False positive on ammonia tests? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-16-2012, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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False positive on ammonia tests?

I'll start off by saying that this API test kit is not expired (manufactured 2008, expires 2017) and has been working well up to last week.

Whenever I test my water I get a deep green on the ammonia test, the highest possible on the scale. I do use Prime and a nitrospira bacterial supplement. There are no nitrites or nitrates in the tank.

Am I looking at lots and lots of ammonium? I did a 30% WC yesterday after seeing this result and retesting today is showing the same result.

Water Params

Ammonia: 8+ (?)
Nititrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
kH: ~5dkh
pH: 6.8
Temp: 75 degrees

CO2 - yes, moderate

Livestock - no signs of distress
Plants - not growing

-Calvin
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-16-2012, 06:37 PM
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What does your tap water test as?

Ideally, take a large sample of tap water. Test today, in a few hours, tomorrow, three days from now and after a week.

It is possible that you have a lot of bound ammonia from too large a bio load or something good sized, dying.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2012, 01:00 AM Thread Starter
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Zero ammonia from the tap, will test again tomorrow

-Calvin
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2012, 01:08 AM
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I thought the API test kits were only good for about 2 years.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2012, 01:37 AM
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Hi Calvin,

Bingo on the false positive. Your test is just picking up loads of ammonium which effectively is ammonia sans a hydrogen atom. Prime evaporates in 24 hours so you may want to retest then.


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2012, 01:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cprash View Post
Zero ammonia from the tap, will test again tomorrow
Test your tap water after adding water conditioner - I've had mine test at 8+ for ammonia and it's just ammonium (my water company doesn't seem to be very consistent with how much chloramine they add to our water.. sometimes it's relatively low, other times fairly significant). If you test your tap before treating and get a 0 then you cam be sure that's what you're seeing. It's frustrating when you're doing water changes to bring down a high "ammonia" reading, and you can't tell if it's working because of that, but usually by the next day (24+ hours) and definitely by 48 hours you can "trust" the ammonia test.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2012, 01:45 AM
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Prime is the prime suspect here.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2012, 03:47 AM Thread Starter
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Hey folks, lots of good advice here. I'll lay off on the prime for a few days and keep testing.

Thanks!

-Calvin
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2012, 04:57 AM
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+1 to what others have said. Prime reacts with the type of test API uses (forget the specific name of it). If you use seachem test kits you will not have a false positive reading from prime.
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