Which Filter Is Appropriate for My Axolotl’s Tank?

If you are a new axolotl parent, know that axolotls are very sensitive creatures and that they produce an incredible amount of waste, meaning that tanks can get dirty relatively quickly.

The choice to use a filter is a logical consequence that will help keep your aquarium clean and your pet healthy. Water needs to be high quality to ensure your pet’s well-being.

Which Filter Is Appropriate for My Axolotl’s Tank

What Kinds of Filters Can Be Used in an Axolotl Tank?

Three kinds of filters are used the most often in a tank for axolotls:

      • Biological
      • Chemical
      • Mechanical 

A Biological filter will use biological media that contain nitrifying bacteria to feed the nitrogen cycle within the tank.

This biological media is also charged with neutralizing and eliminating highly toxic ammonia. This kind of filter transforms ammonia into nitrites and then into nitrates, eliminating the threat of toxins.

A Chemical filter will absorb contaminants through the use of substances such as carbon to eliminate undesirable molecules, ions, heavy metals, ammonia, etc. from the water.

Mechanical filters directly remove particles and debris from tank water.

How Should I Choose a Filter?

Selecting the very best filter isn’t limited to just going to the pet store and picking one up. When choosing the best filter for your pet’s tank, here are two considerations to reflect upon.

1.) The Filter’s Biomedia Capacity

Keep in mind that the sensitive axolotl sucks water into its mouth pretty much all the time, so if the water contains impurities or toxins, it will arrive directly at your pet’s digestive tract. This can lead to infections, and disease, and even be fatal.

A filter with biological media will host good bacteria that process waste, so the water remains clean.

Adequate quantity of biological media for your tank size

That’s why it is important to make sure that a filter has sufficient room to house an adequate quantity of biological media for your tank size. A filter with several media baskets will be more effective in making sure that water is clean.

2.) Water Flow

The production of water currents is also a consideration. Axolotls do not like strong currents preferring calm water as they do not need water currents for health purposes. A gentle current is fine as they will still be able to move around with ease, even walking across the bottom of the tank.

Exaggerated currents will stress your pet and stress often leads to illness. Some filters will feature an adjustable flow rate of a gentle flow for this purpose.

Some filters will feature a spray bar which is optimal because it aids in distributing water flow in an even manner. This helps avoid the creation of strong currents.

When selecting the filter look for the GPH or Gallons per Hour stipulated on the filter as it will tell you what the filter’s flow rate is.

Ideally the filter you finally select should have a GP that is approximately four times the aquarium’s water capacity. If your tank is a 20-gallon tank, pick a filter that indicates a GPH of 80.

If I Use a Filter, Do I Still Need to Change the Aquarium Water?

Yes, you do. A filter will permit you to change the water less often, but you still should change a percentage (25% to 30%) of the water weekly.

Is One Kind of Filter Better?

The most recommended type of filter for an axolotl aquarium is biological. This kind of filter constantly enables the nitrogen cycle. It is a filter that will contribute to the well-being of your pet healthily.

Because axolotls produce a substantial amount of waste, you need a strong biological filter to get the job done.

Its principal job is to prevent ammonia from poisoning the water and to keep water parameters as stable as possible. Heavy waste must be cleared. This will allow for fewer water changes.

How Do I Set Up a Biological Filter in My Axolotl’s New Tank?

Know that you need to install a biological filter in the tank before water cycling begins. If you are setting up a new tank, insert the filter and then add in dechlorinated water.

How Do I Set Up a Biological Filter in My Axolotl’s New Tank

Once the filter and the water are introduced, you need to begin cycling. Your axolotl should never be in the aquarium during cycling. The filter should be operating during the entire process of cycling. Follow these easy steps:

1.) Introduce the filter into the aquarium.

2.) Add in dechlorinated water to the tank leaving approximately two inches of space between the water surface and the aquarium lid.

3.) Add in fish food or ammonia, as levels need to reach 2 to 4 ppm.

4.) Add nitrifying bacteria to kickstart your nitrogen cycle. These bacteria will populate the aquarium and enter the filter. They will then begin to feed on the ammonia to convert it into nitrites and subsequently nitrates.

5.) The level of ammonia should drop to 0 with nitrites measuring between 2 and 4 ppm. Nitrites should then drop to 0, while nitrate levels will rise.

6.) Finally, conduct a gradual water change, changing between 60% and 80% of the aquarium water. This should cause nitrate levels to drop to a rate between 10 and 40 ppm.

Now you can place your axolotl in the aquarium.

What if the Aquarium Is Not New?

If the aquarium is not a new one, you will not have to replace the biological medium. It should not be washed with tap water as chlorine will kill good bacteria.

If the biological medium, that is found in a filter’s ceramic ring, bio-ball, or sponge seems very dirty, wash it and rinse it with aquarium water.

If your filter uses disposable cartridges, run the new cartridge together with the old one. This permits the nitrifying bacteria to successfully colonize an entirely new cartridge.

Do not just substitute an old cartridge with a new one as this will interrupt the nitrogen cycle and potentially harm your axolotl.

What About Canister Filters?

Canister Filters

Canister filters are optimal for axolotls. They offer sufficient room for a substantial amount of biomedia and they generally come with a space bar.

They are a bit more problematic to maintain but have substantial biomedia capacity and offer a gentle water flow to prevent the creation of strong currents within the tank.

They are also customizable with various baskets or chambers holding different types of media.

What About a Sponge Filter?

Sponge Filter

A sponge filter will need an air pump to pump water through the sponge. They do not have many parts that need maintenance, make no noise, and will also capture larger particles in the water. Any noise will come from the air pump.

This is an economical choice as filters go and should not create any kind of water current. It’s a great beginners’ option and perfect for a single axolotl in a tank.

However, you will need to be good about cleaning the aquarium by removing uneaten food, cleaning out waste, and making partial water changes regularly.

What Filter Should I Select My Axolotl?

Canister filters are a great choice for capacity and water flow. But there are a few drawbacks when selecting. They are more expensive because they have more than one filtering chamber, offer high output, and have great design. They also ensure the cleanest water.

Cleaning a canister filter is a bit more complicated and you will need to substitute the biological material every so often. They can create stronger currents if the spray bar is not functioning correctly.

Nonetheless, they are the best filter for an axolotl’s aquarium because the water stays pristine longer ensuring a healthy environment for your pet.

Susan R Elliston
I have over 11 years of experience as a vet working with a wonderful variety of species of innocent and lovely animals. Whilst I still work two days a week for a local practice, I realized that I could help more people by sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers.

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