Ammonia poisoning

Ammonia poisoning is diagnosed as follows:

1. History: Overcrowding, new fish added without increasing filtration, change in system management (a new person is feeding the fish, the type and amount of food have changed, the frequency of water changes has decreased, dead plants and fish are not removed immediately), the recent addition of chemical, newly established aquaria, and recently washed biological filter, or biological filter failure.

2. Clinical manifestations

3. Unionized ammonia level measurement:  Commercially available kits may be used to test your water and determine whether or not you have an ammonia problem in your aquarium or pond. There are two types of ammonia:

  1. Ammonia (NH3), has been unionized and is poisonous to fish.
  2. Ionized ammonia (NH4+) (ammonium) is a less harmful form of ammonia.

The quantity of unionized ammonia NH3 in water is determined by the water's PH, temperature, and salinity. The presence of unionized (harmful) ammonia is favored by high PH, warmth, and low salinity. If the unionized ammonia concentration is more than 0.05 mg/L, it must be lowered as soon as feasible.


  1. Changing the water often or increasing the water flow will lower the ammonia level.
  2. Adding new water will reduce the levels of ammonia.
  3. If the ammonia level exceeds 2.5 ppm, transfer the fish.
  4. If the extra feed is noticed in an established pond, avoid accumulating it or even cease feeding the fish.
  5. Lower the water's PH level (for every 1 unit decrease in PH there is a ten-fold decrease in unionized ammonia). However, this must be done with caution because a quick reduction in PH might create additional issues.
  6. Increase the capacity of biological filtration.
  7. Reduce the tank's stocking density.

What does ammonia poisoning in fish look like?

Ammonia commonly shows in your tank as a dead fish, either floating on the surface or resting on the bottom. You'll probably observe a pattern of behavior before death as a result of the loss of biological functions – not feeding, not swimming, bulging eyes, expanded anus, and puffed-out gills, to mention a few. Ammonia poisoning can strike abruptly or gradually over several days. At first glance, the fish could appear to be gasping for breath. Their gills will become a reddish-purple tone, making them appear to be bleeding. As their biological processes deteriorate, your fish will lose their appetite and become increasingly sluggish. Fish with clamped fins may be found near the bottom of the tank in some situations.

Can a fish recover from ammonia poisoning?

Begin treatment as soon as the ammonia level in your tank increases beyond 1 ppm (parts per million) on a typical test kit. A 50 percent water change, as well as lowering the pH of the water, will bring rapid relief (be sure the water added is at the same temperature as the aquarium). It may be necessary to do several water changes in a short period of time to get the ammonia level below 1 ppm.

If the fish appear to be in serious danger, neutralize the ammonia with a chemical pH control solution. Restrict feedings at this point to avoid creating further waste. Feedings must be stopped for many days if ammonia levels are really high. Furthermore, no additional fish should be put in the tank until the ammonia and nitrite levels have both dropped to zero.

How to check ammonia levels in a fish tank with the kit

You'll need to test the tank water to see if excessive ammonia levels are the cause of the fish's death. Test kits supplied at fish retailers make measuring ammonia in fish tanks simple. For rapid results, use an ammonia test strip kit. For around 10 seconds, dip the test strip into the water. Remove the test strip and match it to the bottle's color scheme. You can estimate ammonia levels in the tank by carefully comparing the color on the strip to the color chart. If you're trying to reduce ammonia levels, test the tank every couple of days. This will assist you in determining what is causing your tank's ammonia levels.

Chart of Ammonia Levels in a Fish tank

Although a conventional ammonia test kit can only indicate the total quantity of ammonia and ammonium in the aquarium, the result should be compared to a chart that shows the relationship between ammonia and pH levels. Any aquarium with dangerous ammonia (NH3) value of.05 mg/L is on the absolute edge of safety. However, if the pH is 8.0, such a level may be obtained with total ammonia compounds of just 1.2 (NH3+NH4) mg/L. In an aquarium with a pH of 7.2, however, it would require a combined ammonia concentration of 7.3 mg/L to attain the same amount of hazardous ammonia. Up to 7.3 mg/L total ammonia compounds or less, any pH measurement of 7.2 and below will not cause ammonia poisoning.

NH3 level PPM
SAFE 0.001 0.020
ALERT 0.020 0.050
ALARM 0.050 0.200
TOXIC 0.200 0.500
DEADLY 0.500+  

How to Lower Ammonia levels in fish tanks naturally

Fish and other aquatic species are particularly poisonous to ammonia. Ammonia levels of 0 parts per million are the only ones that are considered safe (ppm). Even concentrations as low as 2 ppm can kill fish in your aquarium. You can assist bring ammonia levels back down to a safe, controllable level for your fish by monitoring the water in your tank and making the required adjustments.

  1. One or more water changes are one of the simplest and most effective strategies to reduce ammonia levels. Water changes will quickly remove ammonia from the fish tank and replace it with safe water, which will help dilute any leftover ammonia traces in the system. It's vital to stagger water changes out over a number of days to avoid stressing out any fish or invertebrates that are already anxious.
  2. Chemical additives are occasionally essential and can assist speed up the process of setting up a new tank.
  3. A water conditioner that eliminates chlorine as well as detoxifies ammonia, nitrite, and other heavy metals are one of the greatest things to have on hand at all times.

How do I get rid of ammonia in my aquarium?

Fill your new aquarium with old water and one tiny cup of this unclean stuff on the very bottom. Cover it with at least 2 inches of fresh aquarium gravel. In less than three weeks, the "good bacteria" in the gravel will enable the nitrogen cycle to complete itself in a new tank. The quantity of hazardous byproducts in the water is reduced as a result.

Another technique to avoid ammonia poisoning is to provide little amounts of food to the fish and then remove any food that hasn't been devoured within five minutes. Clean the tank once a week, being sure to remove any dead plants or dirt. At least every other week, perform a partial water change. At the very least, test the water for ammonia.