Question: Water level testing and tolerances

keq

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Hi all,

I am leaving my new Axolotls with my significant other while I leave for a 2 month internship. I need to leave VERY clear instructions because my tank is still cycling with my 'Lotls in there and I want them to be happy and health. I have an API Freshwater Master Test Kit (the dropper style test kit) and have combined all the info from the annoying little API book into a spreadsheet for ease of use. I got the water parameters from the forum, the Caudata.org articles, and Axolotl.org.

Can you please make sure I have these all correct and let me know at what nitrite levels partial water changes should be completed? Also, I will post an update copy once I get all the info if anyone wants to use my sheet to record their water changes.

I have asked him to check the water daily and if outside the tolerable range, do a 20% water change (4 gallons in our 20 gallon tank which I have marked off on a 5 gallon bucket), allow the water to mix, and recheck.

temperature ideal = 14-22 C or 57-72 F (should be okay as we have an AC set to keep out house under 70 F at all times for the sake of our rabbits)
temperature bad = greater than 25 C or 77 F

ph ideal = 7.4 -7.6
ph tolerable = 6.5 - 8.0

ammonia ideal = 0 ppm
ammonia tolerable 1.0 ppm

nitrite ideal = 0 ppm
nitrite tolerable = ????

nitrate ideal = 10 - 60 ppm post cycling
nitrate tolerable = 0 - 60 ppm

I'm also asking him to feed blackworms in the evening and remove the waste in the morning (they are still small - around 2 or 2.5 inches).

Anything else I am missing? Thanks in advance for the info about parameters and especially nitrite.

-Kori
 

keq

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Darn, my attachment didn't seem to work. Let's try again.
 

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dragonlady

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Hi Kori,

You've gotten pretty detailed and I think some newer members could benefit from printing this out for their own use!

As far as nitrite, I would treat it like ammonia and say that if it gets to 1.0 or above do a water change. I would expect you to get at least a slight spike during the cycle and maybe warn him about that.

As far as nitrates, ideally, you want to stay low on those too. If they get high, it could be an indication something is going on too. There can be too much of a good thing too.

If he doesn't know, make a note about not adding any chemicals to the tank. For example, if fungus appears, (not wishing it on you at all!!!) don't treat it with a fish medication. Don't use pH buffers if the pH fluctuates a little, if it does change a lot, there could be something else going on.

I guess he already has some general idea about the filter maintenance and waste management too. For example, if there is a power failure, does he know how to re-prime the filter? Watch out for burrowing black worms.

The only other thing I would suggest is to register him out here so in case a problem arises and you are not available, he has us to fall back on. If he's shy, show him how to PM.

Hope this has helped. Good luck on your internship.
 

keq

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Hi Shannon,

As far as nitrates, ideally, you want to stay low on those too. If they get high, it could be an indication something is going on too. There can be too much of a good thing too.
Low being 60 or less? or even lower?

If 20% water change doesn't get the levels into an acceptable range we have the plastic, 1 gallon shoe boxes they can be housed in temporarily. I just didn't want to leave him with that and the tank cycling for 60 days... and of course, my other pets!

I don't even know if _I know_ how to prime the filter or what that means. Really, these Axolotls fell into my lap and I am doing my best to learn and take care of them on short notice. I have a Zoo Med 501 filter and if priming means get the air out, I think it does that on it's own?

As for burrowing blackworms, yes! Those sneaky guys! I am on my fourth substrate change as a result of the burrowing... large river rocks to sand to bare bottom and now slate tiles due to the dang blackworms (and sand in my filter). I must say, since I removed the sand they have not walked around much at all... and nothing else has changed. I really think the glass is too slippery.

Thank you so much for your help!

-Kori
 
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blueberlin

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Hi Kori,

There is zero tolerance for nitrite or ammonia. These are deadly poisons and any reading at all requires an immediate water change of at least 20%, to be continued daily until there are no readings for either ( = tank cycled).

Convince your S.O. to open an account here. Before s/he does anything with the tanks, s/he can ask here and the folks here will give speedy advice.

Poor you, on top of the stress of internship, you have pets to worry about. Best wishes to you!

-Eva
 

keq

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Hi Eva,

Thank you much!

Sadly, there is a lot of conflicting advice about what are tolerable levels.

So, if the reading is anything other than 0.0ppm for Ammonia or Nitrite then change 20% each day? What if 20% water change doesn't get it back to 0.0ppm either immediately or in 24 hours? I was doing large water changes of 40-50% for the sake of my critters but was told that was too much if I ever wanted to get it cycled. Right now it is hanging at 0.5ppm and I have not been doing any water changes.

Yes, I will encourage him to make an account but I'd like to leave some directions too. Plus, I need them myself! ;D

Thank you again for the help.
 

blueberlin

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Hi Kori,
Water changes will reduce the levels. What you are doing is diluting the concentrations of the chemicals. Very strictly speaking, low traces of ammonia or nitrite will not necessarily be fatal, but still, it's like sitting in an unfluhsed toilet. Sorry to be vulgar but tht's how it is. Some axolotls are more sensitive than others, so it is simply best to keep on top of things.

Personally, I think that water changes cannot affect cycling to any notable degree. The bacteria that form the "cycle" (nitrification chain) colonize on surfaces. Free-floating bacteria cannot make much of a difference. Any concentration, even traces, of ammonia or nitrite, however, can indeed.

Hope this helps.

-Eva
 

keq

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Would it be better just to leave them in individual, smaller (1 gallon) containers changed 100% once a day? I could leave the water in my tank and deal with it when I get back.

I just fear that they may again double in size and be too large for those containers. While they were in those containers I was scooping them up with a 1/2 cup measure and storing them in mugs for a few minutes while I changed the water but that is so obviously stressful and soon they won't fit in the 1/2 cup measure or the mug and I have no idea how I'd remove them from the tank. Yes, when they get larger, how do I handle them?!

I appreciate your and everyone else's patience with my ignorance on all this and willingness to help. I wish I could just go to someone's house who is very knowledgeable, see their setup and what they do and try that until I find my own way. :D Alternately, this message board has been awesome!
 

blueberlin

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haha poor Kori. Don't panic.

If you are going to keep them in a container and do daily 100% water changes, why not just leave them in their tanks and do daily 20% water changes? The tank will cycle, and the axolotls will not have to be moved around, and you save water and work.

When they are largere, just use a larger container, like a washed out ice cream tub. You put it into the tank and gently encourage them to move into it - if they freak and swim around frantically, let them settle down again before trying once more - and then use this container to lift them out and move them to a bucket or pot or something large-ish. In other words, use a "scooper" instead of a net - I always managed to rip tail fins with nets. :(

-Eva
 

keq

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Okay, I will try to mellow out. :D Thank you.

I noticed you have sand in your tank photo on your profile, how do you keep worms from burrowing down and from sand getting into your filter? Like I said before, they seem to really like the sand and waddle all over. Now they try to walk around, seem to get frustrated, and then just sit there. The issues we had with the sand were really annoying though. Have you tried the slate tile? I wonder if they'd like it as much?

Again, thank you. I feel like I should be putting money into tip jar. :D I promise I am almost out of questions!

-Kori
 

blueberlin

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I guess you mean little worms like bloodworms? With earthworms I just feed one or two slowly, so they have no chance of getting away. For smaller foods like bloodworm or tubifex, I filled a clean jelly jar with tank water, dropped the food into the jar, and lowered the jar carefully to the tank floor. That kept everything pretty much in one place and made cleanup very easy.

The sand never got into the filter once it initially settled.

I doubt your axolots are frustrated. They are just getting used to their environment, and getting older. Axolotls calm down as they get older and adults are often almost motionless during the day (unless it's feeding time). They are .. what's the word again? crepuscular? active at sunrise and sunset - and if you ever see them in the middle of the night, you might be surprised how active they are. Mine used to do midnight ballet. They sleep during the day, which looks like they are bored or even dead, because they don't have eyelids to close and we can't hear 'em snore. :p

No worries about the advice - it's a support forum. If you feel a peson has given you (or someone else) particularly good advice, you can give them a repuation point - look to the left of the particular post and see the icon that is, I think, supposed to be a scale? Click that and you can leave positive or negative rep. You don't have to give me any, though, because I'm not telling you anything special - and if I didn't have time to sit here and type answers... I wouldn't! ;)

edit: I have read about people using slate or tile as substrate. As long as nothing (poopy) can get underneath it, it should be as good a substrate as bare bottom, and offer more grip for little axie-toes.

-Eva
 
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