False Positive Ammonia readings? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-27-2017, 01:17 AM Thread Starter
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False Positive Ammonia readings?

I've had my tank set up for 2 months now. The only thing in it are 40 amano shrimp and a lot of plants. Its 130 gallons with a 20 gallon sump. For the last 3 weeks it has read 0.5 ammonia. There is essentially no bio-load in the tank, and as a high tech fast growing tank with a large plant mass I expect it to be able to suck up a good deal of ammonia. I also added Tetra Safe Start to the tank a week ago to try and jump start the bacteria and get the ammonia down. I do 15% water changes every day and add no ammonia yet every day it reads 0.5.

The test kit is not bad, if I measure water from my storage tank or from my tap I get a reading of 0 and if I add 4 ppm to a 5 gallon bucket it reads 4 ppm as it should.

I can't think of any possible way there is actually 0.5 ppm of ammonia in my tank, so my question is, is there any way to get a false positive reading on an ammonia test? I dose standard EI, with CO2 and high light. I have osmocote root tabs scattered around the tank as well.


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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-27-2017, 03:54 AM
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Are you sure you do not have any decaying plant matter or a missing shrimp?

It is strange that you are still testing positive for ammonia despite the lack of bioload.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-27-2017, 04:18 AM
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Previous post's indicate the BG Algae was treated with ? recently.
Depending on what was used for treatment,how much,and for how long, or whether filter media was removed for treatment,or filter cleaned after treatment if media was not removed , Dead plant matter,organic matter, and dead bacteria,maybe ammonia eminating as result yet.
Would just keep changing water daily if needed, until biological filter is restored.
Would clean filter material in old tank water or dechlorinated water only if it has been some time since last cleaning.
Filter media should not be that dirty with only shrimp in the tank .
Osmocote is best used sparingly for it does contain some ammonium.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-27-2017, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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I cleaned the filter after the bga treatment and have vacuumed the substrate twice since then as well. I have found no dead shrimp in the past 5 days and have removed all visible decaying plant matter. I also have purigen in the filter.

With the daily water changes I just can't see ammonia being continually released to keep it at 0.5 ppm.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-27-2017, 04:23 PM
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What's the substrate?
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-27-2017, 04:32 PM
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Manuf. like API insist no............as do others.
If you use an API Ammonia test - test it! | Practical Aquaponics Discussion Forum. A place to discuss every aspect of Aquaponics.

At low pH <7 .25-.5 shouldn't be a problem..

All my tanks test .25ppm and are healthy and fine .pH ranges from 6.3 to 7
I always though tests were "fallable" but honestly can't find a reason for it.. I've tried..
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-27-2017, 04:49 PM
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Have you tested the tap water yet?

I have a false positive maybe every 50 or so tests, this is a guess I don't test NH3 very often.


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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-27-2017, 05:03 PM
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Some products containing Nessler reagents can give false positive ammonia readings. Kordon Amquel is one that comes to mind. Testing your tap water would be a good start in finding the culprit. If it reads zero, add healthy doses of the products you use (one product per water sample) until you find one that reads Ammonia. If none do, then it's something in the tank

92% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-27-2017, 05:32 PM
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any that turn green are not Nesslers based ..........

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-27-2017, 11:42 PM
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Most ammonia testing kits these days shouldn't be Nessler based, since they contain mercury.

Instead, they are now salicylate based.

Anthony


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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-03-2017, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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Well I never found the cause, but it appears it was real. It dropped to 0 after about 5 more days. I scoured the tank, didn't find any dead shrimp, and I vacuumed up all the dead plant matter I could find. The ammonia is 0 now so i'm guessing the bacteria finally caught up. Cleaned the sump again today, will monitor the ammonia the next few days and hopefully it stays 0.


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