Okay, I am pretty sure that there will be instructions on the bottle but I am here to help!
When doing a fishless cycle you are shooting for 2-4 ppm ammonia.
So I may be approaching this horribly wrong; kindergarten was a long time and many happy hours ago but I will give it a shot.
I am assuming in the original post you are talking about a 7.8 gallon aquarium. I am aware that manufacturers measure volume with outside measurements rather than a more accurate inside measurement but because I am horribly lazy Imma go with it.
The first thing I did was convert the volume of liquid to metric because powers of ten = easier.
So 7.8 gallons (US) is 29.5262 liters. (Thanks google!)
This is the same thing as saying 29526.2 mL (Milliliters are a pretty common measurement in fish keeping I am finding)
So my next step is since ppm stands for part per million was to divide 29,526.2 by 1,000,000
29526.2/1000000 (for those of you playing along at home)
So for your aquarium, assuming it is completely full, 1 ppm is 0.0295262 mL
(I would round this a bit if I where you)
So to get 4 ppm I next multiplied that last number by 4
Now I round that up to 0.12
Here is where it gets sketchy (or more sketchy if you like)
I took out my trusty medicine dropper and got 1 mL of water. Then I counted how many drops came out when I drained it from as close to a vertical axis (straight up and down) as I could get it to ensure uniform drop size.
I came up with a figure of 13 large drops per mL
So at this point we are talking about 1 drop being ~.0769 mL
To be this level of exact we would need to downgrade sizes on the medicine dropper to pipettes perhaps and I am sadly fresh out.
So in summation I would say about 2 small drops or 1.5 big ones.
A "drop" isn't any sort of scientific measurement I am afraid, but I am pretty sure that the good Dr.'s product will come out via squeeze dropper. So what I would do in lieu of any guidance from the manufacturer is put in a drop and measure it with my trusty API liquid ammonia test.
More than 2ppm but less than 5ppm? I would call that a success. Less than 2ppm? Add a little more calibrated on what we already added and the result of our test.
Now I don't think any of the calculations in this post will be particularly helpful to you in this instance but you may need to do something similar down the line with meds or prime, particularly considering your tank is a bit of an odd size. However! I think the practical asides contained herein may prove useful, or at least I sure do hope so.
At any rate do track the progress of your cycle. I would suggest testing ammonia levels several times per week but holding off on checking for nitrites till around week two. You can use a spreadsheet to record your data and make a pretty chart if you are weird like me. At the end it will look a bit like this:
At any rate I've rambled enough. Best of luck, do get a freshwater test kit from API, it is a long term savings and quite user friendly and do keep us all posted.
Welcome to fishlore and I applaud your determination to do this thing correctly!
Ah thanks then Drakken. What sort of test would be more accurate?
Test strips might. I don't know if it's based on the type of kit, or the brand. I think it's similar to the same problem with testing water with ammonia versus water with ammonia and Prime or another ammonia-binding conditioner. The test cannot distinguish between free ammonia and bound ammonia, so you get a reading of both. However in this case, you get less of a reading.
In this case I think the specific form of ammonia isn't measured correctly. If you check out Amazon's listing for Dr. Tim's ammonia, you will find all kinds of reviews of people complaining that the ammonia is watered down, because they had to add twice as much or more to their tank to reach the stated level. I think they were using an API test kit. Some people report getting the reading correctly for the dosing amount, so I assume they are using another test kit.
Do you think the discrepancy in measurement is due to it being ammonium chloride and not ammonium hydroxide?
It works for sure but I know that some folk who have measured with API pure janitorial ammonia from a hardware store (which is usually the former, and getting it without surfacants and perfumes I have only seen from one particular hardware store) have gotten a correct reading but got an incorrect result with Dr. Tim's.
The interesting thing is that hundreds of people have cycled using ammonia and successfully tested with the API Master Kit, so I will respectfully disagree with the party who indicated that it's pretty much worthless.
At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their opinion about a product. Sharing that information is what this forum is all about.
I have to say that I'm SO happy that I'm not the new fishkeeper here starting up my first tank. Some of the information given was not very user-friendly, I'm not ashamed to say it was WAY over my head and would've made me grab my tank, return it to the store and trade it in for a guinea pig. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if Stephen Hawking was in the room and maybe he'd be willing to translate for my simple mind.
Sharing information is a fantastic thing and no fish forum does it better than this one. If we could keep said information so that every member, from 13 years old to 93 years old could understand it, that would be even better.
If ammonia that Prime detoxed didn't show up in the ammonia test, you would have a very difficult time knowing if you have developed enough bacteria to consume all ammonia in the tank.
BTW, how do you know that the Dr Tims ammonia was not read correctly? Did you have a test kit that gave proper results that you compared to the API kit?
Does Dr Tim's have instructions similar to Tetra SafeStart where you're not to do readings for 2 weeks because they can pretty much guarantee skewed results?
The only way to get a true scientific result would be to run two identical tanks and use separate test kits.
Same thing really, two tanks or two identical containers. Tomato, tomahto.....