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    Thread: Pond Water Readings

    1. #1
      WLcreations is offline Member
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      High Ammonia and Consistently low PH

      Hi, I have a question about water chemistry readings and wasn't sure where to post. I apologize if this isn't the proper thread. I can definitely repost to the right one if someone can point me to the right direction.

      I recently took over a 500 gallon pond that is overstocked with koi. I'm in the process of building a bigger pond but want to get some advice on maintaining proper water quality until the new pond is built.

      Readings are (the tests are done mornings and evenings, throughout various days of the week and tend to be pretty stable):
      PH 6.4 (tap PH is around 7.0 and I do 15% water changes every week.)
      Ammonia 1.0ppm
      Nitrite 0ppm
      Nitrate 80ppm
      KH: 40
      GH: 120

      The KH, PH, and Ammonia concerns me. I heard about adding baking soda to increase Alkalinity and therefore PH but higher PH would also make the Ammonia more dangerous. The fish seem to be doing ok but I heard about the dangers of low KH and high ammonia so I figured I'd ask around to get some more advice before trying to mess with the PH too much since the fish have been in this setting for a while. What's strange is that even though KH is low, the PH hasn't changed much between morning, afternoon, or evening readings. Does anybody have any advice on whether I should add baking soda, try something else, or alter water change schedule?
      Last edited by WLcreations; 10-10-2018 at 02:48 PM.

    2. #2
      icu2's Avatar
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      I think if it were my pond I'd get Prime or Safe to ionize the ammonia to make it less toxic to start.
      A Seachem card will give you a better measurement of NH3 (the dangerous non ionized ammonia) and
      if it is under control you can add baking soda to raise the KH without the same concern. Be aware that
      drip tests will still show ammonia because they don't register the difference between NH3 and NH4.

      I'd also be investigating ways to get more bio going for the pond to be able to handle the ammonia level on
      its own without the aid of Prime/Safe till the new pond is ready.

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    3. #3
      DarkStar is online now Supporting Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by WLcreations View Post
      Hi, I have a question about water chemistry readings and wasn't sure where to post. I apologize if this isn't the proper thread. I can definitely repost to the right one if someone can point me to the right direction.

      I recently took over a 500 gallon pond that is overstocked with koi. I'm in the process of building a bigger pond but want to get some advice on maintaining proper water quality until the new pond is built.

      Readings are (the tests are done mornings and evenings, throughout various days of the week and tend to be pretty stable):
      PH 6.4 (tap PH is around 7.0 and I do 15% water changes every week.)
      Ammonia 1.0ppm
      Nitrite 0ppm
      Nitrate 80ppm
      KH: 40
      GH: 120

      The KH, PH, and Ammonia concerns me. I heard about adding baking soda to increase Alkalinity and therefore PH but higher PH would also make the Ammonia more dangerous. The fish seem to be doing ok but I heard about the dangers of low KH and high ammonia so I figured I'd ask around to get some more advice before trying to mess with the PH too much since the fish have been in this setting for a while. What's strange is that even though KH is low, the PH hasn't changed much between morning, afternoon, or evening readings. Does anybody have any advice on whether I should add baking soda, try something else, or alter water change schedule?
      Hi, WLcreations,

      You didn't mention what if any aeration you have in the pond?

      The Ammonia is a concern and as others have said, get Prime or Safe to get that down asap. Then get your pH and KH in order.

      As the ammonia begins to break down, watch for spikes of Nitrites which is very toxic to fish. (it causes Brown Blood Disease).
      Even a reading of 0.25 is dangerous so be prepared to do an immediate water exchange - at least 1/3 of your volume. Then you'll have to treat your pond with 0.15% salt to reduce the uptake of Nitrite to Koi.
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    4. #4
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      Gotcha, thanks everyone! I'll try to get the ammonia down. I used to use Prime in my indoor aquariums but stopped after I found a video online that said Prime or "Any treatment which states that it will 'detoxify / bind ammonia, nitrite and nitrate' seems to have a retarding / starving effect on bacteria so achieving a proper set up with them is hard or impossible"

      Here is the video:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5FkSTYkEAE&t=1666s

      I don't know if this is true but I've tried to avoid using Prime just in case. Would doing a large water change help with getting ammonia down for a few days or would it have no effect?

      For aeration, there isn't an air pump in the pond, just two waterfalls, 1 large and 1 small. Sorry, this is probably a dumb question but I know that oxygen helps bacteria grow so I assume adding more air could help increase more bacteria = turning more ammonia into nitrite but, just curious, does it help with increase PH also?

    5. #5
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      Water conditioners only ionize Amonia into ammonium, which is less toxic than Amonia. The benificial bacteria feed off of both Amonia and ammonium , so the water conditioners will not slow a bio cycle down. The ammonium ionized by the water conditioner will only stay ionized up to around 72 hours , at which time , it reverts back to Amonia, so if the filter is not cycled yet , water conditioners will need to be added every 2-3 days until the filter matures enough to handle all Amonia .

    6. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by WLcreations View Post
      Gotcha, thanks everyone! I'll try to get the ammonia down. I used to use Prime in my indoor aquariums but stopped after I found a video online that said Prime or "Any treatment which states that it will 'detoxify / bind ammonia, nitrite and nitrate' seems to have a retarding / starving effect on bacteria so achieving a proper set up with them is hard or impossible"

      Here is the video:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5FkSTYkEAE&t=1666s

      I don't know if this is true but I've tried to avoid using Prime just in case. Would doing a large water change help with getting ammonia down for a few days or would it have no effect?

      For aeration, there isn't an air pump in the pond, just two waterfalls, 1 large and 1 small. Sorry, this is probably a dumb question but I know that oxygen helps bacteria grow so I assume adding more air could help increase more bacteria = turning more ammonia into nitrite but, just curious, does it help with increase PH also?
      There have been many ponds that have been started successfully using the Prime/Safe ammonia binding chemicals. As for the large water change, check your tap water for ammonia first, as many water suppliers use chloramine as the treatment and it is a blend of chlorine and ammonia, so the tap water could be higher than the pond water with ammonia, in which case it would be worse than not doing a water change. Typically, I discourage water changes of more than 25% as it changes the temperature, pH, KH, and other factors that can be stressful to the fish.

      If the KH is up, well over 100ppm, preferable over 150 ppm, you will find that without sufficient aeration, there will be some build up of carbon dioxide in the water, which is carbonic acid, which will lower the pH to a value less than 8.3. Carbon dioxide needs significant exposure to the atmosphere to be removed from the water.

      It was found with bead filters in particular, that a high KH was needed to get them to cycle. I think part of the problem is that the bottom of an upflow bead pack is getting all of the ammonia and oxygen and starts to mature, but when the filter is backwashed many of those beads end up in higher locations, where there is a higher carbon dioxide level causing low pH and the good bacteria die due to mini pH crashes which will kill a filter.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

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    7. #7
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      Quote Originally Posted by catfish whiskers View Post
      Water conditioners... ionize Amonia into ammonium
      I've heard this numerous times here. Regurgitated myth? Could you or anyone please provide a reliable source.

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    8. #8
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      Quote Originally Posted by KoiRun View Post
      I've heard this numerous times here. Regurgitated myth? Could you or anyone please provide a reliable source.

      I thought You were a scientist ?
      Iím not , Iím only a hobbyist, and this is stuff Iíve learned over the years .
      Ammonium is ionized Amonia.
      Do a simple test . Fill a bucket with a source water containing chloramines , or add about 2ppm of Amonia . Take two different readings , a free Amonia ( unionized or NH3) and a total Amonia (ionized or NH4 + NH3 ) Add enough of an Amonia binder of Your choice that will ionize the 2ppm.
      Take the two readings again. If You added enough Amonia binder , you should now have 0 free Amonia , and the same number of total Amonia that You had from the first reading .
      Donít disturb the bucket.
      Repeat these testís daily , and watch what happens .

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