API ammonia test - inaccuracies - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-29-2018, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
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API ammonia test - inaccuracies

Hi Everyone, I have been reading about false positive Ammonia API kit. Everytime I test it looks slightly green sort of between 0 and 0.25.

I just took the reading as in between and went on with my life. however I tested this morning with the same result and went to work leaving the test tube on the side. 8 hours later I have come home and it is showing the BRIGHT yellow. Exactly the reading of 0. So my question is... is it that the case of the false positive results are because people are not leaving it long enough and the standard 5 mins isnt sufficient?

Or leaving it for hours has changed my results and actually I have a reading between 0 and 0.25?
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-29-2018, 05:24 PM
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Haha I had the EXACT same thing happen. My API ammonia test has always been slightly green, I never cared too much. Two days ago I did a test, got slightly green, and for the first time left the test tube for a few hours. When I came back... straight, clear-as-day yellow. I think their tests are just not that accurate.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-29-2018, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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So which reading should you use? I think I may do a test on tap water. I will share my results
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-29-2018, 06:23 PM
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I'm no chemist, but I'm pretty sure the ammonia would have no where to go/nothing to react with while in the test tube, and so the initial reading ofslightly green was likely a false positive.


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-29-2018, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MCFC View Post
I'm no chemist, but I'm pretty sure the ammonia would have no where to go/nothing to react with while in the test tube, and so the initial reading ofslightly green was likely a false positive.


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API "swears" that that isn't possible..
That said, except for tap water none of my tanks usually were ever yellow but never more than est. .25
example

Always has been a mystery.
Odd thing is in tank discs never were anything but yellow.




Personally, I think it's an illusion.
do the test and try holding the vial at 45 degrees (not real necessary) w/ white paper behind it and indirect sunlight in front of it, like over your shouldr..

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Last edited by jeffkrol; 05-29-2018 at 07:31 PM. Reason: edit
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-29-2018, 11:49 PM
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Each api test has a time you must wait before reading it. Some will degrade after that time and turn all sorts of weird. Like that one turns a deep yellow after a few hours, then another day later it will leave residue in the test vial and mess up the next test unless you scrub the inside. For the ammonia test, typically if itís near zero itís the color youíll looking at, not the yellow on the sheet but yellowish. The sheets yellow doesnít match very well. However once you get into the green it will match pretty easily. API mentions looking up through the bottom to see if there is any hint of green, which helps but most likely if itís that hard to tell your fine. Thatís my 2 cents.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-30-2018, 01:39 AM
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I have the same problem. My ammonia test is never bright yellow post cycle, the same results with different test strips when I bought water to the chain store and have them test for me also. I even tested DI water, and I get the exact same color, so I just ignore it. And it does turn yellow after a few hours too.

If you test for nitrite or nitrate, the opposite is true. Right now my nitrate PPM is always around 5 PPM after 5 min, but if I leave it out for few hours and come back the color will turn darker and it's closer to 10 PPM, which either is fine with me. But when I was cycling my tank, my nitrite level around 1-2 PPM and nitrate level was around 20-40 PPM after 5 min, it will get so dark after a few hours that's darker than the highest level on the color chart. But in my experience the color is pretty much indistinguishable to the naked eye when it's high, if you see dark red for nitrate, you need to do water change more frequently anyway.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-30-2018, 04:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben3721 View Post
Each api test has a time you must wait before reading it. Some will degrade after that time and turn all sorts of weird. Like that one turns a deep yellow after a few hours, then another day later it will leave residue in the test vial and mess up the next test unless you scrub the inside. For the ammonia test, typically if itís near zero itís the color youíll looking at, not the yellow on the sheet but yellowish. The sheets yellow doesnít match very well. However once you get into the green it will match pretty easily. API mentions looking up through the bottom to see if there is any hint of green, which helps but most likely if itís that hard to tell your fine. Thatís my 2 cents.
Yep,that's why the kits come with directions, and time for reactions/readings.
Just as likely the tester, rather than the test kit at fault.
Hold your finger over the vial instead of capping it, and skin cells /oils, might give wonky reading.
Too much water,too much solution,Ditto.
Shake the bottle too long ,or not long enough,Maybe true reading,maybe not.
Let the vial set too long, or not long enough.(why?)
Residues from previous test's still in the vial (clean em).
Inability of some to follow direction of any kind.
I am suspicious of test kit's as well as tester's.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-30-2018, 10:14 PM
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^ I agree. Api actually makes great instructions that actually matter. Learned that the hard way too many times. Very hard way... like accidentally dosed my tank a month ago to 80+ nitrates kind of deal...
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-31-2018, 03:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben3721 View Post
Each api test has a time you must wait before reading it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
Yep,that's why the kits come with directions, and time for reactions/readings.
Just as likely the tester, rather than the test kit at fault.
Hold your finger over the vial instead of capping it, and skin cells /oils, might give wonky reading.
Too much water,too much solution,Ditto.
Shake the bottle too long ,or not long enough,Maybe true reading,maybe not.
Let the vial set too long, or not long enough.(why?)
Residues from previous test's still in the vial (clean em).
Inability of some to follow direction of any kind.
I am suspicious of test kit's as well as tester's.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben3721 View Post
^ I agree. Api actually makes great instructions that actually matter.
Did you not read OP's first post? She mentioned the 5 mins so she's aware of the instructions. She also said she left the test tube on its side for 8 hrs, so unlikely she was capping it with her finger the whole time... And the ammonia test doesn't involve shaking the bottle...

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-31-2018, 07:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MCFC View Post
Did you not read OP's first post? She mentioned the 5 mins so she's aware of the instructions. She also said she left the test tube on its side for 8 hrs, so unlikely she was capping it with her finger the whole time... And the ammonia test doesn't involve shaking the bottle...

As mentioned with the test kit's ,being aware of instruction's,, does not ensure the instructions are always followed.I'm aware of speed limit's but do not always adhere.
If following API ammonia test instructions,and color is anything but yellow,,then it don't much matter what the color is 8 hours later,or six minutes later.

API website instructions /video for ammonia test.(video's out there)
Fill clean vial with water to the mark on the vial.
8 drops of regent from bottle #1
8 drops of regent from bottle # 2
Shake vigourosly or invert several times.(In written instructions as well as video).
Can't get much more plain.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 05-31-2018 at 08:40 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-31-2018, 11:59 AM
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As mentioned with the test kit's ,being aware of instruction's,, does not ensure the instructions are always followed.I'm aware of speed limit's but do not always adhere.
Almost like being aware of what a comma, period, or apostrophe is but not knowing how to use them?

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Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
If following API ammonia test instructions,and color is anything but yellow,,then it don't much matter what the color is 8 hours later,or six minutes later.
Hahaha! Why not? Can you explain what is happening to make the test result invalid after 6 minutes?

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Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
API website instructions /video for ammonia test.(video's out there)
Fill clean vial with water to the mark on the vial.
8 drops of regent from bottle #1
8 drops of regent from bottle # 2
Shake vigourosly or invert several times.(In written instructions as well as video).
Can't get much more plain.
You're still missing the point of this thread...

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-31-2018, 12:41 PM
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OP could do a lot worse listening to you babble.
I simply stated the proper test procedure(you clearly didn't /don't know),, and possible reasons for inaccurate readings which IS the point of this thread.
Your question as to why test kit result's may vary,, was already addressed in my previous post.
As for my use of comma's,,,, and or periods.... I am aware that it irritates some,,,and that pleases me.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-31-2018, 01:33 PM
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API ammonia test - inaccuracies

Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
OP could do a lot worse listening to you babble.
I simply stated the proper test procedure(you clearly didn't /don't know),, and possible reasons for inaccurate readings which IS the point of this thread.
Your question as to why test kit result's may vary,, was already addressed in my previous post.
As for my use of comma's,,,, and or periods.... I am aware that it irritates some,,,and that pleases me.


Haha! It's ok to be wrong. You don't have to get so upset!

But I don't think OP was looking for you to tell her the instructions that she clearly already knew. She was wondering why it would always show slightly positive and then all of a sudden change over time. I've had the same experience, and would like to know why that happens. You clearly have no clue why it happens, other than it's not in the instructions (haha!), so feel free to move along


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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-01-2018, 10:39 AM
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Run two ammonia tests simultaneously. One with commercial distilled water (Wal-Mart) and the other on tank water. Compare the two. It will give you an idea of what zero should look like and it's easier to spot a green tint comparing two tubes of liquid than using a color chart.

Distilled (left), tank water (right):



Same but with a more sensitive test:



Tank water is 0.05 ppm.
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Last edited by DiscusStu; 06-01-2018 at 04:26 PM. Reason: Clarity.
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