Same Ammonia Test different readings with Tap vs Distilled - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
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Same Ammonia Test different readings with Tap vs Distilled

short version: I felt my ammonia test was not working, i bought a new one and tried it.. still wasn't giving proper readings: I've added abut 6ppm worth of ammonia to a tank that the filter was cleaned and nearly boiled so re-cycling-no chance of BB and was getting a 0ppm reading)..

I did another test....I put in tap water to the vile and added 2 drops ace hardware janitor strength ammonia to the test vile to bring it to the line and did the ammonia test-it read 1ppm after 10 minutes... I had a jug of distilled water and did the same thing-added to test vile, finished with 2 drops of ace hardware janitor strength ammonia to bring water to the line, did the ammonia test. It got to 8ppm in the 5 minutes but took over 10-15 to get that near black-green you'd except. Both should have been off the charts.. but they did not turn green after the 5 seconds of shaking it took several minutes to color up (I'm sure to quick initial start of color change).

Why is the same test done with tap giving me way too low of a reading while distilled is.. more accurate?

tap info:
tried with cold (40-50F) without Seachem Prime (dechlorianted)
pH:7.5
tds:210~ish
gh and kh: 40 and 80

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 10:18 PM
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I have no idea really. Just throwing some stuff out there.

Would shaking the ammonia jug before adding the ammonia to the bottles matter? Or even shaking the ammonia testing agent/liquid bottle?
Double check the ingredients to be sure.

I assume you are using the API master/ammonia test kits? Where'd you get them from?
Maybe they weren't stored or transported in the proper environments (temperature)? Bad batch?
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterLife View Post
I have no idea really. Just throwing some stuff out there.

Would shaking the ammonia jug before adding the ammonia to the bottles matter? Or even shaking the ammonia testing agent/liquid bottle?
Double check the ingredients to be sure.

I assume you are using the API master/ammonia test kits? Where'd you get them from?
Maybe they weren't stored or transported in the proper environments (temperature)? Bad batch?
Yes its api liquid test kit. Both test kits are different lot #s and a year separate in expiration (2019 and 2020). One was bought form amazon.com, the other a local Petco, I can't say how they were stored prior to coming home but here they are in 60-78F temps at max of the ranges-usually in the middle). The directions for the ammonia test does not involve shaking the test solutions only the final mixture after adding #1 and #2. As for shaking the ammonia source I've never done this before and did not shake before the test that yeilded different results with all values the same EXCEPT the water: distilled bottled water vs tap.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 03:57 AM
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Some times when the reading is so far off the charts it breaks the test... Your adding drops of ammonia right to the test tube being an example... Where there the ppm is just too high for the test to have enough reagents to react with...

Other thoughts just in case you didn't think about it... After you add the ammonia to the 10g you should wait an hour with good agitation,or longer without for the ammonia to disperse into the tank before taking a reading.
Perhaps the ammonia off gassed from the storage jug, I.e. lid not put on tighly enough. No idea if this can happen with ammonia, but it does happen with alcohol based liquias like cooking extracts and paint thinners, you'd need another sample of ammonia to compare it to though to check this
I'd shake the reagent bottles before use... Not crazy like the nitrate test, but it can't hurt, also dirty test tubes can skew resulta as well
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 03:44 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theatermusic87 View Post
Some times when the reading is so far off the charts it breaks the test... Your adding drops of ammonia right to the test tube being an example... Where there the ppm is just too high for the test to have enough reagents to react with...

Other thoughts just in case you didn't think about it... After you add the ammonia to the 10g you should wait an hour with good agitation,or longer without for the ammonia to disperse into the tank before taking a reading.
Perhaps the ammonia off gassed from the storage jug, I.e. lid not put on tighly enough. No idea if this can happen with ammonia, but it does happen with alcohol based liquias like cooking extracts and paint thinners, you'd need another sample of ammonia to compare it to though to check this
I'd shake the reagent bottles before use... Not crazy like the nitrate test, but it can't hurt, also dirty test tubes can skew resulta as well
Ok full version now:
I dosed a roughly 3g tank for 3ppm 2 days in a row so total should be 6ppm (as stated in first post-filter BB was dead and gone from cleaning/nearly boiling-its a sponge filter run via air pump). 24 hours after first dose I tested ammonia:0ppm, dosed another 3 ppm worth (i use this calculator Fishkeeping - Fishless Tank Cycling and Avoiding New Tank Syndrome - General Guides - Articles and yes I convert my gallons to liters before plugging in the #s). 1 hour later tested again, reading was still 0ppm. It would not be "off the charts" as the test should read up to 8ppm, but it was not even remotely green (very clearly reading the yellow of 0ppm). After this I bought a new test kit, tried again, same results then I did pure ammonia drops in tap and in distilled, distilled got a reading but tap did not. I bought a brand new bottle of ammonia and tried again, freshly opened I got the same results, using my tap the test always results in yellow (0ppm).

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-25-2015, 12:42 AM
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I'm guessing it has something to do with the form of ammonium your'e using. Ace brand is Ammonium Hydroxide. Maybe the salicylate method is inaccurate in this respect.

Solution #1 is sodium salicylate and polyethylene glycol

Solution #2 is sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite

Free ammonia reacts with the hypochlorite in solution #2 to form monochloramine. The monochloramine reacts with salicylate in solution #2 to form a green-colored complex. This test method measures free ammonia and monochloramine.

Maybe Ammonium Hydroxide mixed with water does not liberate into much free ammonia. Maybe the hydroxide in the ACE ammonium is interfering with the test as well.

It would be a good question to ask API.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-25-2015, 01:44 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorfox View Post
I'm guessing it has something to do with the form of ammonium your'e using. Ace brand is Ammonium Hydroxide. Maybe the salicylate method is inaccurate in this respect.

Solution #1 is sodium salicylate and polyethylene glycol

Solution #2 is sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite

Free ammonia reacts with the hypochlorite in solution #2 to form monochloramine. The monochloramine reacts with salicylate in solution #2 to form a green-colored complex. This test method measures free ammonia and monochloramine.

Maybe Ammonium Hydroxide mixed with water does not liberate into much free ammonia. Maybe the hydroxide in the ACE ammonium is interfering with the test as well.

It would be a good question to ask API.
That an interesting idea, though I used the same bottle of ammonia to cycle tanks for 2 years (got proper ammonia readings during this time). When it was not giving me a reading the other day I bought a new bottle of the same brand of ammonia (along with the new ammonia test kit) but still having reading issues. It only gets a result with distilled water.

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