Ammonia in tap - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-13-2018, 04:45 AM Thread Starter
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Ammonia in tap

Hi everyone, I am a bit confused as to what is going on and am trying to get some help/opinions.

I have a 10 gallon tank that I newly set up that I've planted and put shrimp in. I have been dosing seachem stability every day to kickstart the cycle. All of my shrimp have been fine and doing great until today..when I did a 25% water change. One of my crs has been twitching, laying on its side so I thought the water change stressed out my shrimp. I know crs are known to be very sensitive to water parameters so I figured it was just that one shrimp. A while later I see one of my yellow shrimp dead, so I start panicking. I tested the water for ammonia and it read .50 ppm! I quickly moved my shrimp over to the 20 gallon tank that has been running for a while. I tested my 20 gal's ammonia and it read 0. I initially thought the ammonia has been building up in the small tank as it's not fully cycled but when I tested my tap it read a whopping 1.0-2.0 ppm!!

Here is the most confusing part... I dose my 20 gallon pretty heavily so I do weekly 50% water changes. I always dose prime in the bucket or the tank itself before I put the water in, as I did for the 10 gallon. Last week, I did a 50% water change on the 20 gal. None of my fish showed signs of stress or died. I definitely did dose enough prime for this water change, as I usually do. Not to mention the 10 gallon was filled from the start with tap with prime dosed. In short, I did nothing different, yet I lost two shrimp!! I am too afraid to do a water change on my big tank now..

Obviously from now on I will be carefully monitoring ammonia levels in the 10 gallon, and using RO/DI water temporarily, but I am questioning whether my tap had these ammonia levels all along.. I didn't think to test my tap for ammonia as I didn't observe any spikes in my cycled tanks after a water change. What do you guys think?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-13-2018, 05:05 AM
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I've heard that seachem prime detoxifies ammonia long enough for bacteria to consume it before it can harm fish. but if your aquarium is still cycling or newly cycled it might not be effective. the ammonia in your tap could be from your town using chloramine to disinfect the water (ammonia is produce when chloramine is used). try switching to prime and see if that helps. you could also reduce the amount of water you change so you aren't adding as much ammonia

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-13-2018, 01:44 PM
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Chloramine is not used to treat water itself, it is a byproduct of the chlorine we use. I write this to give a little insight so you can compensate correctly. As chlorine is used up, chloramine which is the less effective disinfectant part of the chlorine is left in the water. NaCl2 (which is what most water system treat with) is most effective at lower pH levels and warm temperatures, auctually beyond the normal parameters for drinking water. As aquifer conditions change, for example due to seasonal temperature, chlorine is added to compensate. If you want to be certain you have treated correctly I'd recommend calling your operator and asking what their total chlorine residual is at entry point. Explain why you want to know and they may even give you assistance to ensure removal. Ammonia as part of the byproduct from the chloramines disinfecting should never exceed the maximum initial chlorine when mathematically broken down. You can also consult your CCR (consumer confidence report) which is required to give the minimum and maximum treatment levels for the past year.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-13-2018, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by dracoviridiz View Post
Chloramine is not used to treat water itself, it is a byproduct of the chlorine we use. I write this to give a little insight so you can compensate correctly. As chlorine is used up, chloramine which is the less effective disinfectant part of the chlorine is left in the water. NaCl2 (which is what most water system treat with) is most effective at lower pH levels and warm temperatures, auctually beyond the normal parameters for drinking water. As aquifer conditions change, for example due to seasonal temperature, chlorine is added to compensate. If you want to be certain you have treated correctly I'd recommend calling your operator and asking what their total chlorine residual is at entry point. Explain why you want to know and they may even give you assistance to ensure removal. Ammonia as part of the byproduct from the chloramines disinfecting should never exceed the maximum initial chlorine when mathematically broken down. You can also consult your CCR (consumer confidence report) which is required to give the minimum and maximum treatment levels for the past year.

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Chloramine is process for treating potable water where ammonia is added to chlorine for further disinfecting not as a by product of chlorine.
Chloramine is chlorine + ammonia.
All the water in my area is treated with chloramines.(many other areas)
Can leave water treated with chlorine only out to set in bucket and chlorine dissipates within 24 hours.(leaves chlorides,salt)
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-13-2018, 02:21 PM
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As roadmaster said, chloramine is not a byproduct. Chloramine is used because it is a more stable, longer lasting disinfectant in comparison to Chlorine. Prime will break the chlorine + ammonia bond, bind them up and detoxify the water instantly. I believe you can still get a positive ammonia test result despite the water now being safe, you'll have to look into that to verify though.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-13-2018, 03:54 PM
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Don't want to argue with you folks but you should double check your sources for this info. I'm professionally a water operator that calculates these chemical additions daily.
Your speaking of the older way of treating water where the chloramines and ammonia are used to form chlorine (this is very seldom if ever used anymore due to regs with dbp) but is possible. In this reaction the ammonia should not be present from the ammonia addition by the time water reaches a household tap (but it does happen). The reaction is similar in reverse. Where chlorine s added and the bond is broken during the disinfectant process.
The common reactions for sodium and calcium hypochlorite
Ca(OCl)
2 + 2H
2O yields Ca2+ 2HOCl +2OH–


NaOCl + H
2O yields Na
+ HOCl + OH


The reactions that form chloramine are

Monochloamine pH 4.5 to 8

2NH
3 + 2HOCl yields 2NH
2Cl + 2H
2O

pH 4.5 to 8

Dichloramine:


2NH
2Cl + 2HOCl yields 2NHCl
2 + 2H

2O


pH less than 4.5
Trichloramine:

NHCl
2 + 3HOCl
yields NCl
3 + 3H
2O

I was trying not to get into the chemical formulas etc but maybe it helps. Again tho, op should talk to their specific water operator to find the exact process that is beeing used to chemically treat their source to be sure the op is using the best form of reduction. If ammonia and chloramine are present in the end product it usually suggests the broken down byproduct reaction is in use as oppose to the process of adding these elements to form chlorine. unless of course something is very off during the chemical additions and the chlorine was not formed correctly.


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My apologies for weird formating, tried to copy the chemical reaction on my phone (didn't memorise it) and evidently it messed with my formating.

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 04-14-2018 at 06:34 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-13-2018, 04:32 PM
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Sources from Center for disease Control, and EPA .
See Chlorimanation .
Chlorine +ammonia = chloramines added in many US water treatment facilities for reasons;already mentioned
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-13-2018, 10:24 PM
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Sources from Center for disease Control, and EPA .
See Chlorimanation .
Chlorine +ammonia = chloramines added in many US water treatment facilities for reasons;already mentioned
Yes exactly the chloramines arnt usually added anymore they are the secondary disinfectant or byproduct of the reaction. Prior to 2005 when the dbp regulations were changed ammonia and chloramine were auctually added together to make chlorine.
But it's only at specific pH and temp that this reaction happens rapidly and the product (chloramine) changes, if you can find out which reaction is taking place you can more accurately remove it.
Some water plants that I work at auctually control pH and temp to control this reaction to yield a specific result. Most products will work to various extents on any types of chloramine but if op is having issues with this they should do a bit of research to find which chloramine is in their water because the bonds are also broken easier under different parameters as the bonding becomes more or less stable.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-14-2018, 01:44 AM
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If when chlorimine is in play our test kits will register the ammonia aspect. Even though Prime breaks ammonia into ammonium, it will still test as ammonia with the API test kit.

If you aren't already, if you add water directly from the tap (eg. like with a Python) make sure you add sufficient Prime for the entire tank volume, not just the WC amount being added. You could even add 1.5 to 2 times the recommended amount with no harm to stock. If using buckets, you can treat the bucket with the recommended dose of prime (or slightly more) and mix well before adding to the tank.
But here's the hook - the binding that converts the ammonia to ammonium may only last 24-48 hours. This should be long enough for plants and beneficial biology to convert. However, if your plant mass is low and/or your tank is not fully cycled (e.g. the beneficial bacteria population was sufficiently reduced somehow, then problems could result.

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