Author Topic: False ammonia readings from Ammo-Lock?  (Read 2071 times)

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Offline redwoodbsq

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False ammonia readings from Ammo-Lock?
« on: June 06, 2011, 04:29:10 PM »
Hey, I've had my little 20 cycled for so long I've forgotten some of the basics.  My work set up a 55gal tank, brand new, with some pacus, three little guys.  So the first ammonia spike hit, and they started using Ammo-lock.  We got the subsequent NitrIte spike and dip, and now we have nitrates that are climbing.  It looks to me like a normal cycle, it's been up and running for three weeks now.  The only thing is the ammonia is still sky high.  It's reading .40!  The fish look fine, they're not stressed out.  At first I thought they were just over feeding them, but not I'm starting to think we have a false reading.  We've done a few water changes when we were really worried about ammonia but I think we keep putting the ammo-lock back in.... any thoughts?

Offline RinsMom

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Re: False ammonia readings from Ammo-Lock?
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2011, 07:00:55 PM »
I don't know specifically about Ammo-lock, but what I'm reading on the web says that you will continue to get false ammonia readings if you use Ammo-lock.  I know that happens with Prime, also.

Basically, it isn't REMOVING the ammonia, just converting it to a less harmful form of it. 

Prime does the same thing....  for the most part, I just ignore the ammonia reading, knowing that the Prime I am using (as the dechlorinator) is de-activating the ammonia (converting it to a less toxic form of ammonia?), but still leaving it available for the beneficial bacteria to use.

Offline Cholly

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Re: False ammonia readings from Ammo-Lock?
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2011, 07:21:23 PM »
I know for a fact that most tests used in the pet industry will read both ammonia and ammonium as ammonia, so you can get false positives even with otherwise accurate tests.

Most ammonia tests use  a Nessler reagent which will register ammonium as well as ammonia. If your water has chloramine instead of, or along with, chlorine, you'll end up with false positives. As more and more municipalities use chloramine, it's coming up as an issue more and more.

Chloramine is made up of chlorine and ammonia. It is the bane of fishkeepers for a couple of reasons.
1) It doesn't evaporate out. Ever. Back in the day, all you had to do with water was let it sit out unpressurized by the pipes, and the chlorine would evaporate out, making it safe for fish. You can let water sit out for a month, but chloramine HAS to be detoxified chemically.
2) Water conditioner that treats chloramine as well as chlorine breaks apart then binds the chlorine and ammonia into fish safe compounds, ammonium being the ammonia portion, which still registers on any Nessler reagent ammonia test.

Nessler reagents are used in almost all pet industry test because of two things, accuracy and the fact that it's cheap. Non-Nessler reagent tests are available, but most are around $100. The cheapest I found was about $30 plus shipping and I can't vouch for it's accuracy, I've never used it.
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Offline LittlePuff

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Re: False ammonia readings from Ammo-Lock?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2011, 07:30:00 AM »
Second, a 55gal is no where near large enough for one pacu.
90gal Future piranha tank.
55gal 1 molly, and chocolate chip starfish (possible    Malawi cichlid tank)

Offline redwoodbsq

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Re: False ammonia readings from Ammo-Lock?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2011, 08:23:45 AM »
Yeah, I know they're going to out grow the tank, they're about 2 inches right now.  I vetoed the idea, but got outvoted by all the guys.  :dunno:

They're all about seeing them eat... me personally, I have guppies so I guess I'm more a lover than a fighter. lol

Offline LittlePuff

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Re: False ammonia readings from Ammo-Lock?
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2011, 08:52:00 AM »
They will get at least 12"-14" each.
90gal Future piranha tank.
55gal 1 molly, and chocolate chip starfish (possible    Malawi cichlid tank)