High Ammonia From Tap - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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High Ammonia From Tap

So I just noticed that two of my Rainbow fish had ich yesterday when I was home on lunch. I decided I was going to do a 50% water change to help remove as many theronts that I could before raising the water temp to 86*. I drained the tank about 45% and began refilling the tank. When the tank was almost filled I noticed the fish acting strange swimming at the top and an increased gill rate. So I checked the water temp and the tank had only gone up 1* and the temp coming from the tap was the same. I checked the water parameters and my Ammonia was above 1 ppm. Nitrites and Nitrates were at 0 ppm and my pH was 7.2-7.4. I checked my tap water and my Ammonia was 1.5-2.0 ppm. Almost immediately 6 of my Rainbow fish died before I even had a chance to figure out what was going on. I treated the water before I placed it in the tank so I'm confused as to what's with the high Ammonia. So now I have a tank with ich, lost 6 fish already, and have tap water that's so high in Ammonia that it's killing my fish. What do I do?


**Update** I just did a test with two 5 gallon buckets with 2 different types of tap water conditioner. I treated 1 bucket with Tetra Aqua Safe+ and another bucket with API Tap Water Conditioner Super Strength. After letting each bucket sit for about 20 minutes I tested the water and both of them came back with 1ppm Ammonia levels. I read online that someone else had a similar situation due and it is due to some states adding extra chloramine to the waters to help reduce the risk of bacteria growing. Has anyone else had this happen? If so, how do I know when the water is actually safe for my fish. I am debating on going to buy water temporarily to get some good clean water in there but just don't have anything for transporting that large amount of water. Any tips from anyone having seen this before is greatly appreciated!

Last edited by JEden8; 12-10-2011 at 04:36 PM. Reason: Added Update
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 05:21 PM
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I use Prime every time I add more than about 10% of the water to the tank. It neutralizes the ammonia, which is probably from chloramine used to control bacteria growth in tap water, in place of chlorine. I can't say the Prime is the best water dechlorinator and chloramine neutralizer, but it certainly works and the amounts needed per dose are small enough that a bottle lasts a long time.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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I use Prime every time I add more than about 10% of the water to the tank. It neutralizes the ammonia, which is probably from chloramine used to control bacteria growth in tap water, in place of chlorine. I can't say the Prime is the best water dechlorinator and chloramine neutralizer, but it certainly works and the amounts needed per dose are small enough that a bottle lasts a long time.
I have a bottle of that as well. Just don't like how it makes the water smell after I apply it. I will run another test in another 5 gallon bucket with the prime. Should the ammonia read as 0 with this test?
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 05:24 PM
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Prime itself can cause false positives on ammonia tests, just so's you know.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 05:29 PM
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The ammonia tests only test for ammonia/ammonium. Prime and some other water conditioners only convert ammonia into the nontoxic ammonium. So an ammonia test is only gonna tell you what you already know, that there is some amount of ammonia or ammonium in the water.

If you wanted to see how much actual ammonia is left after you use the conditioner, get the seachem "free" ammonia test, which differentiates between ammonia and ammonium.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Prime itself can cause false positives on ammonia tests, just so's you know.
I just filled a 5 gallon bucket with prime. Gonna let it sit for 20 minutes to see how it reads. All others read at 1ppm. If this one as well reads as 1ppm of ammonia but all other levels are 0 then how do I still know that the water is safe? This is the first time I've experienced this issue in 1.5 years of living in the same place and doing weekly 50% water changes.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mordalphus View Post
The ammonia tests only test for ammonia/ammonium. Prime and some other water conditioners only convert ammonia into the nontoxic ammonium. So an ammonia test is only gonna tell you what you already know, that there is some amount of ammonia or ammonium in the water.

If you wanted to see how much actual ammonia is left after you use the conditioner, get the seachem "free" ammonia test, which differentiates between ammonia and ammonium.
But if I had used the same tap water conditioner that I've been using and the water temp was 1* off from the actual tank water, what would cause the fish to all die at once? It was only my Rainbows that were affected, no other fish had any problems.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 05:37 PM
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Had to be something! Does your water conditioner detoxify ammonia as well as chloramines? Prime does, but I don't know about the other 2 you used. If you use a dechlorinator that doesn't detoxify ammonia, it will just convert chloramines to ammonia and leave your tank full of ammonia, which isn't good.

Other than that, takes a lot to kill fish.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mordalphus View Post
Had to be something! Does your water conditioner detoxify ammonia as well as chloramines? Prime does, but I don't know about the other 2 you used. If you use a dechlorinator that doesn't detoxify ammonia, it will just convert chloramines to ammonia and leave your tank full of ammonia, which isn't good.

Other than that, takes a lot to kill fish.
The Aquasafe+ detoxifies chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals but says nothing about ammonia.

The API Tap Water Conditioner does the same but recommends API Ammo-Lock to detoxify ammonia. Yesterday I added some Ammo-Lock and the fish seem to be doing fine but my ammonia still reads high. But that could also be cause due to the ammonia being detoxified correct? So no matter what ammonia is going to be present right?
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by JEden8 View Post
The Aquasafe+ detoxifies chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals but says nothing about ammonia.

The API Tap Water Conditioner does the same but recommends API Ammo-Lock to detoxify ammonia. Yesterday I added some Ammo-Lock and the fish seem to be doing fine but my ammonia still reads high. But that could also be cause due to the ammonia being detoxified correct? So no matter what ammonia is going to be present right?
The detoxification of chloramine gives up ammonium as well as give false positive. The only way to truly know is the Seachem test. I had setup a new tank and was waiting for the soil to finish leeching ammonia and had a bad tank crash so I had to move my crystal there despite it reading 4ppm of ammonia with the liquid tests. Got the seachem test and it showed 0ppm ammonia and 4ppm of ammonium. The liquid test kits don't give a full picture and its hard to really tell with them what is giving the reading.

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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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The detoxification of chloramine gives up ammonium as well as give false positive. The only way to truly know is the Seachem test. I had setup a new tank and was waiting for the soil to finish leeching ammonia and had a bad tank crash so I had to move my crystal there despite it reading 4ppm of ammonia with the liquid tests. Got the seachem test and it showed 0ppm ammonia and 4ppm of ammonium. The liquid test kits don't give a full picture and its hard to really tell with them what is giving the reading.
So are you talking about the test strips?
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 06:27 PM
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So are you talking about the test strips?
No, the test stripes are useless.

This is what I mean.

http://www.jlaquatics.com/product/t-...+Test+Kit.html

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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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No, the test stripes are useless.

This is what I mean.

http://www.jlaquatics.com/product/t-...+Test+Kit.html
Sweet. I'll call around to my LFS's to see if anyone has this. Thanks everyone!
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-14-2011, 08:10 PM
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WOW, i think you may have just answered my problem. when i moved a month ago and setup my new tank i added about 85% new water, and i lost all of my fish. i chalked it up to not cleaning a used piece of decor good enough and some chemical was on it. last night i did a %50 change due to algae, and lost anoter fish and the rest of my fish were going crazy.

def going to follow this, cause i live in an upstairs apartment, and transporting water is not going to be an option.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-14-2011, 08:14 PM
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WOW, i think you may have just answered my problem. when i moved a month ago and setup my new tank i added about 85% new water, and i lost all of my fish. i chalked it up to not cleaning a used piece of decor good enough and some chemical was on it. last night i did a %50 change due to algae, and lost anoter fish and the rest of my fish were going crazy.

def going to follow this, cause i live in an upstairs apartment, and transporting water is not going to be an option.
Dosing prime can neutralize ammonia as can running purigen in your filter. If its that bad, get a 55gal garbage pail or something to use for water changes, dose prime in it for a day, or run a small filter with purigen in it as well. I would test though to make sure its actually toxic ammonia that is the problem.

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