Ammonia – The Essentials
Ammonia – Understand this! – by Doc Johnson
Ammonia is the first waste product of your fish. It is often the cause of your first mortalities in new facilities and new ponds. There is a simple test to measure the levels. I am a big fan of Kent’s Ammonia Detox to reduce the toxicity of ammonia, and of BIOSEEDING
- Made from rotting fish wastes/urine/food
- Tested with Nessler’s Drop Type tests
- After (the regrettable) addition of aldehydes such as Formalin or Ammonia-binder agents, test with Salicylate reagent tests.
- Ammonia causes redness of fins, general poor health, excess mucus production, flashing, and by chronic auto-intoxication: Pinecone disease.
- Ammonia is more toxic at pH above 8.0
- Ammonia is directly irritating to fish gills and tissues
- Ammonia is removed from the environment by beneficial bacteria called “Nitrosomonas”.
- You can control Ammonia with partial water changes or addition of Zeolites.
I discourage the use of chemicals for Ammonia binding. All but a few of them contain aldehydes (glutaraldehyde) which are guilty of binding oxygen and irritating the fish.
Wet dry filtration (versus submerged media) is very superior for supporting nitrifying bacteria.
“First of all, because the test is foiled by fewer organic molecules, let’s establish that Salicylate test kits are superior to Nessler’s tests*. Still, Ammonia testing can present a problem. You may not know that dechlorinator can zero-out your ammonia test. The reason is that in the salicylate test kit, chloride ions provide a reagent. Ample dechlorinator and other ammonia binders will zero out this free chlorine reagent and show you a zero test. The only way to be sure that the Ammonia is truly bound up is by “live-tissue cell culture histopathology”. Cells are bathed in test-water and then examined for tell-tale signs of Ammonia damage. The only company that has done this so far is Aquarium Pharmaceuticals who used Drs Lukert and Gratzek at UGA. This Ammonia binder does not contain any aldehydes. Even the so-called “Sulfide Ion” binders are often nothing but Formaldehyde-bi-sulfite (rongalite) which is unstable.” Doc Johnson
*Nessler’s may be off the market now due to Mercury.
Enter your email address for a free PDF of this article including its images.Enter your Email Address
My Favorite Amazon Recommendations
Items and content will not show in "Reader View" check your browser.
PraziPro for Flukes
Buy Some Good Koi?
Best Food, Ever
Pro Air 60 Aerator is a VERY high output air pump pushing my whole fish room (17+ drops), and I have one at home driving everything there, and I have one as a back up.
Topical For Koi and Pond Fish Ulcers
Koi Health & Disease
I have over ten of these Titanium Heaters in my fish room and at home. They're a paradigm shift in aquarium heating. They're titanium and 400W for under $30! Whaaaaaaaaat?
CyroPro by Hikari is safe and easy for Anchor Worms and Fish Lice.
Whatever heaters you use, back yourself up with a temperature controller, it'll turn on, and off your heaters. If your heater seizes "on" at least the thermostat will stop a tragedy.
LifeGuard by Tetra is a tablet version of a tame 'chloramine-t' or 'halamid' compound that's easy to get and good on bacterial infections, in baths.
For me, filtration-of-choice
Rubber sided, round, nettable tanks
1200 Watt heater, on a thermostat held securely above the waterline, works GREAT as a large tank heater. That's all I'll say because there's risk of electrocution and all that. But then, even in a bucket you could get killed. Sound like fun?
What Does Ajax Eat?