NH3, NH4 and me - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-15-2008, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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NH3, NH4 and me

Someone talk to me about these two compounds and their "interaction" in the aquarium...How do test kits actually measure ammonia? Is the reading dependent on pH? Does it measure nitrogen quantities in the ammonia molecule? What role does temperature play? Is total ammonia the combination of NH3 and NH4?

this isn't a question about nitrification per se, but rather the role these two compounds play in the process...

Sorry if I'm asking a weird/dumb question. I feel rather dense today.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-15-2008, 08:43 PM
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well just for you that don't know, we really don't get NH₃ in our tanks because it's not an ion, it's a neutral molecule with no charge, and it is called Ammonia. It's a liquid, and not a dissociated ion, hence it doesn't dissolve in our water as NH₃. It is water soluble, but all the nutrients our plants use are ions not compounds. Nitrogen makes 3 makes three bonds to become stable as it has 5 valence electrons. The Nitrogen then bonds with three Hydrogen atoms to create a stable molecule, not an ion.

Ammonium (note the M at the end) on the other hand, NH₄⁺, is an ion. It has one extra Hydrogen atom to give it a +1 charge. It is extremely water soluble, and is what we find in our tank water. It floats around, bonding with the oxygen atoms in H₂O through a process called Hydrogen Bonding. It's how all ions get dissolved in our water. This is why non-polar substances like symmetrical hydrocarbons (methane, ethane, butane, propane, pentane, hexane, heptane, octane, nonane, and decane, all of which have a certain number of carbon atoms, surrounded symmetrically by hydrogen atoms) and oils stay separate from water. All the fertilizers and such that we dose are salts that DISSOCIATE and DISSOLVE in our water through hydrogen bonding, either as positive or negative ions. Ever wonder why all of our compounds that we dose start with Potassium, K? Because ANY ion attached to a K⁺ ion will dissolve in water. This is how we can get what ever we want into our water. Same goes for many other negative and positive ions, another predominant one in our hobby being nitrates, or NO₃⁻. An ionic compound needs two ions of opposite charge to create a physical substance, and these ions that will dissolve in water no matter what other ion are attached to them are critical in many aspects of our, negative and positive. For example, one can only get lead poisoning if the Pb⁺≤ ion is dissociated along with two NO₃⁻ ions or else it wouldn't be able to get into our bodies, Pb(NO₃)₂ And once it's in there (body) dissociated, it ain't ever coming out, cause lead is extremely heavy. That's why there's no way to get rid of lead poisoning. All ions dissolved in water all in an Aqueous state.

Got any more questions, I'll be happy to answer them... I'm an aspiring chemist at 15! lol


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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-15-2008, 08:45 PM
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Here is a fairly simple explanation, with some more links towards the bottom:

http://www.aquaworldaquarium.com/Art...ts/Ammonia.htm


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