My daughter bought an Axolotl a couple of weeks ago. We have been tubing the cute little critter while we try to cycle the tank.
We followed this one guide that said to use fish food to increase ammonia levels.
I am not sure that it has been helpful because it does not give us any more info beyond adding a filter, add dechlorinated water, and adding fish food flakes for two weeks.
I have found a few more sites on information, and it seems like we are on the wrong track.
Any help or info would be great.
It has been a long time for me, but I used to keep axolotls and fish, so I’ll do my best.
The main thing to do is to have the water in the tank for at least 24 hours without putting any animals in it- that is the major thing not to forget, and it sounds like you’ve already done that.
Classically, to get a tank cycling, people used to buy a ‘cheap’ fish, then put it in the tank to pee/poo & thus develop the biological filter (good bacteria) that will build up alongside the mechanical filter. Personally, I would not do this for an axolotl, since many ‘cheap’ fish carry diseases/etc., and amphibians are so much more sensitive than fish.
I don’t know if adding the fish food would help cycle a tank, but using a small amount isn’t a terrible idea. I just wouldn’t go crazy with it. In the (distant) past, there used to be products that one could buy at pet stores that purportedly had live bacteria that could instantly populate a new tank & help condition water. Aside from making sure the water is aged over 24 hours, and possibly adding general water conditioners, I never took any special steps for any of my guys that I can remember.
My main tips for keeping axolotls are to make sure the temperature of the tank will stay cool (definitely no heater in most home environments), make sure there is nothing potentially toxic in the tank (no found rocks from outside or anything like that), and that the current caused by the filter isn’t super strong. If no one here can give you details on cycling for aquatic amphibians/water chemistry & appropriate values, you could try looking for info online on how to make a tank safe for fish.
I’m pretty well versed in fish so I can give some pointers. It’s totally fine to use fish food to start a cycle, especially if you don’t have pure ammonia lying around. Based on your test kit results you have a good amount of ammonia and no nitrites or nitrates right now, so your cycle is still in its earliest stage. At this point it’s just a waiting game. Some tanks cycle in less than a week and other can take longer than 4 weeks. Just kinda depends on how fast the nitrifying bacteria start colonizing. You can get bacteria starter from a pet store or such but it’s little ambiguous if they actually help.
I would wait another week and then test ammonia/nitrite/nitrate again. Eventually you want to read 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and any sort of nitrate reading. That means your tank is fully cycled.