Sudden Ammonia? There, Then Gone?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Jenoli42, Apr 23, 2018.

  1. Jenoli42

    Jenoli42Well Known MemberMember

    Hey team,

    to sum up my question - is there a way to add too many or not enough drops of either ammonia bottle so that you get a false ammonia result?

    Why am i asking? here's the story.

    So I bought a replacement ammonia test last week for my master test kit because I'd run out.

    Yesterday I tested our QT that has cycled media (over 2 months cycled) and our established 4-5 month 160L tank. (I only tested the 160L because our apple snail was shut in its shell for most of the day which is odd behaviour.)

    I was stunned. Our QT was showing just under .25 ammonia & our 160L tank was at about .35!

    QT - I dosed stability & prime. Did a 30% pwc on the QT. Tested ammonia about 90 mins AFTER the pwc & it seemed *higher* (like a solid .25 or slightly more)! Did another dose of stability after the pwc.

    160L - just 1 double dose stability and single dose prime.

    I started thinking about causes. Possibly overfeeding in the QT. Possibly a dead kuhli loach we can't see in the 160L.... then i remembered we'd done a recent 40% pwc in the 160L so I tested our tap thinking AHA! But NOPE. 0ppm ammonia.

    I fasted both tanks for the morning and only gave a "continental dinner."

    3 hours of fretting later, i decided to re-test. Both were testing 0ppm. Went to bed thinking i was hallucinating random ammonia. Tested again this morning, 0ppm.


    So. Did we have a mysterious spike in both tanks for no reason or did I somehow mess up the test because it's a new kit & maybe I didn't hold the bottles exactly vertical or something for the drops?? or did i miscount the 8 drops?

    Or do i need to tear the 160L apart looking for a dead kuhli?

    Or, and i won't be offended, is hallucinating ammonia like a side effect of this hobby? :)
  2. NavyChief20

    NavyChief20Well Known MemberMember

    is the snail verified alive? Snails drive me nuts cause they hide somewhere and die and you have an ammonia spike.

    Also you could be suffering from a wicked case of finding elvis i.e. seeing ammonia when there is none.

    Hold the dropper vertically for accuracy and reproducability. Chemistry is a fickle mistress
  3. OP

    Jenoli42Well Known MemberMember

    the snail was hiding at the bottom in it's shell most of yesterday. today it was near the top a third out of the water, but attached to the tank and not floating. i *think* it could be laying eggs from when we had another in there with it. but yes. alive when i left for work.

    i swear i thought i was holding the dropper vertically but because it's a very full bottle, i might have had it on an angle to prevent unintended drops from going in...that would have been subconsciously tho.

    i believe you about finding elvis. i thought i was over that. in fact, i was all smug about "no, you really can tell the difference between 0 and .25" for a short while. that's why this result being distinctly above .25 but not as high as .5 freaked me out.
  4. NavyChief20

    NavyChief20Well Known MemberMember

    Ive been keeping fish for most of my life and i can tell you its like anything else, smugness will bite you in the butt.

    Glad the snail is alive, i always believed the mystery in mystery snails is finding the ammonia bomb when they die off lol! Try checking the water again and be super neurotic about the chemicals. I know it seems silly but it makes a diffrence.
  5. OP

    Jenoli42Well Known MemberMember

    yeah, i'm not sure i pull off smugness - perhaps just confident and relieved? but i think believing there is a certain shade of yellow that is easy to tell is 0ppm like i did for about a month borders on smugness lolz.

    i will check the tank daily for this week again. we are strict about maintenance and feeding regimes. strict about washing hands in rainwater before putting in the tank. strict about quarantine periods. strict about testing. that's why i was confused.

    can i take it from your response that there's probably no way to mess up the testing drops and end up with a false positive?
  6. NavyChief20

    NavyChief20Well Known MemberMember

    It is not impossible....but it is highly unlikely. Ive seen some crazy chemistry results that have led me to go crack open a cold one and scratch my head.
  7. OP

    Jenoli42Well Known MemberMember

    the only other rationale explanation is we did a gravel vac under the large helicopter decoration when we did the pwc 3 days before the spike. i didn't add stability because i've never needed to, even when i did the filter media rinse in tank water a month ago. so possibly...? the other possibility is that we smooshed a loach when we put the helicopter back down. but we were very careful and can't see evidence of this.

    thank you! :)