Seachem Ammonia Test vs. API

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Terry

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Hi all. I'm not sure if I posted this or not, but I've been concerned about the free (toxic) ammonia level in a tank I'm cycling (with fish). In cases where you've added AmmoLock or one of the other additives that detoxifies ammonia, the ammonia may be tied up and non-toxic, but will still show up in the API solution test. This can get pretty confusing. One of the 2 solutions in the API test raises the pH in the test tube to 12, which releases any the ammonia that has been detoxified by AmmoLock & similar treatments. So, if you've used one of these things the API test doesn't tell you the whole story. As an example, I used Ammo Lock in one tank, and my API test kept showing 2 ppm. I found that Seachem makes a test kit that measure both free ammonia, and total ammonia. I couldn't find the Seachem test at Petsmart or Petco, so I had to order it online (Foster & Smith). Anyway, the Seachem test showed that I had 0 free (toxic) ammonia, and also confirmed the 2ppm total ammonia that I got with the API test. When I saw that I knew that my water was under control and the tank had cycled.

The Seachem test is a little more difficult to run - you have to use a tweezers (supplied) to pick up a tiny, flimsy, yellow (reusable) disk, place it in a water sample, and then wait 1/2 hour before you compare the color of the disk to a color chart. You have to use the tweezers to rinse the tiny disks in tap water before & after using, and hope that you don't lose one down the drain (they give you 6 though). After the test is done, and you've rinsed & returned the disk to the little plastic container they come in, they will recharge and turn yellow again. If you want to measure total ammonia you have to add a drop of a supplied solution to a second water sample. I usually just run the free ammonia test, since that's what really important.

But, aside from the test being a bit more difficult to run, it's nice to know how much of the toxic free ammonia you really have in a tank. I think Seachem also sells these little ammonia monitors that you keep in a tank - I have a feeling that those also measure only free ammonia. These I did see at Petsmart, and I'll pick one up on the next trip to see if it agrees with the Seachem test kit.

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

There's the link to the Seachem test.
 

susitna-flower

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Terry said:
Hi all. I'm not sure if I posted this or not, but I've been concerned about the free (toxic) ammonia level in a tank I'm cycling (with fish). In cases where you've added AmmoLock or one of the other additives that detoxifies ammonia, the ammonia may be tied up and non-toxic, but will still show up in the API solution test. This can get pretty confusing. One of the 2 solutions in the API test raises the pH in the test tube to 12, which releases any the ammonia that has been detoxified by AmmoLock & similar treatments. So, if you've used one of these things the API test doesn't tell you the whole story. As an example, I used Ammo Lock in one tank, and my API test kept showing 2 ppm. I found that Seachem makes a test kit that measure both free ammonia, and total ammonia. I couldn't find the Seachem test at Petsmart or Petco, so I had to order it online (Foster & Smith). Anyway, the Seachem test showed that I had 0 free (toxic) ammonia, and also confirmed the 2ppm total ammonia that I got with the API test. When I saw that I knew that my water was under control and the tank had cycled.
  Terry, you are talking about cycling a tank, using chemicals to make the ammonia non toxic to your fish.......This is NOT the same thing as being cycled as you stated  "my water was under control and the tank had cycled."       It can be confusing, I never ever use chemicals in my tank.  I feel much safer using elbow grease and water changes!   
If you want to protect your fish during the cycling stage  do  50% water changes when your ammonia gets up over .25 on your API test even if it is every day, it takes time, but when the bacteria has established itself and the ammonia reading on your API kit goes down to 0, your nitrite goes down to 0, and your nitrates go up, THAT is when your tank is cycled.  I wish you the best of luck.

Fish in the Frozen North   -2F this morning  8)
 
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Terry

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Hi. The tank was indeed fully cycled - the API test was hiding that fact that it was. I had added the Ammo Lock a few weeks before, when the ammonia levels were getting high - I didn't want to lose any fish, no matter how cheap they were. When you tie up ammonia with products like Ammo Lock, Amquel, Prime, etc., the non-toxic ammonia complex that is formed can take a week or even longer to be digested by the bacteria. It's a known fact that it is harder for the bacteria to convert this tied up ammonia into nitrates. The tank was, and still is cycled, and the total ammonia reading did go to zero (while the toxic ammonia level stayed at zero during this time). The point I was trying to make is that if you use products like Ammo Loc, Prime, etc.that the API solution test can give you a very misleading result on free toxic ammonia. This has puzzled numerous people in several forums I visit - cases where they have an ammonia reading with the API test, but their nitrites have gone to zero, while their nitrates went up. Tanks were cycled & they didn't even realize it.
 

Luniyn

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susitna-flower said:
I feel much safer using elbow grease and water changes!
Except in my case (and I'm sure many others) in which you have Chloramines in your tap water in which case doing a water change actually adds ammonia to your water. I posted a topic that relates to this (should have read through the various sections of this forum first... there is just so much good info here) in the newbie section asking if this what is actually happening (which seems to be the case). I will be going straight to the pet store after work to get a ammonia/nitrite detoxifier. Maybe I'll try that in tank test kit as well.
 
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Terry

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Luniyn said:
susitna-flower said:
I feel much safer using elbow grease and water changes!
Except in my case (and I'm sure many others) in which you have Chloramines in your tap water in which case doing a water change actually adds ammonia to your water. I posted a topic that relates to this (should have read through the various sections of this forum first... there is just so much good info here) in the newbie section asking if this what is actually happening (which seems to be the case). I will be going straight to the pet store after work to get a ammonia/nitrite detoxifier. Maybe I'll try that in tank test kit as well.
Very true. The simple dechlorinators that detoxify chlorine, often simply break the chloramine bond, which will then release both chlorine and ammonia from the chloramine. A treatment for your water changes such as Prime and some of the other similar ones will not only detoxify the chlorine & chloramine, but will then also detoxify any ammonia & chlorine released from the chloramine.
 

countryblue

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I was glad to read this post ...been using amquel and doing water changes...nitrite's...0...ammonia always and never below .25..nitrates..at 20........alway's done with the api test kit...
 
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