Ammonia questions.... - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-18-2014, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Ammonia questions....

I recently purchased the seachem ammonia alert for my fluval spec two that I replaced the substrate with Amazonia, it's been close to three days now and the thing still hasn't changed colors to detect ammonia in the tank. Then I got to reading seachem a website and what they say about this product. And that brought me to question whether the ammonia Amazonia releases is gases or ionized ammonia because the ph is below 7.... I'm no scientist but being in this hobby you have to pick up some basic biology and chemistry to have a succesful tank.

This exert is basically saying in a tank with a ph oh less than 7 ammonia (gas) cannot exist, but ionized ammonia can exist which is not harmful for fish. Is this true?and can someone please explain this in a more literal term. I get confused easy unless it's a hands on learning process.

A:The technology of this device is very unique to our company and has been an excellent seller for many years to hobbyists, breeders, and public facilities alike. The Ammonia Alert is designed to change color in the presence of free (gaseous) ammonia, not ammonium (ionized ammonia) which is harmless to fish and other aquatic life. The longer it is left in a particular body of water/aquarium, the more sensitive it becomes to that water. Most conventional test kits test total ammonia which is a combination of free ammonia + ammonium = total ammonia. PH is the determining factor on what type is present. If your pH is acidic (below 7.0), it is chemically impossible for ammonia (harmful gas) to exist. Yet a total ammonia test kit will register a reading because it detects both the free ammonia (harmful gas) and ammonium (harmless ionized form of ammonia). The more basic your pH becomes, the greater the chance of ammonia existing. Example: If you have 1.0 ppm of total ammonia and your pH is below 7.0, then 1.0 ppm will exist as ammonium. Ex. If you have 1.0 ppm of total ammonia and your pH is 7.6 (slightly basic), then of that 1.0 ppm total ammonia......only .2 or so would exist as a gas and the other .8 would exist as ammonium.

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-19-2014, 03:49 AM
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The top-half of that abstract is quite clear, but the bottom half is confusing, although its all correct.
Perhaps this chart may help you:

You can see that just measuring the total ammonia is not enough to determine the danger level. You need to measure the pH as well.

It also shows that it is never a good idea to keep your pH high (>8), because a sudden outbreak of ammonia (from a dead fish lying around) may cause lots of trouble.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-19-2014, 05:22 AM Thread Starter
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Learn something new in this hobby every day!!! Thank you that chart helps a lot. I mean I understand what it's saying but how can high ph and low ph affect how much harmful ammonia can be in the tank. And why is it less likely in a tank with a ph below 7 not have any gaseus ammonia only un ionized ammonia. I thought the bacteria from the nitrogen cycle in the filter got rid of all ammonia or is it just gaseus harmful ammonia that builds up the bb eats away producing nitrates?

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-19-2014, 06:01 AM
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A bit difficult to explain, but . . .
Ammonia, dissolved in water, has a tendency to bond with the available (acidic) ions in the water, such as nitrate, sulphate, phosphate, etc.. Bonded Ammonia loses its toxicity to fish, but . . . it's the pH of the water that controls HOW MUCH will be bonded.
There's a very similar system at work for CO₂. At higher levels of the pH the gas will bond to the (metallic) ions in the water. At a pH > 8.5 there's hardly any free CO₂-gas in solution.

Hope this helped

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-20-2014, 04:26 AM Thread Starter
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And this uld explain why keeping a fish tank especially planted running co2 at such a low ph 6.4 e.g. Is what a lot of people do. In theory and practicality 6.4ph water holds close to no harmful ammonia and holds way more co2 as well.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-21-2014, 09:09 AM
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from memory low ph means has a lot of ammonium and a little ammonia and vice versa. I think its to do with the charge of the ion ( positive or negative) you always have some of both but the PH will tell you how much - also i think its a sliding scale.

on a side note zoospores eat ammonia whilst algae eat phosphate.?!

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