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5 DIY Ammonia Tests To Lookout For In Your Aquarium!

The ammonia cycle really is the bane of many fish keepers lives and it is one of the most common problems that we see people having time and time again.

Even experienced fish keepers can still have problems with ammonia spikes in their tanks causing a wide range of different issues.

Although there are a number of different ammonia test kits on the market, we have noticed a number of people asking for a DIY ammonia test kit method recently.

We would always recommend that you actually use an ammonia test kit if possible due to how much of a potential problem the ammonia levels in your tank can be.

That said though, we know that many ammonia test kits can give false positives so we wanted to publish this article going over some DIY ammonia test signals that you are able to look out for in your tank.

Rather than actually test the ammonia levels in your aquarium, we are going to be using common signs of high ammonia levels in your tank as a DIY ammonia test kit.

Some DIY Ammonia Test Signs to Lookout For!

Here are some of the DIY ammonia test signs that you are able to keep an eye out for in your tank that can indicate that your ammonia levels are higher than they should be:-

  • Excessive Hiding!
  • Lack Of Appetite!
  • Listlessness!
  • Discolored Gills!
  • Pale Live Plants!

The higher the ammonia levels get, the more of these signs you will be able to see in your tank at any given time.

Excessive Hiding!

If your fish are hiding in your tank then this can be a sign of high ammonia levels as your fish are hiding away due to the irritation cause by the high ammonia levels.

Your fish may be in their hiding place and visible shaking too helping to confirm that the ammonia levels in your tank are too high and that your aquarium needs a partial water change.

Lack Of Appetite!

If your fish are not eating as much as normal or if they are totally off their food then this can again be a sign of high ammonia levels in your tank.

A lack of appetite due to ammonia levels in your fish tank will usually cause your fish to display other symptoms from this list.

There are a number of potential causes of a lack of appetite in your fish such as constipation and internal parasites so a lack of appetite alone is not enough to judge the ammonia levels in your tank.


If your fish are just swimming around aimlessly and not really doing very much then this can also be a sign of high ammonia levels.

Your fish may also be gasping for air at the surface of your tank too which is another sign that the ammonia levels in your aquarium are too high.

The fish may seem to not have much control over its ability to control where it swims to while also having issues with staying up right.

Discolored Gills!

If you take a look at your fish’s gills and they appear to be red or inflamed then this can be a sign that the ammonia levels in your tank are too high.

The gills will look like they are burning and this can cause a fair bit of discomfort to your fish so you will need to act fast if you see this happening.

This is usually only visible in your fish when the ammonia levels of your tank is much higher than it should be.

If you do notice that the gills on your fish are discolored or enflamed then you need to take action quickly.

Leaving the ammonia levels in your tank at these levels may be enough to cause serious harm to your fish but in most cases, a simple 20%-25% partial water change will be enough to fix the issue.

Pale Live Plants!

If you have live plants in your aquarium then another sign that the ammonia levels may be too high is if the plants start to pale in color.

The leaves of the plant may start to turn yellow or brown and this is a sign that they are not getting enough oxygen due to the high ammonia levels.