Ammonia Levels in Tap Water?


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Bad Wolf

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Hi guys,

I decided to test my tap water for ammonia levels because recently my aquarium has been showing signs of ammonia, with no sings of decrease as I did water changes. According to my API test kit, my tap water is showing very slight sings of ammonia, somewhere between 0 and .25 (just like my fish tank water). I refuse to believe ammonia could be present in tap water meant for drinking, unless that is in fact a possible factor.

Could my tap water contain ammonia, or could my test kit be showing false readings, either caused by expiration or some other factor? It smells really weird as well, almost like rubber. Could this be sings of an expired test kit?

Any advice is much appreciated,
Best regards.
 

lp89

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Hi Bad Wolf,

I also had an API test kit that also showed ammonia in my tap water... I was as shocked as you, and just couldn't believe it. We have always drank water straight from the tap.
I ran to my LFS and asked them to test my tap water, and their test showed no ammonia.

Everyone on this site seems to recommend and prefer the API Master Test Kit but because of my previous experience, I decided to get the Nutrafin Master Test Kit for Christmas instead. I like it much better because the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate readings for 0 are clear. This way there is no confusion between 0 and the next level.

I have never seen an argument for why API is better, and hope another member will chime in here with some information.
 

kinezumi89

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There's a member (she's not around much anymore, unfortunately) who had like 4-6ppm ammonia in her water!! When I was cycling my 55, I had about 0.25ppm.

The only difference is that if your ammonia level is below that in the tap water, then don't do a water change. (I had been doing daily water changes to keep the ammonia low (did a fish-in cycle before I knew what I was talking about ) and was probably doing more harm than good!) Once you have fish you won't need to worry about it because the bacteria will consume it as if it was ammonia from fish waste.
 

JustKeepSwimming

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I just tested my tap water today and my ammonia levels are over 1.0 straight from the tap (just over .5 after Brita filtration). This is most likely because the water company is using a high amount of chloramine to make the water safe to drink. The water conditioner is supposed to eliminate that by breaking down the bonds between the chlorine and ammonia that make up the chloramine, but it takes time.
 

escapay

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Kinezumi has great advice on the ammonia in tap water and water changes. I tell my customers this too, and especially let them know the area might have ammonia in it - so definitely have the tank cycled to handle that on top of what your fish produce.

My tap water usually reads at 0.5ppm. So if my tank is at 0.5 or less, I just add Prime instead of doing a water change.
 

brodylane1122

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I always let prime sit in my buckets of water before going into the tank. Of course, to get rid of chloramine, but also in case of other things/heavy metals, etc.

Also, when I use my API ammonia test kit, it is very hard to distinguish between a 0 and .25 reading. Even in my tank that has been established for nearly a year. I've heard of others with this issue as well. My 0 readings never look exactly like the yellow on the chart, but they definitely lean towards it more than the .25. I usually compare an ammonia reading on my new tanks to the a reading on my old tanks. Just some ideas.
 

kinezumi89

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I definitely agree, I always think a reading of 0ppm ammonia looks a bit green. If I'm expecting it to be 0ppm, I'll often just look at it and not compare to the chart. If it isn't obviously green, then I assume it to be 0ppm.
 

brodylane1122

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I definitely agree, I always think a reading of 0ppm ammonia looks a bit green. If I'm expecting it to be 0ppm, I'll often just look at it and not compare to the chart. If it isn't obviously green, then I assume it to be 0ppm.
Or maybe we are just blind!
 

Bad Wolf

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Thanks guys!

I was really curious to see how my LFS's water is, so I did an ammonia check. Turns out the water from my LFS had no ammonia whatsoever, COMPLETELY YELLOW. It's odd that my tap water has a greener outcome than actual fish water.

Should I hold off water changes for a while, and see if my ammonia levels drop?

Thanks
 

sgdgolf

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I had the exact same issue that i was certain my tank water was at 0 ammonia, but the api test showed somewhere between 0-0.25. i ended up buying some tetra ammonia test strips. Even though test strips are not that accurate, they consistently show 0 ammonia in my tank without any doubt.
I honestly believe that it is a definite weakness of the api kit that it is hard to read low or 0 ammonia levels well. i will be looking into another liquid test kit.
As a side note, the ph test is also not accurate. I own a high end pool test kit (i own a pool service company) and it consistently reads ph lower than api by about 0.3. Again especially the high range ph test has really odd color graduations that make it difficult to read.
 
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