ammonia vs. ammonium

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dfrap

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Is there any way to tell if you have ammonia or ammonium? I've had a reading of 1.0 on my API ammonia test for about 5 weeks and my fish are doing perfectly fine. My Ph is about 6.4. I've had the tank a total of about 8 weeks, not sure if it cycled already because I didn't start testing until about week 3. My other current readings are Nitrite 0
Nitrate 5

Thanks
 

Tom

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I believe it is based on if your water is acidic or alkaline.
Tom
 

sgould

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Supposedly pH of higher than 7 results in ammonia, lower than 7 results in ammonium. I have absolutely no clue how you would test this for confirmation, however.
 

COBettaCouple

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dfrap said:
Is there any way to tell if you have ammonia or ammonium? I've had a reading of 1.0 on my API ammonia test for about 5 weeks and my fish are doing perfectly fine. My Ph is about 6.4. I've had the tank a total of about 8 weeks, not sure if it cycled already because I didn't start testing until about week 3. My other current readings are Nitrite 0
Nitrate 5

Thanks
From what I understand, most ammonia tests test for both NH3 (ammonia) and NH4+ (ammonium) so the reading you get is the total of both. The only thing I've seen to test for NH3 only so far is one of those "live meters".

I have found this test, but am unsure if it's what I want:

I used Amquel+ to bring the ammonia down. You'll want to find the source of it too - any dead/dying leaves on plants, uneaten food that stays in the tank for a while, lots of fish waste?
 
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dfrap

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Thanks for the replies. I guess it must be ammonium, with my Ph being low. That would also explain how the fish have lived through weeks of it. Still not sure how to rid the tank of it though. I've tried a lot of things, even water changes don't bring it down or change it. It always stays steady at 1.0 ??? I've even tried Bio-Spira, Cycle, and Stress-Zyme (not all at the same time of course). Guess I'll stop worrying until the fish show signs of stress.
 

ewolfe315

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griffin

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what are your tap water readings for ammonia? (assuming you're using tap) your levels won't go lower than your source unless you have something removing it
 
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dfrap

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The ammonia reading from my tap is 1.0, but I use Prime to get rid of it (along with chlorine & chloramine). I did test the tap water after adding Prime to make sure it really does remove ammonia, and it does. But Prime does nothing for the ammonia in my tank water.
 

Terry

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FLBettaCouple said:
dfrap said:
Is there any way to tell if you have ammonia or ammonium? I've had a reading of 1.0 on my API ammonia test for about 5 weeks and my fish are doing perfectly fine. My Ph is about 6.4. I've had the tank a total of about 8 weeks, not sure if it cycled already because I didn't start testing until about week 3. My other current readings are Nitrite 0
Nitrate 5

Thanks
From what I understand, most ammonia tests test for both NH3 (ammonia) and NH4+ (ammonium) so the reading you get is the total of both.  The only thing I've seen to test for NH3 only so far is one of those "live meters".

I have found this test, but am unsure if it's what I want:

I used Amquel+ to bring the ammonia down.  You'll want to find the source of it too - any dead/dying leaves on plants, uneaten food that stays in the tank for a while, lots of fish waste?
Hi - the Seachem ammonia test will indeed tell you if you have free (toxic) ammonia. If you've used Prime. AmmoLock. Amquel or similar to detoxify the ammonia the API test can give you a false positive for ammonia - one of those 2 test solutions raises the pH to 12, which releases any detoxified ammonia. I had the same thing happen on the last tank I cycled - I used Prime during water changes, and kept getting an ammonia reading with the API test,  while I had no nitrites and did have nitrates. When the Seachem test arrived I found that I had zero free ammonia. No free ammonia, No nitrites and Measurable nitrates = a cycled tank. That ammonium compound formed when Prime or the others detoxify the free ammonia can take a few weeks to disappear as the bacteria consume it much more slowly than the free ammonia. I'm guessing that you tank may be cycled but the API ammonia test is misleading you.

I believe those ammonia live meters function the same as the Seachem test, and indicate if you have actual free ammonia (not total ammonia) - but I'm not 100% sure of that since I've never used one.

Edit - by the way, that Seachem test will also test for total ammonia, but I seldom run that test since it's only the free ammonia that you need to worry about. That second Seachem test gave me the same ammonia reading that the API test did. In the second Seachem test (for total ammonia) you add a drop of a solution they include, which I assume is a caustic chemical that raises the pH to 12 (like the API test).
 

COBettaCouple

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Terry said:
Hi - the Seachem ammonia test will indeed tell you if you have free (toxic) ammonia. If you've used Prime. AmmoLock. Amquel or similar to detoxify the ammonia the API test can give you a false positive for ammonia - one of those 2 test solutions raises the pH to 12, which releases any detoxified ammonia. I had the same thing happen on the last tank I cycled - I used Prime during water changes, and kept getting an ammonia reading with the API test, while I had no nitrites and did have nitrates. When the Seachem test arrived I found that I had zero free ammonia. No free ammonia, No nitrites and Measurable nitrates = a cycled tank. That ammonium compound formed when Prime or the others detoxify the free ammonia can take a few weeks to disappear as the bacteria consume it much more slowly than the free ammonia. I'm guessing that you tank may be cycled but the API ammonia test is misleading you.
Thanks, sounds like that will indeed be on my next DFS order after our trip.. that order's getting big.. i hope we can buy food next month.
 

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As long as your fish have food that's all that matters - hahahaha  ;D DFS was where I had to order my Seachem test from. Petsmart & Petco don't sell them in the store or online. I suppose I might have found the kit at a smaller lfs but I took the easy way out and ordered from DFS online - I'm lazy! The Seachem test is not the same as the API test. You get this little tiny plastic tray with 6 places to put a small amount of water in (if you want to run 6 tests at once). Then, from a little plastic container you use a supplied tweezers to pick up a teeny flimsy yellow disk - about 1/4 inch diameter, and you rinse it under tap water & immerse it in the water sample. Wait 15-30 minutes & check the color of the disk against their color chart to see if you have any ammonia & if so how much. When done you pick up the disk with the tweezers, rinse it off & put it back in the container. After a period of time the disk will "recharge" and return to yellow (unless you had no ammonia and it stayed yellow). They give you 6 of the disks in the container thank goodness. I'm always afraid I'm going to have one go down the drain when I'm rinsing it, but I haven't yet. The test is a bit of a hassle to run, compared to the simple API test, but it's worth it to know how much free ammonia you really have. On Seachem's site they have a PDF file of the instructions that may make what I've just said make more sense!

http://www.seachem.com/products/product_pages/MTAmmonia.html

Once you run it once or twice it get's easier.
 
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dfrap

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Will the Seachem ammonia test read a false positive with using Prime, or just the API test? I need to use something to take out ammonia in the tap water before I add it, since the reading is 1.0. I will look around for that test in my local stores. I need to know for sure if I do in fact have ammonia, if I keep getting false positives, I'll never be able to get more fish :-\ By the way, I had the water tested somewhere else, where they used test strips, and the reading was 0 ammonia. Don't you think, if my ammonia was really 1.0, that the test strips would atleast show something?

Thanks again for all the replies. Everytime I go into a pet store, they just recommend some product to get rid of ammonia...I've tried so many, I really don't see how NONE of them have worked
 

sgould

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The products you are using for the ammonia are working, but they do not "get rid" of the ammonia. They just convert it to a non-lethal form. It is still there, however, which is why your test is still showing it. I have not used the Seachem test kit myself, but if I have understood Terry's posts correctly, it will allow you to test for just the ammonia that is still toxic. In other words, no false positives.
 
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