PSA: Please DO NOT use ammo-lock when cycling a tank

mattgirl

Ammo-lock has its place but that place isn't while trying to cycle a tank. Ammo-lock locks up the ammonia. Bacteria can't eat locked up ammonia. The ONLY time I would even consider using ammo-lock is if there was a high ammonia spike and I absolutely could not do a water change right then. After using it I would want to do a water change as soon as possible to get the ammonia down and the ammo-lock back out of the tank.

While cycling a tank you don't want the ammonia locked up. It is food for the bacteria you are trying to grow. If you add ammo-lock, no matter how many water changes you do, your test is going to still show high levels of ammonia. Seeing that is going to make you think you need to add more. Don't do it. I don't know if the ammonia is really up to the 8ppm our API test is showing it to be but that is what we are seeing and it leads us to think we are in big trouble. We do extreme water changes that seem to do no good. We start adding other things trying to fix a problem that is simply caused by the product we are already using. Stop using it, water change it out and the problem is normally solved.

When fish in cycling I do recommend you use Seachem Prime for your water conditioner. Unlike ammo-lock, prime doesn't lock up the ammonia. It simply detoxes the ammonia by turning it into a safer form. Some say ammonium. I don't know that for a fact but the ammonia is still there in a safer form and the bacteria can still eat it. The fish will be protected and the cycle will move forward. Without the addition of ammo-lock it is possible to keep the ammonia down to almost negligible levels with water changes.
 

SotaAquatics

Thank you for the information Mattgirl, I am curious as to the source of this though. According to API and my understanding, Ammo Lock works in basically the same way as Prime by converting ammonia to ammonium but it should still be accessible to bacteria for processing. It seems like everyone knows something that API doesn't or else in real world scenarios it just doesn't work as advertised?
 
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jdhef

I don't think SeaChem claims it turns ammonia into ammonium, I think they claim that it just makes up to 1ppm of ammonia non toxic for 24 hours.

I thought I read once that Ammo Lock had changed their formula so that now it just detoxed ammonia and put it in s state that could still feed the bacteria. But the biggest concern with Ammo Lock while cycling is that I have read on this forum in the past that it will make the API test kit test false crazy high for ammonia. I've never used Ammo Lock, so this is not from first hand experiance, it's just based on what some members have said in the past.

But to me the easy solution is too just use Prime.
 
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mattgirl

Thank you for the information Mattgirl, I am curious as to the source of this though. According to API and my understanding, Ammo Lock works in basically the same way as Prime by converting ammonia to ammonium but it should still be accessible to bacteria for processing. It seems like everyone knows something that API doesn't or else in real world scenarios it just doesn't work as advertised?
The source is just the many folks that come here reporting 8ppm ammonia in a tank they are trying to cycle. To me this is real world experience. 99.9% of the time when someone comes here trying to understand why they can't get their ammonia down no matter how much water they change and even if they do get it down some it jumps back up to 8ppm. The one common denominator is the use of ammo-lock.

Maybe it does work like Prime but the fact that the ammonia shows up at 8ppm when using ammo-lock tells me they don't work the same. I did admit the ammonia may not actually be 8ppm but it still shows up to that level in the test tube. Seeing that number leads to trying to fix it.
 
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86 ssinit

Yes it read here often. Not just people cycling but people with some sort of ammonia problem adding ammo-lock and than test very high ammonia but no problems with their fish. We usually don’t find out about the ammo-lock till page 2 :(.
 
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StarGirl

The source is just the many folks that come here reporting 8ppm ammonia in a tank they are trying to cycle. To me this is real world experience. 99.9% of the time when someone comes here trying to understand why they can't get their ammonia down no matter how much water they change and even if they do get it down some it jumps back up to 8ppm. The one common denominator is the use of ammo-lock.

Maybe it does work like Prime but the fact that the ammonia shows up at 8ppm when using ammo-lock tells me they don't work the same. I did admit the ammonia may not actually be 8ppm but it still shows up to that level in the test tube. Seeing that number leads to trying to fix it.
I agree, usually the common denominator of all of the crazy ammonia readings does come down to the person using ammo lock. Maybe it is just a glitch in the test kit? When they stop using it the ammonia readings go back to a normal cycling reading. It could be a single ingredient in it that makes the test go wonky. I don't know but it sure does mess up a whole slew of new people trying to cycle their tanks.
 
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SotaAquatics

Fair, I just wasn't sure if there was actual documentation or all anecdotal. I use Prime myself, only the best for my tanks!

I just was curious as I know most ammonia tests pick up NH4 as well as NH3, so you would have to convert based on pH and temperature for true base ratio of ammonia vs ammonium. If people are having 8 ppm show up on the tests but have fish in the tank and they are still alive, that's telling us its probably been converted to ammonium, same as what Prime would do.

As to why the readings are higher then what we typically see with Prime and cycle possibly stalling, that is interesting. Definitely worth looking into more, I wonder if part of the problem is newer folk going to the store, doing fish-in cycles and more likely to have bought API Ammo Lock as that seems to be the one more often purchased by those new to the hobby and they are doing a fish in cycle at the same time.

If the fish aren't dead at 8 ppm on the test or showing signs of poisoning, then we have to assume I would say that most of the NH3 has been converted to NH4 for the time being. Ammonia tests don't pick up anything other than NH3/NH4 to my knowledge.
Not just people cycling but people with some sort of ammonia problem adding ammo-lock and than test very high ammonia but no problems with their fish.
My point exactly. If the ammonia reading is high but no issues with fish, then the ammonia has to be currently detoxified into ammonium. Which should still be useable by bacteria, same as how Prime detoxifies it. Or else Ammo-lock itself is causing false high readings on their own test kit.

I think I might set up two test tanks, I am very curious to see the difference, I will do a fish-in-cycle with ammo lock and one with Prime, and I will volunteer a couple guppies to each tank.
 
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mattgirl

It may not be a true ammonia problem but it is a fright problem. Someone new to the hobby comes here trying to understand why their ammonia won't go down no matter how much water they change. We finally learn ammo-lock is being used.

Just today massive water changes were being done. The ammonia got down to 4ppm but then shot back up to 8ppm. This one was the final straw that prompted me to post my warning. Something in ammo-lock is producing these reading.

API needs to figure out why one of their products (ammo-lock) is skewing another of their products (liquid ammonia test) results so badly. If they can't figure it out they need to put a warning on both products. It would save a lot of stress on folks experiencing it.
 
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JettsPapa

Maybe we should just encourage people to stop adding chemicals to their tanks in an attempt to fix things that may not be broken in the first place (and no, I'm not being sarcastic).
 
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mattgirl

Maybe we should just encourage people to stop adding chemicals to their tanks in an attempt to fix things that may not be broken in the first place (and no, I'm not being sarcastic).
I have really tried to do that. Unfortunately by the time folks come to us they have already started adding this and that. I do try to discourage that.
 
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Cinabar

That's odd, API's website claims that ammo lock still allows for ammonia to be processed by the filter. Maybe it's a matter of false positives? I know that Kordon Amquel gives false ammonia positives... there's even a disclaimer on the label. API should really clear that up.
 
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Lucy

I don't think SeaChem claims it turns ammonia into ammonium, I think they claim that it just makes up to 1ppm of ammonia non toxic for 24 hours.

I thought I read once that Ammo Lock had changed their formula so that now it just detoxed ammonia and put it in s state that could still feed the bacteria. But the biggest concern with Ammo Lock while cycling is that I have read on this forum in the past that it will make the API test kit test false crazy high for ammonia. I've never used Ammo Lock, so this is not from first hand experiance, it's just based on what some members have said in the past.

But to me the easy solution is too just use Prime.

This was a big topic back when we first joined. I think you are right Jdhef, my recollection is the same as yours.
At the time ammo-lock locked ammonia up tight but a few years later they changed the formula to detoxify it rather than making it unavailable to the bacteria.
At least that's what I thought.
 
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mattgirl

Thanks jdhef and Lucy It appears ammo-lock may not actually lock up the ammonia and could very well work basically the same as prime as far as detoxing the ammonia. I was just assuming (I know I shouldn't do that) it locked it up since I see the problem with the ammonia reading so often when the product is being used. It would really be nice to know why we get the kinds of readings we get when using this product.
 
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Lucy

I don't know why they didn't change the name to maybe ammo kinda lock. :p
 
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SouthAmericanCichlids

Thanks jdhef and Lucy It appears ammo-lock may not actually lock up the ammonia and could very well work basically the same as prime as far as detoxing the ammonia. I was just assuming (I know I shouldn't do that) it locked it up since I see the problem with the ammonia reading so often when the product is being used. It would really be nice to know why we get the kinds of readings we get when using this product.
Well maybe it turns it into some other substance that gets turned into something that is readable by the ammonia tests that isn't natural. I know it's a longshot, but possible.
 
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Lucy

Perhaps they didn't change the formula, just the wording on the product?
 
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StarGirl

Perhaps they didn't change the formula, just the wording on the product?
This could be the real thing......They were getting a bad rap and not selling as much product... :(
 
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Lucy

It's really all about marketing isn't it.

More than one person had a stalled cycled when they used this product.
I haven't heard too much about it in recent years.
 
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mattgirl

It's really all about marketing isn't it.

More than one person had a stalled cycled when they used this product.
I haven't heard too much about it in recent years.
I may have opened up a can of worms but I can only imagine how frustrating it is to folks thinking they are using something good for their fish and then according to the tests they think their fish are in danger from high ammonia levels. They do everything they can think to do to get the ammonia down. They have no idea the product that should be helping their fish is at the root of the problem. The ammonia may not be high but the test is telling them it is. It has to be so very frustrating. I know it would be for me.
 
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SouthAmericanCichlids

And then they keep adding more and eventually it will become dangerous.
 
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Lucy

I may have opened up a can of worms

Nope, you're good.
If you're seeing a pattern of issues like we had in the past than it's good topic to bring up.
 
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