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Re: KH and Ammonia

> Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 13:17:02 -0700
> From: "Dixon, Steven T. (Exchange)" <stdixon at ben_bechtel.com>
> Subject: KH and Ammonia
> Dave Whittaker wrote:  >>> I encountered a similar problem in a recently
> set up tank using a sand over soil substrate. I was losing rasbora on a
> daily basis until I had the presence of mind to test pH and KH. The
> latter had risen from 1 to 7; hence, the ammonia released during water
> changes were killing the fish.>>>
> I'm missing something here.  Why would a rise in KH release ammonia and
> kill your fish?  KH and pH should rise together, right?  Changing the
> water should reduce any concentrations of ammonia, unless the new water
> contains ammonia.  What am I missing?

You may be missing that many very stubborn folks continue to kill their fish
by using old hypo-based dechlor products despite the switch to chloramine
all across the US (and Canada?). The massive ammonia release at higher pH is
quite deadly. It is subtly destructive to gills and causes stunting at lower
concentrations or reduced pH.

I know of two major Betta breeders that encountered virtually entire
wipeouts because they ignored/missed the warnings and didn't switch dechlor
products that "had always worked before."

Most US water suppliers also are deliberately using lime o/e to push pH well
above 8. It's an unfortunate coincidence for fish. The high pH reduces lead
and copper etching from old pipes, but really zaps fish when the chlorine
ammonia bond is broken by old-fashioned dechlor products, releasing

Watch for massive fish kills in SF during the coming year or so as
chloramine comes on line there. Despite all the warnings, folks stubbornly
refuse to switch to "Amquel," until most of their fish are killed. [There
are other, less-stable products that can sequester the ammonia, too, but
"Amquel" seems most proven and safest, AFAIK.]

In SF, the problem may even be worse than elsewhere. The most popular (and
attractive) gravel is "Lapis Lustre," quarried near Moss Landing beaches.
It's full of undissolved seashell bits and usually drives Gh and pH up
quickly during the first few months of water changes until the shell
surfaces stabilize.


Wright Huntley, Fremont CA, USA, 510 494-8679  huntleyone at home dot com

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