Determine ammonia on api test kit

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by pji2100, Jul 17, 2015.

  1. pji2100New MemberMember

    Hi I can't determine if my ammonia I's at .25 or zero. The test seems yellow but I think I see a light green tint in it. Is it .25 or zero should I be concerned, and dose with prime?
    Temp 79f
    PH 7.6
    A .25
    No2 0
    No3 0
    Using fluVal cycle 5 ml daily
    Prime seachem on weekly water changes

    Plus I have 2 java ferns in the tank.

    Update: I just did my weekly water change I used R/O water this time around and used prime. I did test again I believe it was a false positive because I did it so soon the test came out a clear .50
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2015
  2. Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    LiterallyHydro, you're up... didnt you have a similar issue with this a couple weeks ago?

  3. Anders247Fishlore LegendMember

    What is your pH?

  4. pji2100New MemberMember

    7.6 water is hard here.

    Sent from my SPH-L900 using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app

  5. JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    What product do you use to dechlorinate your tap water?

    And I'm unclear on whether you tested the RO water directly from the RO unit, or only after adding it to your aquarium.

    I always ask people to buy a gallon of distilled water and try testing some of that just as a baseline to see what their API test kit shows using that distilled water. It's cheap, and makes for a good test to eliminate a lot of the other variables.

    Keep in mind that the API ammonia test shows both ammonia and ammonium (total ammonia).
  6. pji2100New MemberMember

    Prime.The ro is tested before adding to the tank. From the jug it's all zeros. But when you add prime and test real soon you can get a false positive I've read on here.

    Sent from my SPH-L900 using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app

    II just want to know if there is a trick to tell if the light green is really light green my eyes can't tell. And if it's so light should I be concerned? I can see .50 clear but .25 to 0 is hard to tell.

    Sent from my SPH-L900 using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2015
  7. JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    Join the club!

    I can't even see any difference between the 40 and 80 color patches on the CARD for Nitrates!

    With the Ammonia, though, I have less trouble with seeing a zero reading. To me, the yellow is fairly clear and I can discern any hint of green to know that I'm not really getting zero. But above that, then it becomes a problem for me to know exactly where I am. Zero seems clear to me - anything above zero, and now I'm guessing.

    I think we all have trouble with it.
  8. pji2100New MemberMember

    Thanks! Maybe I have not seen a clear zero yet. But like I said it's so faint. It's way better than the dark green when I began the cycle A month ago. Should I dose with prime?

    Update: boom there it is. Just did a test and clear yellow! I can see now I thought I was going nuts! Thanks for your help.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2015
  9. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    Pretty much. Although I ruled it out to be a bad test kit because even RODI water showed .25 ammonia.
  10. JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    I wish we could all afford to have proper testing equipment for all of this. As it is, these test kits are not bad for the price, and at least give us some idea of what's going on. But in some ways, they end up giving us even more questions! :)

    I've been looking at these little testers from Hanna. They make them for most of the parameters we need to check, but don't have one for Nitrate that I can find. But for ammonia and nitrite, they'd be great if they work as well as they should.


    It would just be nice to have something that gives me a numeric value instead of asking me to try to compare the color of a liquid in a tube against the color of a printed chart on a card.

    There are some testers we use where I work that use liquid in a tube (like the API and others do), but the thing you compare them against is another bunch of liquid-filled tubes. So the comparison is very easy because you're not comparing a reflective target to a transmissive one.

    But they're more money, of course.

    To me, these little Hanna devices seem very promising. I like the idea of an actual colorimeter that measures the absorbance at a specific wavelength. That would take the eye strain out of the process! :)
  11. Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    I think CindiL bought a photometer or something that measures water parameters more accurately. I think that's what it was called... Was reading through old posts one time.

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  12. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    Hanna checkers are very popular in saltwater fishkeeping. You wouldn't go wrong at all having them on hand. I don't personally use them as they are pretty expensive but I do want to pick them up some time.
  13. JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    I can see how they'd catch on pretty quickly for aquarium use. They're not as cheap as our usual test kits, but not really all that bad for what they do.

    Another approach is to buy a real spectrophotometer. Those aren't cheap unless you get a used one. And even then, you still have to buy the reagents and make the tests up yourself or you have to buy the pre-made test kits that produce the color in a tube designed to fit into the spec.
  14. Anders247Fishlore LegendMember

    Me neither, and I have 20/20 vision....
  15. CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Wow, good memory Dom90

    Yes, I bought the Industrial Test Systems (
    I bought the Exact Eco-check photometer kit but found it a couple hundred dollars cheaper on Amazon. Still very expensive but I'm thrilled to have it. It tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrates, alkalinity, ph, phosphates, copper, chlorine, chloride and a couple of salt water tests. It doesn't test for GH but does test for Total hardness though that doesn't do me a lot of good really. It has memory for the last twenty of each test which is also helpful.
    I recently switched to R/O because of high house nitrates (50-80 depending on the time of year) so have been playing with baking soda and alkalinity, trying to find the right number. Also put crushed coral in my filters.
    Also am testing for nitrates every couple of days now with my planted tank and have switched to bi-weekly water changes.
    I am having an issue with the ph reading being off but so far the company is being super helpful and it might be a firmware issue on my photometer so I think we'll get that figured out.
  16. JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    I am interested in that system. It looks like a great solution to a lot of aquarium testing.

    Do they have an ammonia kit for it?
  17. CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    If you buy the photometer separately then you choose which tests to buy. The Eco-check photometer can read the following tests:
    Total Alkalinity, Nitrite, Nitrate, Ammonia, Total Hardness, Total Chlorine, Ph fresh, Phosphate, Copper, Chloride, Ph salt, Free Chlorine, Combined Chlorine

    All the tests have Exact strips except the ph test has a reagent instead and the ammonia test uses both a reagent and a strip together.

    The complete kit included all of the tests it will do.
  18. JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    I should verify this, but I think you could calculate GH by subtracting the alkalinity (perhaps with a conversion factor applied) from the total hardness. So you could get your GH number that way.

    Titratable alkalinity should equate to KH, I believe.

    I may have to get one of those systems. It would be useful for aquarium purposes and cover some tests we do at work.

    Is this the one you got?
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015
  19. CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Yes, thats the one. Can you get your work to pay for it?? ;)
    I like it a lot. I like that it does so many different tests like the phosphates, copper, chloride in addition to the "normal" tests. Its not faster as far as time wise for ammonia, nitrite, nitrates etc. But I like that you do the test and can walk away while it counts up and comes up with a final reading. I think the nitrate test is the longest at 10minutes. The others are 5 minutes I believe and a couple are 2 or 3 minutes. I also like that it stores 20 past readings per test.
    We were never able to fix the ph issue so they are going to send me a new one next week and I'll return the one I've got.

    If you've got more information on how to figure out the GH based on total alkalinity and hardness that would be awesome! I am using the drop test right now.
  20. JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    I will look that up and ask the guy I work with who is a chemist for sure.

    I doubt work will pay for the unit, but I know everyone will be intrigued by it.

    We have separate colorimeters for chlorine and some other parameters, and we just do a titration with a standard acid solution and a pH indicator for determining titratable alkalinity.

    But this is really quite inexpensive for all that it can do.

    And the test strips and reagents all seem to be very easy to use, and very practical for field use.

    We can easily check the readings from this system against the methods we already use to verify that everything is accurate and that we're interpreting the reporting formats correctly.

    I'm intrigued by it. It seems like just what I've wanted for getting real numbers for these tests.

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