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Waggles

Ammonia Testing Kits - How Reliable ?

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Unpacked a brand new Aquasonic ammonia testing kit.

Did a test last night. Followed instructions precisely for 5ml sample.

Results after 10 minute wait showed darkest green = 10ppm or more !!!

Looked at the fish very closely. Swimming about. Looked at gills. No redness no inflammation.

Cories and bristlenoses all down below. Fish ate when I fed them.

Gave the kit the benefit of the doubt. Did another test to instructions at 6.30am this morning (Wednesday).

Results after the 10 minutes process time - black/green ??

Did a 25% water change with Supachlor. Came back home from work checked out fish (tropicals; gouramies and Danio, cories & b/noses).

I can not see any signs of stress, or gasping, or inflammation, or fish all at the surface. Observation does not indicate ammonia poisoning.

Which am I to believe my fish, or my Aquasonic ammonia testing kit ??

A week ago when there was a real ammonia spike the fish were obviously distressed and all at the surface.

The water went cloudy. None of these indicators this time round.

Yet the test results show 10ppm ???

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Yes. I tested some bottled spring water from the "pristine" Adelaide Hills and the results were a golden yellow.

So maybe the kit works. Do they have an expiry date. I looked over the kit and could not find one. But it is newly bought from the Tech Den who I would presume have a reasonable turnover of these products.

I have done plenty of water changes since last weeks ammonia spike. Put in another small filter that has a zeolite and carbon cartridge. Added more bio-media to the canister filter. Bought some Aqua One

ammonia control filter pad and put that into the canister base a week ago. Had big ammonia spike last week made the water cloudy.

I've used plenty of Prime, etc along with Supachlor and Stability. So I am surprised that the ammonia levels are reading at 10ppm and greater. The green is so dark it's black.

But looking at my fishies, they have slowed down. They are not swimming around so much. But they are not gasping. Not staying at the surface. Not having red inflamed gills.

I'll just keep up with water changes and keep testing. I might have a look inside the canister and check it over for whatever. The water outflow is pretty good though.

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prime and superchlor contain the same products that can confuse test kits.

Likely the kit is giving you total ammonia(including ammonium), rather than just ammonia.

While these chemicals have the ammonia bound up into ammonium form, its much less toxic to fish........ but you need to keep it bound by periodic redosing.

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using the prime, superchlor and other products will bind the amonnia into a non toxic form, however you will still get a reading of amonnia on a test, your tank is still recovering from the amonnia spike, the products are keeping your fish from suffering amonnia piosoning by keeping it in a non toxic form until your bacteria can process it.

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No I count them morning and night. I sit on a kitchen chair with a cuppa (espresso long black from my own little machine) and watch them up close.

Check out their gills and their movements. They are not overly active at the moment, they have slowed down a bit. But they are not surfacing and gasping, or swimming sideways, etc.

I will keep up with 25% water changes every second day to help dilute. Yes / No ???

pH readings of late are 6.5/7.0

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You could do any other test with your kit, if you want. Take a sample of water from your tank and dilute it by 50% with spring water. In theory, it should read about half of the original reading. If not, dilute by another 50% and test again.

Water changes will depend on the results of the test from tap water. If the tap water is fine, then probably a good idea to do another water change and test again afterwards.

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Also just want to make sure that the water that you are doing water changes with is ok and that will help with the answer. If you have a spare sponge in another tank or cycled media in another tank you move to the one giving the issue. If you have another tank have you checked the ammonia on that one?

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Prime and similar products convert ammonia to a product that is far less harmful to fish (they turn it into an imine, not ammonium). The reagents in the test kit will reverse that reaction and determine all ammonia in the system (free ammonia, free ammonium and the bound form).

The bound form of ammonia is not stable long term, though, it will slowly decompose, which means that after a while the free ammonia will be back in the water column. Of course you could keep on dosing prime but frequent dosing will not really help with overall water quality (e.g. TDS).

I would continue dosing prime and do your 25% water changes every other day until your ammonia reading is zero.

You could also check your maintenance routine to figure out where the ammonia comes from (overstocked, overfeeding, not enough water changes etc.) to avoid future trouble.

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Here is an alternative point of view.... you watch your fish religiously and have been through an episode of problematic water quality so you know what unhappy fish look like.

You also know what happy fish look like.....

So why don't you put all your test kits away and trust your fish keeping skills. The fish are happy and healthy so why are you stressing? Sure, if the fish look unhappy then you can pull out the kits but you would be water changing anyway.

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Thankyou Agent 99 - I appreciate your viewpoint. Yes, fishkeeping is not only just about readings and testing. Experience and know how hopefully do count for something. This is what the novice struggles with.

Yes, last week I did have an ammonia attack and cloudy water. Fish were extremely distressed and showed obvious signs of poisoning with gasping, etc..

Made good use of the forum calling out for help to make sense of the situation [my water has gone milky/cloudy thread posting]. Lots of real experience thrown my way > water changes, pH tests and use Prime, etc.

Massive water changes daily and lots of Prime and Supachlor and a good cleaning out of the offending canister filter that had died. Put in smaller emergency internal filters. More water changes.

NO casualties. NO fish floating. Refitted an Ista canister filter with new sponge and filter pad and topped up the upper cradle fully with macaroni. Got that going. Poured in plenty of Stability bacteria.

The panic and distress of being a novice is not having sufficient knowledge as to WHY test results read at extreme levels at times. I have read many many web pages on aquarium care and water parameters, and on hardness and ammonia and cycling - but it is not enough just to read. I guess one also has to learn it and understand it through trials and tribulations. No pain no gain.

I will follow your advice aquaholic99 and get back to routine and normalising water changes and feeding (once a day for the swimmers and a night time sprinkle for the bristlenoses).

You know it wasn't just only the fish that became distressed and upset. It got to me as well; to the point that I was seriously considering giving it all away to my local aquarium shop. Take it all back, no more!

The joy of fishkeeping is when the tank is clean and one can relax and spend time watching our pets swim around and show off their colours or shape or antics.

So I am feeling better and as I had a day off from work I spent most of it on working on my three tanks. A day of accomplishments and satisfaction. :first:

New tank in cycling phase ready for my pets to stretch their fins.

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Well that turned into a guru thread fast.

If I see ammonia at 1ppm or higher in most tanks, I will do a 50% water change stat.

Its also true that the Chinese have kept goldfish for thousands of years successfully, both as pets and for food........ and until a relatively few years ago, they did it without ammonia test kits.

They are a good tool to learn the ropes with tho, and can certainly save the day before a crisis becomes deaths.

Example of those ammonia : pH graphs

http://www.ecofilms.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Total-Ammonia-Nitrogen-Table-Small.jpg

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For those who love their test kits and readings -

my tap water in a bucket that stands overnight is pH 7.8, and ammonia reads just pale of 5ppm.

The ammoniated tank of concern reads pH 6.5.

My small 23litre tank reads pH 6.3, and ammonia at 1ppm.

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Whats the temperature tho?

:)

Need that to work out toxic limit.

going off that graph some examples to show how lucky you are.

I chose a high temp for worse case scenario.

29ppm ammonia @ pH 6.0 and 28degC ~> is the level ammonia becomes toxic to fish

12ppm ammonia @ pH 6.4 and 28degC ~> is the level ammonia becomes toxic to fish

4.7ppm ammonia @ pH 6.8 and 28degC ~> is the level ammonia becomes toxic to fish

0.48ppm ammonia @ pH 7.8 and 28degC ~> is the level ammonia becomes toxic to fish

0.12ppm ammonia @ pH 8.4 and 28degC ~> is the level ammonia becomes toxic to fish

Edited by Donny@ageofaquariums
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For those who love their test kits and readings -

my tap water in a bucket that stands overnight is pH 7.8, and ammonia reads just pale of 5ppm.

The ammoniated tank of concern reads pH 6.5.

My small 23litre tank reads pH 6.3, and ammonia at 1ppm.

So now you know what your tap water is putting out and its not that flash - it sounds like it is better to take water from your established tanks to water change than to use your tap water until your filtration can handle it. Hope this makes sense why I was not keen on answering your question last night about the water change until we could rule out the tap water.

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Thanks - this forum is good in sharing knowledge and experience [know-how] with us beginners. Much appreciated for the effort and time you people take at reading and responding to my postings.

At the moment I am cycling a new 90litre tank that has an Aqua One overhead filter unit, a jumbo sponge filter connected to an old gravel bed powerhead and a newly revamped canister filter.

pH 7.0 and ammonia after a week is down to 5ppm. So if I understand you Mr. tech Den, then I should take my buckets of new water from this tank to replenish the ammoniated tank that needs lots of TLC.

Hhhhmmmmm, makes sense. Then the new tank will be filled with tap water, dechlorinated with the usual detoxifying liquids.

The tapwater I am stuck with as I do not have access to the rainwater tank (contents are pretty suss). But I might add in 10 litres of box spring water that comes in a bladder. That should help dilute levels.

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I was suggesting getting the water from another tank but only if the ammonia was less. Just a couple of things too - how often and at what rate do you do your water changes? Can you get a bucket of water from a neighbour and run the same test to see if you get the same result? Be interesting to see if the water test is the same for your area or if it is different just coming out of your tap (is it a local issue or specific to your home).

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Normally if I am not dealing with an ammonia crisis I would do a weekly water change on the larger tank. 25-30% every Sat morning. Fill buckets up the night before and let stand overnight.

Then dose with the appropriate dechlorinator and ammonia detoxifyer before adding in to replenish the tank. The nano tank gets a 40% water change on Weds and Sats.

The neighbour's water is the same, as this is a rural property, and we share a common 4 inch inlet and then branches into two pipes with own water meters.

Everybody in the Barossa Valley gets the same water as the main pipe of supply comes from the Barossa Reservoir.

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GOOD NEWS but I am also some what embarrassed at my failing to scrutinise my test readings more carefully. In my distress and panic over test readings I misread the tapwater results.

Today I did two [2] ammonia tests on the tapwater breathing in genuine Big W plastic buckets - one each from separate buckets -both results same = tapwater ammonia 0.5ppm (not 5ppm) but pH at 7.8 or more.

the pH in the ammoniated tank is 6.3 (checked twice). Temperature in both tanks is 26C

The total ammonia in the cycling tank is still way way too high to transfer any water out from there.

So I guess I will keep to using the available tapwater.

Donny - 12ppm ammonia @ pH 6.4 and 28degC ~> is the level ammonia becomes toxic to fish.

Edited by Waggles
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Donny - 12ppm ammonia @ pH 6.4 and 28degC ~> is the level ammonia becomes toxic to fish.

The problem is, at 6.4 its going to be a slower cycle. Yea the ammonia is less toxic, but the microbes we grow to eat it.... seem to build up slower in really soft water.

3.9ppm ammonia @ pH 7.0 and 24degC ~> is the level ammonia becomes toxic to fish

2.9ppm ammonia @ pH 7.0 and 26degC ~> is the level ammonia becomes toxic to fish

pH 7.0 and ammonia after a week is down to 5ppm

Thats still a bit of a worry.

But its better certainly.

0.63ppm ammonia @ pH 7.8 and 24degC ~> is the level ammonia becomes toxic to fish

0.48ppm ammonia @ pH 7.8 and 28degC ~> is the level ammonia becomes toxic to fish

tapwater ammonia 0.5ppm (not 5ppm) but pH at 7.8 or more

Could be worse, I have certainly tested worse here.

If I do a decent water change I often wont feed for a few hours, to give microbes a chance to clean up any ammonia from tapwater.

Bit different when its a cycling tank.

Just be aware that water changes will raise pH (make ammonia more dangerous) and well as dilute ammonia (make ammonia less dangerous).

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