Ammonium & bio rings - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 05:46 AM Thread Starter
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Hello,

I have a 4 feet tank (119 gallon) which only 2/3 filled. It have canister filter with only sponge & wool filter media in it. I had a big gold fish (locally called "smangkin") & a gold gourami fish before but died after a couple of years. Because there is no fish interesting to me, I add one male betta fish in it around mid March this year.

6 days ago I add water lettuce mainly because I have so many of them & I want to save them to replenish my planted tanks if I need to. 3 days ago I add bio ring (ceramic ring) in the canister filter. For the water change I did partial water change like 15-20% every two weeks. Using water conditioner. PH is 6-7, temperature is 31.7C (fluctuates between 31-32). My betta didn't show any sign of stress & like to spent considerable amount of time swimming at the bottom. I think he like water lettuce too because he like to hangout near them.

I only have Api ammonia test kit. You can see the test result below. Since my betta look fine, I assume the test detected ammonium. Of course, the best course of action is by doing big water change (50%) because ammonium can change back to ammonia in right parameters like high pH & temperature. Considering pH & temperature are always stable, can I avoid doing big water change & wait for the beneficial bacteria to established on the bio ring? Once established, they should take care ammonia/ammonium right?

Thank you.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 06:58 AM
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So, a couple things.

First, your test result is 8+, so you currently don’t know if your result is 8, or something higher than 8.

You are correct that Ph is indeed a factor on ammonia toxicity, but 8+ppm total ammonia is still too high.

See the attached chart for a handy reference for ammonia toxicity vs PH. At a ph of 7, a 10ppm total ammonia result is harmful with long term exposure (it’s not immediately toxic, but its getting close).

But...if for some reason your Ph bumps up to 8, your fish will die immediately.

If you can get your test result to 2ppm, and can guarantee that your Ph stays at 7, then the ammonia would be harmless, even long term throughout your cycling process.

However, if your tank has been running since at least March, you should have a fully cycled tank already and shouldn’t have any ammonia at all. Did you keep your sponge in your filter when you added the bio rings, or did you throw it away?
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 07:58 AM Thread Starter
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You're right, I also read it 8+ ppm.

On the pH part alone, I'm confident can keep it at 6-7. So far it have never fluctuate higher than that. I'll increase water change frequency to once a week instead of once every two weeks.

I keep the sponge & wool filter media. I only clean it using filtered tap water (mechanical & carbon block filter). Since it still detected ammonia/ammonium, am I right to say that the amount of nitrifying bacteria are not enough (yet) to convert them?


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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 08:04 AM
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I would check expiration on ammonia test and also verify 100% that your following instructions properly.

You can check here what un-ionized ammonia (deadly ammonia) to ammonium ratio is by entering test kit readings and PH and temp.

Free Ammonia Calculator (Javascript)

Deadly form of ammonia can be expelled from water via aeration while ammonium is bound to a stable compounds that is easily 50x less toxic. Ammonium is plant food in itís purest sense, ammonia is also easy for your plants to digest, itís just way more toxic to livestock.TAN levels that would devastate a saltwater tank are negligible in a 6.8 or lower freshwater aquarium. TAN levels also shift to more noxious side the higher the temperature. If your ph fluxuates between co2 dosing drop and then rises above 6.8 overnight you will get a ammonium to ammonia shift overnight. Dump a bunch (50% water change) of UnPrepped/higher PH (7PH or above) change water in 6.6PH tank you will get get a rapid shift of ammonium to ammonia, a ammonia spike.

This shows ammonia compounds shift at various temps and PH.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 08:43 AM Thread Starter
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The test kit expired 2024. I also use the same kit for testing the water from my two planted aquarium (0 ppm). So the test kit worked.

BTW, in case you did not realised yet, the tank that we're talking here is non-planted, only water lettuce, even that I just add it 6 days ago.

I tried that calculator. I can see big difference between pH 6 & 7. My test reading more near pH 6 than 7.
Ammonia/ammonium: 8
Ph: 6
Temp: 32
= 0.007371154558990317

Ammonia/ammonium: 8
Ph: 7
Temp: 32
= 0.0731053161821578

For 9 ppm, it become 0.008 & 0.08 respectively.


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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 09:37 AM
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.05ppm is where pure ammonia levels start to become a concern, the higher the temp and higher the PH the more weight that ammonia level has. And considering that ammonia is at least 50x more toxic than ammonium its a big deal.

Now betta have spent eons evolving in conditions where dissolved solids and total nitrogen levels because of evaporation or soft water rain influx vary wildly they have built in regulators designed to deal with it where some other fish may simply go belly up and die. Betta going to surface taking a gulp of air is part of that mechanism that lets them regulate their body chemistry. A fresh gulp of air mostly free of ammonia levels in water will set itís body chemistry right.

Take a Celebes Rainbow (semi-brackish fish) and throw those same ammonia (TAN) levels at its normal 7-7.5PH, maybe even 8PH and it will soon be floating belly up/dead. Anybody that tells you that 20-40yrs of breeding in captivity can completely undo a fishes natural disposition that it has evolved over 100,000 if not millions of years is 100% completely wrong. Excuse the phrase, their dead wrong.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 11:29 AM
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The salicylate ammonia test is susceptible to interference from amino acids. This is usually the case when you get off-the-scale ammonia readings. People using Ammo-lock (amine-based, apparently) sometimes report this.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
.05ppm is where pure ammonia levels start to become a concern, the higher the temp and higher the PH the more weight that ammonia level has. And considering that ammonia is at least 50x more toxic than ammonium its a big deal.
Noted. Big water change is in order. Doing it tonight. Which better? Treated the new water with water conditioner in the bucket before adding to tank Or add water conditioner in the tank before refilling with new water?

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Originally Posted by DiscusStu View Post
The salicylate ammonia test is susceptible to interference from amino acids. This is usually the case when you get off-the-scale ammonia readings. People using Ammo-lock (amine-based, apparently) sometimes report this.
I did not ammo-lock. I did not dose anything either, just water conditioner (Tension Gon).


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 08:56 PM
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Tension Gon sounds like a similar thing, just a different brand in your market.

Features:
1. Removes chlorine & Chloramine
2. Neutralizes Ammonia & heavy metal
3. Inhibit Nitrite accumulation in fish
4. Vitamin B as anti-stress
5. Replace lost & damaged protective slime coat & more
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-18-2020, 06:42 AM Thread Starter
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I understand now. Tension Gon did not list the ingredient or how long it bind and holding ammonia in non-toxic state. The test was done within 48 hours after I do water change. I think Tension Gon may lasted between 24 to 48 hours in the tank before dissipates.

I found this at seachem tech forum: "Prime works to detoxify ammonia by binding the ammonia and holding it in a non-toxic state for about 48 hours. Total ammonia test kits break this bond and convert it to free ammonia, so you will still get a reading if you test it."

I know Prime is different brand but all dechlorinator works the same I think. I think this explain what happen to my test. With 8+ppm ammonia, my betta would already died.

Just FYI, I did 50% water change last night but before that I did water test & it still show 8ppm. Less intense color than before where it looks like 8+ppm. I'm kinda surprise though because it have been more than 48 hours after previous water change. I'll wait 24 hours before doing new test.


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Last edited by Darkblade48; 06-19-2020 at 03:38 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-14-2020, 03:46 AM Thread Starter
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Finally, 0 ppm of ammonia /ammonium. Also I believe the beneficial bacteria have established on the bio rings.

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