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Axolotl and Plant Fertilizer Compatiability

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Hello all!

I am setting up a 40 breeder axolotl tank, and while I cannot have plants that will need high light, I plan to have some simple plants such as various anubias, Vallisneria, Java Fern, Guppy Grass, and Salvinia minima. With that said, I would be curious to know if the plant fertilizing products that Aquarium Co Op offers (i.e. Easy Green, root tabs, etc.) would be safe to use around axolotls. 

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! 

Thank you in advance!



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Hi @LadyRorschach! Welcome to the forum. I'm sorry I cannot speak to the ferts and Axolotls (not many keepers here unfortunately and I'm not sure @Cory has tested it with them), though it is invert and fish safe it may be ok. I can say, you don't really need ferts for the plants you plan to grow. I have been recently experimenting and only dosing 2 of my tanks with Easy Green (and I only grow "easy" plants like the ones you listed. The only difference I see is faster growth, the plants in my tanks without ferts are slower growing but just as healthy. Hope this helps. 

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Sorry I missed this earlier.  You will need to be extremely careful with dosing ferts with axies.  They are quite sensitive and need nitrates lower than is ideal for most plant growth.  Some plants give their best color with low nitrates but usually also want fairly high light.  Axies are also fairly rough on plants (bull running rampage style) so you have to be very careful what plants you choose.  Axies need fairly soft plants to not damage their gills or skin - they are very prone to injuries.  They also need plants that are strong enough to survive the axies running over or pushing through them.

Even more important is the substrate you choose.  You absolutely must NEVER use any gravel where an axie can reach it!  They will sooner or later get an impaction that may or may not be surgically correctable.  I just had a good friend that had to euthanize her axie because he managed to find and ingest a very small pebble, possibly the only pebble in the entire sand substrate, which caused an obstruction.

If you want to do plants with axies, you can do all epiphytes or you can leave plants in their pots, or you can plant in flower pots or other safe containers (no drainage hole needed) then use very large pebbles to anchor the plants and cover any substrate deep enough so the axie can not get to it.  Have a look at my 75 G tank link in my sig below for more info on how I planted in pots.  The pebbles I used are NOT big enough for axies but are big enough for the fish in that tank.  For axies, the pebbles need to be at least twice the size of an adult axie’s head to make sure they don’t even try to ingest it.  No lava rock, they have to be smooth pebbles.

If you’re dead set on sand, you have to sift every speck of it very carefully.  The tiny pebble that cause the problem for my friend’s axie was only about 4 mm across but was big enough to cause the intestinal obstruction and his eventual death.

Swords in pots with root tabs would be a good start and the tabs would likely leach enough fertilizer into the water to feed the rest of the plants.  You might need to supplement a bit with some Easy Green, maybe a little Easy Iron sometimes. Java fern would likely be fine but I’m not sure if Vallisneria or guppy grass would hold up to axies.  Vals didn’t hold up to my Jack Dempseys at all.  Guppy grass might grow fast enough to be OK but will likely have bits of it floating everywhere.  Anubias will probably do OK but axies might be bit harder on them than they can handle and they don’t bounce back fast.

You might also do OK with certain crypts either in pots or grown as epiphytes - spiralis varieties or retrospiralis for a grassy effect in place of Vals since those crypt leaves are just a smidgen tougher than Val leaves (but slower to bounce back).  Crypt. pontederiifolia might (or might not) hold up to axies.  I use it for a sword substitute in some smaller tanks but the leaves aren’t quite as strong as most swords.

Floaters would be an excellent choice and frogbit is one of the tougher floaters that would likely be a good choice.  I can’t speak to dwarf water lettuce since it’s illegal in my area as an invasive plant and I haven’t grown it.  Salvinia is a bit more fidgety than frogbit, IME.  Red root floater is also slightly more fidgety than frogbit but it is beautiful, especially with enough light and low nitrates.  If you have enough floaters you won’t need lights low over the whole tank since the floaters will shade it. It’s OK to have a bright area in an axie tank.  It might even get the axies to spend less time mauling swords and crypts.  😃 

Good luck.  Maybe with this bump somebody might chime in with more.

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