Tracking Ammonia

Discussion in 'Premium Aquatics' started by Premiumaq, Mar 2, 2018.

  1. Premiumaq

    Premiumaq Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Platinum Sponsor

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    Ammonia is the first stage of the nitrogen cycle, Ammonia - Nitrite – Nitrate – Nitrogen Gas so by simple deduction if your Nitrate is rising or has gone up the ammonia level in the tank at some point would have risen also. Having the ability to react to the slightest changes before you end up with a bigger issue along the way. And this is where the Seneye Monitors come into play as they monitor both Ammonia (the harmful component) and Ammonium (This is safe providing pH levels do not fluctuate, however go outside that safe zone and ammonium turns into Ammonia).

    What is ammonia NH3 & NH4?
    Ammonia from the gills of fish, their urine, and rotting food or decaying plant matter are contributors of ammonia in an aquarium.

    It exists in two forms in the aquarium and the first step is to understand the difference between ammonium NH4 and free ammonia NH3.

    NH3 (ammonia) is a gas and sometimes called toxic or free ammonia. This is the type of ammonia is the dangerous part.

    NH4 (ammonium) is a nontoxic salt it is the ionized form of ammonia.

    NH3 and NH4 together are often referred to as total ammonia nitrogen (TAN).

    Under normal conditions, NH3 (ammonia) and NH4 (ammonium) will both be present in aquarium water. The two exist at an equilibrium point that is governed largely by pH and temperature. However; salinity and ionic strength of the water also have influence on this equilibrium point.

    The chart below shows how the ratio between NH3 and NH4 is affected by pH in a controlled sample. As the pH increases, the ionized NH4 is liberated into gaseous NH3. As the pH increases there reaches a point where NH4 cannot exist and all ammonium is presented as NH3 ammonia; this is beyond the pH of normal aquarium life.

    [​IMG]

    The green line on the chart above indicates the pH where a marine aquarium normally fall and shows that roughly 15% to 20% of the TAN is NH3 and the rest (80% to 85%) will be NH4. Therefore, when any ammonia (TAN) is present in a normal aquarium, the majority of it will be NH4.

    Tradition test kits and photometers usually measure TAN or NH3-N and as such misinterpretation of what is being measured can occur.

    Is an Ammonia or NH3 test kit reporting the same NH3 value as seneye?
    In short, No:
    Why?

    Many tests use the “indophenol method” for measuring the ammonia by drastically increasing the pH of the sample. The movement in pH means that all of the ammonium (NH4) in the sample will be liberated to the NH3 form. The NH3 then reacts with the chemistry in the test to create the color change that is measurable by the photometer or eye. The value that is outputted is either TAN or NH3-N.

    This method of testing means that the NH3 level that is being measured is true of the sample after the pH increase. However, the value tells you nothing of the actual NH3 in the aquarium because the pH of the sample is not the same as the aquarium water

    Often these tests allow you to use multiplication values to find NH3 or NH4 from the NH3-N value reported. This is misleading as the multipliers only allow you to put a numeric value on if all of the TAN was NH3 or NH4, not the ratio between them that is actually present in the aquarium water.

    Can we do a comparison between the output of the seneye and these tests?

    Yes, but caution should be taken. As a guide you should be able to take the TAN value and use a free ammonia calculator which takes into account pH, temperature, salinity and the TAN value. These calculations are based on exact chemisty and as such any minor error in the measurements of the input data will have a drastic effect on the calculated NH3 value.

    This is why seneye measures NH3 directly.

    There are also potential added advantages for the reef keeper struggling with Nitrate as there is evidence that at higher levels, Ammonium rises and falls as Nitrate does to, so you also have a snap shot of the complete biological cycle.

    So next time you test your tanks Nitrate levels, have a thought as to where that Nitrate came from and would it not be ideal to be able to daily track both NH3 and NH4 independently allowing you to react with water changes even if you see 1 point rise?

    To find out more about Seneye or to purchase contact Premium Aquatics or click on their link to the products here
    https://premiumaquatics.com/search?search=seneye
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
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  2. wattson

    wattson Well-Known Member

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    Good write up,,curious to know how much ammonia is generated and released into the tank water when a mid sized fish or a large shrimp dies in the tank and left in to decompose in the tank?
    Also, do you think these levels would detrimental to corals and other fish ?
    Using a system of around 170 gallons total..
     
  3. Szigedi

    Szigedi Member

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    In my tank the clean up crew and other fish will eat the dead one so I did not have a noticeable spike. If you only have one fish in the tank and it dies, with no clean up crew i think it could do some harm to your corals.
     
  4. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter Reef Squad Leader Photo of the Month Award R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    As soon as they poop what it eats it decays and becomes ammonia.

    Happens all day long. More so with undisturbed sandbeds.
    It’s actually a process your corals need to eat.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3174978/

    http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2399188

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0966842X1500075X

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/stor...0w&s=56d83cfd556d98cb335e79bb182215385528a992


    Honestly not sure what anyone would do with this kind of data though.
     
  5. Premiumaq

    Premiumaq Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Platinum Sponsor

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    There are a lot of variables to consider, like how long it's left in the tank before being pulled, or if it were just left in there to literally decay completely. Obviously the longer it is left in the system the worse that will be. And I'm sure depends on if it's belly is full of even more waste. In a large system like that, one fish probably would not do detrimental harm to the other corals/fish unless it's left in there for a long time, then you could see algae issues which could cause other issues in the system and balances. Otherwise if it was taken out as soon as possible, I don't think you'll see too much from it (you could do a water change to help).
     
  6. MJC

    MJC Active Member Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    Also a consideration is if the fish that died was a 6" rabbit fish or a neon gobby ;)
     
  7. premiumaquatics

    premiumaquatics Active Member R2R Supporter Platinum Sponsor Toys For Kids Sponsor

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    Your tank is always going to produce small amounts of ammonia whenever a fish or critter dies or decaying food but if your biologically filtration / bacteria is strong it absorbs it and processes. So part of the nitrogen cycle. The larger the fish or mishap the longer it would take. So a large fish could overload your bacteria to process quick enough and then cause stress to your other animals, then you get into that snowball effect where another dies and keeps going. So if it's a good size fish, i would try and remove quickly. A little fish like a goby in that size tank is not going to do much.
     
  8. wattson

    wattson Well-Known Member

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    In a system with little or no fish with a fairly heavy stocking of soft corals,,would dosing small amounts of ammonia be beneficial to corals (softies) be a good way to replicate the ammonia in the system ?.
    As there is a lot of info saying fish poop/urea/ammonia is what corals like to feed upon.
     
  9. premiumaquatics

    premiumaquatics Active Member R2R Supporter Platinum Sponsor Toys For Kids Sponsor

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    I don't think you would need to dose ammonia. The soft corals mainly feed from photosynthesis, so if you have good lighting that will keep them healthy. You could dose some live phytoplankton, that would feed all the microorganisms and might help the softies some as well, but mainly keep the ecosystem healthy. If you have other corals, like LPS and SPS, you could use a coral food like Reef Roids, ME Super Coral food, Reef Frenzy or a marine snow to feed those.
     
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