Your Fish Tank: Creating an Ecosystem

Things you will need
  1. A tank (20gal Minimum per Goldfish/ 20L Minimum for Axolotls)
  2. A settable aquarium heater (N/A for Axolotls)
  3. Aquarium Sand/Gravel (optional/ Do not put gravel in an axolotl tank)
  4. Filtration (Canister Filter/ Hang on Back/ Sponge Filter)
  5. Air pump and airlines
  6. Thermometer, temp gauge, or water temperature reader
  7. Water Dechlorinator (We use Seachem Prime because it does not contain tea tree oil which is toxic to Axolotls)
  8. Beneficial Bacteria (We use API Quickstart or Seachem Stability)
  9. Quality food
  10. Water Testing Kit or Strips (We use 5 in 1 test strips, ammonia strips, or the Freshwater master kit to test our tanks)
Foods we recommend:
Goldfish: Repashy Goldfish, Fluval Bugbites Goldfish, Omega One Goldfish, San Francisco Bay Brand "Freshwater Multi-pack", Live Brine, or Frozen Brine shrimp.
Axolotls: Live fishing worms, Omega One frozen silversides, raw salmon, blood worms, and black worms.
Setting Up Your Ecosystem
Once you have your tank in place and all of your components set up it is time to add your water. It is not realistic to buy pre treated water, use bottled water, or jugs of spring water for tanks larger than 10 gallons. Do not use RO water for fresh water aquariums! It is very easy and safe to fill and maintain tank water just from your tap. To do this simply add your water dechlorinator into the water before putting it into your tank. Dechlorinators will remove toxic material in your water such as chlorine, chloramines, heavy metals, and other materials not suitable for sustainable habitation. 
When doing water changes we also add maintenance doses of beneficial bacteria along side dechlorinators to ensure that our tanks maintain healthy levels of beneficial bacteria as there may be some loss when removing water.
In order to start the biological process for your ecosystem you will need to run your filtration system alongside "ghost feeding" your tank. Ghost feeding is a term used when adding fish foods into your tank without fish to eat it. This will allow the beneficial bacteria to consume levels of ammonia produced from ghost feeding to cycle your tank. This process usually takes 7-14. Within this time frame you will notice the tank getting cloudy. This is a good thing! Do not restart your tank or do any major water changes. The reason you are seeing this hazy cloud form is because of an increase of bacteria production. The cloudiness will go away within 7-14 day. On the 15th day you can do a 25% water change to dilute the amount of bacteria within your tank to allow the natural cycle of bacteria to continue at a healthy level. Yay, you have officially started an ecosystem!
Now is the time to test your parameters. API 5in1 test strips are a great way to start getting familiar with your aquarium levels. You can find more information on specific parameters for Goldfish and Axolotls in our other care guides.
Once you have reached desired water parameters it is time to add your fish!
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