Actual Toxic Ammonia Level

Dch48

Well Known Member
Messages
2,238
Reaction score
1,434
Points
208
Experience
More than 10 years
I had read that ammonia test kits measure the total of both toxic ammonia and non-toxic ammonium. I did some research and found a website concerning the actual level of toxic ammonia to expect from test kit readings. The site says that the level of toxicity is entirely dependent on the pH of the water. It says that at a pH of 7.0 it is nearly impossible to have a bad ammonia level even when the test kit reads 8ppm. My pH is 7.4 and it says that I don't have to worry about toxicity until the test reading hits 5ppm and even then the toxicity is marginal. The higher the pH goes the more toxic the test reading becomes. I have never hit a 2.0 reading so according to that site, I'm fine. It's at 0.5 right now after a 50% water change. It was just over 1.0 before the change.
 

Lissi Kat

Valued Member
Messages
107
Reaction score
97
Points
38
Experience
2 years
I'd be very very careful with this in practice.
In theory this is what happens in bags when fish are shipped.
They use the o2 in the water and produce co2
The co2 acidifies the water and lowers pH which in turn makes the ammonia less toxic
The issue is when you open the bag o2 gets back in the water the pH skyrockets your ammonia becomes toxic.
This is an incredibly unsustainable and unstable thing to be experimenting with in my opinion
 

Rtessy

Fishlore VIP
Messages
7,091
Reaction score
3,476
Points
448
Experience
4 years
In my experience, I have a pH of 6.6 out of my tap and that's what most of my tanks are, and the information is not always true. 4ppm was lethal, .50 caused some bad symptoms but was treatable and .25 was enough to kill snails. All at low temperatures as well, which also lowers the toxicity.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #4

Dch48

Well Known Member
Messages
2,238
Reaction score
1,434
Points
208
Experience
More than 10 years
Rtessy said:
In my experience, I have a pH of 6.6 out of my tap and that's what most of my tanks are, and the information is not always true. 4ppm was lethal, .50 caused some bad symptoms but was treatable and .25 was enough to kill snails. All at low temperatures as well, which also lowers the toxicity.
Amazing. Mine has never been lower than .50 with a pH of 7.4 and both my mystery snail and my nerite are doing fine. Temperature is 77. The mystery is showing at least a quarter inch of new shell growth and I've only had him for 2 weeks. Betta shows no sign of distress and flares at his food. Every time he stops swimming and hovers he also flares out about 80%. The ammonia test has been showing a steady 1.0 for about 2 weeks now.

Back in the 1960's, I had a ten gallon tank and a couple of my friends did too. We never worried about a cycle and didn't even know it existed. We all kept fish for years with no problems while only doing a 25% monthly water change. We never did any testing either. When I first came to these forums, I was surprised at all the talk about cycles in a freshwater tank. I thought it was only important for saltwater where it is definitely critical. The only problems we had back in the 60's were getting plants to grow in new tanks. Anything else was pretty much set and forget. We put fish in the same day we first set up the tank and they always thrived. We did never did put more than 4 fish in at first though. After a month or so we went as high as a fish per gallon.


Because of that site's information, I now am far less concerned with ammonia and more concerned with nitrites even though I have never seen a reading of more than 0.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #5

Dch48

Well Known Member
Messages
2,238
Reaction score
1,434
Points
208
Experience
More than 10 years
I'm not saying that site is 100% correct. I'm just presenting the information because I found it interesting and supported by my past experiences.
 

Rtessy

Fishlore VIP
Messages
7,091
Reaction score
3,476
Points
448
Experience
4 years
Dch48 said:
Amazing. Mine has never been lower than .50 with a pH of 7.4 and both my mystery snail and my nerite are doing fine. Temperature is 77. The mystery is showing at least a quarter inch of new shell growth and I've only had him for 2 weeks. Betta shows no sign of distress and flares at his food. Every time he stops swimming and hovers he also flares out about 80%. The ammonia test has been showing a steady 1.0 for about 2 weeks now.

Back in the 1960's, I had a ten gallon tank and a couple of my friends did too. We never worried about a cycle and didn't even know it existed. We all kept fish for years with no problems while only doing a 25% monthly water change. We never did any testing either. When I first came to these forums, I was surprised at all the talk about cycles in a freshwater tank. I thought it was only important for saltwater where it is definitely critical. The only problems we had back in the 60's were getting plants to grow in new tanks. Anything else was pretty much set and forget. We put fish in the same day we first set up the tank and they always thrived. We did never did put more than 4 fish in at first though. After a month or so we went as high as a fish per gallon.


Because of that site's information, I now am far less concerned with ammonia and more concerned with nitrates even though I have never seen a reading of more than 0.
Wow, that's pretty sweet. Though I will say I received a betta in a tiny bowl thing, 0.8 gallons, and the ammonia was eight and it was still alive, the pH was extremely low, lower than 6, so I couldn't test exactly what it was. And it really is incredible how much the information about the fish keeping business has changed. Although, I will say that it seems fish back then we're much harder than they are now, especially ones like guppies and gouramis and neon tetras. I wasn't alive back in the 60's, but my dad tells me about some 10 gallon he had that was super overstocked, and all the fish lived fine for years without ANY water changes at all, only top offs and no plants... really makes you wonder. I think pH does play a role in the ammonia toxicity, and it might be interesting to find out exactly what. I saw a picture the other day, I'll edit my post when I find it.
Edit: here it is, although just from my experience I think it may be a tiny bit off
 

Attachments

  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #7

Dch48

Well Known Member
Messages
2,238
Reaction score
1,434
Points
208
Experience
More than 10 years
Rtessy said:
Wow, that's pretty sweet. Though I will say I received a betta in a tiny bowl thing, 0.8 gallons, and the ammonia was eight and it was still alive, the pH was extremely low, lower than 6, so I couldn't test exactly what it was. And it really is incredible how much the information about the fish keeping business has changed. Although, I will say that it seems fish back then we're much harder than they are now, especially ones like guppies and gouramis and neon tetras. I wasn't alive back in the 60's, but my dad tells me about some 10 gallon he had that was super overstocked, and all the fish lived fine for years without ANY water changes at all, only top offs and no plants... really makes you wonder. I think pH does play a role in the ammonia toxicity, and it might be interesting to find out exactly what. I saw a picture the other day, I'll edit my post when I find it.
Edit: here it is, although just from my experience I think it may be a tiny bit off
You might be right about fish being hardier back then. Maybe 50 more years of being tank raised has weakened the strains. There's probably been a good amount of inbreeding that has taken place and that is never good.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #8

Dch48

Well Known Member
Messages
2,238
Reaction score
1,434
Points
208
Experience
More than 10 years
Rtessy said:
Wow, that's pretty sweet. Though I will say I received a betta in a tiny bowl thing, 0.8 gallons, and the ammonia was eight and it was still alive, the pH was extremely low, lower than 6, so I couldn't test exactly what it was. And it really is incredible how much the information about the fish keeping business has changed. Although, I will say that it seems fish back then we're much harder than they are now, especially ones like guppies and gouramis and neon tetras. I wasn't alive back in the 60's, but my dad tells me about some 10 gallon he had that was super overstocked, and all the fish lived fine for years without ANY water changes at all, only top offs and no plants... really makes you wonder. I think pH does play a role in the ammonia toxicity, and it might be interesting to find out exactly what. I saw a picture the other day, I'll edit my post when I find it.
Edit: here it is, although just from my experience I think it may be a tiny bit off
That chart is interesting. My tank sits at 25C with a pH of 7.4 so I should be good up to about 1.4ppm according to that.
 

Rtessy

Fishlore VIP
Messages
7,091
Reaction score
3,476
Points
448
Experience
4 years
Yes, it's pretty interesting, though I think it's a bit off. I saw someone post that yesterday, but I couldn't find the thread so I ended up just pulling it from Google. According to that chart, I should have been able to have 20ppm, but I had lethal issues at 4ppm (before I really understood the nitrogen cycle and all), so I'm not sure how accurate it all is, but it is pretty intriguing
 

Lissi Kat

Valued Member
Messages
107
Reaction score
97
Points
38
Experience
2 years
Ive always been really curious as to what keeping fish in the 60s and 70s was like. My mum would have had fish then but having been a child she doesn't remember the specifics only that she swallowed a guppy fry while starting a syphon and that she kept bettas and peapuffers in the same tank (the puffer always won) she possibly had a sponge filter but isnt sure and dwarf baby tears grew in the tank. My great grand father kept carp in a tank in the basement without a filter for years and years without issues from the 50s to 70s or so which just seems so bizarre to me. Weak and inbred fish could explain some of that but then dont many wilds have a tough time adjusting to tank life too?
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #11

Dch48

Well Known Member
Messages
2,238
Reaction score
1,434
Points
208
Experience
More than 10 years
Yeah wild caught could have problems adjusting. I'm just speculating that most freshwater fish have been tank bred for another 50 years since the '60's. My tank back then had an internal corner filter on the bottom of the tank that was driven by an air pump. It had charcoal and filter floss in it and did a good job. I hid it behind some rocks. Actually we used to determine when it was time for a water change by the color of the water. When it got too yellow, we did a partial change and maybe changed out the charcoal too. We never tested for anything.
 
Toggle Sidebar

Aquarium Calculator

Follow FishLore!





Top Bottom