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Ammonia Test Result Question


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  • Regular Member

When checking the color of an ammonia test (API Liquid goes from yellow to dark green) should you hold the tube directly on the card and not let any light shine through it, or should you hold it directly above the card to avoid a shadow on the glass?

If I hold the tube a tiny bit away from the card it is a light green, maybe a .25

If I hold it directly on the card it looks like a 1.0

Since I'm still cycling this is a big difference. I know there has to be some ammonia in the tank in order for the bacteria to feed/grow whatever it does and that I'm supposed to do a water change to keep in under 1.0

So, do I do a 50-75% water change b/c this test says it's 1.0 ?

Or do I do a smaller/no water change since it's actually a .25 ?

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  • Regular Member

The light source should be behind you and I hold mine slightly ahead of the card so that the light shines through. Others will chime in on how they do it, but that's my method.

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  • Regular Member

The light source should be behind you and I hold mine slightly ahead of the card so that the light shines through. Others will chime in on how they do it, but that's my method.

That is what I usually do as well. When I do this, the color is much lighter than if I had the tube directly touching the card with the light behind me.

Normally, it's not a big difference but today, maybe it's the lighting since the weather has changed, the difference is quite noticeable.

Thank you for responding. I have been feeling quite anxious.

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  • Regular Member

Wow, this is really helpful.

I know dropper tests are more accurate, but that doesn't mean I don't goof reading them!

I gave up and did a water change just to be safe. I retested and the color was lighter, now it's between a .25 and a .5 for sure depending on the light hitting it so it's a good thing I changed it.

I hate this test kit though. It's hard to read, maybe I'm just color blind or something, I don't know,

I use the API kit, so if anyone has a better suggestion I am open to it.

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  • Regular Member

The API kit is pretty much upper crust as test kits go. I think the fact that it's very accurate can make it hard to read, say in cases where the ammonia really is between .25 and .5, they don't have a color block for the in-between number, so you are still guessing.

That'll happen with anything short of a digital tester, which are Priiiicey.

I love my API kit, I really do, but I wish that it spoke English! "Your PH is 7.6." would be a lovely thing to hear as opposed to the internal dialogue "Okay, on the low range test it's at least 7.6, on the high range one, it's either 7.4 or 7.8. Or.. Maybe it's not..."

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  • Regular Member

The API kit is pretty much upper crust as test kits go. I think the fact that it's very accurate can make it hard to read, say in cases where the ammonia really is between .25 and .5, they don't have a color block for the in-between number, so you are still guessing.

That'll happen with anything short of a digital tester, which are Priiiicey.

I love my API kit, I really do, but I wish that it spoke English! "Your PH is 7.6." would be a lovely thing to hear as opposed to the internal dialogue "Okay, on the low range test it's at least 7.6, on the high range one, it's either 7.4 or 7.8. Or.. Maybe it's not..."

I bought the API b/c it's the name I saw the most on here and b/c it had readings as low as .25 where a few of the other tests I saw had the first result as a range of .5-1.0 that's not really that helpful for me!

It's just frustrating I guess.

When in doubt, do a water change I suppose. I mean, it can't really hurt I guess. I just know I need some ammonia in order to get the bacteria going.

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  • Regular Member

The first reading on the Hagen kit is 0.6 and then the next is 1.2

So I agree the API is the best way to go. I think all drop tests are the same, your kind of stuck between colors and scratching your head.

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The way i always look at them, it if the color is closer to the higher lvl then i use that one, better to be safe than sorry....

So if my ammonia looks closer to 1.0 than .5 then i go with the higher one and do a water change.... :)

There are digital readers but they cost way to much for me :o

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  • Regular Member

I like the API drop kit, more bang for your buck and I feel it's very accurate. When I do my test I take it to a brightly lit room and hold the tube against the card for a good reading. In rooms with less light it appears to be a greenish yellow tint, and that's why I take mine to a well lit room just to be safe.

-Dennis

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  • Regular Member

I have decided that you're all right, which is why I bought the API test to begin with.

I'm just going to have someone double check it for me b/c I'm really having trouble with the greens.

It was an issue for me when I took biochem in college too so I'm not surprised.

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  • Regular Member

Sometimes I have trouble deciding which bar the test tube matches more closely but I am always doing a water change anyway.

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