Cycling an Axolotl tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-04-2016, 01:52 AM Thread Starter
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Cycling an Axolotl tank

Sigh... Turns out I've probably killed off the cycle and that's why Nessie isn't eating. Great. Time to start all over again.

Nessie is the queen of the tank. She's an 8 inch wild-type axolotl.

Axolotls keep their gills their whole life and are fully dependent on water to survive.

They are a little harder to keep than most fish, although they seem to be fairly hardy animals.

Their water MUST stay under 70 degrees at a constant temperature. This isn't that easy at my house, as the tank rests around 70 or 71 degrees when I don't make any attempts at cooling it. It doesn't make it easy, for sure. To keep the temperature this low I have to add a fan (which I use a box fan that covers about 1/2 of the tank), frozen water bottles, cold water changes, and a thermometer that alerts when the temperature gets too high. It's a lot of work for sure.

They can't be kept with fish or with gravel.
They are sensitive to light.
They can't handle most fish medications, although they can get many aquatic diseases.

Nessie is probably about a year old at this point.


I'm very worried about her right now. She's getting thin and hasn't eaten for about 5 days. We just moved to a new house so I'm thinking that's the cause. We changed from well water to city water and I've had to start conditioning my water. I've been treating for chlorine and I've recently discovered that the water has ammonia in it and that I should be treating with more conditioner to cover that...


So the ammonia is around 0.25 to 0.50 in the tap. Her tank isn't cycled any more, either.

I can handle a cycle. I've been keeping fish for 10 years. I know I can do this.

It's the not eating part that scares me. Hopefully that resolves soon. I've seen how thin an axolotl can get and she's not quite there yet but she's no longer plump like she used to be.

DAY 1:
Ammonia - 0.50 or just under.
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - Either 0 or between 0 and 5ppm.

My thoughts:
Nothing. No cycle what-so-ever. Great, just great. No wonder she's not eating. Nessie, please eat! I've been shoving worms and pellets in her face all day long. All she does is walk away from me...

Temperature: 70.

My thoughts:
That's not helping any for sure... Better get some water bottles freezing for tomorrow. The water change should help but not enough... And I don't have my fan here yet... I'm not prepared at all. Sorry, girl.

What I did:
I changed 1/4 of her water by using a pump and my gravel vacuum hose. I really need to get a python water changer or something. I can't get my buckets into the tank (it's on the bottom of the stand with about 4 or 5 inches of clearance) and my pump only runs about 50 gallons per hour. It takes a good 3 minutes or so to fill up the 2.5 (or is it 3?) gallon buckets.

I then filled the tank up with the coldest water that my tap can offer (and it's not that cold. Maybe 60 degrees if I'm lucky. My well water would run about 55 degrees at the coldest).

I then took out the filter cartridge and stuck it into a small plastic bag to keep it moist while I ran the filter to get the conditioner (I treated the whole tank) mixed in. I don't want whatever bacteria I have in there to die out again. After 3 minutes or so (enough so I felt all of the water had been treated) I put the filter cartridge back in.

My plans:
1. Change 1/4 of the water every day.
2. Treat all 29 gallons of water every day to keep the ammonia de-toxified.
3. Find ways to keep the tank cool.
4. Try to get Nessie to eat already!
5. Do a larger water change every week to help keep everything fresh. I don't need extra ammonia.
6. Test the tank for ammonia and nitrite every day and hope the tank cycles quickly.

Any suggestions?

This is my first experience with chloramine in the water so I'm trying to figure out what will work.

Don't worry:
If Nessie doesn't start eating by next Monday (August 8, 2016 (5 days from now)) I'm going to start trying different things. Maybe some time in the fridge will help or a bath of some kind (I'd probably end up doing a tea bath). I'm not sure yet. If I do need to do something different I'll be asking around on the groups and forums for axolotls.

Pictures to come, I don't have time right now

36g-- 2 female axolotls// 10g --3 6" axoltols (Dirty/blue gill lucy (rehoming)) // 40 gallon breeder -- 4.5 inch Painted Turtle // 29 gallon -- 1.5 inch painted turtle //
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-04-2016, 04:56 PM
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Oh Nessie :/
Well let me start by saying I've worked in zoos for 4 years, and am currently an aquarist. Previously I was a herp keeper, where we had a 75 gallon tank dedicated to axolotls. That system included a water chiller (expensive) with regular water changes using remineralized ro water. It's been a while, I know they are from Mexico, and by the way, that can completely lose their gills (iodine levels has something to do with it), and I forget what appropriate gh/kh was.
How big is your tank?
Nowadays there is a cheaper alternative to buying water chillers which cost a lot and use a lot of electricity. It's a little square with a heat sink on one side, the other side is in the water. Look it up on google, they are fairly cheap.
Consistency is very important with any amphibian. I don't not think you can achieve consistency using water bottles, but you say she's a year old, so you must have been doing something right. At this point, if I were you, I would move her into the fridge if you can.
Pm me if you need help!

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-04-2016, 06:00 PM
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Probably a peltier cooler..

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-04-2016, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Nordic View Post
Probably a peltier cooler..
That the one! Didn't feel like taking the thirty seconds to research it myself before submitting my post.
That's pretty sad, now that I think about it....

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-04-2016, 07:32 PM
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They are getting nicely priced these days with so many people using them for computer cooling mods etc.
A 60W pad is about $2 off e-bay.

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