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Re: [APD] pH and NH3/NH4+

Tell you NH3 pH folks what.
  Try and add 2.7ppm of NH4 sometime.
  Hey, try it in your Discus tank:-) at low pH
  Try it at a pH of 6 and a pH of 9.
  You'll get similar results.
  Fish Death.
  The question should be, does pH really matter in planted tanks?
  Probably not, __except__ if you plan on having lots of NH4/extremely overloaded tanks, and also plan on not doing water changes/overfed/add way too many fish/ do not remove dead fish/not maintain the tanks.
  You will have dead fish and algae, but it'll will not be due to the pH.
  Higher pH will make it more toxic, but things are pretty loused up to start with if this becomes an issue.
  You could preference it with suggesting it does matter in rare cases where the owner does not maintain their tank, adds too much food/does not do water changes, overloads everything, no water chanes, does not remove dead decaying fish, does not add CO2 etc.........
  But neglect is much more likely the cause of death at that point, not so much the pH.
  1ppm of NH4 or a higher pH will be even more toxic, but we do not have pH/NH4 in issues in planted tanks to begin with, nor should we in regular tanks.
  Even small amounts of NH4 is not good.
  Yep pH will make it more toxic, that was known for a long time, the issue is that there should not be any to begin with.That's not the pH's fault, that's the neglect on part of the aquarists.
  When they fail and kill their fish, what would you suggest if you worked at the LFS?
  I would not be telling them to address pH to save their fish nor solve their problem. 
  It would not even be part of the advice I would give.
  I would tell them to reduce feeding(are their any left overs?? after 5-10 minutes??)
  Reduce fish load, how many in what size of tank?
  Cleaning, maintenace, dead fish in filter etc, unvacuumed substrate?
  Water changes? Do they do any?
  These, not the pH, are the real issues at hand with respect to pH/NH3.
  It's aso the long term solution.
  So it would certainly seem that pH is only secondary here.
  Yes, does have some impact, but not in planted tanks as a rule, and most fish only tanks don't have those daily pH swings either :)
  As far as natural systems, this really does play a large role, a developer trying to get around not putting a sewer system into his development wanted to dump wastewater  directly into a preimer limestone cave, among the largest in the world (near Falls Creek, TN) with a MCL of 2ppm NH4, but dumps into a much higher pH system into this cave system with blind cave fish and many other critters that will die asap with any shock load of NH4 coming in. Add the pH shift and you have certain death of the entire beautiful and diverse cave system even at much lower MCL's, unlike KY which turned Mammoth Cave into a National Park, this hillbilly county(the only one in TN without a sewer system) wanted to turn the largest cave in TN into the world's largest sewer.
  Fortunately, many conservationist (I did a little bit on this subject for them) and the state were able to stop them and one of the points was the pH/NH3 impact on cave life.
  This is not just about saving biodiversity etc either.
   Sad thing is, the porous karst ground water table also supplies their drinking water ad many private wells. You do not dump waste were you drink, but some are more about "development and money at any cost " and demonize common sense/public health, the environment and safety. Yes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, not enough is more dangerous.
  At least you are on the right path with a little knowledge:-)
  pH and NH4/NH3 relationships in large scale and natural systems are very important, but not so much in our application. You might call it a secondary issue with neglect and improper care/too many fish/no water changes etc.
  But I've seen no evidence that pH by itself in a well maintained tank is an issue.
  That is easily seen with large regular water changes which is far more common than high pH/NH3 related issues. Best piece of advice you can give a new aquarist: do regular weekly water changes(25-50%).
  So I'd say the NH3 issue is just that, a NH4/NH3 issue.
  Focus on that, not the pH.
  Tom Barr

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