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SeaChem Ammonia Meter review


Peterlock

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Having used Seachem ammonia Alert meters for years, I find them indispensable.

I've tried Mardel meters but have found them to be just awful. Inaccurate readings galore and you have to replace the cartridges every 4-6 weeks. They're also 2-3 times the cost of the meters by Seachem.

The Seachem meters don't replace proper testing of water parameters but then they're not meant to. They simply alert you to Ammonia spikes.

They won't give you a specific reading but rather let you know at a glance if there's a problem ranging from alert to toxic.

From that point you need to get out your test kits and confirm your ammonia level.

The meters perform exactly as intended - serious hobbyists have been relying on them for years as a tool to prevent potential disaster.

Seachem states each meter will last a year, but I replace mine every six months or so - to stay on the safe side.

At the minimal price for these meters I find them an exceptional value when used correctly for their intended purpose.

Seachem ammonia alert meters provide added peace of mind (and with these fish we need all of that we can get) - not to mention they warn you of potential disaster and loss of fish by ammonia poisoning.

The best price I've found is on Amazon where the Ammonia and PH meters cost $8.00 apiece.

It's money well spent.

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Interesting review. I hate that these things are sold because I think all too often people use them as their only way of testing ammonia, and given that they are not a precise measure I think this is dangerous. But I suppose it could be useful as a back up measure in a cycled established tank.

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They get very good reviews here in the Uk. The PH warning meters are also supposedly very good and alot of British breeders consider them a must have item :)

I wish I could afford the Hanna digital meter that tests all the parameters but it's about ?600 :(

Edited by alistairw

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Interesting review. I hate that these things are sold because I think all too often people use them as their only way of testing ammonia, and given that they are not a precise measure I think this is dangerous. But I suppose it could be useful as a back up measure in a cycled established tank.

You'll find reviews on sites like Amazon and even some forums that blame the meters for killing their fish. It infuriates me at how ignorant people can be.

Anyone who keeps goldfish and invests ZERO time in learning - at the very least basic care, simply end up killing their fish.

The problem isn't the product, as stated in my review "When used for intended use" It's not the manufactures fault of this or any product that there are no shortage of people out there, looking for the easy way out.

They blindly choose to remain ignorant of the very complex, demanding needs and challenges that comes with the territory of keeping Goldfish.

Whether cycling a new tank or in an established tank this product, like so many others can be a valuable asset when used correctly and for the right purpose.

Unfortunately there will always be those who expect an $8.00 meter or any other myriad of products to do the work for them - and the fish suffer for it.

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They get very good reviews here in the Uk. The PH warning meters are also supposedly very good and alot of British breeders consider them a must have item :) I wish I could afford the Hanna digital meter that tests all the parameters but it's about £600 :(

My partner just got home from a week in London and had an amazing time. I'm jealous because he got to visit the "Ice Bar" where everything from the glasses to chairs, to the bar itself is made out of ice. They throw a parka on you and you can only stay for I think 30 minutes because the temp is below freezing. I hear even the bartenders are only allowed 45 minutes at a time.

I do hear it's expensive in London, but then so is NY and Tokyo. Still I think I could move to the UK and never look back. Universal healthcare, and so many advantages that are lacking here on the US side of the pond.

You're so right about the meters, they're a wonderful tool - and as for the digital meters I would love them but..YIKES are they expensive!

BTW, everytime I see you on here I'm more in love with your Spaniel, such a gorgeous pooch.

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London is very expensive, my sister lives down there. I would love to compare the readings from api API drops agains the digital meter and find out how accurate the drops really are. I have read alot recently that the ammonia test kits can't register anything under 0.25 and can show a 0 for 0.24 and below giving people an indication that everything is ok when it actually might not be the case.

http://www.absolute-koi.com/water_testing/hanna.html

Charlie is a little character alright. Be interesting to see how he copes with the new baby next month.

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dnalex

Posted (edited)

How exactly do you know that these were working for you, Peter? I'm assuming that as a careful and experienced aquarist, you are not in the habit of getting spikes of toxic ammonia. The only time where you might get sudden ammonia spikes is when you have sudden changes in the tap, and at those times this test is useless, since Prime/Amquel plus will have rendered ammonia into the not-free form. How then do you know that it's working? I would like a bit more technical data if you can please, such as limits of detection, what the different arbitrary designations correlate to in terms of actual free ammonia concentrations, the rate of false positives, and more importantly, the rate of false negatives.

What I really would like are those digital instruments :)

Alistair, the fault with colorimetric assays is not so much with the test; it's our eyes and their ability to distinguish the colors and their nuances. I'm sure the test can even detect 0.1 ppm, but unfortunately it will still look like 0 to us, unless we are using a machine to detect it.

Edited by dnalex

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That makes sense Alex. I suppose that 10 different people could look at an ammonia test and see the colour differently to the previous person.

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How exactly do you know that these were working for you, Peter? I'm assuming that as a careful and experienced aquarist, you are not in the habit of getting spikes of toxic ammonia. The only time where you might get sudden ammonia spikes is when you have sudden changes in the tap, and at those times this test is useless, since Prime/Amquel plus will have rendered ammonia into the not-free form. How then do you know that it's working? I would like a bit more technical data if you can please, such as limits of detection, what the different arbitrary designations correlate to in terms of actual free ammonia concentrations, the rate of false positives, and more importantly, the rate of false negatives.

What I really would like are those digital instruments :)

Alistair, the fault with colorimetric assays is not so much with the test; it's our eyes and their ability to distinguish the colors and their nuances. I'm sure the test can even detect 0.1 ppm, but unfortunately it will still look like 0 to us, unless we are using a machine to detect it.

Alex,

You flatter me, trust me I still think of myself as a novice, even after 30 years with these fish - there's always something new to learn, something else to try and figure out, not to mention endless problems to attempt to solve.

As for the meters they're very simple to use and read.

In the center of the meter is a round circle treated with a regent that identifies the presence of ammonia.

Around the center circle are four different colors, representing ammonia levels:

Yellow = Safe - 0.02 ppm

green = Alert - 0.05 ppm

Blue = Alarm - 0.2 ppm

Purple = Toxic - 0.5 ppm

As how the meters work for me, they do a couple of things. I can't tell you how many times I was on my way out of the house and glanced at one of my tanks and saw a spike in ammonia, whip out the test kit, get the best reading I can - and start the water changes.

They're a reminder and a motivator. I try to be as diligent with my tanks as I possibly can, but I think everyone slips ups now and then and puts off a water change. So these little meters kind of give me a kick when I need one.

Over the years I've had over stocked tanks and fish in tanks that weren't as fully cycled as they should have been. These meters have warned me of sudden and unexpected ammonia spikes and forced me to address it immediately.

I can only speak from my experience with them and tell you that every one of my tanks has a Seachem ammonia meter. Plus it's like insurance, you hope you never need to use it but when trouble strikes you're glad you have it.

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Ooops forgot to add this, you and Alistairw are so right about the API test kits. I always laugh a little when I take out my "Master" API kit because it's anything but.

The results are buckshot and really depend on your vision to make the best guess. Years ago when my sight was better I probably had much more accurate readings :)

Plus like computer screens many of us see color differently, a bit off on the PH I can live with, it's an easy fix but ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are so very essential. I would love to own some quality digital meters but I can't swing the cost for them right now.

What I'll do with API is check the color against a flat white wall in either direct sunlight or halogen lighting, but not always. At least they give us a viable reading in most cases and a very clear one, although perhaps not the most accurate in potential emergency situations.

Hach has excellent testing instruments, test kits, and reagents for testing the quality of water. They've been around since 1940 It's been a while since I've been to their site, but here's a link if you guys would like to check them out.

http://www.hach.com/

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I used one of these on cycling tanks in addition to testing. If I see it start to edge into green territory when it's not usually time to test, I know I need to test right now. I don't think this is a good replacement for testing, but it did help me have some peace of mind when I was cycling with 1ppm ammonia in the tap water that most of it was bound up. ;)

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i think this would be useful in a quarentine situation where you may or may not be sure that the tank is cycled. or even in a newly established tank recently cycled, or cycling

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I think that if you are using it as Elli & Peter are using it, which is to not use as a substitute but as an additional measure and also to change the water as soon as you detect any level of free ammonia, it's a great tool to have. It's also really important to replace it, as was noted up above. :)

Seachem is a great company, and one I place much trust in their products. Their technical department is also very helpful.

Thank you for the addition info you supplied, Peter. That was very helpful. The only thing I'm a little surprised with Seachem is that they label 0.02ppm free ammonia as "safe." Acutely, it doesn't do much harm, but even that small level chronically can pose big problems for fish.

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I will admit, I didn't read the entire thread/posts but skimmed.

But, when my first tank had ammonia in a very toxic 2.00+ range, this meter said it was perfect. I couldn't understand why my fish were dropping like flies. I bought a drop test kit and realized my mistake. I bought a new meter to see if the first was faulty, and it gave the same reading as safe.

I just wanted to give another view.

Edited by ashlee18

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Just my experience as well;

NOT cycling; i used it for 3 yrs, no probs

During Cycling; used it and it said low ammonia, but my fish were dropping like flies aswell & severely burnt etc

In uk these alerts aren't cheap, they're the same price as a bottle of water conditioner / drop test kit etc

Whilst on hols abroad, found these at a very cheap price, thats the only reason why i would buy them now, and if it runs out, not replacing, imo it gives a false sense of security. Doing my bi-weekly water changes & api tests is more economical. Just my input.

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This product only tests for the toxic NH3 level in your tank. Not the total ammonia in the water. As previously mentioned in different posts this will all depend on your PH and temperature of your tank as both will affect the readings.

I have posted this in a different thread but here it is again. A great tool to work out your actual NH3 based on your API test kit reading :)

http://dataguru.org/misc/aquarium/AmmoniaTox.html

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