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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Why Test for Ammonia?

Ammonia is a toxic waste excreted into the pond by fish, birds, and other pond life.
The natural process that controls ammonia in the pond is called the biological filter.
The biological filter is comprised of nitrifying bacteria that use ammonia as a food source to grow and reproduce. The nitrifying bacteria convert ammonia to nitrite (also toxic) which in turn is converted into non-toxic nitrate. A healthy pond has no detectable ammonia.
Newly set-up ponds need time to develop the biological filter. Until sufficient numbers of nitrifying bacteria grow in the pond, ammonia will be detected.
Overstocking the pond with fish, uneaten fish food and decomposing vegetation can cause excessive ammonia. Ammonia is highly toxic to all pond life.

What the Test Results Mean
In newly set-up ponds, the ammonia level may surge up to 10 parts per million (ppm) or more and then fall as the biological filter becomes established.
In an established pond, the ammonia level should always be zero. Ammonia levels above 0.5 ppm indicate possible overfeeding, overstocking of fish, or excessive decay of organic matter. The elevated ammonia level is not necessarily an indicator of the nitrite level. The nitrite level should be tested separately on a regular basis. Use the PondCare Nitrite Test Kit to test for toxic nitrite.

Reducing Ammonia Levels
In newly set-up ponds, ammonia and nitrite levels will rise and then fall in the first few weeks, indicating the formation of the biological filter. However, to protect the fish use PondCare AMMO-LOCK® as directed, to detoxify ammonia. It’s essential to only add a few pond fish for the first few weeks of the initial pond set-up. Test pond water weekly with the PondCare pH, Ammonia, and Nitrite kits. After both ammonia and nitrite levels drop to zero, a few more pond fish can be added.
If at any time ammonia is detected, take steps to reduce ammonia, such as cleaning the pond filter and pond bottom of debris, and reduce fish feeding. Make sure adequate oxygenation and surface agitation are provided. If the ammonia level exceeds 0.5 ppm, use AMMO-LOCK as directed, or make a 25% water change every two days until the ammonia level drops to zero.

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