Cycling with ammonium hydroxide

Discussion in 'Beginner Discussions' started by JPB, Feb 23, 2020.

  1. JPB

    JPB

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    Hi. Has anyone had success cycling a tank with ammonium hydroxide? What product, dilution, dosing schedule did you use? Did you use stability to establish the colony? Does one try to match the solution to the expected bioload so that the bacteria don't crash when you add fish? Can plants survive this kind of abuse?
     
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  3. OP
    JPB

    JPB

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  4. A new day

    A new day

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    I haven’t used this method before, sorry can’t help
     
  5. TheGrissom

    TheGrissom

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    It will work. It needs to be unscented ammonia. And you will need to get test kits for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The article says 4 ppm ammonia. This will be fine. Once you start getting nitrates you will need to stop adding ammonia as you will need it to all be used up before fish can be added. Then you will need to measure ammonia and nitrite levels until 0 ppm is obtained before you can add fish. You wont need to match the bioload to the bacterial load - this will fluctuate anyway but you will need to add fish slowly over a period of time as if you introduce too high a bioload over a short period of time you may not have enough bacteria to compensate for this.
     
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  6. Reedfish

    Reedfish Moderator

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    It is a very popular method of cycling a tank here in the UK.

    Tbh, I am not a fan of it.
    Have read of many many cases where the cycle just stalls, and some people having to wait for over 3 months to introduce fish to their tanks.

    I would much rather get some filter material from an established tank, or use those "bacteria in a bottle" products and slowly introduce fish as the filter builds up its capacity.
     
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  7. OP
    JPB

    JPB

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    Yes the slowbrewed natural approach is probably the way to go. Just need to get over my fear of bringing pathogens in. So bacteria in a bottle introduces the BB spores. But they have nothing to feed on? So add a little fish flakes every day? Not keen on chucking in a frozen shrimp to create ammonia lol (King of Diy guy mentioned it). I suppose plants help provide some decomposing material for the bb to feed on and get established. And they are nice to look at
     
  8. TheGrissom

    TheGrissom

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    What fish are you planning on keeping? I keep nano fish - I can basically add 5 of them to an uncycled tank and allow things to develop naturally. This approach doesnt work for larger fish though as they produce a lot more waste.
     
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  9. OP
    JPB

    JPB

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    Lol. Probably also little guys. Tetras, danios etc. Maybe some guppy males. Ill keep an eye on the chemistry and if it goes too slow Ill consider fish-in.
     
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  10. A new day

    A new day

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    For my first tank (65L) I used Seachem Stability daily (no fish initially, just plants). Started reading nitrates of 10 by day 8, and ammonia was already 0. Didn’t add any ammonia source, probably only some decomposing plant matter.

    I added 4 platys on day 10 or 11 (in hindsight 4 platys is too many all at once in a new and small tank). Didn’t have nitrite testing kit at that stage but got one soon after. There was a nitrite spike of 5 (!) on day 15 if I remember well but it dropped very rapidly. Continued with daily Stability, and also added Prime daily (to temporarily detoxify nitrites) until the nitrites were down to 0. Luckily the fish made it. Tank took 3 weeks to cycle fully.

    For subsequent tanks - Using cycled biomedia speeds up the process tremendously and the ammonia and nitrites are never that high. Still use Stability for 8 days, but can add the first small batch of (hardy) fish from the get go and very gradually add more.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
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  11. MariaS

    MariaS Moderator

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    It can be done buy I have never done it as Im not a fan of this method
    As has been said it can drag on forever and things can go wrong

    I have always strted up a tank with a bag or two of media from another tank and Seachem Stability
    I have done it with Stability only in the past when i didnt have media from another tank and have never suffered any losses

    As has been said, how many fish you add to the uncycled tank would depend on the size of the tank
    You add the first fish and start adding Stability, i usually add the Stability a few hours before adding the 1st fish
    Stability must be dosed daily for 7 days with no waterchanges, no carbon in your filter and no UV light on
    In big tanks where i have added big fish with huge bioload, i continued dosing stability for 2 weeks and then added a dose every time a new fish was added

    Give us a bit more info on tank size and the fish you plan on keeping
     
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  12. OP
    JPB

    JPB

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    Thanks @MariaS

    My tank is a 4ft with about 220 liters capacity.

    I would like a dramatic sloping hardscape, dragon stone and a large spiderwood, with lots of easy plants. My most recent thinking stockwise is small species to emphasise scale: glofish or cardinal tetras and / or glofish Danios. When everything is settled down then also some shrimp and snails.

    Now the constraints: mainly costs need to be spread out over time. Still acquiring hardscape and playing around with layouts. Got to get good rocks and a perfect centrepiece wood. Still got to get a test kit... considering the two seachem alert tags and liquid nitrite and nitrite tests, but maybe just some strips in the mean time.

    I have run the filter, equipment and some dragon rocks in a large plastic tote in the mean time for about a week. Added some fish food. Last night I added the washed substrate to the test water to see if I have enough (substrate).

    I sat and had a good think about the water shortage. Dosed the water with prime and I put in the filter and heater from the plastic tote along with some of the sediment that had settled at the bottom. Dosed some Stability.

    At this point I am my own worst enemy. I will need to drain that water when i finalise the hardscape and get a good batch of plants. But that might only be in a couple of weeks.

    I do also have the little 10 liter with plants, two male guppies and a sponge air filter. It was the stopgap until the big tank is up. I think this is mostly cycled. Got high nitrates and low ph at the lfs test so I did the water change and some seachem neutral regulator.

    So I will definitely seed the big tank with the entire contents of the little one when it is scaped and planted. The two little guppies will just have to think they are tetras lol. Might get them some friends to make a little "bachelor herd" along with the tetras and danios.

    So at this point should I scoop out some gravel from the small tank and add it to the big one? Or should I go all in and migrate the whole tank - potentially plunging the guppies back into a cycle? And do a large water change (like 75%) when finalising the scape and planting.

    Yes I'm probably over thinking it lol. Got to have patience...

    Btw my filter equipment is probably insufficient. A Dophin f2000 internal filter came with the tank. Ill add the sponge air filter from the small tank when I migrate it but the little air pump is kinda on its last legs. So thinking of getting two large sponge filters and running off a new air pump. Keen to drill the tank and go sump down the line so that air pump can go to an air stone or flexible diffuser. The need for drilling was also why I was kinda holding off on filling it until last night.

    Sorry thats a long story but things dont seem to be simple in this hobby lol. Also got to keep the bank manager and minister of home affairs happy lol
     
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  13. A new day

    A new day

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    :lol: Yes your head is spinning but you are thinking about everything in the right way, doing your research and taking your time. We’ve all been there.

    You’re welcome to stop by, I can show you some stuff and we can talk calmly. It helped me tremendously when I could do that with Hawk. Let me know, Rondebosch.

    Go for liquid tests if you can. Go for good biomedia eg Seachem matrix if you can.

    If you have soft water, like many of us in CT have, you can add crushed coral to buffer the water.
     
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  14. MariaS

    MariaS Moderator

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    @JPB,

    Dont worry... the head spinning is a good sign.. it means you care and want to do things right, which you are
    I have been doing this for years and when i built my new tank end of last year into this year my head was spinning just as much... my nerves were finished until the tank was fully cycled and the fish i wanted to move, moved and were safe.

    I would transfer everything from the little tank to the new one as, its not much buy will help
    Then add whatever new media you need extra
    At a later stag you can always take a small amount from the big tank to seed the little one again as it wont need much

    Dont add Stability until you start adding fish, its expensive and a waste
    The night before adding your first fish you do the first dose of Stability and the following day add your first 3 or 4 fish, as the fish are small and you have 200l, you can add say 4 fish
    Then you do stability every day with no waterchanges for a week
    3 days after your initial fish and dosing stability, if your ammonia and nitrites are zero you can add another 3 fish ( small fish) and after 3 or 4 days if your readings are zero you can add agin
    Then let the tank settle
    On the 7th day do a water change, i like to do stability for 10 days but im dealing with huge fish
    Thereafter, for the first 3 or 4 months, when adding more fish just add 1 dose of stability to avoid spikes

    As for shrimp, i have never kept shrimp but from what i know, only introduce shrimp once your tank is well cycled and stable

    As for a sump, you can drill the tank even after its full by lowering the water level and drilling the side. you would then have to DIY a PVC overflow instead of an overflow box like when the tank is drilled at the bottom
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
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  15. OP
    JPB

    JPB

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    Thanks everyone for the help. This is a fantastic community.
     
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  16. mattie

    mattie

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    Seachem Stability :thumbup:
     
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  17. MariaS

    MariaS Moderator

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    All the way @mattie

    Its my good old faithful
     
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  18. Nico Hamman

    Nico Hamman

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    As already mentioned, Seachem Stability is excellent and will work. I too have used it many times.
     
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