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trystianity 07-25-2005 10:42 PM

Ammonia in Tap Water
I wanted to start dosing my newly setup 10 gallon tank using Tom Barr's Estimative Index. I think I got everything in the article and I'm a chem student so dosing/calculating shouldn't be an issue. I do have one problem! I have 0.3 ppm NH4 in the water out of the tap. Sometimes it will be as high as 0.5 ppm. For fish health reasons I have been treating it with Seachem's Prime and it seems to be working well (no more losses). From what I understand of the product, it chemically binds the NH4 to a larger molecule, making it safe for the fishies but still available to plants/bacteria.

So assuming all of the NH4 is still available to my plants and is used up completely through the week or consumed by nitrifying bacteria, doing 50% weekly PWC I am going to be raising NH4 in the tank to 0.15-0.25 ppm every time I change the water. I am essentially dosing NH4 every time I do a water change whether I want to or not. ](*,)

Am I being a bit too paranoid or is this going to affect my regular dosing schedule of KNO3? And/or is this going to cause problems? In the EI article Tom states that dosing NH4 will cause algae blooms. So far it hasn't been a problem in my lower tech setups (low light, no co2) but I am curious because this is the first time I'm venturing into the realm of high light and a lot of added ferts/co2.

Tank parameters (note that it has just been set up last week, no fish or anything yet and I am still messing around with a few things before I start dosing consistently, I am experimenting with the substrate so I wanted to see how it will affect the plants on its own before I add much):

Sorry, I'm a bum and I've been doing this for a while so I don't test much unless I absolutely have to

TDS - unknown
pH - 6.9-7.2
NO3 - nil
PO4 - not tested
GH - 12
KH - 7
Ca - not tested
Mg - not tested
CO2 - unknown, I age and pretreat my water so none by the time I use it

TDS - not tested
pH - around 6.2-6.5
NO3 - 10 ppm approx.
PO4 - not tested
GH - not tested
KH - 4
Ca - not tested
Mg - not tested
CO2 - 30 ppm
gall - 10
Wpg - 6
Fish load - nil
Plant mass - moderate for now until my cuttings really start taking off, will be heavy plant mass
Substrate - bottom: laterite, gravel, aquarium pharm root tabs, mulm from another tank; mid: aged and soaked Canadian spahgnum peat, gravel; top: gravel cap (gravel used throughout is inert 1-2 mm)
Fertilizer - other than KNO3 (stump remover) none added yet, just whatever is leeching from the substrate. Will be dosing individual dry fert chems. Plants are doing marvellously without so for now I'm not adding anything and seeing where the substrate alone takes me.

Question: How will 0.3-0.5 ppm NH4 in tap affect dosing according to the EI and/or what kinds of problems can I expect from the NH4 in my tap? If I can expect problems, does anyone have any ideas for combatting them?

Thanks :)

plantbrain 07-26-2005 12:57 AM

Install a 20$ under the counter cartiage filter and add a carbon block filter insert.

Change every 2-3 months.

This will remove the NH4 and adding Prime etc will take care of the rest.

Tom Barr

trystianity 07-27-2005 10:05 PM

The easiest solution and I just didn't think of it. :D

Thanks for the help. :)


Laith 07-27-2005 10:22 PM

Just curious: is it actually "legal" to have ammonia in tap water? Doesn't this indicate a problem at the water plant somehow?

trystianity 07-30-2005 10:53 PM

I spoke to the head chemist at the local water treatment plant about it, he said that the source water (Grand River) is contaminated from mostly agricultural runoff. He also said the concentration of NH4 does not exceed "Maximum Acceptable Concentration" or MAC according to provincial regulations and has been deemed acceptable for human consumption. Unfortunately I found out the hard way that it's not acceptable to my sensitive species of fish. :( I personally don't drink tap water because I have health problems, but for most healthy people I don't think it would be an issue.

I have spoke to the head chemist quite a few times, he has always been really helpful in answering my questions and seems really happy to talk to someone that has an interest in water quality. :) I think everyone should contact their local water treatment authority for more info in this hobby, I have really learned a lot about my water in doing so. He also gave me online links to all of the water chemistry reports for the city, I wish I contacted them a lot sooner than I did.

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