if you're doing regular checks on the parameters you shouldn't have to worry about the latter if you're on top of it.

The best way to siphon poop is with a turkey baster but if yours is anything like mine (****ting in every god damn corner) you may want to invest in a siphon. It'll help a lot especially if you plan on putting it on a substrate in the future. It'll also help with the biofilm I mentioned earlier.

Best of luck. o/
 

thijazi59

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Thank you so much for the advice!

It's also great to hear that someone else is using similar equipment, because I honestly wasn't sure I was using the right stuff. I've been getting all of my information from Caudata because pet stores have proven to be fairly useless.
 
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  • Axolotl Queen:
    @Lanalotl Sounds like the gills may have been nipped by the tank mate. If he is in his own tank and the parameters etc are all good, then he should grow them back and they should go back to full health and strength. However, depending on how old the injury is they may not fully grow back if they have been constantly nipped at.
    +2
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  • Smknmom421:
    Can anyone tell me why this is happening? We just did a water change and after freaking out and whipping around the tank, an hour later they look like this. It won't let me send a pic. The edges of their gills are white and it looks like they have skin shedding off
    +1
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  • Murk:
    That sounds like severe skin damage. If you post a thread on the forum, you can attach pictures.
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  • Murk:
    It sounds like something went wrong with the water change, so this could be very dangerous. Did you use a dechlorinator? Could it be there are traces of chlorine or soap in the water? (Or for example, in the bucket you used?)
    +1
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  • Murk:
    Normally, I would recommend taking them out of the tank asap and putting them in a tub with fresh water, but if there's something wrong with your tap water or dechlorinator, that might not help either. Do you have acces to bottled water or rain water?
    +1
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  • Sal22:
    I think my axie is dying, he’s never had any issues before, I’ve had him 3 years, today I noticed some fluffy looking stuff coming from his genital area so I took him out of his tank and did a full tank clean to make sure the water wasn’t infected as I thought it was fungus and then I noticed he had a cut on his belly which was only small about 5 hours ago and now it’s spread to all of his belly, what do I do I’m freaking out
    +1
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  • Sal22:
    Update about my axie, unfortunately he has died over night, he looked as if he was bruised allover his belly, his mucus layer had also started to come off.
    +1
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  • Ganaa:
    Anyone here from DMV?
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  • AlexisJG:
    Hi I have 2 4in juveniles (I’ve had them about 2 weeks and they are doing well I think they’ve grown a little already honestly) but I am supposed to go on a 5-6 day vacation in October about 3-4 months from now. I am wondering how I should go about their care when I am gone. I thought about putting them in separate (fairly big) containers with live plants and/or bubblers with a fan in the dark and either fridging them (my last plan) but I am hoping to to either have someone I trust come feed them and turkey baste waste out or just leave them out and clean the containers before we leave and have someone come check on them once or twice. Does any of this sound like a good or bad idea? I want the best for them. All help appreciated :)
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  • Ganaa:
    @patrickstar116, do you still have your fire salamanders?
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  • patrickstar116:
    @Ganaa, I do you may message me if you wish
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  • HalfDrunkToast:
    hi.....
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  • JDeslippe21:
    Hi, so I have 2 male axolotls and about an hour ago they were both perfectly fine and now only one of them has his tail curling up and his gills are slightly curled?? But other than that they’re both acting normally
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  • Murk:
    Could be he's just excited, spooked or temporarily stressed, which could pass in a few hours. It could also be an indicator of other problems. Do you have any recent water parameters?
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  • AlexisJG:
    Does anyone have any idea how to help with high ammonia levels? I have the API freshwater master kit and everything else’s test results were great besides ammonia. I did a 50% water change and I use API products including ammonia lock.
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  • MuggleMiChu:
    Help! I got my first axolotl two days ago and they have stopped eating. They ate a few frozen blood worms the first day and haven’t eaten or been interested in food since. I feed them frozen blood worms and the tank is around 64 degrees. I do have a filter that moves sometimes and I noticed them swimming up to it, I have a new filter and a fan coming today or tomorrow. I leave the worms in the tank or a little bit before taking them out so I don’t know if they ate when I wasn’t looking. I know it takes a while for them to digest. Does anyone have any tips or knowledge they can share? The pet store I bought them from didn’t have gravel or sand in the tank so I’m not sure if theres an issue or if I’m just impatient. Thank you!
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  • HalfDrunkToast:
    @MuggleMiChu, how big they are? also for substrate, i would not do gravel at all I would either do sand or none at all!
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  • MuggleMiChu:
    They are about 2-3 inches long and I have them in a bare bottom tank
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  • HalfDrunkToast:
    @MuggleMiChu I would say try live black/blood worms untell they are full or just turn there head away ( that's what mine do) if that does not work try to get some live brine shrimp and see if they eat that. baby axolotl prefer live food over frozen food as the frozen food is too cold for them or they can't eat it in one go( that's if you do the blocks) mine eat chopped up frozen thawed shrimp. as for them not eating from what I have experienced with my second axolotl, I got her when she was about an inch long and she ate every day, when they start getting 3-4 inches long they will gradually slow down there eating. and if you really want to do substrate I would do sand because if they do ingest a little bit it won't hurt them.
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  • MuggleMiChu:
    Thank you so much for the information and advice! They are eating again, they ate a lot today. I think it might have been stress from the move or digesting old food, I also noticed they ate some of the food left in the tank (I removed the rest). I’m going to keep the tank bare bottom.
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  • HalfDrunkToast:
    @MuggleMiChu,your so welcome im glad to be of help! and I'm glad that they are eating as well!
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    AidanD has left the room.
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  • MotherofAxolotls:
    Does anybody know where I can find a Starburst Wild type axolotl??
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    Good morning everyone.
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