Ammonia Poisoning In Aquarium Fish

Ammonia Poisoning In Aquarium – Very often we cannot identify hazardous substances in the air, either by smell or visually. For example, carbon monoxide or CO is produced in the exhaust gases of a car. CO. Since it has neither color nor smell, it is very hazardous to health. And sometimes people realize that they have been poisoned only when it is too late. Ammonia in an aquarium works the same way. For us, the water in the aquarium is usually crystal clear and odorless. But an increased concentration of this chemical may already be hiding in it. And we can only know this by the appearance and behavior of the fish. And, most likely, only when ammonia has already managed to poison the entire population of the aquarium.

What Is Ammonia/Ammonium?

Ammonia Poisoning In Aquarium Fish

You can find out the level of ammonia / ammonium in water using special test kits.

Ammonia (hydrogen nitride) is a chemical compound with the formula NH3, a colorless gas with a pungent characteristic odor that dissolves well in water.

In an aquarium, ammonia is produced by the natural metabolism of fish and by the decomposition of organic matter. Ammonia in high concentrations is very toxic, exceeding the normal level leads to illness and death of fish.

For most species of aquarium fish, an ammonia level of 0.2-0.5 mg / l in water is fatal.

Ammonium (NH4) is an ionized form of ammonia, less toxic, but also dangerous in high concentrations.

You can find out the level of ammonia / ammonium in water using special kits.

Symptoms of Ammonia/Ammonium Poisoning in Fish

Ammonia is highly toxic, causes respiratory distress in fish, reduces the ability of hemoglobin in the blood to carry oxygen, and negatively affects other physiological processes.

Ammonium is less toxic than ammonia, so its destructive effects appear after 5 days or so. High concentrations of ammonium cause branchial necrosis, which is very difficult to control. Fish that survive for another 1-1.5 months will be very unstable to various diseases, which can lead to their death.

  • The main symptoms of ammonia / ammonium poisoning:
  • Hard to breathe. The fish will try to take in air from the surface, where the oxygen concentration is highest, or will lie on the bottom, breathing deeply.
  • Fish friction on various objects in the aquarium. Also, the fish can firmly press the fins to the body.
  • Fish tissue begins to break down, as evidenced by the appearance of red streaks or bloody spots on the body and fins.
  • Fish will become lethargic and lays at the bottom of the tank.

Chronic ammonia/ammonium poisoning will damage the gills, which will cause stress, and the fish, in turn, will develop a weakened immune system.

Read Also: Freshwater Aquarium Fish: The Ultimate Guide 2021

Increasing Ammonia/Ammonium Concentration

There are some reasons why ammonia levels increase. Below are some of the most common things to look out for when testing for elevated ammonia levels.

  • Increased acidity of water
  • Increase in water temperature
  • Lack of beneficial bacteria
  • Overfeeding fish
  • Overpopulation of the aquarium
  • Insufficient filtering
  • Improper tap water treatment
  • Decomposition of organic waste
  • Unprepared or unusable decorations (drift wood or rocks with natural pollution residues) have been added to the aquarium
  • Dead fish rotting in the aquarium

The Nitrogen Cycle In The Aquarium

In the process of life, fish produce ammonia (NH3), releasing it into the external environment, that is, into the water. Most of the ammonia is converted to ammonium (NH4+). The ammonia/ammonium concentration ratio depends on the acidity, temperature and salinity. Ammonia and ammonium, under the action of nitrifying bacteria, are oxidized to form nitrite which is still toxic, and then nitrite is processed by other bacteria into relatively harmless nitrate.

Ammonia concentration chart in aquarium

Ammonia/Ammonium Treatment In Aquarium

  • Water change. It is necessary to make an emergency change of 30% of the water, continuing to change the water daily, until the indicators return to normal.
  • Filter rinsing. The filter elements that function as mechanical filtration must be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Enzymes and bacteria introduction into the aquarium. A very good effect is the addition of silt from a safe aquarium.
  • Adding special ammonia binding agents. For example, AMMO-LOCK, anti-ammonia.
  • Adding zeolite or other special sorbents to the filter, for example Nitra-ZORB.
  • Adding salt. 1 teaspoon of regular table salt per 10 liters of water. Stop feeding the fish. Do not feed fish until test results have normalized.

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