Yet another fishles cycle thread


Aug 9, 2017
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63b Chesapeake-Pamlico Lowlands and Tidal Marshes
Hardiness Zone
United States
I have decided to do a fishless cycle on my new pond. I have always done the cycling of aquariums and my small ponds with fish. The fish were always young, didn't overstock, and since they were new fish I didn't have much of an attachment to them; if one or 2 died I'd feel bad but it wasn't going to break my heart. The fish I have now are 6 or 7 years old and there is no way do I want to subject them to this; they have survived too many learning experience, a.k.a. mistakes, on my part already.

Easy enough, just need some ammonia. Well, that is easier said than done. I suppose in this day and age it doesn't make sense for retailers to have a product worth a dollar take space away from something worth 8 times that amount. I thought that I was in luck when I discovered ammonia cleaner at a mom and pop Rx. Turns out not so much, a search on the Internet lead to some forum postings with negative, catastrophic results from it's use. If you can find it locally, using an ammonia solution is risky business; If it has the ingredients listed as ammonia and the only other ingredient as water and it doesn't foam when shaken you might be ok. I don't care for the use at own risk part no one tells about so make sure others can verify it's safety and be aware the manufacture can change the ingredients without notice.

Seemly with no option for ammonia, and with the cost of it over the Internet and still being in doubt if what is purchase is safe, I resorted to using my own urine. I felt like I didn't have a lot of options. I've read about using raw shrimp in aquariums but I have no idea how many I would need and this actually seemed grosser to me than the choice I decided on. Low and behold, urine is just not a good source of ammonia. What you say? correct, urine is mostly water, 2% urea and only .05% ammonia. Urea will break down into Ammonia and Nitrogen but does take a catalyst or bacteria to break it down and how much you get as a result I cannot find the answer. So, for example I inoculated my roughly 300 gallon pond with 2 cups of urine. An ammonia test 1 hour later shows 0 ppm. Using @MitchM 's calculator, I would need 6,813 ml, about 2 gallons, of urine to raise the ammonia to 3 ppm. Everything your kidneys take out goes into your urine, so a small amount may be harmless but in large quantities such things as our diets of processed foods and medications may make a difference.

I finally found 2 ammonia products seemingly safe. First by a reviewer on Amazon of Austin's Clear Ammonia but cannot find the ingredient list on the label pictures and so I am not really sure. Second I found, and ordered Dr. Tim's Aquatic Ammonium Chloride Solution for Cycling Aquariums. At $1.99 for 2 oz. it isn't a lot of money but it sure seems like a lot to pay for a little bit of ammonia. Fortunately I have been putting off ordering dog food so with that I was able to get free shipping, otherwise it was $4.95 for the shipping.

In conclusion I would suggest to anyone planning on a new pond, especially first time pond owners, prioritize getting safe for fishless-cycling ammonia. Do your research on the product, make sure you can account for all of the ingredients as ammonia and water for 100%. At $2 a bottle, 2 oz. treats 300 gallons, I am not necessarily recommending the Dr. Tim's product, but it is a better "solution" than unknown ingredients or a fish-in-pond cycle especially if your fish are valuable or their health is important to you.



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