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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now. I have read one way to cycle a tank is to use pure ammonia. I currently work at a hardware store. We sell this stuff. Buuut. How pure is pure?

The ammonia we sell had ingredients listed as: ammonia hydroxide, surfactant, contains NO phosphorous.

Is this what I'd need?

Thanks in advance :)


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks so much :) I couldn't remember if it was that or the other! I might dig around and see if we have some of that!


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Lol, yup I've heard it's not so easy to find ammonia (typically Ammonium Hydroxide) cleaner without surfactants. So just go to Ace Hardware, as everyone says they have it without surfactants.

Still read the ingredients label though. You don't want any scents/fragrances or any other additives either.
You can shake the bottle and if it foams, then it has surfactants. Without surfactants, shaking it would just mix up some air bubbles that would pop quickly.

Online there is Dr. Tim's Ammonium Chloride as another option.
 

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Do you have Chloramines or Chlorine in your tap water? If you have Chloramines, just adding tap water conditioner will instantly produce ammonia. This is why you want to use something like Prime which temporary make the ammonia nontoxic by doing something with the ions.

Anyway, I think the beneficial bacteria can still use this ammonia when cycling a tank.
 

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Do you have Chloramines or Chlorine in your tap water? If you have Chloramines, just adding tap water conditioner will instantly produce ammonia. This is why you want to use something like Prime which temporary make the ammonia nontoxic by doing something with the ions.

Anyway, I think the beneficial bacteria can still use this ammonia when cycling a tank.
Dont they put Chlorine and chloramines in water to kill bacteria?

Not all additives are listed suractants either. I bought ammonia from walmart and it turns out there is another name for surfactants, I cant recall it now. I ended up giving up on ammonia and cycled my tank naturally (also fishless).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Dont they put Chlorine and chloramines in water to kill bacteria?

Not all additives are listed suractants either. I bought ammonia from walmart and it turns out there is another name for surfactants, I cant recall it now. I ended up giving up on ammonia and cycled my tank naturally (also fishless).


How did you cycle your tank?
 

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Anything breaking down in there will do the trick, fish food is one way to go.
I just throw floaters in there and don't bother with cycling, the floaters will eat up the ammonia as fast as the fish can produce it.
Doing the fishless cycle thing is fine, but unnecessary if you understand how to utilize your plants.
 

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How did you cycle your tank?
The absolutely worst way possible.

My fish store had a big sale on fish and I setup my aquarium the same day as I got a ton of fish and ended up killing like 90% of my fish.

I had a filter from another established tank and thought it would be enough but it was not.

I have a this so I can monitor the ammonia in real time 24/7

Amazon.com : Seachem Ammonia Alert : Aquarium Test Kits : Pet Supplies



This is how I first discovered that when you have Chloramines in your tap water and use tap water conditioner, the ammonia level will spike like crazy. That is why its vital you get a tap water conditioner that will detoxifie ammonia was well especially if you do big water changes.

Chloramines is a combination of both Ammonia and Chlorine. So when you use tap water conditioner it will neutralize the chlorine but leave behind the ammonia.

If you look up your water report for your tap water, you should be able to see if it has Chloramines in it.

I know that the beneficial bacteria will attack the ammonia and by using the seachem alert, I can see it slowly going down. This means the bacteria is working.

I think if you to feed them again, just do another massive water change using tap water conditioner.

I think it will work in theory but I have not actually tried it myself.

You will need.

1. Verify your tap water has Chloramines.
2. Get a Seachem Ammonia Alert so you can monitoring what is happening in real time.
3. Tap water conditioner like PRIME.

If all goes well, the ammonia will spike after each water change with you use tap water conditioner and tap water with chloramines.
 

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How did you cycle your tank?
This worked for me so ymmv. I used yard dirt and a light dusting of osmocote plus and left the smaller pieces of root and what not in the soil. I added some rams horns trumpet snails to keep everything turned over. I capped it with bdbs and planted it. The detritus breaks down and produces ammonia as does the osmocote. Keep in mind I stock my tank slowly. I imagine if you dumped a full stock of fish in it would not be successful. Example. I did this with my 75g. I left it run like until 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and we are producing nitrates. I added 9 oto. No fish stress. No gasping for air. No deaths even after they spent 2 days in the mail. I waited a few weeks then I added some espei. I set this tank up in December and just finished stocking it a few weeks ago and I do not over stock my tanks. Right now there are about 45 or 50 fish in there mostly small and pygmies species. Aside from a batch I got from the lfs that were sick I have lost 2 fish out of 50+. The way I do it is not for the impatient and those in a hurry to fully stock. I take my time. I let every thing settle. Like I said ymmv.
 

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Yep, and shellsie if you add floaters like water lettuce and duckweed to a setup like that (I did the same thing, topsoi from the property here with a cap) then if more ammonia is produced, then you just make more floaters. For a while those will go nuts, then they'll slow down when everything settles a bit. The water parameters should stay in line.
Last tank I threw some Harlequin rasboras in there only about a week after setting it up, but I made sure it was planted heavily and plenty of floaters. :)
 

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There are many ways to set up the right conditions for a tank to "cycle". What the point of doing a fishless cycle with ammonia does is set up a controlled way to get the bacteria colonies produced quickly and at a very high level. What makes the difference in how each of us may want to do this will depend on what we expect. If we are not adding any fish to be harmed by ammonia, a cycle is not needed. If we are going with lots of plants and then after some time adding a few small fish, we may wind up fine as well. But the fishless cycle really comes into importance if we have a different situation.
If you are going to order fish, it is often reasonable to order them all at one time. This may be necessary due to the type of fish. Some fish are less likely to give trouble if they are all added at once, but many times the reason is to save on multiple shipping charges. When adding a large group of fish all at one time, it is very important to have a set of bacteria that can process a large amount of waste from day one. The controlled way to assure that is done is to do a fishless cycle. If you are using a given amount of ammonia each day and see that it is being processed down to nitrate, you know that you are ready to add a large order of fish. But if other methods of cycle are used, there is more chance than the bacteria colony is not large enough to fully protect you from a sudden ammonia spike. When dealing with adding a bunch of large expensive fish, the fishless cycle is the sure way to go.
Once I have a fully established tank and the filters are all well set, I never do a fishless cycle as such but a somewhat modified form. I swap out media to the new tank and then use ammonia to test that it is being processed before adding any large number of fish.
I find there are very few set rules to follow but many things where we need to understand the what and why and then adapt the methods to meet what we find we are doing at the time.
 

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Not all additives are listed suractants either. I bought ammonia from walmart and it turns out there is another name for surfactants, I cant recall it now. I ended up giving up on ammonia and cycled my tank naturally (also fishless).
Surfactant is quite a broad term. Its basically anything that lessens the surface tension of water. Shampoo (and/or most soaps) is an example most use daily. The surfactant stops the water from beading so much (cant stick to itself so easily) and allows more water to contact the surface of your scalp/hair follicles allowing the oils to rise and be washed out.

Worth pointing out that using ammonia to cycle a tank is natural. Whether the ammonia come from a bottle used to clean a house or windows, or a bottle intended for the aquarium world, or rotting food, or rotting organics (like in your soil) or any other source. Ammonia is ammonia is ammonia. The method you're describing is exactly the same as the fishless cycle often promoted here; except instead of adding ammonia from a bottle you added organics and fertilizers that break down/produce ammonia. Either way you need to introduce ammonia into the system for the bacterial colony to start thriving.
 

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Surfactant is quite a broad term. Its basically anything that lessens the surface tension of water. Shampoo (and/or most soaps) is an example most use daily. The surfactant stops the water from beading so much (cant stick to itself so easily) and allows more water to contact the surface of your scalp/hair follicles allowing the oils to rise and be washed out.

Worth pointing out that using ammonia to cycle a tank is natural. Whether the ammonia come from a bottle used to clean a house or windows, or a bottle intended for the aquarium world, or rotting food, or rotting organics (like in your soil) or any other source. Ammonia is ammonia is ammonia. The method you're describing is exactly the same as the fishless cycle often promoted here; except instead of adding ammonia from a bottle you added organics and fertilizers that break down/produce ammonia. Either way you need to introduce ammonia into the system for the bacterial colony to start thriving.
I guess I could have phrased my comment differently. I just see letting something decompose (natural) and dumping something from a jug (intervention) differently while the end result is the same. Not saying one is better than the other nor am i saying the ammonia itself is different. Although I must admit to never having heard of decaying roots having a risk of containing surfactants.

I apologize if this sounds snarky, I certainly dont mean it that way. the reason I chose the method I did, knowing the end result is the same, is because I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere with no ace hardware to be found. I bought a bottle of ammonia that as it turns out was unusable for the task it was intended. so i went with the method I used and it worked well enough for me I stuck with it. Ammonia is ammonia is ammonia.
 

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Not saying one is better than the other nor am i saying the ammonia itself is different. Although I must admit to never having heard of decaying roots having a risk of containing surfactants.

Also not trying to sound snarky. You won't find a decaying root with a list of the ingredients that it will leach into your water. Nothing wrong with this method but with a bottle of ammonia you should know exactly what you're adding by reading the ingredients label. Not so much with decaying matter.
 

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I see both methods as working but a couple differences that may matter. When we use ammonia from natural sources like decaying food of some type, we may need to wait longer for the food to degrade to the point of producing ammonia and then we are never sure of how much ammonia we are getting. A teaspoon full of fish food will give different and unknown amounts of ammonia at different times.
So it depends on what end result we want. If we want to have a known full blown colony of bacteria, we need to know how much ammonia we are seeing processed. That is what tells us how many fish we are ready to add safely. It also does it quicker as we can manage the amount of ammonia to max the growth of the bacteria. One is more closely controlled to give a more regulated end result where using the natural materials like food can be slower and less reliable. Getting too much ammonia can kill the bacteria we are trying to produce.
Both methods work but knowing how and why each work is a big start on getting the right result.
Then there is also the question of how much harm we may be doing to any fish we use. Ammonia damage isn't something that we can judge precisely so when I read that fish were used and they were not harmed, I still have the thought that it might not be totally true. When we read about fish that suddenly die for no reason, I sometimes wonder if it is from ammonia damage that doesn't kill immediately but still leaves the fish set up for an early death.
I like to keep the unknowns in my tanks as low as possible so I favor doing all I can to avoid exposing fish to ammonia.
 

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I guess I could have phrased my comment differently. I just see letting something decompose (natural) and dumping something from a jug (intervention) differently while the end result is the same. Not saying one is better than the other nor am i saying the ammonia itself is different. Although I must admit to never having heard of decaying roots having a risk of containing surfactants.

I apologize if this sounds snarky, I certainly dont mean it that way. the reason I chose the method I did, knowing the end result is the same, is because I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere with no ace hardware to be found. I bought a bottle of ammonia that as it turns out was unusable for the task it was intended. so i went with the method I used and it worked well enough for me I stuck with it. Ammonia is ammonia is ammonia.
Nothing snarky about it; and you're right they do both reach the same goal. I just thought a bit of clarification might help someone make the decision as to which method they might choose.
 
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