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AMMONIA

AMMONIA

Ammonia is excreted by fish mainly through the gills, as the end product of the process of digestion of protein. Ammonia is very toxic to fish, and in a closed system, such as a typical aquarium, lethal concentrations can easily be reached, (see table Page 18). Ammonia exists in two forms in water. In acid water, most of the ammonia is in the bound form NH4, and is less toxic. In alkaline water, most of the ammonia is free, as NH3. This "free" ammonia is highly toxic, with levels as low as 0.1 ppm, causing slow death.


AMMONIA TEST

Ammonia test kits are a low cost, effective means of monitoring ammonia in aquariums.


CONTROL OF AMMONIA

Ammonia is seldom a problem where the aquarium is fitted with a properly functioning conditioned biological filter, and the tank is not overcrowded or overfed.

To reduce ammonia if present:

Biological filtration is the only long-term solution.

Carry out a partial water change and remove any decomposing organic matter.

Stop, or reduce, feeding for a few days.

Reduce stocking levels. (Move some fish out.)

Use Aquasonic Active-bac. This mixture of live bacteria and enzymes breaks down waste and reduces ammonia.

Aquarium ammonia neutralisers are ideal for use in case of emergencies.

Some plants like Fontinalis ( Vesicularia) take up ammonia as plant food.


REMEMBER

Where ammonia is present it is advisable to maintain aquaria at the lowest pH that fish are comfortable at.

AMMONIA

Ph

 

1.00

2.00

3.00

4.00

5.00

6.00

7.00

8.00

9.0

10.00

Safe

6.0

0.001

0.001

0.002

0.002

0.003

0.003

0.004

0.005

0.005

0.006

6.2

0.001

0.002

0.003

0.004

0.005

0.005

0.006

0.007

0.008

0.009

6.4

0.002

0.003

0.004

0.006

0.007

0.009

0.010

0.011

0.013

0.014

6.6

0.002

0.005

0.007

0.009

0.011

0.014

0.016

0.018

0.020

0.022

6.8

0.004

0.007

0.011

0.014

0.018

0.021

0.025

0.028

0.032

0.035

Stress

7.0

0.006

0.011

0.017

0.022

0.028

0.034

0.039

0.045

0.050

0.056

7.2

0.009

0.018

0.027

0.035

0.044

0.053

0.062

0.071

0.080

0.088

7.4

0.014

0.028

0.042

0.056

0.070

0.084

0.098

0.112

0.125

0.139

Slow Death

7.6

0.022

0.044

0.066

0.088

0.110

0.131

0.153

0.175

0.197

0.219

7.8

0.034

0.069

0.103

0.137

0.171

0.206

0.240

0.274

0.308

0.343

Slow Death

8.0

0.053

0.107

0.160

0.213

0.266

0.320

0.373

0.426

0.479

0.533

8.2

0.082

0.164

0.246

0.327

0.409

0.491

0.573

0.655

0.737

0.818

8.4

0.124

0.248

0.371

0.495

0.619

0.743

0.866

0.999

1.114

1.238

8.6

0.183

0.366

0.549

0.732

0.915

1.098

1.281

1.463

1.646

1.829

8.8

0.262

0.524

0.786

1.048

1.310

1.571

1.833

2.095

2.357

2.619

9.0

0.360

0.720

0.080

1.440

1.800

2.160

1.520

2.880

3.240

3.599

  


CONCENTRATION OF UNIONIZED AMMONIA AT VARIOUS CONCENTRATIONS OF TOTAL AMMONIA AND pHs

 

Numbers in ppm (parts per million) unionized ammonia nitrogen

Values calculated for water at 25 C - 77°F.

These values will change slightly with changes in water temperature.