Axolotl tank cycling - starting to go slightly insane

Jessmajik

I am looking for some advice on cycling our tank please...we are fishless cycling using Dr Timms ammonia.

We adopted an Axolotl during our L4 lockdown here in New Zealand and have tubbed our Axy and doing water changes every day. We are very lucky that we have a natural spring on our property so we don't have chlorine in our water. Our natural water doesn't have ammonia or nitrites but it does have between 5-10 nitrates.

Anyway, we started cycling our 135 litre aquarium with Dr Timms ammonia 3 weeks ago. Using the directions from our New Zealand Axy FB page. We dosed up to 4ppm of Ammonia then tested every day or every second day, slowly our ammonia is going down but nitrites and nitrates are already up after the first day. When our Nitrates got to 80ppm after 10 days we did a 75% water change. However our nitrates are still sitting high at 40ppm and not coming down so we have been doing water changes almost every day since then, this brings Ammonia down to 0 but Nitrites still stay up too anywhere between 0.25 and 2.0.

So our questions are:

Do we dose with ammonia only when it comes down to 0? or before that?

And because we are doing water changes its bringing the ammonia down but this doesn't mean our tank is cycled because the water change has caused this so do we need to keep doing water changes each time the nitrates spike or can we let them keep going up?

Even though our nitrates are still high it is not bringing the ammonia down or nitrites to 0 yet so high nitrates does not equal high bacteria?

Also, when we did the 75% water change the nitrates are not going down to recommended level for an Axy so what will we do once we do get cycled...or will that balance out once we are cycled?

Lastly....how much lonnnnger....ahhhhhhhhh, hahahahaha ahhhhhhhh (just going slightly mad! :)
 

Bwood22

I am looking for some advice on cycling our tank please...we are fishless cycling using Dr Timms ammonia.

We adopted an Axolotl during our L4 lockdown here in New Zealand and have tubbed our Axy and doing water changes every day. We are very lucky that we have a natural spring on our property so we don't have chlorine in our water. Our natural water doesn't have ammonia or nitrites but it does have between 5-10 nitrates.

Anyway, we started cycling our 135 litre aquarium with Dr Timms ammonia 3 weeks ago. Using the directions from our New Zealand Axy FB page. We dosed up to 4ppm of Ammonia then tested every day or every second day, slowly our ammonia is going down but nitrites and nitrates are already up after the first day. When our Nitrates got to 80ppm after 10 days we did a 75% water change. However our nitrates are still sitting high at 40ppm and not coming down so we have been doing water changes almost every day since then, this brings Ammonia down to 0 but Nitrites still stay up too anywhere between 0.25 and 2.0.

So our questions are:

Do we dose with ammonia only when it comes down to 0? or before that?

And because we are doing water changes its bringing the ammonia down but this doesn't mean our tank is cycled because the water change has caused this so do we need to keep doing water changes each time the nitrates spike or can we let them keep going up?

Even though our nitrates are still high it is not bringing the ammonia down or nitrites to 0 yet so high nitrates does not equal high bacteria?

Also, when we did the 75% water change the nitrates are not going down to recommended level for an Axy so what will we do once we do get cycled...or will that balance out once we are cycled?

Lastly....how much lonnnnger....ahhhhhhhhh, hahahahaha ahhhhhhhh (just going slightly mad! :)
3 weeks so far? You are getting close!
Not much longer. You don't have to dose ammonia every day. You could get away with every 3 day just fine.

When you dose the ammonia wait 24 hours and I bet you that it will all be gone if not almost all gone. At any rate, once all of the ammonia from that dose is gone change your water out to dilute your nitrite level down to something that you can measure. Off the charts nitrite and nitrate is never a good thing.

Wait a few days (3-4) and dose ammonia again and repeat this process. You will see your nitrite levels get lower and lower until one day (very soon) all of the ammonia and nitrite is gone the next day after you dose.

Don't worry about the nitrate level so much right now. 40ppm is fine and its not going to hurt anything.

Get the ammonia and nitrite converting quickly first.

I would consider some plants in the tank to help control the nitrate levels.
 

Azedenkae

I am looking for some advice on cycling our tank please...we are fishless cycling using Dr Timms ammonia.

We adopted an Axolotl during our L4 lockdown here in New Zealand and have tubbed our Axy and doing water changes every day. We are very lucky that we have a natural spring on our property so we don't have chlorine in our water. Our natural water doesn't have ammonia or nitrites but it does have between 5-10 nitrates.

Anyway, we started cycling our 135 litre aquarium with Dr Timms ammonia 3 weeks ago. Using the directions from our New Zealand Axy FB page. We dosed up to 4ppm of Ammonia then tested every day or every second day, slowly our ammonia is going down but nitrites and nitrates are already up after the first day. When our Nitrates got to 80ppm after 10 days we did a 75% water change. However our nitrates are still sitting high at 40ppm and not coming down so we have been doing water changes almost every day since then, this brings Ammonia down to 0 but Nitrites still stay up too anywhere between 0.25 and 2.0.

So our questions are:

Do we dose with ammonia only when it comes down to 0? or before that?
You'd only want to re-dose ammonia when both ammonia and nitrite reads zero. When ammonia processed, it'll convert to nitrite, so seeing some nitrite is fine. But you don't want to dose so much ammonia that so much nitrite is produced that it stalls the cycle.
And because we are doing water changes its bringing the ammonia down but this doesn't mean our tank is cycled because the water change has caused this so do we need to keep doing water changes each time the nitrates spike or can we let them keep going up?
Even though our nitrates are still high it is not bringing the ammonia down or nitrites to 0 yet so high nitrates does not equal high bacteria?
So the issue with nitrate test kits, is that they convert a portion of nitrate to nitrite first, before actually measuring that as a proxy. So if you have nitrite, your nitrate can read falsely high. I would not really worry about nitrate (or measuring it) unless your nitrite is at zero. Another reason to only re-dose ammonia when nitrite hits zero. You'd want to be able to at least sometimes read nitrate to see how it is tracking.
Also, when we did the 75% water change the nitrates are not going down to recommended level for an Axy so what will we do once we do get cycled...or will that balance out once we are cycled?
As above. Likely your nitrate reading was falsely influenced by the presence of nitrite, so the water changes are not affecting nitrate readings as one would calculate it should.
Lastly....how much lonnnnger....ahhhhhhhhh, hahahahaha ahhhhhhhh (just going slightly mad! :)
Your ammonia oxidation is working fine it seems. But nitrite oxidation capacity is still taking a while to build up. It is pretty normal though, as nitrite oxidizers do reproduce more slowly than ammonia oxidizers, in general.

You can actually track how close you are to a cycle finishing by tracking how long it takes for nitrite to be zeroed out after each time you re-dose ammonia. For example, if the first time you dose ammonia and it takes a week for both ammonia and nitrite to read zero, then six days the second time, then four days the third, etc., you know there is reproduction of nitrite oxidizers going on and it is getting closer and closer to cycled - i.e. when both ammonia and nitrite reads zero within 24 hours of dosing ammonia.

Of course, if for example nitrite oxidation takes the same period of time, or tapers off, then you'd also know there is an issue - not enough biomedia, for example.

Goor luck!
 

mattgirl

Since you have no live creatures in this tank stop doing the water changes. Add ammonia each time it drops to or close to zero and give the cycle time to finish up. Your numbers are where I would expect them to be at this point in the cycle. The one thing we need above all else and can't buy is time.
 

Jessmajik

Since you have no live creatures in this tank stop doing the water changes. Add ammonia each time it drops to or close to zero and give the cycle time to finish up. Your numbers are where I would expect them to be at this point in the cycle. The one thing we need above all else and can't buy is time.
Hi MattGirl,
Thanks for your advice. We had a big spike to 160 of nitrate two days ago so we did a 75% water change and dosed Ammonia back up to 4ppm.

Our nitrites have never been down to 0, the lowest we have gotten is 0.25 but more commonly they are sitting between 1.0 and 2.0 which is quite high. Sometimes its really hard to tell too because the purples sometimes don't seem to match any of the colours. So, do we wait for both Ammonia & Nitrites to read 0 before adding more ammonia? Or just dose ammonia even if the nitrites are still up. I read somewhere that if you don't keep dosing ammonia the bacteria will starve so I just keep dosing. We have a 135 litre tank so we have already been through a whole bottle of Dr Timms and are on our second bottle now. We have been going for 24 days now.

Thank you so much, all your advice is super helpful!
You'd only want to re-dose ammonia when both ammonia and nitrite reads zero. When ammonia processed, it'll convert to nitrite, so seeing some nitrite is fine. But you don't want to dose so much ammonia that so much nitrite is produced that it stalls the cycle.

So the issue with nitrate test kits, is that they convert a portion of nitrate to nitrite first, before actually measuring that as a proxy. So if you have nitrite, your nitrate can read falsely high. I would not really worry about nitrate (or measuring it) unless your nitrite is at zero. Another reason to only re-dose ammonia when nitrite hits zero. You'd want to be able to at least sometimes read nitrate to see how it is tracking.

As above. Likely your nitrate reading was falsely influenced by the presence of nitrite, so the water changes are not affecting nitrate readings as one would calculate it should.

Your ammonia oxidation is working fine it seems. But nitrite oxidation capacity is still taking a while to build up. It is pretty normal though, as nitrite oxidizers do reproduce more slowly than ammonia oxidizers, in general.

You can actually track how close you are to a cycle finishing by tracking how long it takes for nitrite to be zeroed out after each time you re-dose ammonia. For example, if the first time you dose ammonia and it takes a week for both ammonia and nitrite to read zero, then six days the second time, then four days the third, etc., you know there is reproduction of nitrite oxidizers going on and it is getting closer and closer to cycled - i.e. when both ammonia and nitrite reads zero within 24 hours of dosing ammonia.

Of course, if for example nitrite oxidation takes the same period of time, or tapers off, then you'd also know there is an issue - not enough biomedia, for example.

Goor luck!
Hi Azedenkae

Thanks for your advice. We had a big spike to 160 of nitrate two days ago so we did a 75% water change and dosed Ammonia back up to 4ppm (but I did it right away so maybe that wasn't right?)

Our nitrites have never been down to 0, the lowest we have gotten is 0.25 but more commonly they are sitting between 1.0 and 2.0 which is quite high. Sometimes its really hard to tell too because the purples sometimes don't seem to match any of the colours. So, do we wait for both Ammonia & Nitrites to read 0 before adding more ammonia? Or just dose ammonia even if the nitrites are still up. I read somewhere that if you don't keep dosing ammonia the bacteria will starve so I just keep dosing. We have a 135 litre tank so we have already been through a whole bottle of Dr Timms and are on our second bottle now. We have been going for 24 days now.

Regarding the plants, are there any that you recommend as Axolotls can only have very low blue lights (but no lights are recommended) and we also can't feed plant liquid food to help them grow as this is toxic to Axo's I've heard, so we need something that is super hardy and can also handle an Axy potentially squashing them too!

All your help is much appreciated, thank you.
3 weeks so far? You are getting close!
Not much longer. You don't have to dose ammonia every day. You could get away with every 3 day just fine.

When you dose the ammonia wait 24 hours and I bet you that it will all be gone if not almost all gone. At any rate, once all of the ammonia from that dose is gone change your water out to dilute your nitrite level down to something that you can measure. Off the charts nitrite and nitrate is never a good thing.

Wait a few days (3-4) and dose ammonia again and repeat this process. You will see your nitrite levels get lower and lower until one day (very soon) all of the ammonia and nitrite is gone the next day after you dose.

Don't worry about the nitrate level so much right now. 40ppm is fine and its not going to hurt anything.

Get the ammonia and nitrite converting quickly first.

I would consider some plants in the tank to help control the nitrate levels.
Hi Bwood22,

Thank you, I appreciate you saying that we are close. Our ammonia is still taking between 2-3 days to be back to 0 however our nitrites haven't ever got back to 0 since we started 24 days ago. The lowest we had once were 0.25 but usually these are sitting up between 1.0 - 2.0 which is quite high.

Nitrates went to 160 so we did a 75% water change however others have said don't worry about this and don't do water changes (since we are fishless cycling) so I am super confused as some people say high Nitrate can stall a cycle and some people say it doesn't matter! Or is it just high Nitrite that stalls a cycle?

Thanks again
 

Azedenkae

Hi Azedenkae
Hi hi!
Thanks for your advice. We had a big spike to 160 of nitrate two days ago so we did a 75% water change and dosed Ammonia back up to 4ppm (but I did it right away so maybe that wasn't right?)
Nah that's fine.
Our nitrites have never been down to 0, the lowest we have gotten is 0.25 but more commonly they are sitting between 1.0 and 2.0 which is quite high. Sometimes its really hard to tell too because the purples sometimes don't seem to match any of the colours. So, do we wait for both Ammonia & Nitrites to read 0 before adding more ammonia? Or just dose ammonia even if the nitrites are still up. I read somewhere that if you don't keep dosing ammonia the bacteria will starve so I just keep dosing. We have a 135 litre tank so we have already been through a whole bottle of Dr Timms and are on our second bottle now. We have been going for 24 days now.
Dose only when both ammonia and nitrite are zero, rather than when there is still nitrite. Otherwise you are just wasting ammonia. D:

Your nitrifiers will be fine in the interim. It's a common myth that if you stop dosing ammonia, the nitrifying bacteria will starve. We are lucky that nitrification is a very hot topic for scientists to study, so there's plenty of research done on it already. And it all says nitrifiers are generally very resilient to ammonia starvation. So long as they are in water, that is. With that said, it does not last forever. While starving them for weeks or even months with minimal die-off, it does vary between different species and strains. with that said, they will eventually die-off. One species was found to be minimally inhibited for like a year at least, but that's not the case with every species. Some are more like weeks. Regardless, a few days or a week or so won't be an issue at all.

If you want to read up more, here's a nice review: Strategies of aerobic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria for coping with nutrient and oxygen fluctuations

Regarding the plants, are there any that you recommend as Axolotls can only have very low blue lights (but no lights are recommended) and we also can't feed plant liquid food to help them grow as this is toxic to Axo's I've heard, so we need something that is super hardy and can also handle an Axy potentially squashing them too!
Unfortunately I do not know about the specifics of keeping axolotls, so can't help you here specifically. D:
 

Bwood22

Hi Bwood22,

Thank you, I appreciate you saying that we are close. Our ammonia is still taking between 2-3 days to be back to 0 however our nitrites haven't ever got back to 0 since we started 24 days ago. The lowest we had once were 0.25 but usually these are sitting up between 1.0 - 2.0 which is quite high.

Nitrates went to 160 so we did a 75% water change however others have said don't worry about this and don't do water changes (since we are fishless cycling) so I am super confused as some people say high Nitrate can stall a cycle and some people say it doesn't matter! Or is it just high Nitrite that stalls a cycle?

Thanks again

It's funny that you mention that, I was just saying that to someone the other day (that high nitrite stalls your cycle) and mattgirl challenged that fact so I did some research. Low and behold....she was right.

I found a very interesting paper on Pubmed Central about the nitrite oxidation of nitrobacter.
The short version is:
-High nitrite levels do not inhibit nitrite oxidation (stall your cycle), this was tested at a concentration of 500ppm nitrite.
-High ammonia and nitrate levels do inhibit nitrite oxidation at concentrations of 25ppm ammonia and 100ppm nitrate. (you will never have that much ammonia in your tank unless you just spilled the bottle) So keep your nitrate below 100ppm.
-Low concentrations of ammonia between 1ppm and 10ppm actually boost nitrite oxidation.

Hope that helps clear up any confusion.
 

mattgirl

I would cut down on the amount of ammonia you are adding. 2ppm should be plenty. Since you are seeing both nitrites and nitrates we know you already have both ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria. You just don't have enough of either to zero them out.

At this point in the cycle I will recommend you only add 2ppm ammonia instead of 4ppm. Once you reach the point of the ammonia going to zero within 24 hours just add ammonia every other day until the nitrites also zero out within 24 hours. You are not going to starve you bacteria. It is a lot tougher than some have been led to believe so can easily go 48 hours without food.

By cutting down the amount of ammonia added it will slow down the production of nitrites and will give the bacteria a chance to catch up. It will also slow down the production of nitrates.

I know your little guy needs to live in cooler temps but you need the water warmer while cycling this tank. If it isn't already I will recommend you keep it up close to 80 degrees until the cycle is complete. I've not read back through the thread so may have already said this but keep an eye on the pH level. It needs to be no less than 7. Any lower and things slow down.
 

Jessmajik

Hi hi!

Nah that's fine.

Dose only when both ammonia and nitrite are zero, rather than when there is still nitrite. Otherwise you are just wasting ammonia. D:

Your nitrifiers will be fine in the interim. It's a common myth that if you stop dosing ammonia, the nitrifying bacteria will starve. We are lucky that nitrification is a very hot topic for scientists to study, so there's plenty of research done on it already. And it all says nitrifiers are generally very resilient to ammonia starvation. So long as they are in water, that is. With that said, it does not last forever. While starving them for weeks or even months with minimal die-off, it does vary between different species and strains. with that said, they will eventually die-off. One species was found to be minimally inhibited for like a year at least, but that's not the case with every species. Some are more like weeks. Regardless, a few days or a week or so won't be an issue at all.

If you want to read up more, here's a nice review: Strategies of aerobic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria for coping with nutrient and oxygen fluctuations


Unfortunately I do not know about the specifics of keeping axolotls, so can't help you here specifically. D:
Azedenkae, thank you so much for all your science info, it has been a huge learning curve for us considering we hadn't even heard of a cycle 25 days ago! I think talking to you all is making this so much more clear so thank you so so much.
The good news is, yesterday when we tested the tank the nitrite test stayed baby blue! I could have cried. It took 48 hours from when I dosed the tank to approx 3ppm so I think we are getting closer.
It's funny that you mention that, I was just saying that to someone the other day (that high nitrite stalls your cycle) and mattgirl challenged that fact so I did some research. Low and behold....she was right.

I found a very interesting paper on Pubmed Central about the nitrite oxidation of nitrobacter.
The short version is:
-High nitrite levels do not inhibit nitrite oxidation (stall your cycle), this was tested at a concentration of 500ppm nitrite.
-High ammonia and nitrate levels do inhibit nitrite oxidation at concentrations of 25ppm ammonia and 100ppm nitrate. (you will never have that much ammonia in your tank unless you just spilled the bottle) So keep your nitrate below 100ppm.
-Low concentrations of ammonia between 1ppm and 10ppm actually boost nitrite oxidation.

Hope that helps clear up any confusion.
Bwood22, thank you so much for taking the time to do research for us to clear our confusion...super appreciate you taking that time. As I mentioned above we finally had a 0 reading on our nitrites last night for the first time since we started....I was over the moon. It took 48 hrs to come down so hopefully we are getting somewhere with it all, I have all my fingers & toes x'd!
I would cut down on the amount of ammonia you are adding. 2ppm should be plenty. Since you are seeing both nitrites and nitrates we know you already have both ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria. You just don't have enough of either to zero them out.

At this point in the cycle I will recommend you only add 2ppm ammonia instead of 4ppm. Once you reach the point of the ammonia going to zero within 24 hours just add ammonia every other day until the nitrites also zero out within 24 hours. You are not going to starve you bacteria. It is a lot tougher than some have been led to believe so can easily go 48 hours without food.

By cutting down the amount of ammonia added it will slow down the production of nitrites and will give the bacteria a chance to catch up. It will also slow down the production of nitrates.

I know your little guy needs to live in cooler temps but you need the water warmer while cycling this tank. If it isn't already I will recommend you keep it up close to 80 degrees until the cycle is complete. I've not read back through the thread so may have already said this but keep an eye on the pH level. It needs to be no less than 7. Any lower and things slow down.
Thank you Mattgirl, your help is so appreciated. As I mentioned above we really have been on a steep learning curve so detailed directions are so helpful.

I have also wondered why we needed to be dosing our tank so high with Ammonia and if I should do less. Yesterday we had our first 0 nitrite test, I was very very happy! It took 48 hrs from when I dosed so hopefully we are getting closer.

Do you have any recommendations on how we warm the water?
I think our PH is sitting around 7.2 but I will keep an eye on it.

Another question I thought of last night, how do you know when your filter media needs changing. Obviously ours is brand new (our little axy came with a tiny filter that wasn't doing much so we got a canister filter) but if your Bacteria are inside the filter, wouldn't it damage your cycle to change it?

Thank you for taking your time to help us, our axolotl thanks you too!
 

Azedenkae

Azedenkae, thank you so much for all your science info, it has been a huge learning curve for us considering we hadn't even heard of a cycle 25 days ago! I think talking to you all is making this so much more clear so thank you so so much.
The good news is, yesterday when we tested the tank the nitrite test stayed baby blue! I could have cried. It took 48 hours from when I dosed the tank to approx 3ppm so I think we are getting closer.
Sweet! Sounds like you are very, very close now! Hopefully after the next dose you'll read both zero ammonia and nitrite after 24 hours. ^_^
 

Blacksheep1

aw Yey your cycle sounds nearly complete ! We are gonna need pictures of your cutie !

if you do a water change rinse filter media in that water , never under the tap as that can kill your bacteria which affects your cycle !
 

mattgirl

Do you have any recommendations on how we warm the water?
I think our PH is sitting around 7.2 but I will keep an eye on it.
Since you seem to making great forward process it may not be necessary to warm the water. normally we just run a heater in the tank to keep the water at the temp we need.
Another question I thought of last night, how do you know when your filter media needs changing. Obviously ours is brand new (our little axy came with a tiny filter that wasn't doing much so we got a canister filter) but if your Bacteria are inside the filter, wouldn't it damage your cycle to change it?
As long as the flow of your filter is still flowing freely the media shouldn't need attention. You shouldn't actually change the media inside your canister filter. Normally we just rinse as needed. If you are running carbon in it the carbon needs to be replaced monthly but the carbon really isn't needed. I've not run carbon in my filters for years. I would rather use the space it takes up to run more permanent media in place of it.
 

Jessmajik

aw Yey your cycle sounds nearly complete ! We are gonna need pictures of your cutie !

if you do a water change rinse filter media in that water , never under the tap as that can kill your bacteria which affects your cycle !
Thanks Blacksheep, yes I do need to post some pics of our girl, I'll get that organised. Unfortunately we adopted her from a family who had had some tragic circumstances and so she didn't have the care that she needed. Our axo FB group here in NZ said that she isn't in great condition but we have been giving her daily water changes and giving her good food and we are hoping she will be looking much more healthy soon (esp when this cycle is finally complete!). Thanks for your help with the filter media too.
Since you seem to making great forward process it may not be necessary to warm the water. normally we just run a heater in the tank to keep the water at the temp we need.

As long as the flow of your filter is still flowing freely the media shouldn't need attention. You shouldn't actually change the media inside your canister filter. Normally we just rinse as needed. If you are running carbon in it the carbon needs to be replaced monthly but the carbon really isn't needed. I've not run carbon in my filters for years. I would rather use the space it takes up to run more permanent media in place of it.
Thanks Mattgirl, your advice is always enlightening!
Sweet! Sounds like you are very, very close now! Hopefully after the next dose you'll read both zero ammonia and nitrite after 24 hours. ^_^
Fingers x'd!
 

Jessmajik

Since you seem to making great forward process it may not be necessary to warm the water. normally we just run a heater in the tank to keep the water at the temp we need.

As long as the flow of your filter is still flowing freely the media shouldn't need attention. You shouldn't actually change the media inside your canister filter. Normally we just rinse as needed. If you are running carbon in it the carbon needs to be replaced monthly but the carbon really isn't needed. I've not run carbon in my filters for years. I would rather use the space it takes up to run more permanent media in place of it.
Hi Mattgirl,

I wanted to check in with you on our cycle if you don't mind. We are dosing 2ppm as you recommended and over the past five days our ammonia has been reading 0 after 24 hours no sweat. At 24 hrs our nitrites are at 0.25 which is pretty low but its taking until about 30 hrs for them to read at 0.

Is this close enough or do we need the magic 24hr time frame?

Today I also checked out nitrates and they are up to 160ppm which is very high but I have been ignoring these as per the advice on this page. I am wondering however if our ammonia & nitrites are converting quickly enough how do we then get our nitrates down to where they need to be?

I felt like we were so so close but it just seems to keep dragging out day by day. We are up to exactly 1 month & 1 day of cycling now!

Thank you for all your help...it is much appreciated.
 

Bwood22

I bet 1 more dose would do the trick. You're standing at the finish line.
 

mattgirl

Hi Mattgirl,

I wanted to check in with you on our cycle if you don't mind. We are dosing 2ppm as you recommended and over the past five days our ammonia has been reading 0 after 24 hours no sweat. At 24 hrs our nitrites are at 0.25 which is pretty low but its taking until about 30 hrs for them to read at 0.

Is this close enough or do we need the magic 24hr time frame?

Today I also checked out nitrates and they are up to 160ppm which is very high but I have been ignoring these as per the advice on this page. I am wondering however if our ammonia & nitrites are converting quickly enough how do we then get our nitrates down to where they need to be?

I felt like we were so so close but it just seems to keep dragging out day by day. We are up to exactly 1 month & 1 day of cycling now!

Thank you for all your help...it is much appreciated.
It is time to do a big water change. I don't like 100% water changes so 2 75% water changes should do the job. We want to get those nitrates down to 20 or less. Once done get the ammonia back up to 2ppm one more time. If both it and the nitrites are gone in 24 hours you can consider this cycle done and the tank should be read for your little guy.

Don't do any cleaning. Just remove and replace the water. Be sure you add your water conditioner to the fresh water before pouring it in there. We want to give the bacteria plenty of time to settle in on everything in the tank before doing any house cleaning in there. Our water pet homes are the one thing in our homes we don't want to keep spotlessly clean.
 

Jessmajik

I bet 1 more dose would do the trick. You're standing at the finish line.
Thank you, sometimes you really need those extra supportive words when you feel so close but its just not perfect yet!
It is time to do a big water change. I don't like 100% water changes so 2 75% water changes should do the job. We want to get those nitrates down to 20 or less. Once done get the ammonia back up to 2ppm one more time. If both it and the nitrites are gone in 24 hours you can consider this cycle done and the tank should be read for your little guy.

Don't do any cleaning. Just remove and replace the water. Be sure you add your water conditioner to the fresh water before pouring it in there. We want to give the bacteria plenty of time to settle in on everything in the tank before doing any house cleaning in there. Our water pet homes are the one thing in our homes we don't want to keep spotlessly clean.
Thanks Mattgirl, so I'm hearing that water changes are the only thing that bring nitrates down (apart from plants, which I might look at in the future if I can find any that suit). Do we do 75% over 2 days or something?
We have natural spring water which has no chlorine so we haven't been using water conditioner and we haven't been using seachem stability because it just seems to spike the nitrates up so fast. Does this sound all good? What do you think if its a 30hr cycle not a 24hr? I am on the last of my bottle of Dr Timms (this is my second) so if I don't have to buy another that would be good!
 

mattgirl

Since the bacteria we are growing isn't free floating water changes aren't removing any. The only thing it will be removing is the excess nitrates and in this case the lingering nitrite. Change out 75% of the water all at the same time. If the nitrates are still high do another water change a few hours later.

There is no need to add any more ammonia until you get the nitrates down to no more than 20. Lower isn't a problem but we want them down at least that low. The bacteria you have grown isn't going to die off if it goes a day or two without any ammonia.

I suspect the 2ppm ammonia you add after getting the nitrates down will have processed straight through to nitrates within 24 hours. Just add the ammonia. 24 hours later run the ammonia and nitrite test. If both are zero this tank will be ready for your little guy.
 

Jessmajik

Since the bacteria we are growing isn't free floating water changes aren't removing any. The only thing it will be removing is the excess nitrates and in this case the lingering nitrite. Change out 75% of the water all at the same time. If the nitrates are still high do another water change a few hours later.

There is no need to add any more ammonia until you get the nitrates down to no more than 20. Lower isn't a problem but we want them down at least that low. The bacteria you have grown isn't going to die off if it goes a day or two without any ammonia.

I suspect the 2ppm ammonia you add after getting the nitrates down will have processed straight through to nitrates within 24 hours. Just add the ammonia. 24 hours later run the ammonia and nitrite test. If both are zero this tank will be ready for your little guy.
Hi Mattgirl,

Thank you for your detailed instructions, these are really helpful when you have very little idea what you are doing. We did the two water changes as you suggested. This bought our nitrates down to 20ppm. I wish they could be lower as I know 20ppm is the max that an axy can take. Now I have dosed the tank one more time and will test it in the morning. Our last test (before the water changes) our nitrites and ammonia were both down within 24hrs so this is great!

My last question is...if we test in the morning and nitrites and ammonia are down to 0 then this is perfect. But if our nitrates are still sitting at 20ppm do we do another water change before putting our axy in just to make sure these won't spike before we do our next weekly water change?

I have run out of ammonia so I can't add anymore! It took exactly two bottles to cycle our tank...although I think if I had gotten on this forum sooner it probably would have been quicker thanks to all the advice. Thank you again for all your help!
 

mattgirl

You are so very welcome. I too am glad you came to us. It makes my heart sing when I read that a tank has successfully completed its cycle.

If 20 is the max for your little guy then yes, go ahead and do another water change before putting him in there. If nitrates are really bad for him you may want to consider running nitra-zorb in your filter. It will help keep the nitrates down.

This is an option if you find your weekly water changes aren't keeping them low enough. Run it only if you find it totally necessary though. I know it lowers nitrates but it may also remove ammonia and nitrites. If that is the case it may end up starving your bacteria if you run it constantly. Running it a couple of days mid-week would help keep the nitrates down between water change but wouldn't be in there long enough to starve the bacteria.
 

Jessmajik

You are so very welcome. I too am glad you came to us. It makes my heart sing when I read that a tank has successfully completed its cycle.

If 20 is the max for your little guy then yes, go ahead and do another water change before putting him in there. If nitrates are really bad for him you may want to consider running nitra-zorb in your filter. It will help keep the nitrates down.

This is an option if you find your weekly water changes aren't keeping them low enough. Run it only if you find it totally necessary though. I know it lowers nitrates but it may also remove ammonia and nitrites. If that is the case it may end up starving your bacteria if you run it constantly. Running it a couple of days mid-week would help keep the nitrates down between water change but wouldn't be in there long enough to starve the bacteria.
Hi Mattgirl,

Yipppeeee, we have successfully cycled the aquarium and put our Axolotl back in yesterday. It was such a great moment! I am sure I will have more questions in the future about our Axy's care but this was a big achievement I feel so super stoked.

We did another water change and managed to get the nitrates down to between10-20ppm. We will be keeping a close eye on these over the coming days and water changing when needed and also trying a plant in the tank to see if that helps absorb the nitrates.

I have attached a photo of 'Speckles' back in her aquarium. As you will see she has no feathering on her fronds, she wasn't in great condition when we got her...she was very pale too and not eating much. I don't think her water was cycled in all her 8 years that she has been alive so she is a strong one. I am a little concerned because her right hand frond sits back compared to the left side, it seems unable to come forward but on the good side her feathering seems to be growing back, it is very fine hairs at the moment. We are hopeful we can give her a happy environment for the rest of her days. She is much pinker and she is eating well and very animated, curious and seems to love company.

Thank you again for helping us give our Axy a happy home.
 

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mattgirl

Now that she has been in there for a week how is your little girl doing in her new home?
 

Jessmajik

Now that she has been in there for a week how is your little girl doing in her new home?
Hi Mattgirl,
Thanks for checking in. She had been doing great and loving all her hides, swimming around a lot and perching herself in funny places. Yesterday she did a vomit of about 2 days worth of food which I guess is a symptom of over feeding! Some people say to give them rest days, others don't. I think our Axy needs some rest time to digest.
Our latest 'challenge' which presented itself yesterday was our temperature. Its starting to get hot here so the temp went above what suits her 20 degrees C or below. So now we are looking at chillers but they are very expensive so any other ideas anyone has for bringing the temp down would be much appreciated!
 

mattgirl

Thank you for the update. I am so happy to hear she is enjoying her new home.

Lots of folks recommend freezing bottles of water and putting them in the tank to help keep things cooler. If you do this you may have to change them out several times a day. By setting the bottle in the flow of water the cooler water should circulate throughout the tank. Having a fan blowing across the top of the water often helps too.
 

Jessmajik

Thank you for the update. I am so happy to hear she is enjoying her new home.

Lots of folks recommend freezing bottles of water and putting them in the tank to help keep things cooler. If you do this you may have to change them out several times a day. By setting the bottle in the flow of water the cooler water should circulate throughout the tank. Having a fan blowing across the top of the water often helps too.
Thanks mattgirl,

I'm so glad I came on Fishlore for help...it really is a great source of knowledge. I also asked on our local Axy page about cooling and someone else said that the bottles of water can cool the water too much and kill them? I wondered if just chilled fridge water would be better. I think water changes are probably another option. Any thoughts? What kind of aquatic life do you have?
 

mattgirl

Thanks mattgirl,

I'm so glad I came on Fishlore for help...it really is a great source of knowledge. I also asked on our local Axy page about cooling and someone else said that the bottles of water can cool the water too much and kill them? I wondered if just chilled fridge water would be better. I think water changes are probably another option. Any thoughts? What kind of aquatic life do you have?
They may be right but you can test it out. Put a bottle of ice in there and see how quickly it lowers the temp. How quickly probably depends on how warm the water is and how low it needs to be.

Water changes would probably help but may have to be done several times a day. Again according the the temp it is and needs to be.

I've never had one of these cute little guys but think they are adorable little creatures. Right now I have fish of course (neon and black skirt tetras, bristle nose plecos including Elbert, that handsome fellow over there in my avatar and several super reds, Sam, the Siamese Algae Eater and corys, lots of corys), snails (rabbit, mystery, assassin and ramshorn) and cherry shrimp.
 

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