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Old 03-14-2006, 04:04 PM   #1
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AMMONIA + SURFACTANT = ??? BAD???


Hello everybody!
I know this has been posted somewhere around the forum before, but getting so many conflicting indications, I have decided to seek a final answer ( ooopppsss copyright violations 8O
Ok seriouly now, As many here am trying the "Fishless cycle" using ammonia either the straight liquid or the famous shrimp style.
In the liquid ammonia, I found the local Publix carries a "Clean Ammonia", which contains ammonia and surfactants.
Question: Is Ammonia with Surfactants usable or BAD/Do not use????

Final answer: ????

Thank you guys for your help, Please all of you that have tried this method before give us a piece of your wisdom. For sure im not the only one all confused here!
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Old 03-14-2006, 04:27 PM   #2
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Shake the bottle it comes in. If you get bubbles (suds) it's no good. You should be looking for a clear ammonia product. No well known name brands....just a no-frills type bottle that will most likely just say "Ammonia". Check Target, K-Mart, Walmart, etc.
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Old 03-14-2006, 04:39 PM   #3
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Thanks Maxwell,

I have tried all those stores, I will be visiting Ace Hardware this afternoon for a hopefully more "pure" ammonia.
Im trying to get a defenite and final answer to this otherwise simple question.

The brand from Publix can be shaken and no fiss will occured, yet on some forums opinions vary toward that Ammonia and Surfactants are bad, and yet some others that it does not matter at all unless it has colors or scents, which will make it a bad thing.

Has anyone used the ammonia containing surfactants and have had a good cycling or has it been a bad thing???
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Old 03-14-2006, 04:46 PM   #4
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Ammonia with surfactants is unusable. Surfactant is a soapy substance that makes the ammonia adhere to the surface for mopping. DO NOT use it!! I've heard MANY people say no to this. ACE hardware is where I've heard the pure, surfactant-free ammonia is located.
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Old 03-14-2006, 05:03 PM   #5
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Thank you CrazyRed,

if no one else has any other comments, inputs;

You hear it here folks,
Final Answer: Ammonia containing Surfactants is BAD STUFF, stay away from it.

Thank you all for your input!
as for me, its another trip, this time to ACE!

Thank you all again, and hope this helps everyone else with ammonia cycling and which type of ammonia to use!.
Look for pure ammonia, no surfactants.
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Old 03-14-2006, 09:00 PM   #6
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Shake the bottle it comes in. If you get bubbles (suds) it's no good.
Just wanted to add to this. If you shake a bottle of Clear Ammonia with Surfactants it will not always suds up. I shook and shook my bottle and it never did anything so I thought it was fine. Nope, it had surfactants.

I drained and rinsed my tank and ran a brand new carbon filter for a couple days. I read that carbon removes soap so I'm hoping that it caught what I didn't. I put fish in there before I realized that maybe I should have cleaned the substrate better.
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:09 AM   #7
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I was just googling this and since this was the first hit, I thought I'd add my 2c.

All soap is a surfactant. Not all surfactants are soap. If the label says "Ammonia, Surfactant" and you shake it up and it doesn't stay sudsy, you're probably OK. This is for all you out there reading this who have already dosed your tank with stuff like this, and now you're freaking out. Stop freaking out. Go get yourself the stuff from Ace and continue dosing. As long as your tank cycles, the non-soap surfactant-laced ammonia was just fine. If your tank doesn't cycle, then you have to tear down and scrub-a-dub-dub.

I can tell you this from personal experience. I filled a 225 tank and started dosing the target/walmart brand (homelife or something like that) which has "surfactant" on the label, then I switched to the Ace brand after reading up. It took a few weeks for the ammonia to start dropping and the nitrite to rise, but it did, and the tank is fully stocked with Mbuna Cichlids to this day (almost 2 years later) and is doing fine.

So if you're reading this BEFORE you started ammonia dosing, go to Ace. If you are reading this AFTER you started dosing with ammonia w/surfactants, and your bottle doesn't stay foamy after you shake it (foamy soap bubbles that take a long, long time to all pop), then first RELAX, then go to Ace.

If your ammonia w/surfactants stays foamy after you shake it up, then you're hosed and you have to tear down your tank and rinse and scrub everything.
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Old 10-13-2011, 12:47 PM   #8
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Do NOT use it!!!!!!!!! Make the trip to Ace & buy their brand of ammonia: Ace Hardware Janitorial Strength 10% Ammonia
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Old 10-13-2011, 12:50 PM   #9
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Do NOT use it!!!!!!!!! Make the trip to Ace & buy their brand of ammonia: Ace Hardware Janitorial Strength 10% Ammonia
It's been 5 years, I'm sure he figured something out.
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Old 10-13-2011, 01:02 PM   #10
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Again, I just posted this because I googled "ammonia surfactant" and this was the first thing that came up. Thus, there are probably many others searching this subject and clicking the first link and being mislead by only partially accurate information.

I did not post because I thought 5 years later he might still need an answer.

Do some more searching and you will find that this is a topic filled with much junk science. Again, detergents and soaps are surfactants. These surfactants are bad. Other, non-detergent surfactants are not the end of the world. A surfactant is simply a ingredient that breaks up the surface tension of a liquid, causing it to spread out more easily on a surface.

A surfactant, in and of itself, may or may not be harmful in the aquarium. If you search around enough you will find that there are plenty of brands of ammonia, WITH surfactants, that people have suggested and used regularly with no problems to cycle their aquariums.

So again, my post was to help stop people from freaking out and going through the time and possibly incurring great expense to tear down their tank because they used ammonia with surfactants and thought they ruined their setup, when they actually may have done nothing wrong and are totally panicking for no reason.

IF - IF you have the choice, yes, start with Ace brand ammonia and definitely switch to it if you already started with another brand, but DON'T tear your tank down strictly because you used ammonia w/surfactant, because it may NOT be harmful.
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Old 10-13-2011, 05:28 PM   #11
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Do NOT use it!!!!!!!!! Make the trip to Ace & buy their brand of ammonia: Ace Hardware Janitorial Strength 10% Ammonia
You keep saying this, though you have yet to provide a reason. It's easy to repeat something you've heard, factual or otherwise... it's another to post a reason why.
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Old 10-13-2011, 05:38 PM   #12
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It can slow but if their no anti-bacterial its should be ok for cycling... not for fish tough!

Surfactant is not enough to be a big concern when you put 5ml of the product for 30 gal.

But remenber that is different for fish! A nitrifying bacteria will find a way to survive if you dont overdose but after cycling change 75% of the water 2-3 days in a row before adding any fish!!!

So its always better to find the right stuff!!
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:06 PM   #13
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Cool

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You keep saying this, though you have yet to provide a reason. It's easy to repeat something you've heard, factual or otherwise... it's another to post a reason why.
Hi! Im not on here to argue with people & im not sure yet how to link factual information to my posts. Im not a chemist, but i strongly believe its better to be safe than sorry! Fish naturally produce ammonia thus fishless cycling using ammonia 'mimics' what naturally occurs in nature. Nature does not include 'additives, surfectants, perfumes, or dyes' in the production of bb in the nitrogen cycle. My fish are not guinea pigs or lab rats and i dont think anyone elses fish should be either(i have nothing personal against either animal by the way, its purely a literary metaphor). If you would like to experiment with your own fish and add these 'items' to your fish tank and let us know what happens, please do so at your risk!
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:17 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by jlk

Hi! Im not on here to argue with people & im not sure yet how to link factual information to my posts. Im not a chemist, but i strongly believe its better to be safe than sorry! Fish naturally produce ammonia thus fishless cycling using ammonia 'mimics' what naturally occurs in nature. Nature does not include 'additives, surfectants, perfumes, or dyes' in the production of bb in the nitrogen cycle. My fish are not guinea pigs or lab rats and i dont think anyone elses fish should be either(i have nothing personal against either animal by the way, its purely a literary metaphor). If you would like to experiment with your own fish and add these 'items' to your fish tank and let us know what happens, please do so at your risk!
Dont take it as a personnal attack!!

Look, there is around 35 millions tons of surfactant produce and use every years so believe me there is lots of surfactant in a lot of natural water....

Its not good but if you do it properly it will be ok! In some nitrifying bacteria manufacturer, there is so much nitrifying bacteria everywhere that they cannot use any ammonia base product to clean the place because those product do not work after a while... Because they contain no more ammonia!!

So it can be slower but it works! Remember the PWC before adding fish!

But always better with the right stuff!!
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:23 PM   #15
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Hi Monsterfishguy! Nothing personal at all! I believe everyone on here is here to help everyone else!!! I just think its better to be safe than sorry especially with the amount of effort and time put into fishless cycling. Its all for the benefit of our fishy friends! As note on the aquiring Ace ammonia (alot of people do not have an ACe Hardware), it is sold on Amazon.com for anyone thats looking for it.
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:35 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by jlk View Post
Hi! Im not on here to argue with people & im not sure yet how to link factual information to my posts. Im not a chemist, but i strongly believe its better to be safe than sorry! Fish naturally produce ammonia thus fishless cycling using ammonia 'mimics' what naturally occurs in nature. Nature does not include 'additives, surfectants, perfumes, or dyes' in the production of bb in the nitrogen cycle. My fish are not guinea pigs or lab rats and i dont think anyone elses fish should be either(i have nothing personal against either animal by the way, its purely a literary metaphor). If you would like to experiment with your own fish and add these 'items' to your fish tank and let us know what happens, please do so at your risk!
Ok, I'm not arguing either. I'm simply saying that posting 'No, don't use it' is meaningless. If you're not going to put why (like you just did), there's no point in posting it.

As I've pointed out in other threads, including one you were posting in, perfumes and dyes are not ok... but surfactants alone have been used many many times. It's the other stuff that harms things.
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:54 PM   #17
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Will do (except for this post...)
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:57 PM   #18
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Count me as the third one not arguing ...but there are different types of surfactants. Some (maybe most for all I know) are harmless, but there is the possibility (I've seen it myself) that forms can be damaging. I've also seen plenty of times where it does no harm at all. The companies do not need to list the type / chemical used unless you request a report from them. It's similar to the way products list ingredients as "preservatives" or "spices" without going into the specifics. They are free to simply print "surfactants" on the bottle without explanation, hence why some types foam and others don't when the ingredients are simply ammonia, water and surfactants. I got a bit more into it on the other thread, but I don't think it's worth repeating here. Bottom line IMO...avoid it when possible, pure ammonia is widely available online...but it's not the end of the world if you use it (usually).
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:00 PM   #19
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Yeah, I would agree to avoid it when possible (but simply saying in a blanket statement that it's bad is wrong). I consider surfactant vs antibacterial/antimicrobial surfactant differently. Surfactant, by definition, is simply a compound that reduces surface tension of water. That's why I say that it's ok. Now, if there are other things added in, that's different. But, the label should specify if it's purely surfactant or something else. I might be wrong on that, I don't keep ammonia around because I have a 2 year old haha.
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Old 07-01-2016, 11:37 PM   #20
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has anyone found it anywhere other than ace? not one close to me, i got the same ammonia with surfactant
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