How To Check Ammonia In A Fish Tank

How To Check Ammonia In A Fish Tank

Do you know that high levels of ammonia can be harmful to your fish and can even lead to their death!

I know that looks scary, but don’t worry, there are ways to check ammonia levels in your fish tank and take corrective action before it becomes a problem.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything about ammonia, from what it is to how to deal with high levels and even how to prevent it from happening in the first place!

So. Let’s start.

What Is Ammonia?

Ammonia is a colorless, odorless gas that is soluble in water and forms an extremely alkaline solution.

In a fish tank, it is created by fish waste, uneaten food, and decaying plants.

High levels of ammonia can be harmful to your fish and can even lead to their death!

How to Check Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank?

Fortunately, you don’t need to be a chemist to check ammonia levels in your fish tank.

There are a few ways to do it, and in this section, we’ll discuss the two most popular methods.

Testing Ammonia with a Kit

When it comes to keeping fish, ammonia testing kits are a must-have item.

They can be found in most pet stores or you purchase them online.

These kits include a testing solution, test tubes, and a color chart to help you assess the amount of ammonia in the aquarium.

The API Kit is the most popular testing kit, with which you may check ammonia in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

They are also beneficial since they can be utilized quickly and provide precise results.

Note: Keep in mind that you will need to make sure that you are getting the right ammonia testing kit for your fish tank.

How to use it?

1. Place the test tube in tank water and fill to the line indicated

Once you’ve opened the testing kit and set it up, you will need to fill one of the small test tubes with water from your aquarium.

You have the option of dipping the tube into the tank or scooping water into the tube until it reaches a specified line.

It’s important to mention that before you begin, the test tube must be clean.

If it’s unclean, the results may not accurately represent the ammonia levels in the water.

2. Add a few drops of the ammonia testing solution to the tube

After you’ve filled the tub with water, it’s time to add the testing solution.

This is a liquid that comes in the kit and it helps to measure the ammonia levels in the water.

Generally, you will need to add four or five drops of the solution to the tube.

There are some things you should keep in mind when adding the drops:

  • Test tubes are labeled so that you may follow the instructions.

Please make sure you follow the instructions in order, or your results will be invalidated.

  • The tube with label no.1 should be used first.

Make sure you handle the testing solution with care since it can irritate the eyes and hands.

  • Before you begin, uncap the testing solution and hold it vertically over the tube.

The bottle must be held vertically since if the drops are not all identical, you might ruin your findings.

  • Place the tube over a small container and gently squeeze out the necessary number of droplets.
  • keep in mind that different tubes may request you to use various quantities of the test solution, so follow all of the directions in your testing kit.

3. Repeat the procedure with test solution No. 2

After you’ve added the drops to the first tube, you will need to move on to the next one.

This testing solution is usually used to measure a different range of ammonia levels.

Just like before, add four or five drops of the solution.

4. For 5 seconds, softly shake it

Once you’ve finished, replace the cap on the test tube and make sure it’s secure and tight. 

shake the tube for five seconds to ensure that the solutions combine properly.

5. Allow the color to develop

After you’ve shaken the tube, you will need to wait for a few minutes so the color can develop.

The time it takes for the color to develop will depend on the type of kit you are using.

Although the water might change color rapidly, you should wait for the specified duration before attempting to treat it.

6. Check the colors of the water in the tube and on the chart

After the color has developed, you will need to compare it with the colors on the chart.

This will help you to determine the ammonia levels in your tank.

For example, If the water in your aquarium is yellow, it’s a sign that there is no ammonia present.

However, if the water is green, it means that the ammonia levels are high and you will need to take action.

A final reminder: Kits come with two charts; one for saltwater and the other for freshwater.

Please ensure you’re using the right chart for your tank.

7. Rinse the test tube and store it away.

Pour the water from the test tube down the drain; do not return it to the tank since this will severely harm your fish.

Rinse the empty tube with clean water and store it in a secure location so you may use it again for future tests.

8. When you’ve finished detecting ammonia, empty and clean your aquarium.

Lastly, after you’ve completed the test and determined the ammonia levels in your tank, the next step is to take action.

In most cases, this will mean that you will need to empty and clean your aquarium.

Although the ammonia levels might be low, it’s still a good idea to do a full cleanse every few months to avoid any build-up.

Testing Ammonia Using Test Strips

If you’re not a fan of using test tubes, then you might want to try using ammonia test strips.

These are small strips that will change color once they’ve been dipped into the aquarium water.

The level of ammonia is then determined by comparing the strip to a color chart.

The great thing about test strips is that you don’t need to wait for the color to develop; you can get an immediate reading.

It’s also important to remember that test strips are not as accurate as test tubes, so you might want to use them as a secondary means of testing.

How to Use It?

1. For the allocated time, dip the test strip in the tank and move it around

Dip half of the strip into the water and carefully move it around.

Different testing strips need various times for this procedure, so please follow the directions that come with your test strip package.

2. Wait until the color changes

After you’ve moved the strip around, you will need to wait until the color changes.

This can take anywhere from a few seconds to a minute, so be patient.

3. Compare the color of the strip to the color chart on the package

Once the strip has changed color, you will need to compare it to the chart on the package.

This will help you to determine the ammonia levels in your aquarium.

4. If you found that the levels are high, take steps to reduce it

After you’ve determined the ammonia levels in your aquarium, the next step is to take action. 

This could include changing the water, adding an ammonia remover, or even removing the fish from the tank.

How Often to Check Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank?

Ideally, you should check ammonia levels every week.

However, if something seems wrong with your tank – for example, the fish are gasping at the surface or seem to be swimming erratically – test the water immediately.

This will give you an accurate picture of the situation and help you take corrective action quickly.

Also, when acquiring a new fish, it’s critical to check for ammonia.

New fish can sometimes generate ammonia.

Always remember that regular testing will help you keep your fish tank healthy and thriving.

How Long Do Ammonia Levels Take to Return to Normal in a Fish Tank?

It typically takes a few days for ammonia levels to return to normal in a fish tank.

If you’re doing regular water changes, the levels should be well under control.

However, if you have a large tank and aren’t doing regular water changes, the levels may take longer to return to normal.

In this case, it’s best to remove some of the water and replace it with fresh water.

This will help lower the ammonia levels more quickly.

How Do I Know If My Fish Tank Has Too Much Ammonia?

If your fish tank has too much ammonia, you’ll likely see signs of distress in your fish.

These signs can include:

  • Gasping at the surface of the water
  • Swimming erratically
  • Resting on the bottom of the tank
  • Scales that look ragged or frayed
  • Redness or inflammation on the gills

If you see any of these signs, test your ammonia levels immediately.

How Do You Balance Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank?

There are a few ways that you can balance ammonia levels in a fish tank:

1. Do water changes

This is the most common way to balance ammonia levels.

By doing regular water changes, you can remove some of the ammonia from the tank.

This will help to keep the levels under control.

2. Add an ammonia remover

If your fish tank has high ammonia levels, you may want to add an ammonia remover.

This will help to remove the ammonia from the water and lower the levels.

3. Remove some of the water

If the levels are too high, you can also remove some of the water and replace it with fresh water.

This will help to lower the ammonia levels more quickly.

Why Does My Tank Keep Getting Ammonia?

There are a few reasons why your tank might be getting ammonia:

  • You’re not doing regular water changes
  • You are having too many fish in your tank. Overcrowding can lead to high levels of ammonia.
  • You’re not using a filter or if your filter isn’t working properly, the levels of ammonia will increase.

Last Words

Remember to always test your water and take corrective action if necessary.

A healthy fish tank should have no detectable levels of ammonia!

Thank you for reading!

We hope this article helped answer your questions about ammonia levels in a fish tank.