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So I read the various fishless cycle threads on the board and started adding ammonia 3 days ago. My tank is 60 gallons. I have added close to 5 tablespoons so far and can barely achive .50ppm on my API test kit. How much can I safely add at one time? I have plants in the tank and although I read you can have plants during the cycle I am nervous about dumping too much ammonia in at one time.
 

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You won't hurt the plants, get the ammonia up to 5ppm, and then maintain 3ppm after that until you get nitrates.
 

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There are other variables before you go buy another test kit. Did you add five Tbsp all at once or over days? How heavily are you planted? Your plants might have absorbed the ammonia if you have been adding it slowly. As long as you don't have any fish in there, don't worry about it as long as you don't go over 5ppm, because then your nitrifying bacteria will have a hard time growing.
 

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here is a calculator to figure out how much to add. It worked for me but always check as people make mistakes and you may not type in the right tank size or ammonia strength.....http://www.fishforums.net/aquarium-calculator.htm

Just checked it for 60 gallons says you need 11.95 ml to get it to 5 ppm.
 

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5 ppms is a little high. Back up the test to make sure it is correct. I use API & find them to be good. I would dose a steady 3ppm at first & wait to see if it comes down . Do not add more unless it goes close to zero. It could take days or weeks pending on weather you seeded it or not. Check NO2 Nitrites as well to make sure you are not partially cycled. Thats a lot of ammonia. Make sure you are using ammonia without surficants added. No detergents. Finally check NO3 nitrates sooner than later to make sure the second stage is taking hold. My guess it is not.
 

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I forgot to mention water conditioners. That could be your problem!!!! If you dose with prime & other popular brands they will throw your ammonia tests results off. ( Big problem)!!!! The way around this for me was to run 100% R/o water because I know what I have. Water with conditioner which WILL YIELD false readings! You would have to age your water & even then you could not be sure if any chlorine is still present as well as ammonia or chloramines. It happened to me so I switched to 100% r/o with trace & Gh booster. You also have to add some PO4 say .5ppm or more fore the bacteria. Unless somebody else chimes in with a better idea, but I believe you are adding too much ammonia & getting false readings & blaming API when its really a chemistry thing. Sodium thylsulfate may work, but not sure. It is pretty pure. It does nothing but remove chlorine. It needs to be very fresh to work properly & if you have chloramines it could get tricky later on for the fish.
 

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This is just an idea to cycle. The R/O water thing. You also need to add baking soda for the Kh & the bacteria as well if you go this way.
 

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After the tank is cycled you could use prime, but only cycled since it reacts with the chlorine & bio system & with time will dissipate from the system & you will be able to get reliable readings from test kits once the tank is established.
 

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If you don't know the concentration of the ammonia, you could take a container of a known size (1 gallon, 5 would probably be easier), add a pretty small amount (1/4 teaspoon), add it, mix it up a bit, and then take a measurement. if it's off the charts, you could do a simple dilution (say, 10 Tablespoons of clean water, 1 Tablespoon of ammonia) and then add a small amount (1/4 teaspoon) to another container full of clean water, and test again.

repeat until you get something in the readable range, and that should give you an idea (but only a very rough estimate) of how much you need to add to your tank. I'd probably try going somewhere around 1/2 of your estimate, measure, and then adjust.

Tablespoon and teaspoon aren't real precise measurement units, and I've heard there is quite a bit of variance, but a tablespoon is approximately 15ml, and teaspoon approximately 5ml.
 
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