Ammonia in Aquaponics

The Role Of Ammonia In Aquaponics Systems

If you’re running an aquaponics system, you need to be aware of ammonia’s role in it. Ammonia is produced as a result of fish waste, and if it’s not managed correctly, it can have disastrous consequences. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the role ammonia plays in aquaponics systems, and we’ll also provide tips on how to manage it effectively.

What is Ammonia?

Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, and it is produced when fish waste decomposes. It is also produced by other sources, such as decaying plants. Ammonia is highly toxic to fish, and it can quickly kill them if the levels get too high. In addition, ammonia can also cause problems for the bacteria in your system that are responsible for converting it into nitrites.

Too high ammonia levels in aquaponics can lead to: 

  • Damage to fish tissues, especially in gills and kidneys.
  • Physiological imbalance
  • Impaired fish growth.
  • Weak resistance to diseases.
  • Death

So, as you can see, ammonia is a substance that needs to be managed carefully in an aquaponics system. 


Media Based Aquaponics System


The Role of Ammonia in Aquaponics Systems

Ammonia plays an essential role in aquaponics systems. First of all, it is a source of food for the bacteria that live in the system. These bacteria are responsible for converting ammonia into nitrites, which are less toxic to fish. In addition, ammonia also provides nitrogen to plants, which is an essential nutrient for their growth.

However, as mentioned before, ammonia is also highly toxic to fish. This means that if the levels get too high, it can kill them quickly. Therefore, it’s essential to keep an eye on ammonia levels in your system and take action if necessary.

What is the Ideal Ammonia Level in Aquaponics?

The ideal ammonia level in an aquaponics system is 0.0 ppm. This is because, at this level, the bacteria can convert all the ammonia into nitrites, and there is no risk of it harming the fish. However, it’s not always possible to achieve a level of 0.0 ppm, and levels between 0.01 and 0.25 ppm are considered acceptable; anything above 0.25ppm is toxic to your fish.

How to Test Ammonia Level in an Aquaponics System?

It’s essential to test the ammonia levels regularly, so you can keep an eye on them and take action if necessary. The best way to test the ammonia levels in your system is to use an ammonia test kit. These kits are relatively easy to use, and they’ll give you an accurate reading of the ammonia levels in your system. You can buy them from most aquarium shops or online retailers.

To use the kit, follow the instructions that come with it. Usually, you’ll need to add a few drops of reagent to a sample of water from your system and then compare the color of the water to a chart that comes with the kit. This will tell you exactly how much ammonia is present in your system.

Testing Ammonia in Aquaponics


How to Adjust Ammonia Levels in Aquaponics?

If the ammonia levels in your system are too high, you’ll need to take action to bring them down. The first thing you should do is check that your filtration system is working correctly. If it isn’t, then it could be causing the ammonia levels to rise. You should also check that your fish is healthy and not producing too much waste. If you can’t find the cause of the high ammonia levels, you may need to do a water change.

Too High Ammonia Levels

Higher ammonia levels occur when more ammonia is produced than can be handled by the biofilters. Possible causes for this are overfeeding of fish, high fish density for the volume of water, or not enough aeration. Even if your aquaponics system is stable, it is good to check the ammonia levels weekly to monitor and catch changes early and make adjustments before they become a problem. Below are the methods of adjusting ammonia in aquaponics systems. 

You can bring down the ammonia levels in your system by the following:

  1. Checking the pumps and DO levels.
  2. Adjusting the feeding rates of fish or the fish density (A rule of thumb is per 2 gallons of water, 1lb of fish). 
  3. Increasing nitrification efficiency.
  4. Reducing the quantity of nitrogen going into your system by lowering feeding rates, removing dead fish, and removing uneaten fish feed after feeding. 

Too Low Ammonia Levels

If your system has not had enough ammonia, your plants will not grow. So enough ammonia must be produced and converted into nitrate for your plants to thrive. Low ammonia occurs when there are too few fish in the system or too much water for the number of fish grown. The solution to low ammonia levels is adding more fish to your system, increasing feeding rates, or using a smaller tank.

Tips on Keeping The Ammonia Level Ideal

By following the tips below, you can ensure that ammonia levels in your aquaponics system are kept under control. This will create a healthy environment for your fish and plants and help them thrive. 

  • Test the water regularly and record the results to spot any trends.
  • Look out for signs of stress in your fish, such as listlessness or increased respiration rates.
  • Take action if the levels of ammonia start to rise. This might involve doing a water change or adding more bacteria to the system.


Ammonia is an essential part of aquaponics systems, but it also needs to be managed carefully. High ammonia levels can be toxic to fish and may even kill them. Therefore, it’s important to monitor the ammonia levels in your system and take action if necessary. 

After you’ve done a water change, it’s crucial to test the levels regularly to ensure they’re coming down as expected. The best way to do this is to use an ammonia test kit to get an accurate reading of the levels in your system. If the ammonia levels are too high, you’ll need to do a water change to bring them down.

Thanks for reading! I hope this article has helped you understand more about ammonia in aquaponics systems and how to manage it.