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Guest Rarestofgems

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Guest Rarestofgems

I have been dealing with high ammonia levels for the past couple of weeks. Have been doing regular water changes - sometimes twice a day- to no avail.

This morning the light bulb went off! ;) and I decided to check the ammonia level from the tap! It is greater than .25, but not quite 1.5 (although it is a close call).

Is there anything I can do to offset the ammonia level from the tap before introducing the water to my tank?

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Actually, yes, there is. :D

Here is the stuff you need to get. You can find it locally in just about every city in theUS and more: Prime (by Seachem)

According to this: One dose removes approximately 0.6 mg/L ammonia, 3 mg/L chloramine, or 4 mg/L chlorine. you probably need to triple dose Prime in ALL of your water you take from the tap for the aquarium. It will detoxify the ammonia but it will not remove it. It will still register in your test kits. Even though it is detoxified, it will still be readily available for your bio-fitler to reduce on down to nitrAtes.

But, we REALLY need to know if your tapwater contains chloramines first. It might be that your dechlorinator breaks the ammonia/chlorine bond but doesn't take care of the ammonia afterwards. A quick call to your local water supplier will reap you a full description of your tapwater and all of its contaminates. Definitely something for ANY fishkeeper to investigate before setting up an auarium.

Hope this helps!

Paul

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Guest Rarestofgems

Thanks for the response!

I made a trip to my lfs and purchased Prime, did a 75% water change and the fish seem to be smiling! :D

I then went in search of the chemical analysis of my local water!! Boy, was that an adventure. After speaking with three different people, the best information offered was that the town's water source is a deep waterwell and I was given 2004 water quality report!!! :angry: But, since the happiness of my fish is at stake, I will not be deterred! I may be able to get actual readings with the assistance of a friendly retired official.

In the meantime, I am concerned that the ammonia test kit I have tests for total ammonia (N3/N4 in one reading). Would you recommend that I invest in a kit for Nitrates only--if there is such a thing?

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It's prob cheaper in the long run (unless you already have alot of separate test kits) to get a master testing kit. You can get a nitrAte only test kit though if you want one.

I can sympathize with you my tap water comes with ammonia & nitrAtes so it makes for a bit of a pain in the butt when cycling (it's also the reason I switched to Prime soo long ago)

:D

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What ammonia test are you using?

You have to have a two bottle ammonia test to get accurate readings when using prime.

The AP freshwater master test kit is good.

So how long has the tank been set up?

Do you have tests for pH and nitrIte?

Did you manage to get ammonia down?

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Hi Betty,

I use a single dropper ammonia (Aquarium Pharm) kit and I use Prime. I have never found my tests to be inaccurate either. Hmmmm, something I'm missing? :unsure:

Paul

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Guest Rarestofgems

I am using a Tetratest Laborett which tests ph, KH, GH, NO2, and N3/N4.

The tank (29 gal.) has been running for about a 1.5 months with 2 fancytail goldfish and 2 black moors. Filtration with an Aqua-tech 30-60 power filter and an undergravel filter running as well.

Ph is holding at 8.0 and Nitrite is .3

Ammonia reading is slowly starting to decline - reading this morning is a bit over .25, but closer to .25 than 1.5. Water reading from the tap is is greater than .25, rapidly approaching 1.5.

I am wondering if I should continue with the daily partial water changes with Prime addition? OR Keep testing and leave the water alone for a few days to let Prime and the filtration work with the water?

My overriding concern is that with each subsequent water change, I am continuing to introduce "fresh" ammonia into the tank.

The fish don't appear stressed, in fact, they are more active since I've switched to Prime. I just don't want to assume that Prime has made all the ammonia harmless and wake up to find my fish in major trouble, compliments of my ucky tap water.

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I think it has to do with the reagents that the ammonia test uses. I knew there was a prob with the Amquel line of water conditioners & the non salicylate ammonia based tests. I can't remember the name of the other test type (Mecuric Chloride maybe?) (I can check later if Betty doesn't beat me to it!) but I do remember that it gives false readings when used with the Amquel stuff.

(Last year I had a prob with them & had to go out & buy a different ammonia test. That's when I found out about the problem. Sorry my memory's so bad & I can't remember all of the details!)

Typically the salicylate based testing kits are 2 bottle kits & the other type is a one bottle type.

I can no longer remember why it was a problem, hopefully Betty will post back soon & explain it!

Hope this helps! :D Jenn

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It is - they are Nessler tests!

Here is a quote from Prime:

Q: I am using Prime? to control ammonia but my test kit says it is not doing anything, in fact it looks like it added ammonia! What is going on?

A: A Nessler based kit will not read ammonia properly if you are using Prime?... it will look "off scale", sort of a muddy brown (incidentally a Nessler kit will not work with any other products similar to Prime?). A salicylate based kit can be used, but with caution. Under the conditions of a salicylate kit the ammonia-Prime complex will be broken down eventually giving a false reading of ammonia (same as with other products like Prime?), so the key with a salicylate kit is to take the reading right away. However, the best solution ;-) is to use our MultiTest: Ammonia? kit... it uses a gas exchange sensor system which is not affected by the presence of Prime? or other similar products. It also has the added advantage that it can detect the more dangerous free ammonia and distinguish it from total ammonia (which is both the free and ionized forms of ammonia (the ionized form is not toxic)).

I still dunno why it doesn't work (hopefully Betty knows!) :D

EDIT:

OK - I found this quote from the Seachem people for their test kits & it seems to explain why these tests don't work ((Under the ammonia section)

Seachem Basics Test Kit

Combination of 5 essential Marine Tests offering: pH, Alkalinity, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. Over 75 tests of each.

Marine pH, Alkalinity: This kit features a unique dye that has a pronounced color change between 8.0 to 8.3, making it the easiest kit on the market to read in that critical range. Alkalinity can be read from the same sample in 0.5 or 1 meq/L increments.

Ammonia: This kit measures total (NH3 and NH4+) and free ammonia (NH3 only) down to 0.05 mg/L and is virtually interference free in marine and fresh water. Free ammonia is the toxic form of ammonia (vs. ionized Ammonia NH4+ which is non-toxic) and thus it is much more important to keep an eye on the level of free ammonia in your system. This kit is based on the same gas exchange technology that is used in the Ammonia Alert and thus is the only kit on the market that can read levels of free ammonia while using ammonia removal products such as Prime, Safe, AmGuard and any similar competing products. The other kits (salicylate or Nessler based) determine the total ammonia by raising the pH of the test solution to 12 or greater. At this high pH all ammonia removal products will breakdown and rerelease the ammonia, thus giving you a false ammonia reading.

Nitrite, Nitrate: This kit measures nitrite down to 0.2 mg/L and nitrate down to 2 mg/L in marine or freshwater.

Iodine: This kit measures iodine or iodide to less than 0.005 mg/L. Seachem stands alone in offering this important test to the reef aquarian.

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OK - TO be fair - here's what Amquel seems to say

AmQuel should not be added to water containing active, therapeutic dosages of chemical dyes such as methylene blue, acriflavine, potassium permanganate or malachite green, since AmQuel will interfere with their proper performance. Combining AmQuel with these dyes will not result in toxic chemical by-products. AmQuel is compatible to use with all water quality test kits except for the ammonia test kit that uses Nessler reagents that read in shades of amber or yellow, and the oxygen kit that uses Winkler reagents. Residual AmQuel and its reaction products are incompatible with the Nessler and Winkler-type test reagents, resulting in false, high ammonia and low oxygen concentration readings. All other types of test kits produce accurate test results, such as ammonia test kits using salicylate-type reagents. Kordon's AquaTru Test Kit #35970 for salt water and #35980 for fresh water are recommended for accurate test results. AmQuel will temporarily (for approximately 12 hours) lower redox.

SO I guess I'm still a bit in the dark but at least now I know why I originally switched from Nessler to the Salicylate test for ammonia!

:D

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Yea, from what I remember, the nessler reagent works by changing the pH of the test solution. that causes any bound ammonia to be freed up and messes up the test readings. that should be true for any of the ammonia binders that use Hydrosulfites (e.g. prime, amquel, chloram-x, aquasafe, etc).

I'd get a two bottle ammonia test or one of the ammonia alert cards.

with your pH, .25 is as high as I'd let ammonia get.

You should be fine just dosing the tank with prime rather than trying to do multiple partial water changes and fighting ammonia from the tap water too.

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One thing to keep in mind is that if you are adding Prime to the tank, daily and without waterchanges, you should only dose as per any rises in ammonia or nitrItes from the day before. Example:

Lets say you test your tank it registers .5ppm ammonia and you dose the tank with the correct amount of Prime to detoxify that level. The next day, you test and the ammonia has dropped by .25ppm. You would not have to dose this level because it was detoxified the day before. Now, if you tested the second day and found there to be 1ppm ammonia, you would need to dose for .5ppm. Simly becasue the day before, you detoxified .5ppm of the ammonia.

So, if you dose the tank with Prime without doing a waterchange, you shouldonly dose as per the rise in ammonia or nitrItes.

If you stop doing waterchanges and you see the ammonia dropping, then your bio-filter is doing its job and you need not worry about ammonia that has already been detoxified.

Is this the way you understand it as well, Betty? :huh:

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Guest Rarestofgems

Yes! Yes! Yes!! :bounce

This morning tank readings are:

Ammonia - 0!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nitrite - <.3!!!

pH holding at 8

Thanks for all the great info and support! :heart Without you guys I would have lost it a long time ago and most likely my dear fish along the way!!

I am doing the happy dance around the room!!!!! Finally!!

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Very good! Now all you have to do is keep an eye on the nitrAtes during weekly tank maintenence/testing. But, try testing for about 3 omore days to be sure.....

Good luck! :D

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Paul,

I hope Betty posts back soon! I think that it depends upon the test kits you are using & how quickly you are reading the results (ie theoretically if you're using a Nessler kit your results will be different than if you're using a salicylate kit. It sounds to me that based upon the Prime's website. if you use a salicylate test & read it as soon as it's ready - that should be based upon the true amount of unbound ammonia. The same is not true of the Nessler kit)

Betty???? :blink:

edit: Rarest Whoops - I forgot to say congrats! CONGRATS!!! :D

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Excellent! Looks like you're almost there! :)

When using ammonia binders that use Hydrosulfites (e.g. prime, amquel, chloram-x, aquasafe, etc), you really can't tell how much unbound ammonia is present with the 1 bottle test. the two bottle ammonia test shows only unbound ammonia.

With pH at 8 (since there's not much leeway before ammonia gets to toxic levels), I'd dose to take care of any ammonia present and add extra so it'd be there to detox the ammonia that would be produced before the next time I checked it. I'd make sure there was plenty of airation happening tho when doing that cuz prime, amquel, etc reduce O2 saturation in the water and that effect is more pronounced when there's no ammonia to detox.

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