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Old 08-22-2005, 11:57 PM   #1
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Ammonia question

I recently tested my 20 gal and 5 gal fw tanks, both are cycling with fish.
both showed ammonia around 1.0 so i did a 40% change in the 20 gal and a 30-40% change in the 5 gal waited about 20 minutes and then tested them again and came up with the same ammonia count? any ideas?
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Old 08-23-2005, 03:39 AM   #2
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I would suspect that your reading of the level was a little low, so you did not get the dilutional effect you were looking for. You need to use a quality liquid reagent FW test kit, such as sold by aquarium pharmaceuticals (about $15 online, $30 + at your lfs) Test strips are notoriously inaccurate and lead to confusing results.

Or, you could have chloramines in your water. If you have 0.5ppm or higher of chloramines, then you would not get much if any dilution of the ammonia level of 1 ppm (since chloramine is converted to ammonia by dechlorinators). The city of chicago has a seperate water supply than the suburbs, I beleive. I don't have chloramine out here in dupage county, but I don't know about chicago. You can look up the report online. Or you can test your tap water. If you use a two bottle, salicylate ammonia test and you have chloramine, it should turn color.
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Old 08-23-2005, 04:04 AM   #3
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Couldn't sleep, and looked it up for you. Chicago (2004 report) and Dupage (2005 report)do not use chloramines.
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Old 08-23-2005, 07:23 AM   #4
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I actually live in Willowbrook so I'm in the burbs and it is a liquid test kit.
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:29 AM   #5
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Well, then the actual level must have been higher, so that you didn't get the dilutional effect you were looking for. Or the levels are rapidly climbing (hard to think they could go up that fast), or testing error occurred. I suppose the kit could be inaccurate, but we have all made mistakes too! Test the tap water. pH testing of tap water is only accurate if you let it sit out overnight (CO2 levels change). Test your tank. Repeat the experiment, I am curious what you will find.

I have collected some info on how test kits work:

http://home.comcast.net/~tomstank/to...s/page0018.htm

Food particles will effect the ammonia test levels, and the one bottle nessler reagent tests for ammonia are effected by some dechlorinators.
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Old 08-23-2005, 02:10 PM   #6
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I would also try testing 2 hours after a water change. This gives the dechlorinator and the water a chance to balance out a little better (what TomK2 refers to as dilutional effect).
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