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Old 01-04-2009, 12:48 AM   #1
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Smile added ammonia with surfactants

Hi There,
I am new to this forum but have been reading on many sites about the fishless cycling process. I am now into my fourth week and decided to re-read my bottle of ammonia because I still have no nitrites. It says in very small letters "Ammonium hydroxide, surfactants" It foams very little when I shake it and the label said clear ammonia. I have read other fish owners that have started a tank with this and did not have any problems. And yet I have read elsewhere that I have to rip everything apart and rinse everything and start from scratch. I am not sure what to believe. Can anyone give me accurate information? THanks very much.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:28 AM   #2
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1st. Hi i'm mike. Welcome to AA! i am postitive tht you will love the sight. There is a nice forum called Member Introductions that you can feel free to introduce and tell everyone alittle about yourself. Feel free to look around and even ask any questions. As we will be glad to give you advice on.

2nd. No nitrites is a good thing. And means that your tank is ready for fish as long as your ammonia level is on zero as well.

Can you tell us what all of your water parameters are?

Just out of curiosity how big is the tank and what are your stocking plans?
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:29 AM   #3
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Generally, if it has surfactants, it means it has detergent in it, which is not good. Whether a water change will remove enough of it to make the tank safe I can't say.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:42 AM   #4
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mike-- no nitrites is good IF there ARE nitrates... and if there was a nitrite spike. If he hasn't ever had nitrites, he hasn't cycled.

Have you tested for nitrates?

I would be concerned that any surfactants could be gunking up the walls and substrate and filter and will not bode well for your fish...
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:02 AM   #5
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Smile ammonia

Thank yo one and all for your reply. I should have been more clear. I STILL have an ammonia level of 4, I have had no nitrite or nitrate show up at all (I have been using the test strips which I understand are not that accurate) I did not initiall "seed" my tank with any bacteria but last week added Tetra safe start (small bottle). I have a 60 gallon tank. Not sure about what fish I'll start with but have to get through this cycle first. The ammonia level has not dropped but that does not concern me as much as the fact that I added ammonia with surfactants. There is no sheen or slime noted on anything in the tank (as some people have described.)
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:13 AM   #6
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1. STOP using that ammonia. The surfactant issue is more than just a minor one. It's soap and you would never put soap in a fish tank. Do a search for posts by Marconis, there you will find his horror with this issue. IMO since you have no livestock in that tank, a total water change is in order. Better safe than sorry.

2. You are correct about the strips, if you can not get your hands on a real test kit, take your water to the lfs and have them test it. You really want to be testing at least daily while doing this cycle so that you can understand what is happening. The problem is that if your test can not be trusted, you really have no idea where you are.

How long has the ammonia been in the tank?
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:29 AM   #7
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I wouldn't be surprised if the surfactants are hindering the development of beneficial bacteria which would explain the lack of any change in ammonia level or nitrite production. Good luck
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:25 PM   #8
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Surfactant is just a fancy word for soap, and soap kills bacteria. If you are not seeing any nitrite, it would likely that the soap is killing the nitrifying bacteria.

I would suggest doing a complete tear down & rinse everything very well & start again from scratch <using pure ammonia this time>. I would also throw out any filter material with carbon as you cannot be sure of getting everything out of the carbon. <You don't need carbon anyhow.> The more obsessive will also throw out all filter material & substrate <esp. if it is sand ... rinsing might not get rid of everything.>
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:27 PM   #9
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It sounds like a "do over" might be in order. While I'm pretty new at this my self, my educational guess is that you should either break everything down, clean it as best as possible, and start over, OR perform a 99% water change at least three times (ok, not literally 99%, but you should change out as much water as possible to help dilute the sufficants).

I recently ran across a post somewhere on the internet that said ACE Hardware store brand ammonia is one of the ones that does NOT have surfactants. The ONLY thing on the label indicating what is does contain includes the words "10% ammonium hydroxide" and a note on the back saying "Contains no phosphates". It does NOT foam when you shake it.

Otherwise, on the issue of the tank not cycling, it can take a while. I'm in the process of doing a fishless cycle on a 5 gallon Eclipse corner tank, and I DID seed the tank with a little bit of stuff from my recently cycled 10 gallon goldfish tank. Even then, it still took 48 hours before I had detectable levels of nitrites.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:58 PM   #10
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Yes, Ace Hardware carries the good stuff.

Like Sparky said, search for Marconis thread on this subject, was about 2 years ago IIRC.

A do-over is in order, IMO. and you're really gonna have to wash your gravel, plants, everything really really really well to get all the soap off.

Edit: Here's marco's old thread http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...ely-88952.html
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Old 01-04-2009, 03:54 PM   #11
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Mulligan!!!

Also do a search for the fishless cycling topic. or maybe someone will post up the link. Basiclly u let a raw, unprocessed shrimp hang aoround in your tank for the ammonia trigger. intresting reading.
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Old 01-04-2009, 04:11 PM   #12
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a fishless cycle is anything that does not use live stock as your ammonia source. Pure ammonia, shrimp, fish food, what ever.
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