Ammonium chloride - yay or nay?

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mrsjoannh13

Registered Member
Oct 24, 2020
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Hi, everyone! Total noob here. I am starting a 10 gallon glo aquarium for my daughter (please don't roast me for the glow part - she likes color). I am not doing live plants for now, it's all artificial. I have about 3 weeks before my daughter's birthday to do a fishless cycle of the tank (hopefully). I got the Seachem Stability and have used that to hopefully help with the beneficial bacteria process. I have read that an ammonia source might be needed to speed up the fishless cycle. What are thoughts on adding ammonium chloride to the tank to expedite the cycle? Is it necessary given I don't have live plants? I also read about throwing some food flakes in there, but seems like that could get pretty icky. So I was thinking of going the ammonium chloride route. I plan to stock the tank with 4 or 5 glo tetras once cycled. I appreciate any help or advice!
 

the loach

AC Members
Aug 6, 2018
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A fishless cycle is something different as adding bacteria. In a fishless cycle, you culture the bacteria with an ammonia source, when you add bacteria from a bottle, they are already cultured. When in doubt of the efficacy of the product, you could add ammonia and then test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. When it works ammonia and nitrite should read 0 where as nitrate will be detectable. Then it is safe for your fish.
 

mrsjoannh13

Registered Member
Oct 24, 2020
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Okay so apologies if I wasn't 100% clear on what I was asking. Again - total noob here - this is my first tank. I am a bit frustrated as my local pet store (which came highly recommended) was basically no help. They told me to just use the Seachem Stability and after a week my tank would be done and ready for fish. If what I'm seeing in my online research is correct, just the Stability product alone will not cycle the tank. I need to add an ammonia source to get the process underway. So is that correct? Or should I just stick with the Seachem Stability as directed and not introduce ammonium chloride into the process?

Thanks for any help you guys and gals can provide. :)
 
Apr 2, 2002
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New York
Ammonia, NH3, is a gas. When it is dissolved in water most of it turns into ammonium, NH4. When you measure ammonia in your tank you are actually reading Total Ammonia which is the sum of Nh3 + NH4. How much is in each form depends upon the pH and temperature of the water. NH3 is extremely toxic to fish causing harm by the time it reaches 0.05 ppm. Ammonium is way less toxic, but is not entirely harmless.

One can also put ammonium into water and the results will be some portion of it turns to ammonia. Plants use ammonium and, normally, the bacteria use ammonia. It doesn't matter if it is ammonia NH3 that goes into the water or ammonium NH4. When one does, the Ph and temperature will cause some of it to convert to the other form. If one or the other form is removed (i.e. is consumed by plants or bacteria), some of the other form will be converted to restore the balance the pH and temperature dictates.

So, you should see here that ammonium chloride will work just fine to help with a cycle. I have used it for years to cycle tanks and filters. The easiest way for you to use ammonium chloride is to buy Dr. Tim's Ammonium chloride. It is easy to dose you just add 4 drops/gallon and it will produce the equivalent of 2.4 -2,7 ppm of total ammonia on an API type test kit.
https://www.amazon.com/Aquatics-Amm...ords=Ammonium+Chloride&qid=1603561676&sr=8-11

When it comes to bacterial starters, I would suggest you choose a different product as a bacterial starter. Have a read of this thread if you can manage to get through it. https://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/threads/cycling-and-cloudy-water.291163/post-2976710
Then you can make an informed decision about what product you might want to use to get the tank cycled rapidly.
 

mrsjoannh13

Registered Member
Oct 24, 2020
3
0
1
43
Ammonia, NH3, is a gas. When it is dissolved in water most of it turns into ammonium, NH4. When you measure ammonia in your tank you are actually reading Total Ammonia which is the sum of Nh3 + NH4. How much is in each form depends upon the pH and temperature of the water. NH3 is extremely toxic to fish causing harm by the time it reaches 0.05 ppm. Ammonium is way less toxic, but is not entirely harmless.

One can also put ammonium into water and the results will be some portion of it turns to ammonia. Plants use ammonium and, normally, the bacteria use ammonia. It doesn't matter if it is ammonia NH3 that goes into the water or ammonium NH4. When one does, the Ph and temperature will cause some of it to convert to the other form. If one or the other form is removed (i.e. is consumed by plants or bacteria), some of the other form will be converted to restore the balance the pH and temperature dictates.

So, you should see here that ammonium chloride will work just fine to help with a cycle. I have used it for years to cycle tanks and filters. The easiest way for you to use ammonium chloride is to buy Dr. Tim's Ammonium chloride. It is easy to dose you just add 4 drops/gallon and it will produce the equivalent of 2.4 -2,7 ppm of total ammonia on an API type test kit.
https://www.amazon.com/Aquatics-Amm...ords=Ammonium+Chloride&qid=1603561676&sr=8-11

When it comes to bacterial starters, I would suggest you choose a different product as a bacterial starter. Have a read of this thread if you can manage to get through it. https://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/threads/cycling-and-cloudy-water.291163/post-2976710
Then you can make an informed decision about what product you might want to use to get the tank cycled rapidly.
Thank you very much! I'll check out the links provided.
 
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