Water quality and chloramine questions...

xdoomsongx

Jack Dempsey
Original poster
MFK Member
Sep 3, 2008
6
3
33
Kansas
So, I decided to set a tank up again. I still had a 75 gallon hanging around and some equipment to run it. Set it up, and filled it up. I did get a new Eheim classic 600 to go with my old Rena X3. I set the Eheim up with all the included media including the carbon pad. I purchased a new API master test kit, and added Seachem prime to remove chlorine/chloramine.

From the tap at this current time, the ammonia reads somewhere between 2 and 4 ppm. It's my understanding that chloramine reads as ammonia in these kits, so I contacted my rural water provider who confirmed that since the last time I kept fish they have started adding chloramine to treat the water.

The tank is up running equipment, and has been for a little over a week. I picked up six danios to begin the cycle about two days ago. Decided to test water when I got home today. I was pretty surprised to find that the water was testing at 2 PPM ammonia. I completed a 50% water change, treating the replacement water with the Prime at the recommended dose. I retested and found that I was between 1-2 PPM ammonia even though I changed water, and treated the replacement water. I thought I might need to dose again as the bottle says it might be needed so I dosed again, and retested getting it down to a clear one PPM ammonia. I added more prime trying to get it down further, however after the 4th dose of Prime it's showing at 2ppm ammonia again.

Anyone have any ideas? I've not had this issue here before, or anywhere else when I was keeping fish in the past.
 

born2lovefish

Candiru
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Mar 16, 2006
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Only thoughts are your new test kit is not accurate or bad or the ammonia coming from the utility is at a higher concentration and you need to dose more prime. I’d suggest requesting their water quality report and looking at the numbers yourself and realize that the reports are just a snapshot and depending on where the utility supply source water is coming from can vary especially if it’s surface water and rain events or seasonal changes. Ground water supply is typically more stable, but likely is higher in iron and magnesium at least here in Indiana. Again, I’m no expert, but just my thoughts.

So, I decided to set a tank up again. I still had a 75 gallon hanging around and some equipment to run it. Set it up, and filled it up. I did get a new Eheim classic 600 to go with my old Rena X3. I set the Eheim up with all the included media including the carbon pad. I purchased a new API master test kit, and added Seachem prime to remove chlorine/chloramine.

From the tap at this current time, the ammonia reads somewhere between 2 and 4 ppm. It's my understanding that chloramine reads as ammonia in these kits, so I contacted my rural water provider who confirmed that since the last time I kept fish they have started adding chloramine to treat the water.

The tank is up running equipment, and has been for a little over a week. I picked up six danios to begin the cycle about two days ago. Decided to test water when I got home today. I was pretty surprised to find that the water was testing at 2 PPM ammonia. I completed a 50% water change, treating the replacement water with the Prime at the recommended dose. I retested and found that I was between 1-2 PPM ammonia even though I changed water, and treated the replacement water. I thought I might need to dose again as the bottle says it might be needed so I dosed again, and retested getting it down to a clear one PPM ammonia. I added more prime trying to get it down further, however after the 4th dose of Prime it's showing at 2ppm ammonia again.

Anyone have any ideas? I've not had this issue here before, or anywhere else when I was keeping fish in the past.
 

xdoomsongx

Jack Dempsey
Original poster
MFK Member
Sep 3, 2008
6
3
33
Kansas
I tested with another kit. It is reading very close for all parameters so I'm thinking the test kit is fine. I setup some 5 gallon buckets to do some testing. It took more than the limit of 5x the dose with prime to see results from treating the tap. Now I'm running the pails with different filtration media and power heads to see if I can't get rid of the ammonia with time and or specific products. If not I'm guessing I'll have to look at RO filtration or something similar. Might have to anyway as after looking at water quality reports, the tap water has declined since I first moved to my area. Thanks.
 

tlindsey

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Aug 6, 2011
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So, I decided to set a tank up again. I still had a 75 gallon hanging around and some equipment to run it. Set it up, and filled it up. I did get a new Eheim classic 600 to go with my old Rena X3. I set the Eheim up with all the included media including the carbon pad. I purchased a new API master test kit, and added Seachem prime to remove chlorine/chloramine.

From the tap at this current time, the ammonia reads somewhere between 2 and 4 ppm. It's my understanding that chloramine reads as ammonia in these kits, so I contacted my rural water provider who confirmed that since the last time I kept fish they have started adding chloramine to treat the water.

The tank is up running equipment, and has been for a little over a week. I picked up six danios to begin the cycle about two days ago. Decided to test water when I got home today. I was pretty surprised to find that the water was testing at 2 PPM ammonia. I completed a 50% water change, treating the replacement water with the Prime at the recommended dose. I retested and found that I was between 1-2 PPM ammonia even though I changed water, and treated the replacement water. I thought I might need to dose again as the bottle says it might be needed so I dosed again, and retested getting it down to a clear one PPM ammonia. I added more prime trying to get it down further, however after the 4th dose of Prime it's showing at 2ppm ammonia again.

Anyone have any ideas? I've not had this issue here before, or anywhere else when I was keeping fish in the past.
duanes duanes
RD. RD.
 

duanes

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I believe Prime breaks the Chlorine/Ammonia bond, but that separation does not necessarily eat up the ammonia, it may slightly alter it.
Since your tank is not cycled only being filled one week (it usually takes 6 to 8 weeks to completely cycle a newly set up tank) there is not a large enough population of beneficial bacteria to consume the ammonia, and I'm not really surprised at your readings.
When I lived in Wisconsin I also had chloraminated tap water, so after adding a dechlorination chem like sodium thiosulfate to my water change water, there was always a trace of ammonia left, but because I added tap water to my sumps, as opposed to straight to the tank, that trace was quickly used up by the large population of beneficials in the media of the sump. I believe you need patience, and in 6 to 7 weeks, if the ammonia is not quickly used, then I'd start to wonder "what's up".
 

xdoomsongx

Jack Dempsey
Original poster
MFK Member
Sep 3, 2008
6
3
33
Kansas
So, I'm used to ammonia levels being in the .2-.5 ppm range when cycling. Will the 1-2ppm I'm getting now likely be tolerated okay?
Should I continue with regular water changes or wait for ammonia to go above 2ppm?
Sorry, I've just not had these issues with cycling before in terms of the ammonia level.
 

RD.

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What Duane said, to which I will add, from a recent post on this subject which may explain part of your issue. You can't get proper readings of NH3 when using products such as Prime or Safe, unless you use the proper equipment to test for it. With your API test kit you are only getting a total ammonia reading, not one for free ammonia.

False free ammonia (NH3) readings are quite common when using Seachem Prime (or Safe) as a water conditioner. Salicylate or Nessler based test kits determine the total ammonia by raising the pH of the test solution to 12 or greater. At this high pH all ammonia removal products will breakdown and re-release the ammonia, giving a false ammonia reading. Total ammonia is simply a reading of NH3 (toxic) and NH4+ (non toxic) combined.


According to Seachem, when using their products such as Prime and/or Safe, the ammonia is converted into the Schiff base of an aldehyde (R2C=NH) which is non-toxic.

Get yourself one of these, these sensors only detect free ammonia (NH3), not total ammonia, which is what your test is supplying. https://www.seachem.com/ammonia-alert.php
 
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duanes

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You can't get proper readings of NH3 when using products such as Prime or Safe, unless you use the proper equipment to test for it. With your API test kit you are only getting a total ammonia reading, not one for free ammonia.

False free ammonia (NH3) readings are quite common when using Seachem Prime (or Safe) as a water conditioner. Salicylate or Nessler based test kits determine the total ammonia by raising the pH of the test solution to 12 or greater. At this high pH all ammonia removal products will breakdown and re-release the ammonia, giving a false ammonia reading. Total ammonia is simply a reading of NH3 (toxic) and NH4+ (non toxic) combined.


According to Seachem, when using their products such as Prime and/or Safe, the ammonia is converted into the Schiff base of an aldehyde (R2C=NH) which is non-toxic.

Get yourself one of these, these sensors only detect free ammonia (NH3), not total ammonia, which is what your test is supplying. https://www.seachem.com/ammonia-alert.php
Agree with this.
With most water treatment facilities the chlorine to ammonia dose, is 4 or 5 parts chlorine to 1 part ammonia, when should give a reading on an API test for ammonia in the 0.2 to 0.5 range, depending on the water plants needed residual. So as RD said, I believe the Prime is skewing your results, although in no way will a tank from scratch be cycled in 1 week, unless you were using seasoned media or substrate with healthy cultures.
 
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xdoomsongx

Jack Dempsey
Original poster
MFK Member
Sep 3, 2008
6
3
33
Kansas
I wasn't expecting tank to be cycled. I'm just not use to cycling with the ammonia reading so high and water changes not bringing it back down. Knowing that the test kit doesn't report accurately, I'll pick up the seachem ammonia disk so I can have a more realistic reading of what's actually going on with the ammonia. Thanks for all the thoughts.
 
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