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Old 04-11-2011, 02:22 PM   #1
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API ammonia test issues

I know there are known issues with the API nitrAte test if instructions aren't followed correctly, but has anyone ever had issues with their ammonia test? I have the API freshwater master kit and never once had issue telling the difference between ammonia test results. 0ppm was always a clear bright yellow; if there was ammonia present in a tank it was easily seen in the test results. I just recently replaced my ammonia test bottles (the originals were empty) and ever since I started using the new bottles, I haven't been able to get clear readings. Everything looks like .25ppm+ ammonia to me. No matter what I test I can't get a clear 0ppm yellow test result. Several times I tested all four of my tanks plus my tap with the same results. Three of the tanks are well established and should not have ammonia in them. In the time that I had the original kit, I tested my tap water several times and always got 0ppm for that as well. Lot number indicates the new ammonia bottles were manufactered in 2010, so I would think they should still be in good working order. Test tubes are clean and I haven't been having issues with any of my other tests i.e. nitrIte (0ppm in all tanks) and NitrAte working properly. Thoughts?

Picture below of my tap and one of my tanks. Same dark yellow, almost green color on both.

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Old 04-11-2011, 02:32 PM   #2
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Are you holding the card up to the tube so that the white part on the side is acting as a background? I've ALWAYS had issues with the ammonia and nitrate tests as far as reading the results because I'm red/green colorblind... that said, it's impossible to get accurate results unless you have a white background for the tubes.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:51 PM   #3
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You're not alone, I'm having the same issue. When I test my Ammonia, I hold the tube up against the white background and notice that the water has a slight neon green hue to it. This happens every single time I test both of my tanks, (I haven't tried testing my tap yet though).

I doubt that the reading is accurate, unless maybe there's a trace of Ammonia. I just figure I'm good unless it looks really green. It would be nice though if there was a significant color variation between the readings, like w/ the NitrItes.

I also have a difficult time getting an accurate reading for NitrAtes. I perform the test correctly, (trust me, my arm aches from shaking so much lol), but it's tough to tell the difference between 40ppm and 80ppm.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfdrookie516 View Post
Are you holding the card up to the tube so that the white part on the side is acting as a background? I've ALWAYS had issues with the ammonia and nitrate tests as far as reading the results because I'm red/green colorblind... that said, it's impossible to get accurate results unless you have a white background for the tubes.
Yep, I hold the tube right up to the card. No matter what I test I never get the bright yellow that should be 0ppm and it all began when I bought the replacement test; I had little/no issue telling the difference between ammonia test results with my original ammonia test.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:55 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by McLumpy View Post
You're not alone, I'm having the same issue. When I test my Ammonia, I hold the tube up against the white background and notice that the water has a slight neon green hue to it. This happens every single time I test both of my tanks, (I haven't tried testing my tap yet though).

I doubt that the reading is accurate, unless maybe there's a trace of Ammonia. I just figure I'm good unless it looks really green. It would be nice though if there was a significant color variation between the readings, like w/ the NitrItes.

I also have a difficult time getting an accurate reading for NitrAtes. I perform the test correctly, (trust me, my arm aches from shaking so much lol), but it's tough to tell the difference between 40ppm and 80ppm.
I don't think there is ammonia in my tanks either but not getting the clear 0ppm result is really irritating me. I want to see the evidence in front of my face so I know exactly what's going on (not that I am anal-retentive or anything! lol).
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:57 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Coleallensmom View Post
Yep, I hold the tube right up to the card. No matter what I test I never get the bright yellow that should be 0ppm and it all began when I bought the replacement test; I had little/no issue telling the difference between ammonia test results with my original ammonia test.
Mine has never been a bright yellow, so it may be something that varies by kit. Did you get a new card with your replacement test? If so, are you using that card?
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:01 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mfdrookie516 View Post
Mine has never been a bright yellow, so it may be something that varies by kit. Did you get a new card with your replacement test? If so, are you using that card?
The card in the photo is the one that came with the new test. My master kit came with one large card with all the test colors (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, PH) on it. Both the new ammonia card and the old are comparable though.
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:03 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Coleallensmom View Post
I don't think there is ammonia in my tanks either but not getting the clear 0ppm result is really irritating me. I want to see the evidence in front of my face so I know exactly what's going on (not that I am anal-retentive or anything! lol).
Don't feel bad, it's annoying to me too. lol Of course, the Ammonia doesn't drive me nearly as nuts as the NitrAtes though. Especially since I went through a 160ppm reading on them when I first joined AA. Yeah, that was scary! But I know as long as the test doesn't come out dark red again, I'm around 40-80ppm. Of course that drives me nuts too... I want to see some orange in that water, GAH!! /crosses fingers that the new plants in the tank will help
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:03 PM   #9
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Ok.. I give up. No more ideas. Have you considered contacting API? At this point, I'm just interested in the issue.
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:15 PM   #10
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Might want to check the expiration date on your kit. On the lot number of each bottle the last 4 numbers are month/year they were mfg'd and 3 years is its expected life span.

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...ml#post1261869

I thought the same thing on testing my tank water, so as a test I put cured water (Prime) in a container, let it set 24hrs and it was the yellow color with no hint of green.
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McLumpy View Post
Don't feel bad, it's annoying to me too. lol Of course, the Ammonia doesn't drive me nearly as nuts as the NitrAtes though. Especially since I went through a 160ppm reading on them when I first joined AA. Yeah, that was scary! But I know as long as the test doesn't come out dark red again, I'm around 40-80ppm. Of course that drives me nuts too... I want to see some orange in that water, GAH!! /crosses fingers that the new plants in the tank will help
I hope they help you as well. Both my planted tanks have very low nitrate, so not really a worry here. Wish I could figure out the ammonia issue though!
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by mfdrookie516 View Post
Ok.. I give up. No more ideas. Have you considered contacting API? At this point, I'm just interested in the issue.
Emailed them this afternoon. Their "help" form said that responses may take "up to 3-4 days" though, so we'll see if they actually reply back. Will certainly post if they do!
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:25 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mr. Limpet View Post
Might want to check the expiration date on your kit. On the lot number of each bottle the last 4 numbers are month/year they were mfg'd and 3 years is its expected life span.

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...ml#post1261869

I thought the same thing on testing my tank water, so as a test I put cured water (Prime) in a container, let it set 24hrs and it was the yellow color with no hint of green.
Yep, did that. Both the test kit and the ammonia replacement set say 2010. All the bottles in my test kit say 5/10 and the new ammonia bottles say 11/10
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:57 PM   #14
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I have the same issue. I have my old ammonia kit still. Maybe I will try it and see what it says
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:06 PM   #15
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Ok.. I give up. No more ideas. Have you considered contacting API? At this point, I'm just interested in the issue.
Their reply:



Alisha what ammonia level are you getting from tap and bottle water? Just check to be on the safe side especially with bottle water as it should have 0 ppm ammonia. Your tap water could have ammonia if the water is treated with chloramines. Let me know what you find out so I can further assist you.

Thank you very much for contacting us regarding our products. All of your comments and questions are valuable. We use your feedback to create the most effective line of aquarium and pond products available.


If you have any other questions or wish to discuss this further, please email back or give us a call at 1-800-847-0659.

I did tell them in my original email that my tap was also testing .25ppm where as previously it had been testing 0ppm. Will reply back and reiterate that. Will Lyk if they reply back!
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:09 PM   #16
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Well, that was helpful. Just so that you're 100% certain, test distilled water and see if the same thing happens... then let them know that it is and see if they have any ideas
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:14 PM   #17
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Well, that was helpful. Just so that you're 100% certain, test distilled water and see if the same thing happens... then let them know that it is and see if they have any ideas
Just emailed them about my tap result and mentioned doing the bottled water test as soon as I purchase some (I don't have any on hand) and got an immediate reply:


That may be the best bet because then we will know if something is wrong with the kit. Make sure to take the reading at the 5 minute mark and to be on the safe side check to make sure the kit is not expired, each reagent bottle has a Lot # printed on the top front of the bottle. The last four digits are the month and year of manufacture. Example: Lot # 28A0110. This is a pH reagent manufactured in January of 2010. PondCare Wide Range pH, Phosphate, Copper, Calcium and GH all last for three years. Ammonia, PondCare Ammonia, Nitrite, PondCare Nitrite, Nitrate, High Range pH, KH, Freshwater pH(low range) and PondCare Salt Level will last for five years. I would not use or trust these kits after they have expired.
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:54 PM   #18
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I have the exact same issue with my newest ammo kit. Slight green tint still to a zero reading.
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Old 02-23-2020, 04:40 PM   #19
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Smile Chloramine effects ammonia reading

After using the API ammonia liquid test kit, among other methods of ammonia testing in a lab environment with multiple people, I found out that the API liquid test kit showed 0.25ppm when ammonia levels were at 0.0ppm. The other 2 liquid ammonia test kits I used showed an accurate reading of 0.0ppm or "N/A". My conclusion is that the API ammonia test is (possibly) inaccurate due to the method used to "read the color" on the card as a number but also because it tests the water for chloramine which may be already present in some tap water. All 3 people that I brought into the lab with me read the API index card as 0.25ppm when the water was in fact at 0.0ppm The reason that I decided to test this was because my tap water was showing up as a slightly green hue in the vial which corresponds to 0.25ppm on the index card; which caused me to freak out and perform a 50% water change. When using the API ammonia test kit, other water quality tests should be used in conjunction due to the (possibly) inaccurate readings that this test kit can give. With that being said, if you are using the API liquid test kit for ammonia on your tap water and it comes back with a reading higher than 0.0ppm, your test kit is probably not just reading the ammonia levels, but it is reading chloramine levels. Chloramine is used in some areas as water treatment, and there are a few ways to remove it; most notably high quality carbon, and water conditioners that break apart chloramine into chlorine and ammonia and neutralize both.
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