Ammonia, Nitrites, And Nitrate Results

Lake Charles Brian
  • #1
Is anyone familiar with this test kit? I got back in August after the initial set-up of my son's tank. I like it and find it helpful. I typically run both total and free ammonia. If I measure any total ammonia at all, I make sure to use Prime every 48 hours.

As you are probably aware, there are these yellow markers. For a while now, I've been measure a small amount <0.02-ppm of total ammonia (there is no free ammonia because I continue to use Prime every 48 hours). For a while as I measured for ammonia, the marker in the total ammonia will turn slightly green in a tiny spot (almost like a crease) on top of the marker. On the bottom, it is yellow (as in no ammonia).

Is it possible the marker has gone bad or do I probably have a very low level of ammonia? The free ammonia test never shows anything but yellow. The API master kit looks like a bright yellow, but it isn't really set-up for this low of concentration.

For the record, the test results have been this for the last 10 days:
Ammonia (seachem multitest): <0.02 ppm
Ammonia (API master kit): 0 ppm
Nitrites (API master kit): 0 ppm
Nitrates (API master kit): 10-20 ppm

I assume these are good. I wasn't sure about the nitrates. Would you continue with the prime every 48 hours? Thoughts?

Thanks in advance.

  • #2
I'm a bit confused. You're adding Prime directly to the tank every 2 days while cycling it? Or the tank is already cycled since last August, and you're keeping things under control by adding Prime directly?

If the tank is already cycled, you don't add Prime to the tank directly but instead should be doing 50% or higher water changes weekly, usually also vacuuming any waste that is stuck in the top level of substrate. You would put Prime in the new water and then add it.

If the tank is still cycling, you could do water changes as needed, again adding Prime to the new water before adding it.

Prime only temporarily neutralizes ammonia in the tank, for roughly 24 hours, which could be why you've ended putting into the tank every couple of days. This does nothing to correct the real problem, which is that the waste in the water is producing more ammonia than the beneficial bacteria in the filter can consume. In that case, you should also be changing out your charcoal monthly or even more often. If you're using Zeolite, you can refreshing it by using a 5% salt solution to remove the ammonia from it.

  • #3
You may already understand all this, so I apologize if you do, but just in case... The API ammonia kit measures NH3 and NH+4 at the same time. NH3 is ammonia and NH+4 is ammonium. Ammonia turns into ammonium based on pH or when adding prime. Prime takes free ammonia (NH3), which is toxic, and bonds it with a hydrogen ion, turning it into ammonium (NH+4), which is harmless. If you measure water with the API kit that you've treated with prime, it will break the ammonium's bond, converting it back to free ammonia, giving you a result for total ammonia and ammonium present in your water. The seachem kit measures ammonia and ammonium separately, giving you a result for free ammonia and a result for bonded ammonium. If your API ammonia kit reads yellow, or 0, you have no ammonia and no ammonium. This means the prime you are adding has nothing to bond or convert in the first place. The only time you need be concerned is if you get a positive reading on your API kit. You would then use your seachem multitest ammonia kit to determine the amount of toxic ammonia or harmless ammonium separately and dose prime accordingly. I hope all of this makes sense and helps you to understand the test kits results a bit better. I second endlercollector above. If the tank is not cycled, the prime will only be a band-aid. Based on your API kit's readings, your tank is cycled, so just do regular water changes from here on out treating the new water with prime and you're good to go. Also, less than 20 micrograms per litre is very very small. I'd blame the test kit there, as I don't believe any consumer grade kits will give you such a finite measurement. I could be wrong, but I'd be shocked. Anyway, hope I helped and happy fish keeping
  • #4
My tap water has .5ppm ammonia. If you do as well, it's possible taking a reading after WC, you may be detecting that before it's fully converted by BB.
Lake Charles Brian
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Just an update...

After considering your responses, I decided to measure the water I was adding using the seachem multitest and the API test. I did not add prime so the free ammonia should match the total ammonia (if there is any). I found that the free ammonia test showed no ammonia and the total ammonia test showed very little as with the tank. This means the total ammonia test just had a little inaccuracy and it is safe to say there is no ammonia in the tank. The API master kit also confirmed the water I was adding had no ammonia.

Thanks all for the help.

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