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Old 10-24-2020, 09:39 PM   #1
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API ammonia test wrong?!?

Hi Folks,

Iím using the API master test kit (expires next summer). No matter what, I ALWAYS read .25ppm ammonia. Even directly after water change. So today, I tested my tap water. Same reading. So I tested some water straight out of my Reverse Osmosis unit. Same reading!

Has anyone else experienced this? Shouldnít just throw it out and get a new kit?! I hate to waste it...

Thanks.

JS.
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Old 10-25-2020, 05:17 AM   #2
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Try testing some bottled water to compare. You know the bottled water will be 0ppm.

If not read in good light, preferably daylight a 0ppm can look like 0.25ppm.
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Old 10-25-2020, 05:40 AM   #3
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To verify your osmosis unit is working you will need a conductivity meter or TDS meter unless it has a built in meter.

I agree, try bottled water or buy a seachem ammonia alert and stick it in the tank and call it good. Bin the API test kit.
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Old 10-25-2020, 11:29 AM   #4
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Yes, Iíve been researching and Iíve found MANY instances of this same comment about ďzeroĒ not really being the sunny yellow color shown on the test kit booklet.

I tested some distilled bottled water last night, and got the same result- a pale yellow/green. Iím going to assume Iím fine and no ammonia the tank.

I also ordered an Ammonia Alert. Looks like a great item!

Thanks.

JS
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:11 AM   #5
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Your water company is probably using Chloramine in it's water which is chlorine and ammonia. 0.25 is just fine as long as you pH is not too high. What is your pH of the water? Your filter should be able to oxidize that amount of ammonia in hours depending on the media you have in it.
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Old 10-26-2020, 10:33 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by fishwonder View Post
Your water company is probably using Chloramine in it's water which is chlorine and ammonia. 0.25 is just fine as long as you pH is not too high. What is your pH of the water? Your filter should be able to oxidize that amount of ammonia in hours depending on the media you have in it.
Iím on a well, so our water is not treated by a water company.

Also, I tested some bottled distilled water with my API kit, and it STILL shows .25ppm ammonia, so I think the sunny yellow color shown on the test booklet is inaccurate.

Concerning PH: this is an area of concern for me. It fluctuates between 8.0 and 8.1. I want to get it lower, but have been utterly unsuccessful. Iíve added some driftwood, I had peat moss in my filter for a month (no change), and for three water changes now Iíve been adding either distilled water or reverse osmosis water with a PH of 7.5-7.6. (The first time, I added 15gal in my 40gal water change, the next two changes I added 20gal). Still absolutely no change at all. My plan is to use all RO water for my next 40gal water change.

Iíve also tested my gravel with vinegar and did not have any reaction, so Iím assuming my substrate is not raising the PH.

My water hardness is medium high (KH 8, GH 11-12) which has gone down somewhat with the RO water changes. I know a high KH will prevent PH from coming down. Anyone have any PH ideas for me?

You mentioned filter media: currently I have two layers of sponges. I do not use carbon because I have read over and over that it contributes to Hole in the Head disease for Oscars. For the last week Iíve had about 1/2 a cup of zeolite in there as well, to hopefully reduce ammonia (which I now suspect I donít actually have anyway!)

Thanks for any help!

JS
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Old 10-26-2020, 10:37 AM   #7
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OK, you're on well water, glad you mentioned that now. Looks like you need to find out why your well is having any ammonia at all. As far as your pH, here is info on high pH and ammonia.

How pH affects Ammonia

While no ammonia in your tank is desirable it should be noted on what levels ammonia is considered an issue. The ammonia per se is not toxic at low levels but it is not desirable for any aquarium to have detectable levels of ammonia in the tank because it indicates poor filtration in the tank, which is not good for the fish. Ammonia is a slow process for being dangerous to your fish. It is very important to know the pH of your water to determine how fast to proceed with its removal. The ammonia in the water, if left unchecked, can lead to ammonia stress and ammonia poisoning.

Please see here:
Ammonia Stress and Ammonia Poisoning - The First Tank Guide - What Are the Signs of Ammonia Stress?

The common aquarium “ammonia” test measures the total ammonia, both ionized and un-ionized (Total Ammonia Nitrogen or TAN).

The chronic toxicity, where the ammonia kills slowly by a variety of mechanisms, is as follows:
  • 20 to 100 ppm of ammonia TAN at a pH of 6.0
  • 2 to 10 ppm of ammonia TAN at a pH of 7.0
  • 0.2 to 1 ppm of ammonia TAN at a pH of 8.0
Any pH between the above numbers you will have to make a linear interpolation. As you can see there is a 10 times increase or decrease in toxicity between pH levels.
A pH of 6.5 will reduce the growth of beneficial bacteria by 90%. A pH of 6.0 will virtually stop beneficial bacteria from oxidizing ammonia to nitrate; hence ammonia may be on the rise.

Ammonia causes internal damage to the brain, organs, and central nervous system. The fish begins to hemorrhage internally and externally and eventually dies.

As you can see it’s a balancing act with pH and how fast your filter(s) can oxidize ammonia. It’s very important that your filter has good effective media that water can flow through all your media and not around your media. Looking at the above if your pH is closer to 8.0, ammonia is more chronic over time and should be handled very quickly. If your pH is at 7.0, low levels of ammonia are not as chronic.

So if you have a pH of 6.0 and you raise your pH to 7.0, the ammonia is now 10 times more toxic. You can see what happens if your filter cannot oxidize the ammonia rapidly. If your pH was 6.5 or lower your bacteria may not be ready to oxidize the ammonia rise quickly.

The natural progression to reduce ammonia is by changing water. So don’t forget your de-chlorinator.
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Old 10-26-2020, 11:15 AM   #8
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I appreciate all that info. Yes, I’ve read up on this extensively. That’s why I am trying so hard to reduce my PH. I can’t seem to make any gains here (I listed all my attempts in my last message.). Any PH ideas?

Thanks.
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Old 10-26-2020, 11:20 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by JSlead View Post
I appreciate all that info. Yes, I’ve read up on this extensively. That’s why I am trying so hard to reduce my PH. I can’t seem to make any gains here (I listed all my attempts in my last message.). Any PH ideas?

Thanks.
Here is some information on dropping pH.

https://aquariumscience.org/index.ph...4-dropping-ph/
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:47 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by fishwonder View Post
Here is some information on dropping pH.

https://aquariumscience.org/index.ph...4-dropping-ph/
Wow, thanks! That was super informative. Ok, maybe I donít need to worry about PH so much. Ok. I think Iíll just keep doing what Iím doing and hope these fish eventually arenít so darn stressed out. I plan to continue WCs with a 50/50 mix of well water and RO water to manage the hardness. I guess Iíll just let it ride at PH8.

Again, based on my test of distilled bottled water showing the same ammonia result as my tank does, and having zero nitrites and low nitrates, I think Iím still fully cycled and good there too. I ordered a Seachem Ammonia Alert indicator... looking forward to seeing that in action.

Thanks.
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