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Old 02-18-2011, 09:00 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Redwood City, CA
Sourcing ammonia for a fishless cycle

Hey again folks!

I'm trying to find a source of ammonia for a fishless cycle of my tank. I checked the supermarket here and they only have one - it's household ammonia and the only ingredients are listed as "ammonia hydroxide" and "surfactants". It's free of any other scents, chemicals or any other ingredients. Are "surfactants" going to cause a problem or is this safe to use in the tank? I haven't bought it, I wanted to ask here first.

If this isn't suitable, how else can I start the fishless cycle? I don't have a car so driving to stores is difficult (I bribe friends for a ride ), I've checked all the local hardware stores and the only thing I could find was a $40 bottle of ammonia at ACE Hardware (but I really don't want to spend that much for way more ammonia than I'll ever need).

Any ideas?


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Old 02-19-2011, 08:08 AM   #2 
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Yikes on the 40$! If you shake the bottle, and it foams then its a no no. I never use the pure ammonia because once I'm done cycling I'd have no use for it. I use raw shrimp, get it at the seafood department 2 peices 40cents Put it in a stocking hose, something porous, and let it decay. Ive also heard of people using their fish food, but thats the messiest route. On a different not, I've cycled 3 tanks one right after the other, still using that shrimp! Only drawback is its kinda smelly, but it keeps the bacteria fed. In a small tank it can become potent, so just watch the ammonia level and keep it at 4ppm.
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Old 02-19-2011, 10:03 AM   #3 
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You will want to avoid surfactants. How big was the $40 bottle at Ace? I got my ammonia at Ace, and it was just a standard size cleanser bottle for less than $5. You could call and ask if they have a smaller size than the one you saw at your store.

There are other ways to start a fishless cycle. I know a lot of people place a piece of shrimp in the tank and use that as a source of ammonia. You could stick it in some pantyhose and float it in the tank in order to avoid gross particles of decayed shrimp floating around your tank.

Some people also use fish food as a source of ammonia, but I think the shrimp method is generally preferred because the food is dirtier (especially if you keep the shrimp in pantyhose). It's hard to control the amount of ammonia you're adding with both of these methods, but many people do prefer them because they seem more natural than adding pure chemical to the tank, and if you can't find pure ammonia anywhere, these are definite options.
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Old 02-19-2011, 03:29 PM   #4 
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Thanks guys!

So I called ACE Hardware and they said that you can only order the packs online rather than the individual bottles, but that in the store they sell the bottles individually at about $5-6. I think I'll be using that because the shrimp method may stink a little and it'll be right next to me at work!

I appreciate the help, I start cycling the tank today!

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