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  1. #1

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    Question Best Way of Fishless Cycling?


    0 Not allowed!
    Hello all,

    What is the best way of fishless cycling a tank if pure ammonia cannot be found? (Looked around all day and the best I could find had surfactants in it). I've heard of letting shrimp decompose in the tank (how many needed for a 20 gallon?) or letting fish food decompose in the tank?

    Any suggestions on where to find pure ammonia? I've checked dollar stores, a grocery store, Sears, Lowes and the christmas tree store.

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    0 Not allowed!
    I've used ammonia with surfactants with no adverse affects to fishless cycle a tank. The exact ingredients (generic local supermarket chain brand 'plain ammonia') are: ammonium hydroxide solution, surfactatn, colorant and quality control agents.

    What I did when the cycle was complete was do a near 100% water change. The tank was used as a maturnity tank (I placed mouthbrooding cichlids in it).

    I figure eggs and fry are as delicate as fish come, and I had zero issue with the fry born and reared in that tank (which has subsequently been used to rear the progeny and grand-progeny of those fry).

    If surfactants are viewed as harmful, I haven't found that to be the case in my use of the stuff; but like I said, I did a near 100% water change prior to adding the mouthbrooding mother.

    But to play it safe, adding a raw shrimp in the tank will work as well (and will totally prevent the introduction of surfactants into the system).
    Last edited by kaybee; 09-28-2008 at 08:24 PM.
    African cichlid and saltwater aquariums

  3. #3

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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by kaybee
    I've used ammonia with surfactants with no adverse affects to fishless cycle a tank. The exact ingredients (generic local supermarket chain brand 'plain ammonia') are: ammonium hydroxide solution, surfactatn, colorant and quality control agents.

    What I did when the cycle was complete was do a near 100% water change. The tank was used as a maturnity tank (I placed mouthbrooding cichlids in it).

    I figure eggs and fry are as delicate as fish come, and I had zero issue with the fry born and reared in that tank (which has subsequently been used to rear the progeny and grand-progeny of those fry).

    If surfactants are viewed as harmful, I haven't found that to be the case in my use of the stuff; but like I said, I did a near 100% water change prior to adding the mouthbrooding mother.

    But to play it safe, adding a raw shrimp in the tank will work as well (and will totally prevent the introduction of surfactants into the system).
    Thanks for the response Kaybee,

    I am a bit (who and I kidding, alot) paranoid, so I'll stay away from the surfactants anyway even though as you point out a near 100% water change could be carried out.

    If I do the raw shrimp method, would one shrimp suffice? Also, do I just drop it in and then simply wait until the tank is cycled? Can I do things like increase the temperature to move things along?

    Anyone else with tips on fishless cycling?

    Thanks!

  4. #4

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    0 Not allowed!
    It's unfortunate you cannot find plain old ammonia - any chance that you have an Ace hardware store near you (or is is Ames)? I seem to remember other members finding regular household ammonia there (ie no surfactants). I think it was Ace or Ames Janitorial or something similar.

    You can use shrimp (be prepared for a quite horrible smell), and yes, turning the heater up to about 86 will certainly speed the entire process. I'd add few small shrimp and give it a few days and be testing for ammonia. Ideally you want about 4-5 ppm per day until you see your nitrites spiking, then about 2-3 ppm per day until you have your nitrate spike.

    Note that the shrimp decomposing will probably show fluctuating levels of ammonia, not steady ones, so you may need to add a few more later on to be sure the beneficial bacteria are getting what they need to colonize your filter material.

    Also, you might want to document this for other to use as a rough guide. Just a thought!

  5. #5

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    0 Not allowed!
    I live in the UK and couldn't find pure ammonia here. I used a combination of fish food and a cooked shrimp (still in its shell). The smell of the shrimp was awful after a few days so I had to throw it out, but I figure it was at least enough to kick-start the cycle, then I just carried on adding fish food daily, and did a large water change before adding fish.

  6. #6

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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by fins_n_fur
    It's unfortunate you cannot find plain old ammonia - any chance that you have an Ace hardware store near you (or is is Ames)? I seem to remember other members finding regular household ammonia there (ie no surfactants). I think it was Ace or Ames Janitorial or something similar.

    You can use shrimp (be prepared for a quite horrible smell), and yes, turning the heater up to about 86 will certainly speed the entire process. I'd add few small shrimp and give it a few days and be testing for ammonia. Ideally you want about 4-5 ppm per day until you see your nitrites spiking, then about 2-3 ppm per day until you have your nitrate spike.

    Note that the shrimp decomposing will probably show fluctuating levels of ammonia, not steady ones, so you may need to add a few more later on to be sure the beneficial bacteria are getting what they need to colonize your filter material.

    Also, you might want to document this for other to use as a rough guide. Just a thought!
    I actually do have an Ace Hardware around here and I haven't checked it yet...maybe I'll run by there this evening. As for the smell, that's what I was dreading. The tank is right in my living room too

    Thanks for the tip!

  7. #7

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    0 Not allowed!
    Are there any chemical suppliers in your area? Chemical or scientific supply stores should have pure ammonia. Might be a little extreme, but it's worth a try.
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  8. #8

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    fins n fur is right. Ace hardware has 'Ace Hardware Brand Ammonia'. I just finished a fish less on my 29G. Last night I put 6 zebras in it and they are doing great!

  9. #9

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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by FordForever
    fins n fur is right. Ace hardware has 'Ace Hardware Brand Ammonia'. I just finished a fish less on my 29G. Last night I put 6 zebras in it and they are doing great!
    Awsome, now I'm feeling really optomistic about Ace Hardware! thanks, guys, I don't think my husband would have let me leave a rotting shrimp in the tank for very long

  10. #10

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    0 Not allowed!
    One last question:

    What do people think about using Stability to help cycle a tank? The owner of my LFS suggested it and he seems to know his stuff. Any thoughts?

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