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Old 11-15-2021, 05:30 PM   #1
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I need advice on ammonia levels

I just got a new ammonia test kit (api ammonia test kit) and the ammonia is testing at 8 ppm! My old test strips (tetra easystrips) which I just used had it testing around 1 ppm. I am wondering if there is a water conditioner I am using that could be giving off higher levels or one of them is incorrect? I tested tap water using the api kit and it tested around .5 ppm. For reference, the water conditioners I most commonly use are stress coat, quick start, aqueon plant food, and ammo lock. Does anyone know if one of these would affect the tested levels? Also does anyone have advice about getting the ammonia down if it really is that high (I doubt it because my fish seems fine). Thank you!

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Old 11-15-2021, 05:56 PM   #2
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At least one of them is incorrect. The likelihood is they are both incorrect. Liquid tests are generally considered to be more correct than test strips however.

These tests are home test kits, not laboratory testing. All sorts of things can throw off tests, so yes its possible that there is something in your tank that's throwing off your results. The ammo lock is the most likely of the products you have personally added to be an issue. I would trust the liquid test more.

One thing to be aware of. Neither of your ammonia tests actually test for ammonia. Take a look at the test charts. They both test for NH3 (free ammonia) and NH4+ (ammonium) or total ammonia nitrogen (TAN). Its only the free ammonia thats actually harmful.

The proportion of free ammonia to ammonium in the TAN your test is reading is pH and temperature dependant. The higher your pH and water temperature, the more of your TAN is harmful free ammonia. If your pH is on the low side of 7 then its entirely possible your 8ppm TAN isnt harmful. Its still a cause for concern, because its a sign you arent cycled. And a shift in pH could cause a swing in the toxicity of your TAN.

How to get your ammonia down? Cycle the tank. Until you are cycled the only surefire way of getting it down is water changes. Could you give some more details on your tank? Water parameters, tank size and age, filtration, numbers of fish?
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Old 11-15-2021, 06:20 PM   #3
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Thank you for responding. My PH is around 6.5 i believe, it tends to go even more acidic if I don't do water changes often (about .75 gallons 2x a week). It is a 5 gallon tank with 1 guppy and a built in filtration system. I got it about a month ago. Do you have any advice on how to cycle my tank? I have added quick start to put in beneficial bacteria, but I guess it isn't working.
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Old 11-15-2021, 06:28 PM   #4
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You should be doing sufficient water changes to keep ammonia + nitrite combined below 0.5ppm. This will keep water relatively safe while your cycle establishes. If your ammonia is 8ppm you need to do several 50% water changes to get it down to a safe level. Change half the water daily until you are at the 0.5ppm combined target.

With your pH being so low the ammonia you are detecting is not likely to be at a toxic level anyway, but its still better to get your tank cycled.
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Old 11-15-2021, 06:31 PM   #5
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Thank you, I will do that.
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Old 11-15-2021, 11:05 PM   #6
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The ammo lock is likely the reason you’re seeing crazy ammonia levels.

I ended up using it during my ridiculously over populated fish-in cycle in hopes of saving some stress on the fish. It definitely worked (the fish survived) but it also caused my tests to show high all the time. Even semi-daily water changes ~25% on a 30g it still tested off the charts!
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Old 11-16-2021, 02:16 AM   #7
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ammo lock

I would not use ammo luck or stress coat. I would use Prime because it removes chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia every time you do a water change. They say stress coat reduces stress but I have a ton of this stuff and really never noticed a difference and prime be more effective to me. I would use a stress coat only in a quarantine tank.

I have purchased test strips before and have gotten many times false results. API master kit is the way to go.

Just an opinion recommendation.
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Old 11-16-2021, 03:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidwolf View Post
I would not use ammo luck or stress coat. I would use Prime because it removes chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia every time you do a water change.
To clarify on this. Prime does not remove ammonia. It temporarily binds "some" ammonia in a nontoxic form for a day or 2. It will still be there until either until your cycle removes it or the prime wears off and your ammonia becomes toxic again.

It would be the water change that actually removes the ammonia in this circumstance.
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Old 11-16-2021, 10:08 AM   #9
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Thank you all for responding, your advice was very helpful!
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