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I need help with my fish tank.

Jorden John

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Hi Jorden. I don't know anything about axlotls, so someone else will hopefully give more advice, but it sounds like you need to cycle your tank to make it safe for your new critters. Some general things you can do to reduce nitrites in a fishtank while you wait for the beneficial bacteria in your tank to catch up to the waste production of the animals in it are:

1. Add plants--especially floating plants like duckweed, hornwort, guppy grass, anacharis. And/or you can use cuttings of common pothos (a houseplant, you can google "pothos in aquariums" and see how to do it) Even if you don't want them in your tank permanently, they will help you out now and you can toss them out later. 

2. Water changes--keep removing old water and putting in new (dechlorinated) water to reduce your nitrites. This is a pain with such a large tank, but it's one way to lower the levels.

3. Reduce feeding: again, I know nothing about axolotls, but for fish if you've been feeding them every day, cut back to every other day or every third day while the tank catches up. If it is safe for axolotls to go without eating for a day or so, you can try that plus water changes to reduce the nitrites.

4. You can add Prime to the tank to neutralize the nitrites for 24 hours. Someone with more chemistry knowledge than I have may be able to give you more details about this, but from what I know you add Prime to the tank just like you are dechlorinating and it makes the nitrites non-toxic but only for 24 hours or so, so you'll need to do it again tomorrow, and the day after, etc. until your tank cycles. While the nitrites are in the tank, they will still show up on water tests, they just won't actually be toxic. This can buy you some time while you put the other steps into place to truly reduce the nitrites, but it should not be counted on as a solution.


Hope this helps. It's hard to start out with a stressful situation but you can definitely do some things to reduce the nitrites 🙂

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This is the most recent test I have taken of the water. Thank you guys for the help.


I got the tank in august. It was fine tell I took to much water out for one of my water changes and it had bacteria bloom and I got a lot of media from @Preston John to hopefully fix it and it didn’t help. We are trying to figure out more way.

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The whole cycle may have been reset for some reason if the tank was already cycled. This could have been because of water change I suppose or the bioload too heavy too fast?? I'm not sure. Maybe your filters weren't working properly? I've had that happen. I would treat it as if it were a fish-in cycle and do daily small water changes and water treatment until the levels come back to where they should be and your aquatic friends are safe. 

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Can you check a test strip with your tap water untreated? Some tap water has a certain amount of nitrite and nitrate out of the tap. You will need to continue to water change your way out of it. In terms of the water you can do 5-10 g water changes - every 1-3 days you should do a water change based on your results of your test strips. This will allow you to slowly build up the colony of bacteria in the tank to a level you need.

One strategy if you have some nitrite or nitrate out of the tap is to age the water - use an air pump and dose with your dechlorinator of choice and let it work overnight then Change the water. You don’t necessarily need to do this forever but it can help.

More plants can speed up this process. As mentioned above there are certain fast growing plants that can quickly convert nitrogenous waste into growth of the plant - @PineSonggave you a good list. I’d say with the result you gave us hornwort, dwarf water lettuce and guppy grass would be good choices they love hard water which your water is.

I think by nature axolotls diet is very high in protein therefore their waste is going to be harder for a colony of bacteria in just a sponge filter to pull out. I’ve seen many axolotls keepers using hang on the backs or canisters which are better at mechanical filtration and allow for biological and chemical filtration as well. This is controversial and some folks will argue Sponges do mechanical and biological but I think different animals have different needs. I know turtle keepers favor canisters for this same reason the amount of waste is just too hard for a sponge to handle. 

We all hope to help you be more successful and get you back to enjoying your beautiful animals! 

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