Ammonia......explained


Mmathis

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Though this is a product endorsement, it does a nice job of explaining a little more about the ammonia(s) in the aquatic environment -- at least in a way that is fairly easy [for me] to comprehend.

Whenever I'm learning something [about anything], I tend to only process the parts that I'm capable of understanding AT THAT PARTICULAR POINT IN TIME. I've read about NH3, NH4, and TAN [totals], but in my brain, it was all a jumble, so I would skip over the parts I wasn't ready to learn about yet. I'm glad I read it, 'cause I'm starting to understand the chemistry a little better [normally, I wouldn't even have looked at it].


http://www.koiphen.com/forums/showthread.php?157366-The-Importance-of-Ammonia-monitoring-in-Mature-systems

So, @Meyer Jordan, my API test kit says NH3/NH4 -- that means it's reading TAN [total ammonia]. So, does that mean that I have to calculate in the pH in order to know what's going on as far as how "toxic" the [NH3] ammonia reading is? See, it does start getting complicated...... GEESH! Or is there a way to know, other than by purchasing this Seneye product? Can you have a "0" TAN and still be having an "invisible" ammonia spike? Or does "0" mean "0"?
 
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I've been curious about the ammonia alert cards ( think that's what they're called), it seems to do the "work" for you, in measuring free ammonia. I don't have one and don't know how much they cost. I'm guilty of not testing my water regularly in my mature pond.
 

Mmathis

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I've been curious about the ammonia alert cards ( think that's what they're called), it seems to do the "work" for you, in measuring free ammonia. I don't have one and don't know how much they cost. I'm guilty of not testing my water regularly in my mature pond.
@bettasngoldfish Is this something like what you use in your indoor tanks?
 

Meyer Jordan

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Though this is a product endorsement, it does a nice job of explaining a little more about the ammonia(s) in the aquatic environment -- at least in a way that is fairly easy [for me] to comprehend.

Whenever I'm learning something [about anything], I tend to only process the parts that I'm capable of understanding AT THAT PARTICULAR POINT IN TIME. I've read about NH3, NH4, and TAN [totals], but in my brain, it was all a jumble, so I would skip over the parts I wasn't ready to learn about yet. I'm glad I read it, 'cause I'm starting to understand the chemistry a little better [normally, I wouldn't even have looked at it].


http://www.koiphen.com/forums/showthread.php?157366-The-Importance-of-Ammonia-monitoring-in-Mature-systems

So, @Meyer Jordan, my API test kit says NH3/NH4 -- that means it's reading TAN [total ammonia]. So, does that mean that I have to calculate in the pH in order to know what's going on as far as how "toxic" the [NH3] ammonia reading is? See, it does start getting complicated...... GEESH! Or is there a way to know, other than by purchasing this Seneye product? Can you have a "0" TAN and still be having an "invisible" ammonia spike? Or does "0" mean "0"?
"Caveat emptor"

As you pointed out, this is an advertisement for a product and while, for the most part, it is true, generalities are used to subtlety infer dangers exist that really are not there.
Denitrification is a naturally occurring process in the Nitrogen cycle that is ongoing in any venue...terrestrial or aquatic.
Denitrification is simply defined as the reduction of (nitrates) to nitrites, ammonia, and free nitrogen, as in soil by microorganisms.
This is an ongoing continuous process in any environment where Nitrogen is present.
In Garden Ponds, this should rarely create an issue with water quality as any increase in the level of Ammonia or Nitrite as a result of denitrification is usually transient and of an amount that is small.
Ph does indeed play a part in this process as does temperature with a pH of 7 inhibiting reduction and a pH of 9.5 being optimum.
The following table shows the levels if Nitrite realized at different levels of pH.
table 1.jpg

These figures allow for the accumulation of Nitrite which does not occur in a natural setting. As can be plainly seen even with Nitrate levels of 80 mg/l the Nitrite levels are quite small at any pH. This is regardless of temperature.

For converting the TAN readings of a water test, use the conversion charts here. (I recommend bookmarking this site)

http://www.koiphen.com/forums/koicalcs.php?do=calcnh3c

Does a level of "0" exist? Maybe only in a controlled laboratory setting.

Does this help or add to the confusion?
 
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So, @Meyer Jordan, my API test kit says NH3/NH4 -- that means it's reading TAN [total ammonia]. So, does that mean that I have to calculate in the pH in order to know what's going on as far as how "toxic" the [NH3] ammonia reading is? See, it does start getting complicated...... GEESH! Or is there a way to know, other than by purchasing this Seneye product? Can you have a "0" TAN and still be having an "invisible" ammonia spike? Or does "0" mean "0"?
Ragarding NH3 vs NH4+ .... it's the same stuff though the two forms may not impact the fish the same way. NH3 is HIGHLY soluble in water... ridiculously soluble is a better word. Some of it will become NH4+ immediately because water readily donates that hydrogen to make the NH4+ (that's why water conducts electricity). Any spike in Ammonia will be showing up as a spike in NH4+.
 

Meyer Jordan

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Ragarding NH3 vs NH4+ .... it's the same stuff though the two forms may not impact the fish the same way. NH3 is HIGHLY soluble in water... ridiculously soluble is a better word. Some of it will become NH4+ immediately because water readily donates that hydrogen to make the NH4+ (that's why water conducts electricity). Any spike in Ammonia will be showing up as a spike in NH4+.
True as far as what is written, but the level of free (un-ionized) amonnia is strictly determined by pH and/or temperature. At low pH the level of free ammonia is negligible and harmless for TAN levels normally experienced in a pond.
Plug in a TAN of 10 to the above linked calculator and it can be easily seen.
 
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I do use these in my aquariums (especially useful when a new tank is set up or quarantine tank)

My ph is on the high side so any ammonia can cause issues for the fish. I have had situations where this has alerted me to problems in a tank before I caught it with other tests.

I have found these cards very useful during cycling a tank. You can use Prime to bind ammonia and make it safe for your fish and it doesn't affect the card readings.

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=4387
 
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