Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Approaches to Ammonia (in progress)

Small tanks need to be watched rather carefully for accumulation of ammonia. A smaller water volume will tend to be more unstable and you can get a very rapid ammonia spike, which can be fatal to fish and other livestock. There are three basic approaches to testing for ammonia.

Approach 1: liquid Test Kits
Some people hold that only fresh liquid test kits give a reliable measure of ammonia.

Approach 2: Strip Tests
Others feel a strip test is close enough, and when you have a cycling tank you can even use a "sensor" that you clip on the inside of the tank to keep an eye on ammonia level and make sure they didn't get into the danger level for you stock (which will vary depending on how hardy they are.

Approach 3: Low Tech
Some people think: test-schemst, it isn't that hard to tell when you have an ammonia spike.
1) When you stir the water it has an unpleasant smell, and
2) bubbles on the surface of the water do not pop immediately. In fact bubbles may accumulate on the surface around the glass.

In any case, if you ammonia levels are high the steps you need to take are the same:
* Minimise rotting material in the tank by ensuring you remove dead livestock, excess food and other organic debris.
* Regularly replace 10-20% of the water with clean, dechlorinated water.
* Transfer bacteria sources from a stable, established tank to the spiking or cycling tank to make sure there is a population of ammonia-converting bacteria.

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