Understanding pH vs. Ammonia

Discussion in 'pH' started by ThumpoftheDead, Aug 11, 2015.

  1. ThumpoftheDead

    ThumpoftheDeadValued MemberMember

    I'm still pretty new to the test kits, only been using them for a couple months, my pH was always kinda high (7.5-7.6 but I'm using API so I know it could be higher) and my ammonia only 0.0-0.25ppm at the most. But lately my pH has dropped a bit, at first it was just 7.0 so it was finally perfect I thought because I have guppies and tetras so it's down the middle for their preferences...but now I think it's 6.6, and I think the ammonia is up to 0.50ppm. Is that how it works? The pH drops so the ammonia grows? I'm not sure what my next step should be...should my weekly w/c (today) be postponed, do I take out more or less water when I do? Perhaps I need a refresher course on the nitrogen cycle lol.


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  2. LiterallyHydro

    LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    If there is ammonia in the water, you should perform a water change of 50-75% immediately to bring it down.

    How large of water changes do you normally perform every week? A pH dropping is indicating that the buffers in the water are being used up and should be replaced either through water changes or a buffer such as crushed coral.

    Here is a link with information in the nitrogen cycle, if you want a refresher.

    https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm
     
  3. OP
    OP
    ThumpoftheDead

    ThumpoftheDeadValued MemberMember

    I normally remove close to 5 gal or 25% although last week I only removed 3gal when I saw my pH went from 7.0 to 6.8. But even then I recorded .25ppm or less on the ammonia. Even back when I had 7.1 my record of ammonia was between .25-.50 ppm. I thought when your pH is good, there shouldn't be hardly any ammonia? And isn't coral for saltwater only? Is there freshwater coral?


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  4. LiterallyHydro

    LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    Crushed coral isn't alive. It's just added in a media bag to buffer the pH.

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  5. hampalong

    hampalongWell Known MemberMember

    Ammonia comes from protein breakdown, and has nothing to do with pH.

    For practical purposes ammonia can be seen as harmless in acidic water (in normal quantities) and toxic in alkaline water.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    ThumpoftheDead

    ThumpoftheDeadValued MemberMember

    Ah I see now, I wondered if it was something just called coral, but that's a good idea I can definitely look into that, thank you.


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  7. hampalong

    hampalongWell Known MemberMember

    What's the pH of your tapwater after it has sat for a day? And the KH and GH?

    Be careful not to take your tank above 7 again until you've got rid of the ammonia, because as soon as it goes above 7 that ammonia will become very toxic to the fish. It would be safer to try to keep it slightly under for now.

    If you're getting any ammonia at all, it means the filter isn't cycled. You're possibly getting more at the low pHs because the bacteria start to slow down at low pHs so it's starting to build up more.

    If your tapwater is less than 7 after standing, I would do 10% changes to bring the pH up to 6.5-7, then do bigger changes to take the ammonia out until the filter is cycled. Feed sparingly (that's where the ammonia is coming from, and uneaten food and any dead plant bits). If your waterchanges are going to take it above 7 I would use Prime and/or a one-off dose of ammonia remover (to remove the ammonia, but then you need to take it out for the bacteria to get their supply) and small water changes as above.

    Crushed coral/coral gravel (not coral sand) will prevent the pH from dropping by dissolving carbonates (KH) very slowly. The KH reacts with acids produced by fish and filter so pH doesn't move, but if your KH is very low it can be used up and then the pH will start to fall.

    I would also buy a new pH kit. You never know... :)
     
  8. hampalong

    hampalongWell Known MemberMember

    In acidic water you still need to get the ammonia out, because when the filter gets going it will all change to nitrites....
     
  9. OP
    OP
    ThumpoftheDead

    ThumpoftheDeadValued MemberMember

    You made a lot of good points. I have the top fin filter and I usually stick the new filter pad with the old until the new looks good and grungy, but it's possible I still removed the old filter pad too soon; maybe the inside wasn't dirty enough yet, something. And I definitely don't wanna shock n kill my fish with sudden pH change so I'll try to do my best.
    I didn't let my test sample sit for a whole day, but since I wasn't sure what to do I had postponed the w/c for today, and as I expected, my ammonia has went from 0.50 to possibly 2.0 ack! And pH maybe just went from 6.6 to 6.5.I'm using the API tests, and I only have pH & ammonia test kits right now, been trying to wing with those for now. And I do have some Top fin ammonia remover I've never used it before. Are you suggesting adding that and then doing daily small w/c's?


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  10. hampalong

    hampalongWell Known MemberMember

    The ammonia is pretty harmless in acid water, but you need to remove it before it gets converted to nitrite. Change as much as you want as long as the pH doesn't change too much too quickly.

    You will need a nitrite test kit to know when it's all safe.

    Never change filter pads unless they're literally falling apart, because every time you do you're throwing away vital bacteria...