This study was undertaken to assess the toxicity of ammonia/ammonium to key species within the vermifiltration process. The key species, the earthworm Eisenia fetida, was subjected to a series of tests in solid phase mesocosms and full‐scale units. The solid phase tests showed a relatively low toxicity to ammonium with ammonium chloride having an LC50 for ammonium of 1.49 g/kg. Ammonium sulfate did not show an effect on mortality at 2 g/kg ammonium. The full‐scale units showed that ammonia hydroxide can change the pH and concentration of ammonia in wastewater and while it caused some mortality to the worms its overall affect on system functioning was minimal with no significant difference in terms of worm survival found between treatments. The affect on nitrifying bacteria was also minimal with no linear trend shown with ammonia concentration.