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Old 01-20-2010, 05:53 PM   #1
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Doofus here used Surfactant laced ammonia - NEED HELP

I need an answer quick. In relation to this thread:

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...at-124880.html

I used 2 tsp (a very small amount) of Ammonia in the newly set-up 225 2/25 gal sump FW tank, intended for a cichlid habitat. I couldn't find surfactant-free ammonia, but read somewhere that if I shook the bottle and it didn't foam, it was ok. The label read "Ammonium Hydroxide and Surfactant" but I shook the heck out of it and no foam. I didn't know how strong it was, but I just put his bio-balls in, along with some of mine from my established filter, and didn't want it to go too long without a food source.

Now I read that even if it doesn't foam, if it has surfactants, you're screwed. This sucks. I also read that carbon won't remove it. But since this is an overflow tank with a sump, wouldn't a protein skimmer remove it as long as I scrubbed it off the walls of the tank so it was out in the water?

Also, since I didn't use 1/3 of a cup, like I was planning on doing today, couldn't I just take out the decor, scrub it, maybe even siphon the top layer of sand off, do a total water change and wipe off the glass (if there is even a residue on it), anything short of tearing it all down, re-rinsing the sand, rinsing out the entire tank????
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Old 01-20-2010, 06:34 PM   #2
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Uh ohs.... I think you should take all items out and rinse it, remove the water etc... maybe rinse the sand with water -in the tank- and then siphon back out... Refill and then do an ammonia test.....?
I don't know!!!
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Old 01-20-2010, 10:17 PM   #3
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Yeah, I think the same thing. I think the surfactants are like soap...
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Old 01-20-2010, 10:49 PM   #4
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http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...ml#post1067966

Excerpt from this other post

Well yes and no. Soap has surfactants in it, but surfactants doesnt have soap in it. All surfactants do is decrease the surface tension of water to make it more pliable in a sense (im sure Floyd can give a better definition). I found a link from another forum regarding surfactants in the aquarium. Maybe Floyd can decipher this better than me, it all looks like college "blah" to me lol... Science Links Japan | The Complex Effect of Surfactants and Ammonia on Himedaka Oryzias latipes.
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:06 PM   #5
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I just heard back from someone that used the exact same product - Homelife Clear Ammonia - and did the exact same thing - 2 tsp in a 75g, then switched to Ace product - did a 50% PWC and scrubbed their decor, and had no problems at all. I feel a wave of relief.
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:23 PM   #6
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Well that's great then!
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:00 AM   #7
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I only used ammonia with surfactants and I had no problems. I didn't scrub anything and I just changed the water before adding fish. I've even got RCS in the tank now.
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:04 AM   #8
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Was it the same kind as mine (homelife), or another brand that didn't foam when you shook it?
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:16 AM   #9
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It was from Walmart. The Homelife brand sounds familar, but I'm not sure.
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Old 01-21-2010, 06:28 PM   #10
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All you need to do is do a HUGE water change before adding the fish. (100% )
You don't need to scrub stuff. Surfactant stays in the water... it doesn't "cling" to surfaces... so the water that is left (in the substrate, drops on surfaces) will still have SOME surfactant, but it will be SO diluted by the time you re-fill the tank that it really won't have any effect.

If it were a small tank (10-20 gal) maybe do two of those water changes...
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Old 01-21-2010, 07:16 PM   #11
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I'm with the others on doing a huge water change and your tank should be fine. Just don't stock the most expensive ones first..just in case.
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:06 PM   #12
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Hello,

I've recently discovered the same problem. Thought it was pure ammonia making the stupid asssumption 'clear' was synonymous with 'pure', no bubbles on shake, only to find out it does indeed have the surfacant after a closer reading of the label.

Also have a large tank, 200 gal, the nitrogen cycle is complete, and we're ready to add fish, but caught this problem.

What did you end up doing and how did it work out? Did a 100% water change work or did you end up doing a complete breakdown and start over?

Thanks for your time!
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:49 PM   #13
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No, don't break it down. If your nitrogen cycle is complete, then the surfactants were not the type that would kill bacteria. I did some research on surfactants and got some info from a few people on here (jsoong I believe) and basically it comes down to the fact soap or detergent is a surfactant, but not all surfactants are soaps or detergents. Detergent surfactants will kill bacteria, so if your cycle complete, then by process of deduction your ammonia did not contain detergent surfactants. Breathe. You're ok.

I stopped using the Homelife ammonia after the first dose, and switched to the Ace Hardware brand. But I did get a PM from someone who did their whole cycle with the same product and had no problem. You should be just fine. Bacteria are more susceptible to the surfactant issue than the fish from what I gather, so if they survived, your fish will be fine.
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Old 02-13-2010, 11:19 PM   #14
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I'm so happy to hear this I could almost weep! After a huge investment in equipment and time to get the tank setup and cycled, I almost passed out when I started reading on other forums the only way to 'cure' this problem was to break it down and scrub everything.

If you ever find yourself driving through my area, I owe you a beer.. actually more like a keg.

I've got 12 wild caught Blue Zaire Frontosas showing up Wed. I'll make sure to post pics.

Thanks again
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Old 02-14-2010, 12:07 AM   #15
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Per the advice above though, you do want to minimize any risk and do a couple of large PWCs. I used only about 3 or 4 Tbsp one time. If you used throughout the whole cycle, you may have more surfactants in the tank, so I would suggest doing an almost total PWC and then another one the next day (temp matched of course, bacteria are susceptible to temp shock as well).

Also, just FYI, when you switch to the Ace Hardware brand, this stuff is wicked strong. I figured this out when it took forever for the ammonia to get eaten up from the first time I dosed it. I believe that 2 Tbsp added to 225g display + 25 sump so 250 system water raised the ammonia to over 4 ppm. So you need very little compared to any other stuff. Plus it will burn your sinuses if you get a good whiff. Watch out!!!
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