Does anyone dose ammonia and/or how would one try?

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Randy Holmes-Farley

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Ammonia and ammonium do not act the same to harm fish and their gills.

I may be misunderstanding your point, but you may have a misunderstanding of the relationship between these two.

In seawater at a fixed salinity and temperature, the relative amount of these two is fixed exactly by the pH.

Moreover, any given one converts into the other and back again very, very fast (many times per second).

Thus, it is not possible to select to have one and not the other by dosing unless you are willing to change the pH of the aquarium. It makes no difference which one you dose, except that dosing ammonium chloride or similar materials will have a slight pH and alkalinity lowering effect (long term) while dosing ammonia or ammonium hydroxide (ammonia in water) will have the opposite effect short term.
 

Brew12

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You need some no3, but only to build/repair tissue. It is not food. It is not fuel. A trace is enough for this. Excess can do things like poison dinos and some matting cyano bacteria, but it also can inhibit calcification and interrupt biological processes when it gets too high - the level of badness is different with each organism.
Is this a typo? I know PO4 can inhibit calcification, but does NO3 also do it at high enough levels?
 

Cell

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I imagine the effect on one's tank will completely depend on how efficiently their system is currently processing ammonia. Some may be close to max bioload and adding additional ammonia could cause big problems. Others may be way under stocked and might see benefit by supplementing ammonia. Reefing science is kind of a pain with all the hard to control variables and differences between systems...
 
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jda

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I was just trying to say, albeit poorly, that most people are afraid of ammonium when they should not be. This has been widely taught and spoke in aquarium books and lectures since I started almost three decades ago - if this is not true biologically, then I have been messing yet another thing up for a long time. It is not as toxic as most people think when they are just remembering their experiences with the first cycle.

Ammonia exists in water as either the ammonium ion (NH4+) or the un-ionized ammonia (NH3). Un-ionized ammonia is toxic to fish, while the ammonium ion is nontoxic except at extremely high concentrations.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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I was just trying to say, albeit poorly, that most people are afraid of ammonium when they should not be. This has been widely taught and spoke in aquarium books and lectures since I started almost three decades ago - if this is not true biologically, then I have been messing yet another thing up for a long time. It is not as toxic as most people think when they are just remembering their experiences with the first cycle.

I'm just saying that it doesn't matter what form you dose, there is still ammonia instantly.

FWIW, I thought folks were pretty good at understanding the difference between total ammonia (NH3 + NH4+)and free ammonia (NH3).

i generally recommend testing total ammonia only.
 

jda

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Is this a typo? I know PO4 can inhibit calcification, but does NO3 also do it at high enough levels?

You can google and find many studies on this. The most popular one that pops up compares calcification reductions with low pH (induced co2) to calcification reductions using increased no3 alone, which they used as a baseline. Both sets of "nubs" as they call them started to calcify faster again when returned to NSW conditions.

Some common coral that we keep show absolutely no issue with elevated levels of no3 until it gets really high but some suffer and stop growing with anything much above seawater. Most people just discard the second lot as "too hard" and just move on to stuff that works in their tanks - smart, IMO. Just in my tank, if my no3 gets over 1 or 2, then coralline slows down quite a bit. I am not saying that this is a bad thing. Just anecdotal...
 

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This is what I got from this thread. If you have low nitrates and you don't want to add more fish or feed more, then you can dose ammonia (very carefully) or ammonium (carefully), and it should feed your corals similar to ammonia from fish poop. The end result of this additional, dosed ammonia/ammonium will be more nitrate.

If you have low phosphate levels, dosing ammonia/ammonium will do nothing to directly change your phosphate levels.

Are these reasonable take-aways?
 

jda

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The end result of this additional, dosed ammonia/ammonium will be more nitrate.

I don't know that this will always be true. If your coral get all of their N needs from the ammoni[a,um], then there not only needs to be much more than a trace of nitrate on the back end, but also, other things in your tank could consume the nitrate or ammoni[a,um] where there is none left over. Hopefully, the corals can use all of the ammonium and your residual no3 levels will not rise at all. I don't see any benefit of dosing so much ammonium that your no3 rises on the back end since this is just more than you have to deal with later if your tank cannot process it.

The end result of dosing the ammoni[a,um] is that the coral will have a more available form of nitrogen to be used as a building bock. What happens after that is independent.

Dr. RFH is saying that it doesn't matter if you dose ammonia or ammonium, the same things will happen in the tank, so get ammonium since it is easier. I am saying that most people fear ammonia since they have always heard how toxic it is to fish (it is) when ammonium is less toxic and should not be feared if you are smart with it... but either need handled and dosed appropriately (like so many other things).
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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This is what I got from this thread. ...

you can dose ammonia (very carefully) or ammonium (carefully),po

Are these reasonable take-aways?

That part is not correct. Both forms have the same effect, except the very minor alkalinity and pH effects I mentioned.
 

jda

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Any thoughts from the smart people if putting some ammonium hydroxide into RO water to be dosed with the auto top off? Will the ammonium nh4oh break down or will it stay in tact?
 

flampton

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Any thoughts from the smart people if putting some ammonium hydroxide into RO water to be dosed with the auto top off? Will the ammonium nh4oh break down or will it stay in tact?

Ammonium hydroxide will off gas really quickly and much more than salts from my understanding. Maybe @Randy Holmes-Farley knows more. Still not sure the chloride salt will be long term safe in an ATO over a sealed dosing bottle. As dust particles will bring in carbon and phosphate and you'll likely start growing stuff in there.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Any thoughts from the smart people if putting some ammonium hydroxide into RO water to be dosed with the auto top off? Will the ammonium nh4oh break down or will it stay in tact?

Bacteria may consume it in the RO water, but I think that could be fine if that is prevented. Keep it closed to prevent loss of ammonia.

I've made limewater when my DI depleted (tossed at least one batch), and it stank of ammonia from the depleted DI leaking out. I'm sure I dosed ammonia in that way many times without realizing it.
 
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rmurken

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Bacteria may consume it in the RO water, but I think that could be fine if that is prevented. Keep it closed to prevent loss of ammonia.

I've made limewater when my DI depleted (tossed at least one batch), and it stank of ammonia from the depleted DI leaking out. I'm sure I dosed ammonia in that way many times without realizing it.
I’ve recharged DI resin (because I can’t help myself) and hooo boy did it stink of ammonia when I did the lye.
 
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2Sunny

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f-

In the other thread you said something about dosing aminos as a poor substitute that would end up as ammonia. Did I understand that correctly? Do aminos ultimately break down into ammonia after being dosed? I ask because I am dosing a few drops of aminos twice weekly in my nano, and the corals in it are very colorful.
IMG_1683.JPG
 

Marc2952

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I wouldn't be afraid to dose ammonia, but if the end result is just the nitrate, wouldn't it be easier, and safer to just dose that?
I read somewhere that corals prefer to consume ammonia then nitrates if given the choice. Not 100% sure though.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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I read somewhere that corals prefer to consume ammonia then nitrates if given the choice. Not 100% sure though.

Yes, that is certainly true of some corals. algae, and other organisms.
 

Marc2952

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No phosphate in ammonia/ammonium.

Ammonia and ammonium do not act the same to harm fish and their gills.

This is going to be simple, but micro algae (zoox/dinos) cannot get nitrogen from nitrate. Some coral hosts can convert no3 back to ammonium, but it costs them a lot of energy - some cannot. Assume that dosing no3 on the back end does not help the zoox - this is not completely true in all cases, but it won't hurt to do this. Micro algae needs to get their nitrogen from ammonia/ammonium.

You need some no3, but only to build/repair tissue. It is not food. It is not fuel. A trace is enough for this. Excess can do things like poison dinos and some matting cyano bacteria, but it also can inhibit calcification and interrupt biological processes when it gets too high - the level of badness is different with each organism. Macro algae will love your for increased levels of no3. Most of the time, I guess that excess no3 just builds a larger anoxic bacteria population which is why so many people have had to add more, and more and more as they dose it.

I understand that this might be hard to get a grasp on. I think that the recent trend to raise the N and P in a tank is because people can test and put a number to something, but this is somewhat of a simple exercise... the prize is in high availability of ammonia/ammonium for coral use and then low residual levels of N and P so that calcification and cellular activity is not slowed down. Heavy import and heavy export. Of course, people cannot measure high import and high export, so it is not as easy to type and parrot on a message board. The people who dose N to the back end are not likely doing what they think that they are doing. The people who have raised no3 by feeding more have certainly had more availability for their corals, which is good and the availability has helped them, not the residual buildup on the back end.

I dose Ace Hardware ammonium into my frag tank when I get new clams... seems to help then get started. This is all anecdotes and nothing scientific. I add 2 mls of the stuff (10%, I think) into a 60g frag tank a few times a day when I remember (300g system). I can never detect any of it.

Remember that some single cell stuff, bacteria and some types of algae all will really love the ammonium too.

I have always wondered if I can dose ammonium in a ATO with RO, or if the ammonium will break down over the week. This would be the easiest for me if it would work.

FWIW - freshly mixed Instant Ocean has some ammonia in it. I always considered this a good thing.

In the end, the people who have always told you to feed more and skim heavy (or otherwise clean up the back end) were always right. This is why I think that dosing N and P is just a fad that will stop one day.
So why is it that almost everyone i know that had dino problems always relates to having very low levels of nitrate and phosphates? In my case everytime i see phosphates hit 0.03 or lower i start seeing problems.
 
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