Cycling your tank before adding Axolotls.
Updated: Oct 4, 2019
I know I have written about cycling your tank in my care guides, but I am not sure the importance of this has been shown. We throw around words like cycle, cycling, cycled like they should have any actual meaning to a new hobbyist. They don't until they do is one way to put it. I had aquariums for years before understanding the importance of setting up the filter correctly. Which is really all creating a cycle really is. Thus its known as the Nitrogen Cycle, which is shortened to a cycle. Its a shortened wording for establishing the live bacteria colony that will live in the filter and aquarium and process the excess ammonia and nitrites the animals produce and turn them into nitrates. Ammonia and Nitrites are highly toxic in higher quantities and waste, refuse, decomposing food, immature filters etc all create these in an aquarium.
Many people think a filter is just there to clean out the big particles in the water to keep it looking clean. However, the biggest reason for a filter is as a home for the large bacteria colony that needs to be established to eat the buildup of ammonia and nitrites and turn them into a safer nitrate. It takes time to establish this colony in a new tank. It is a living process. There are many ways to create a cycled tank. I have my favorites, which I go over in my care guide and are quicker than most. Many people make it an art form, feeding their empty tank ammonia drop by drop for 3 to 6 months at a time, etc. However you do it, just make sure its truly finished before you add your Axolotls to a new tank. My preferred method of making sure its cycled is testing the water and watching for the nitrites to spike all the way up and come back down. This tells me its set and ready to go.
It can be devastating to have new babies and have them die within weeks of creating a lovely new environment for them. Please do your research, tub them if needed until your cycle is well established, and ask for help if you need. Once its set, its easy to maintain.