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Old 10-05-2004, 05:18 PM   #1
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The chemistry is bugging me!

I have a few questions regarding ammonia at different pHs.

To my understanding......Ammonia is affected by the pH (dissolved hydrogen ions) of the water. When the pH is above neutral (greater than 7.0), it is primarily in the toxic or unionized form (NH3). If the pH is below 7.0, a significant portion of the ammonia will be ionized and basically non toxic to the fish (ammonium - NH4+). Ammonia is especially harmful to marine fish since saltwater aquariums are almost always maintained at a pH of between 8.1 and 8.4.

So can it be assumed that there is less "ammonia-eating" bacteria at lower pHs because there is less ammonia (NH3) at lower pHs? I also was once told that ammonia is not effectively broken down at low pHs. Is this true? If it is true, how do the Discus and Angel guys keep their pH so low without running into problems? Do they rely heavily on water changes? Also, does anything break down ammonium (NH4+) in the aquarium?

Sorry if I was confusing...any help appreciated!

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Old 10-05-2004, 05:35 PM   #2
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What exactly is the concern?
In a cycled tank there is no ammonia to worry about. An abundance of LR will assure you of that.

As far as Discus tanks, I think you may be right. Perhaps this is the reason these fish will thrive only if the water is changed frequently. If ammonia is difficult to remove at lower pH's then water changes may be the only way to keep it in check. These are big fish.

But, this is a saltwater forum so the point is moot here. 8)

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Old 10-05-2004, 05:48 PM   #3
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Thanks anemoneman...I'm not concerned about anything; I was just merely trying to understand the relationship between ammonia, ammonium, and pH. You are probably right about this question being in the wrong forum but I didn't know where else to put it, and I figured the guys in here would be the most knowledgeable.
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Old 10-05-2004, 09:42 PM   #4
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This question might best be put to Randy Holmes Farley in the Reef Chemistry Forum at reef central....I had a lot of chemistry through college but I'm not good at instructing....

Brad C.
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bug, chemi, chemistry

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