[Coral-List] NH4 Levels in Aquaria

Szmant, Alina szmanta at uncw.edu
Fri Dec 30 14:03:57 EST 2005

Hi Chris and others:
But also keep in mind that what is undetectable NH4+ by aquarists using standard aquarium seawater nutrient test kits are not undetectable levels using instruments such as autoanalyzers and more sensitive chemistries.  In my experience corals raised in aquaria for prolonged periods at up to 5 uM NH4 plus 2-3 uM NO3 do just fine (nice and brown, grow like mad) as long as one has a student or snails to keep the algae under control.  These levels translate to 70 ppb NH4 (0.07 ppm) and 40-50 ppb (0.04-0.05 ppm) NO3.  Here is a cut-and-paste for a low level nitrate LaMotte test kit sold by Aquatic Ecosystems: 
 "This is the final nitrogen product formed by bacterial oxidation of ammonia. Although it is not usually considered a threat to freshwater fish, it is a plant nutrient and can harm marine invertebrates. Testing takes 12 minutes. Range: .25 to 10 mg/liter. ". 
Note lowest level is 0.25 mg/L = 250 ug/L = ca. 18 uM nitrate.  This would be very polluted concentrations in a tropical natural water body other than deep ocean/below thermocline.
Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Coral Reef Research Group
UNCW-Center for Marine Science 
5600 Marvin K. Moss Ln
Wilmington NC 28409
Tel: (910)962-2362 & Fax:  (910)962-2410
Cell:  (910)200-3913
email:  szmanta at uncw.edu
Web Page:  http://people.uncw.edu/szmanta


From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov on behalf of D'Elia, Christopher F.
Sent: Thu 12/29/2005 10:05 AM
To: Stephen Lowes; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: RE: [Coral-List] NH4 Levels in Aquaria

Steve, Angus, and others-

I agree - these are very high levels of ammonia (~1.4 mM), and it suggests that denitrification needs to be enhanced in the aquarium.  Note that in his book Aquarium Corals, Eric Borneman recommends that "ammonia levels should remain effectively undetectable or near zero parts per million (ppm)."  In case you are not aware of it, his book is a scientifically based treatise on maintaining corals in aquaria, but is written with a lay audience in mind.  It has superb pictures and illustrations.  I recommend it highly.

Chris D'Elia


From: Stephen Lowes [mailto:slowes at twcny.rr.com]
Sent: Wed 12/28/2005 8:11 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] NH4 Levels in Aquaria


I'm not sure where you are getting your published NH4 levels for coral
propagation. 20ppm NH4 would be very detrimental to any aquaria, fish or
invertebrate culture. I run a small coral farm and strive for undetectable
ammonia (ammonium), and nitrite levels. There is reasonable rationale for
maintaining 1-5 ppm nitrate levels for efficient coral growth but there is
little work published species by species.

Steve Lowes, Ph.D.

Angus, others.

Sorry about the following but I am not familar with the aquarium worlds.

Could you provide some of the "lot" references for ammonia NH4 being 20ppm
for coral propagation as these levels far exceed the levels accepted for
discharge of treated sewage effluent to marine waters.

Are these levels acceptable for aquaria only ?? - I believe they would
stimulate alot of alga in the tank or real water.

Dr. Tom Williams

--- Angus Macdonald <angus at ori.org.za> wrote:

> Hi,
> A lot has been published about optimal NH4 concentration in aquaria in
> which coral is propagated. 20 ppm seems to be about right.
> Is this in the right
> ballpark and does it become toxic to hard or soft corals at higher
> concentrations?
> Thanks
> Angus Macdonald
> Oceanographic Research Institute
> uShaka Marine World
> Point Road
> Durban
> (031) 328 8168
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

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