What is ammonia?
Most ammonia generated in an aquarium is the result of the digestion of proteins by fish and other aquarium animals. Ammonia can also be released by the bacterial breakdown of excess food and other organic matter. It is extremely toxic to fish and invertebrates, especially in a marine aquarium due to the higher pH found in saltwater. Ammonia is broken down into nitrite by the beneficial bacteria in your aquarium filter or live rock and then subsequently into relatively harmless nitrate.
Why test for ammonia?
Low concentration of ammonia can cause respiratory and skin irritation to fish, while greater concentrations can lead to damage and ultimately death. Toxic ammonia can build up in aquariums where there are insufficient nitrifying bacteria to process the waste from the fish. This situation can commonly arise in new aquariums, when new fish are added, when the filter bacteria has been disrupted (e.g. during cleaning), or during accidental mis-dosing of aquarium medications.
What is the correct level of ammonia?
Ammonia should be kept at 0 mg/l at all times. Any positive ammonia reading likely indicates a problem with the aquarium and should be addressed.
What to do if the ammonia level is wrong?
If any ammonia is detected in your aquarium, use water changes to immediately dilute ammonia. Ensure that there is no uneaten food or decaying matter in the aquarium and use Live Filter Bacteria to help colonise the filter and restart the biological filtration.
How to test for ammonia?
Q: Why do I run out of 1 reagent before the other(s)? A: We fill our test kit reagent bottles to a minimum amount before they are put through a vigorous QC regime. This means that the vast majority of bottles will in fact be overfilled by varying amounts meaning that the reagents may well run out at different rates but you should be able to carry out at least the number of tests stated on the packaging.
Q: My Ammonia 2 reagent has turned blue, is it still okay to use? A: Our Ammonia 2 reagent can take on a blue colour with time, but it does not affect the performance or results of the test. As long as the test kit is still within date, you can be confident in the reliability of the results it produces.
To find out more about water quality and parameters in saltwater aquariums, click here.
For common frequently asked questions, click here.