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Ammonia Toxicity Chart


nickie73

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Okay, I was just interested, so I pulled up my copy of the Ammonia Toxicity Chart that JOH gave to me to see how high my ammonia would have to get in order for it to become dangerous to my fish. The reason why I am so interested is because Jaws has a black streak on his tail fin and another tear in his fin. Some members stated that it may be ammonia burns, so that got me to thinking...

My ammonia never goes above .5 to 1.0% in my tank. I double dose with Prime everyday at wcs and I do wcs everyday. I also check my ammonia level twice a day. However, when looking at the ammonia toxicity chart and factoring in my ph (6.8) and the temp of my tank (76), my ammonia would have to get to 5.0ppm before it becomes toxic for my fish. Therefore, I know that ammonia could not have caused Jaws' problem with his fins.

This chart is a great thing to have. Thanks so much JOH!!!!

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There is no definitive line or concentration of a polutant in the water where you can say "this is sfe, but that is not".

Every living creature has a different tolerance to various envionmental factors. What may seem cold to you is shorts weather to me. What may seem like toxic smoke to me is simply a cigarette to someone else. We are all different.

Fish are too. Each one has a bit different tolerance to ammonia or nitrite or nitrate or pH or whatever. We get threads describing fish that have lived in a tiny bowl that is rarely changed for years. And they LIVED. (Did not thrive, but that is another matter). And others flip when the nitrates get over 5ppm. So much depends on the genetic makeup of the fish, the physical makeup of the fish, the way it was raised and treated BEFORE you got it as well as after.

Then there is THE LINE. It is not a solid black and white, yes or no, plus or minus type measurement. It is a soft science - discovering where ammonia or nitrite or whatever becomes toxic. The definition of "Toxic" is even a variable.

In general, when you see the word "toxic", that means that is the level at which something becomes DEADLY for the average healthy individual. 5ppm ammonia will kill a fish within minutes. So, yes - it is TOXIC. But 2ppm ammonia will cause serious burns - and gill damage. Such injury is slow to heal - and causes severe damage - damage that can easily lead to death. 1ppm ammonia will also cause burns on most fish - resulting in the tell-tale black streaks and spots on a fish when the fish's tissue begins to heal.

Some fish will show lethargy at 0.5% ammonia - and sometimes even light burns. I have some that I can tell when the ammonia is at 0.25ppm. So much depends on the fish, what else is going on with the fish, how long it has to tolerate the ammonia/nitrite, etc.

Do not assume that ammonia is "safe". It is not. The less ammonia you have in the tank, the SAFER it is, but any positive reading is still not "safe".

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I understand what you are saying, Daryl. Thanks for that. However, as I would never let my ammonia get to anywhere close to 5.0ppm, I was just trying to make a point that I really don't think ammonia caused Jaws' problem. If it was just black markings on his body, then yes, I would say it was a healing ammonia burn. However, there is just one small black slash mark exactly where his fin is ripped. It may not be fin rot, but it definately has something to do with that ripped fin. There are also white marks on his fins (not at the end of his fins where is is natural coloring) and blood streaks in his tail fins. I would never say, "Oh, I can let my ammonia get up to 5.0ppm because that is okay for my fish". I try to keep the ammonia as low as possible everyday. That is why I check the ammonia twice a day and do a wc everyday to keep it low.

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However, there is just one small black slash mark exactly where his fin is ripped. It may not be fin rot, but it definately has something to do with that ripped fin.

Couldn't it be possible though - that because the fin was ripped - it was more sensitive to the ammonia at any level, so it could be ammonia burn? :idont

Just a thought. :rolleyes:

Debbie

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I guess anything is possible in my crazy tank. However, what I thought was so funny is that Jaws' fin was definately not ripped the day before I noticed the black mark. The day that I did notice the black mark, the fin was ripped, too. Oh well, I guess I will never REALLY know what caused it.

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There is no definitive line or concentration of a polutant in the water where you can say "this is sfe, but that is not".

Every living creature has a different tolerance to various envionmental factors. What may seem cold to you is shorts weather to me. What may seem like toxic smoke to me is simply a cigarette to someone else. We are all different.

Fish are too. Each one has a bit different tolerance to ammonia or nitrite or nitrate or pH or whatever. We get threads describing fish that have lived in a tiny bowl that is rarely changed for years. And they LIVED. (Did not thrive, but that is another matter). And others flip when the nitrates get over 5ppm. So much depends on the genetic makeup of the fish, the physical makeup of the fish, the way it was raised and treated BEFORE you got it as well as after.

Then there is THE LINE. It is not a solid black and white, yes or no, plus or minus type measurement. It is a soft science - discovering where ammonia or nitrite or whatever becomes toxic. The definition of "Toxic" is even a variable.

In general, when you see the word "toxic", that means that is the level at which something becomes DEADLY for the average healthy individual. 5ppm ammonia will kill a fish within minutes. So, yes - it is TOXIC. But 2ppm ammonia will cause serious burns - and gill damage. Such injury is slow to heal - and causes severe damage - damage that can easily lead to death. 1ppm ammonia will also cause burns on most fish - resulting in the tell-tale black streaks and spots on a fish when the fish's tissue begins to heal.

Some fish will show lethargy at 0.5% ammonia - and sometimes even light burns. I have some that I can tell when the ammonia is at 0.25ppm. So much depends on the fish, what else is going on with the fish, how long it has to tolerate the ammonia/nitrite, etc.

Do not assume that ammonia is "safe". It is not. The less ammonia you have in the tank, the SAFER it is, but any positive reading is still not "safe".

Once a tank cycles, the ammonia should stay at 0 at all times. This ammonia level dilemma only exist during cycling a tank with fishes in it, which is the case with Nickie's tank.

During cycling, it is inevitable that some level of ammonia will exist in the tank. Too much and it harms the fish, too little and the tank won't cycle. How much is too much and how much is too little? At the time I gave Nickie the link, the general consensus on the board was that she wasn't letting the ammonia get high enough to bloom the Nitrites producing bacs. Now although I don't know Nickie personally, I have gotten to know her well enough that I knew she would err on the side of ultra-safety. I knew that she would never let the ammonia climb to anything even remotely reaching the near danger zone.

Now let's get back to Betty(Dataguru)'s chart. I always felt she was one of the foremost authority on water chemistry on KGF, so I really felt confident that her chart is accurate. That being said Daryl, I have great respect for your immense knowledge of goldies as well. So I am quite surprised that the two of you have contrasting opinions. I have no idea whatever happened to Dataguru but I would love to hear her side of the story.

When I first came to this site and knew nothing about Goldies three years ago I was cycling my tank and panicked when my ammonia sustained 2ppm. Betty told me to do massive water changes but don't panic because it was still not at the danger zone. The ammonia actually peaked to 4ppm but went down to 2ppm after a massive water change. I believe the tank cycled within a few days after that. Now knowing what I know today, I would never ever let the ammonia go that high if I was to cycle another tank. I know Nickie who is 10X smarter than me would never let her ammonia get even remotely close to that level. Anyway, my fishes never got any burns or any damages and were perfectly fine so my personal experience seems to support Betty's chart.

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"I know Nickie who is 10X smarter than me would never let her ammonia get even remotely close to that level. Anyway, my fishes never got any burns or any damages and were perfectly fine so my personal experience seems to support Betty's chart."

:rofl Who is the one who keeps asking YOU for help??? You are such a sweetie!!!! My experience has also supported this chart. Thanks JOH!!!

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I'm the first to admit that I can read something and get it all wrong.. But I didn't take Daryl's reply to be contradicting the chart - per se - but more adding more information to it. There is no black and white - it's the make up of the fish.

Something else that is very important.. there is no link to this chart on this thread. While many of us know what is being referred to, a newbie may come along and read this and think "Cool - I can go to 5ppm before it's toxic".

I think Daryl was just getting more info here to not confuse those who haven't followed Nickie's tank cycle.

But - that's just my opinion. :rolleyes:

Debbie

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:exactly

I am just trying to make sure that people understand that there is no definitive "line" where the fish are "fine" up to that point and "not fine" over that point.

It is a sliding scale. The higher the ammonia, the more impact to the fish. At some point, depending on the fish (and the pH and temp and such as the chart shows) the ammonia becomes too much for the fish and they will die.

You cannot assign specific numeric measurements to this point for there are too many variables that cannot be factored in. The fish, themselves, being the biggest factor.

The chart is good. But it should be used as a "help mate" - not a specific numeric director.

:)

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:exactly

I am just trying to make sure that people understand that there is no definitive "line" where the fish are "fine" up to that point and "not fine" over that point.

It is a sliding scale. The higher the ammonia, the more impact to the fish. At some point, depending on the fish (and the pH and temp and such as the chart shows) the ammonia becomes too much for the fish and they will die.

You cannot assign specific numeric measurements to this point for there are too many variables that cannot be factored in. The fish, themselves, being the biggest factor.

The chart is good. But it should be used as a "help mate" - not a specific numeric director.

:)

Then we are on the same page Daryl. :)

I fully agree with you that in the hands of a careless individual this chart could be highly dangerous.

And I do see your point about different fishes having varying level of immunity although I would assume that as long as you don't approach the lower end of the yellow zone, it would be pretty much safe even for a lower immunity fish..... :unsure:

I did hesitate posting the link on Nickie's thread. However after some consideration, as I stated earlier, I was confident that in no way would Nickie "abuse" the chart.

BTW, Daryl, do you know whatever happened to Betty(Dataguru)?

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