Ammonia in Tap Water
We often get people panicking because they've suddenly realized that they have got ammonia present in their aquarium. If you've done your research and read the information on our website you will know that ammonia is highly toxic to fish. We always ask people the obvious questions regarding the presence of ammonia, is your tank cycled?, are you putting too much food in your tank?, have you got any dead fish or plants left in your tank? In many circumstances it is something quite obvious that is causing the ammonia to be present. However sometimes it may be the case that ammonia is actually present in your tap water already. So how did the ammonia get into your tap water? In most countries, water companies are required to add chemicals to their tap water that remove harmful bacteria so it is safe for you to drink. Unfortunately for us fish keepers these chemicals will destroy your biological filter which rely on bacteria to remove harmful toxins such as ammonia and nitrite. That is why you use the water conditioner when doing water changes. Most of these conditioners remove these harmful chemicals so the water is safe for your fish to live in.
Chlorine is probably the most common and well-known chemical used to reduce bacteria growth in water used by humans. However, water companies in recent years have turned to using a chemical called chloramine. Don't confuse chlorine with chloramine, they are completely different. Now this is where the ammonia comes into the equation. Chloramine is made up of chlorine and ammonia. I bet the penny is starting to drop now? Fortunately there are additives that we can use that neutralize chlorine, chloramine and ammonia, one such product is called Prime, it is very concentrated so goes a long way, very good value for money.
If indeed you do get ammonia in your tap water, it shouldn't be very high. If you've got a healthy biological filter then this should deal quite easily with the ammonia contained in the tap water so don't worry too much. Just remember to treat your water with a good quality water conditioner, remember I recommend Prime.
If in doubt and you want to know more, contact your water authority, by law they are required to make public what is contained in their water. Unfortunately and speaking from personal experience, that is all they will do.