Updated on 19 October, 2021
Most aquarium hobbyists utilize a basic 5-inch test strip to give them an overall idea of their water's quality and to constantly alert them of any changing conditions in the water's water chemistry. A basic 5-inch test strip generally contains testing for nitrate, nitrites, pH and hardness. You can purchase these strips at your local pet store or online from a number of different websites. You should keep the strip in a place that you will have access to it all the time. You should also store the strip in a way that you will not scratch or cut it.
An ammonia test strip is a handy tool to have for quick and easy testing of ammonia levels in your pond. Ammonia is a gas that occurs naturally in water, but can cause great harm to fish if it is produced to high levels. High levels of ammonia can also lead to skin diseases in your fish, damage to aquarium equipment, and even death in some species. The best way to check for levels of ammonia in your pond is to set up a solution feeder at regular intervals and attach the test strip to the feeder as well. You can then take the strip with you to your fish holding tank and gently peel off the adhesive backing.
If you find that the ammonia test strips are sticking to your feeder, you need to remove the strip and give the feeder a few moments to soak up the excess ammonia. You should remove any residual glue from the strips before you store them in the freezer. One thing to note: do not ever store ammonia test strips in the freezer in any container or plastic bag. Instead, you should put them in a zip lock bag and secure them tightly. If they become warm to hot, the chemicals in the strips can react with each other and cause a chemical explosion that will not only burn your fish, but also could be dangerous to other animals and plants nearby your house. Do not even touch the strips while they are in this condition.
When testing for ammonia in your pond, the best way to judge the amount of ammonia in the pond is to set up a test strip package. These packages are sold commercially, but you may also be able to buy them from pet stores. Simply take one or two test strips, wrap them up in an information paper and stick them into a Ziploc bag. This will allow you to keep all of your test strips in one location. Do not open the sealed bag until the next day when you are ready to use the strip.
For the first test, you will want to take out the two test strips and place them onto a surface that is not too dirty. Some people place them on their noses, but if you do this, it might not give accurate results. After that, place both strips on a clean surface. Start to rub the strip across the surface of the pond for about ten seconds.
Once the strips start to rub against one another, they should change colors. This will tell you that there is ammonia present in the pond. If so, do not wait any longer to remove the strips. It is important that you do not try to wash the strips off of the surface with soap or water. This can cause damage to the color chart, the pads, or both. To give yourself time to find a ammonia tester that will give you accurate results, you may want to place the samples into a Ziploc bag in the freezer.
The most important part of this process is to note the color that you see on the strips after you have rubbed the strips against the surface of the water sample. If the color does not change after you have removed the sample from the freezer, then your pond has too much ammonia. This is the sample that you need to take to a laboratory to have tested.
Once you have taken the test strip, place the water sample in your hand, cover the strip with your first pad and shake vigorously for about ten seconds. The high volume of air will cause the acid level to rise above the alkaline environment. The first pad should be discarded and the second one replaced with the second strip. Shake the bottle once more to mix the ammonia into the solution.