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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-09-2009, 11:24 PM Thread Starter
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ammonia for cycling question

The only ammonia that I can find has surfactants in it. I cannot use this to cycle a tank correct? I think the surfactants will stay in the tank and destroy the slime coat of fish added to the tank. Does anyone know?

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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-09-2009, 11:54 PM
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Correct, do not use ammonia with surfactants, to do so is akin to putting soapy water in your aquarium.

The liquid ammonia method for cycling is cumbersome. It's easy to drop a cocktail shrimp in and then simply forget about the tank for a couple weeks.

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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-10-2009, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imeridian View Post
Correct, do not use ammonia with surfactants, to do so is akin to putting soapy water in your aquarium.

The liquid ammonia method for cycling is cumbersome. It's easy to drop a cocktail shrimp in and then simply forget about the tank for a couple weeks.
Thank you, that is what I was thinking. I will have to go get a shrimp, and I was so looking forward to playing with chemicals.

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-10-2009, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by airborne_r6 View Post
The only ammonia that I can find has surfactants in it. I cannot use this to cycle a tank correct? I think the surfactants will stay in the tank and destroy the slime coat of fish added to the tank. Does anyone know?
Hi, I have successfully used Goldex brand Household Ammonia to successfully fishless cycle unplanted tanks in the past. It contains no surfacants and I got it cheap from Wal-Mart. Doing a fishless cycle with ammonia is not as complicated as people make it sound if you know what you are doing.

I am currently using it to fishless cyle a 1 gallon unplanted bowl which will be home to 2 Dwarf Aquatic Frogs. I will spike the ammonia once, once cycled, I will increase ammonia amount the second time and again spike the ammonia a second time to build up a huge colony of nitrifying bacteria in the substrate, and filter media. This will allow me to add two frogs at once right away without issues.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-10-2009, 12:43 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Homer_Simpson View Post
Hi, I have successfully used Goldex brand Household Ammonia to successfully fishless cycle unplanted tanks in the past. It contains no surfacants and I got it cheap from Wal-Mart.
Walmart is the only store that I didnt check. They have closed the road between here and there for the next year to rebuild it and I didnt want to go out of my way. I guess I will make quick trip out there and check.

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-10-2009, 05:55 AM
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Also try Ace hardware. That's the only place where I found ammonia. It's a 10% solution.

I also agree that ammonia cycling is not hard. I'm a beginner and have done it with 3 tanks the past few months. Like Homer, I also spike the ammonia and then wait for it to come down before adding more. I usually spike to 5ppm and then wait for it to come down to about 1ppm. I've read some instructions that say add 5ppm a day. This seems like way too much. It could be 50ppm or higher before it starts coming down more than 5ppm a day.

Another think I do is an occasional large water change when the nitrites start spiking and the tank is consuming 5ppm of ammonia within 24 hours. If you don't, your nitrites can end up like around 30ppm or higher. Then you wait for ever for them to come down while you add 5ppm ammonia every day. This unnecessarily extends the date when cycling is determined to be complete. By the time it is, you are probably handling 10ppm nitrites a day when you really only need to handle 5ppm.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-10-2009, 06:13 AM Thread Starter
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Stupid Walmart, mine has the same crap with surfactants that everyone else has. The only ammonia that Ace carries contains dye and perfumes. I tried there first. I have tried 7 different stores. I may check Home Depot tomorrow and see what they have. Otherwise, I guess its the throw in a shrimp method.

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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-10-2009, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by airborne_r6 View Post
Stupid Walmart, mine has the same crap with surfactants that everyone else has. The only ammonia that Ace carries contains dye and perfumes. I tried there first. I have tried 7 different stores. I may check Home Depot tomorrow and see what they have. Otherwise, I guess its the throw in a shrimp method.
Regional store differences are very frustrating. So many times on PT I've seen people say Walmart, Ace, Sears, Home Depots, you name it, carries some item, and it does not around here.

Anyway, the ammonia I got at ACE is actually and ACE brand, so you may want to check again. The bottle says "Janitorial Strenth Formula". I also went to many other stores before finally finding pure ammonia at ACE.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-10-2009, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by cjp999 View Post
Regional store differences are very frustrating. So many times on PT I've seen people say Walmart, Ace, Sears, Home Depots, you name it, carries some item, and it does not around here.

Anyway, the ammonia I got at ACE is actually and ACE brand, so you may want to check again. The bottle says "Janitorial Strenth Formula". I also went to many other stores before finally finding pure ammonia at ACE.
I know exactly what you mean, this not the first time that I have run into that problem looking for things recomended on the forum. I will try Ace again but the only ammonia that I saw was some other brand and it was lemon ammonia.

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-10-2009, 11:26 PM
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Maybe you should just pee in your aquarium?

This is what I meant by cumbersome, finding unadulterated ammonia is difficult enough, then you have to fiddle with dosing just the right amount at just the right times. I didn't say it was hard, just that it was easy to 'set and forget' with a cocktail shrimp.

I've read of people even ordering lab grade ammonia from specialty suppliers. It boggles my mind why folks go to such lengths when all they need is something to decompose in the tank.

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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-10-2009, 11:39 PM
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..... dosing just the right amount at just the right times...
I guess we can respectfully agree to disagree and I can understand that this is likely not everyone's cup of tea. I have fishless cycled with ammonia no less than 20 times since I have kept fish(8+ years). Dosing the ammonia takes as much effort as feeding your fish daily or removing dead plant leaves from your tank or dosing Estimative Index. As far as the right amount 1 ml per 5 gallon works pretty well IME and this amount can easily be measured using a medicine dropper. As far as the cocktail shrimp method...nothing wrong with that, but you cannot spike the ammonia again to build an even greater quantity of nitrifying bacteria. With the ammonia method, you can have more control over how much you decide to spike the ammonia 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, etc., Many hobbyists who don't want anything to do with planted tanks and do not consider planted tanks an option because of fish species that they want to keep or just do not want to bother do this when they want to add a a heavy stock of fish at once. For instance, there tend to be greater territorial fights among some species of cichlids if they are added 1 at a time with the previous ones already staking out their territories, then if they are added all at once, at least that is what some cichlid keepers claim. The method also allows you to add more than a few fish at once(I am not suggesting overstocking but only the maximum stock a tank allows) without having to gradually add fish over several weeks or even months. I have never lost fish using this method. The thing that probably requires the most effort is testing the water weekly, but to me that is less effort than a water change and doesn't take that long.
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-10-2009, 11:45 PM
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We're not even disagreeing! I've done both. They both work. At this point, for the OP, the decision is to continue traipsing around town trying to find clear ammonia or to just get the process started already with something more readily available.

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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-11-2009, 12:05 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imeridian View Post
Maybe you should just pee in your aquarium?
I was thinking that last night as I was changing the cat litter.

The only two places that I am still going to are enroute to the grocery store where I am going to get shrimp anyway and all of the others were enroute coming back from another store where I was getting something else so I really havent been all over town.

The other thing is that I was actually looking forward to the testing and dosing. Thats why I decided to do the ammonia method in the first place. I like that sort of thing. I even have a laboratory test tube shaker called a vortex mixer here at home to use when I test and will be setting up an excel spreadsheet to track and graph all of my parameters. I guess thats why I am a science major.

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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-11-2009, 12:08 AM
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In that regard, I think a decomposing source of ammonia would be more interesting. You can then also track how long it takes to start spiking ammonia, versus supplying it yourself.

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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-11-2009, 12:13 AM
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I would say that if you can get the ammonia, it is the better route. You'll have a better idea of how much ammonia is going into your tank that way. A little bit of footwork now will save you effort in the future if you end up cycling more tanks. I didn't know when I got started 4 months ago that I would have cycled 3 tanks already this way.

Also keep in mind that you get what you put into it. Ammonia should produce faster results. You get an instant spike, and then keep levels high. As for frequency of measurements, once again you get what you put into it. You could just start at 5ppm and add about 1ppm a day, test after a week, and then test every few days after that. Once you see it drop to about 1ppm or so, that's when you start your 5ppm dosing with testing 24 hours later.

Homer says 1ml per 5g, which is funny because I do 8ml per 40g (do that math!). This gave me 5ppm, which is usually the recommended target. This was with a 10% ammonia solution, which I think is typical of most ammonia products out there (and btw, 10% is still *very* strong. Keep your nose far away if you value your sinuses).

Lastly, exact measurements are not required. If you end with 2ppm or 8ppm, it won't make a difference. In fact I bet your tank would cycle just as fast at 1ppm. You just need to make sure you start spiking higher once it goes to 0ppm within 24 hours so you can reach the goal of 5ppm in 24 hours.
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