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Ammonia neutralizing chemicals halting nitrogen cycle?

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MikeS

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Hi all

I figured this was the most appropriate forum to place this question...

I'm trying to help a member of the forum I help moderate with an ammonia problem. He's getting a constant .25 ammonia reading but no corresponding rise in nitrite. He's adding Prime every 3 days to combat this...he says if he goes longer than three days his ammonia rises and his fish suffer.

I'm guessing the Prime is converting the ammonia into a compound useless to nitrogen cycle, effectively halting it. Do you think this is the case?

thanks

MikeS
 

cwcross

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Don't know what prime is. I'm wondering why he is getting an ammonia buildup though? What sort of filtration does he use? Is this a saltwater fish only? What kind of substrate etc.?
 

MikeS

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Prime is a seachem product....it's a water conditioner that neutralizes chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia.

He has a 125 gal tank with 150lbs LR, a recent upgrade from a 1 year old 55 gal. His current filtration is a wet/dry and skimmer, he has been in the process of removing external powerfilters and bioballs from the wet/dry due to nitrate issues, which I would suspect is the cause of the ammonia as the tank tries to catch up with the reduction in ammonia reducing bacteria.

Here is what I think is happening...his tank is showing an ammonia spike due to the reduction in bacteria because of the removal of the externals and bioballs. He's combating with Prime. The Prime is converting the ammonia into a form unuseable by the nitrite producing bacteria. His nitrogen cycle is effectively halted by this....

MikeS
 

WaterDogs

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I use Prime in my Betta bowls and it works great, but if you want a tank to cycle then stop using it because it is interfering with the nitrogen cycle and not allowing it to progress to completion.

Dwaine
 

gobie

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WD IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT is this a fo system or does it contain inverts. The key to removing the bio materials is to do it slowly over months not days or weeks. another thing he could try is a product called cycle which does what it says it does.
 

mojoreef

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Prime just turns ammonia into ammonium. As ammonium it should re-enter the nitrogen cycle no problem at the nitrifing stage, so I would not think its going to interupt the cycle.
Just tell him to keep using the prime to fight through the spike. The problem with useing this type of product is that you dont really know where your ammonia level is. Most test kits test for total ammonia, which would be ammonia and ammonium, so not way to tell. Tell him to buy the seachem free ammonia test kit and that will tell him what ammonia is in his tank.


Hope it helps

Mike
 

MikeS

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mojoreef said:
Prime just turns ammonia into ammonium. As ammonium it should re-enter the nitrogen cycle no problem at the nitrifing stage, so I would not think its going to interupt the cycle.

I hear ya mojo....

Ok...if Prime converts ammonia into less harmful ammonium and it then re-enters the nitrogen cycle, then how does one explain the lack of nitrite in his tank? (assuming of course his test results are accurate, I asked him to verify both ammonia and nitrite using differen brands of test kits).

MikeS
 

mojoreef

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Ok Mike perhaps I am misunderstanding you. Has this tank cycled?? and is just having a spike? or is this fellow tryng to cycle a tank with fish in it??

Ok from memory in the substraight LR or sand ammonium combines with O2 to reform to ammonia and then goes through the process. Or it can be taken up by protiens. It will interfer with denitrification in the lower part of the cycle, but then just loops back to the stage mentioned above.
If this person is doing a tank swap and has used his old water and lr I would expect a spike in ammonia. If he is going through a fresh cycle then it will effect the lower end of the cycle (as in inhibit dentrification) then you should see a nitrate spike.
So what we need to know is if his test kit is testing for just free ammonia or if it is testing for total ammonia. He is looking for a kit that will test for just free ammonia, that is the toxic form.

Mike
 

cwcross

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I wouldn't suggest to use prime for this purpose. If my understanding is correct then prime would interfere with the cycle. Or alternatively it doesn't work by converting ammonia into ammonium. Either way, this will slow down the cycle.

The conversion between ammonia and ammonium is purely dictated by pH.

NH3 + H+ goes to = NH4+

Equilibrium constant for this reaction K=concentration of NH4+/NH3*H+ (concentrations of ion X is expressed as [X])

K=[NH4+]/([NH3]*[H+])

K is a constant at consant T & P

Thus...[NH4+]/[NH3]=K*[H+]

pH=-log[H+] so...

the ratio of NH4 to NH3 is:

[NH4]/[NH3]=K*alog[-pH]

Because K is a contant then the ratio of NH4+ to NH3 is dictated solely by pH.

I suspect that the prime would then work by ion pairing the Ammonia to some organic or actually reacting covalently with the NH3.

For instance Ammonium acetate is quite a volatile salt and would evaporate relatively quickly...a few days in a well mixed tank. Just an example or speculation.


Where did the LR come from...is the substrate new. If this is true then there is likely a new cycle going on which could be dangerous to the fish. If that is the case...prime might be the only easy answer. I would let the ammonia rise up to 20-40 ppm though so the cycle can occur albiet slowly

Sincerely...Collin
 

Boomer

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Prime and others break and convert ammonia and ammonium into a harmless amino based sulfur product, which is broken down by nitrifiying bacteria. Most run off of an exotic chemical such as sodium hydroxymethanesulfonate ( Amquel), which in short combine with ammonia and yields aminomethanelsulfonate. Prime and other similar products make similar chemical converiosns. You can always smell the "sulfate" gas stink. Randy and I collected allot of info so he could right this.

Chloramine and the Reef Aquarium
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-11/rhf/feature/index.htm


Collin :D
Because K is a contant then the ratio of NH4+ to NH3 is dictated solely by pH

No, No :) you for got teeeeeeeeemperatue. But at the temp re run at hi 70's to low 80's it is basically only a pH thing.

For those interested in pH vs ammoina--> ammonium % in different pH environments & Temps go here

http://ce.ecn.purdue.edu/~piwc/w3-research/free-ammonia/nh3.html

http://wlapwww.gov.bc.ca/wat/wq/BCguidelines/ammonia.html

Mike

What test kit are you using, it HAS to be a Salicylate Acid kit ie, Kordon, SeaTest or others that use this method. Despite this, IMHO, these kits still may give false readings. For some unknown reason and we just had a thread on this on the chem forum, the ammonia the other guy had was also .25 ppm. Is he the same guy ??
 

cwcross

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Boomer said:
Prime and others break and convert ammonia and ammonium into a harmless amino based sulfur product, which is broken down by nitrifiying bacteria.
Interesting

Collin :D
Because K is a contant then the ratio of NH4+ to NH3 is dictated solely by pH

No, No :) you for got teeeeeeeeemperatue. But at the temp re run at hi 70's to low 80's it is basically only a pH thing.
No, I didn't...look closely...you'll note I said at constant T&P.

I can derive the arhenius equation dictating the temperature and/or pressure dependence of the equilibrium constant from either transition state theory or quantum statistics. Not that this is pertinent to the discussion. However, at constant temp...K is effectively constant. Unless we are in the gas phase...it is virtually independent of pressure unless you account for transition state volume changes.

This is right up my alley.

:razz: collin
 

MikeS

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Thanks all....

Mojo...not sure how long it has been since he upgraded to the 125....but I believe its been several months, and the 55 he upgraded from was over a year old...I don't believe that this is any kind of break-in cycle he's seeing...I'm pretty sure it was due to removing the bioballs from his W/D and external filters too qucikly in an attempt to control nitrate in his tank.....but I'll try to get some more specifics out of him...

Boomer...not sure if it is the same guy or not, it's been awhile since I poked my head into Randy's forum, but I'll jump over there and look...

MikeS
 

Boomer

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No, I didn't...look closely...you'll note I said at constant T&P

I missed that :(

I can derive the arhenius equation dictating the temperature and/or pressure dependence of the equilibrium constant from either transition state theory or quantum statistics.

That is what I like about you Collin, from this post and others, you know your S_it :D I only know of 3 others, Randy, Habib and Craig Bingman. Mojo is lucky to say the least. I have seen other moderators in Chem forums, or others that are chemists, most are lost in this hobby. I know I kinda said this before but needed to say it again. Another guy, non-chemist, in medicine, that knows his S_hit is "TDWyatt"

Edit;

Interesting

Yes, but after spending allot of time, to include talking personally to the inventor, we still do not know all the chemical reactions that take place :( There once was a website, no longer up, that had all the chemical reactions, unitl I told the inventor they were not balanced. He said he did not write them and would check it out, being they are selling his product :)

It appears they are still the same. I found the data sheet on a different link have a look :lol:

http://www.cloram-x.com/techdoc.asp

Umm.......must be FM, the N just flew in there and the H must have dvided to get an extra H. That O must have been beamed to Mars :lol:

OCl- + HOCH2SO3Na ---> H2NCH2SO4Na + Cl-
 
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Boomer

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Well then I will have to talk to her, she seems to have for gotten to tell you about the new thread I left you on Sr/Ca here. Wait she just got home. She started to laugh when she read this. She says all you did was fall asleep with your face in the book :lol:
 

cwcross

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Thanks for the compliment Boomer. I may still be learning about reef chemistry from you, mike and many others, but I make my living from physical chemistry. I try to stay on my toes there. You guys are forcing me to do the same here as you should.

Regarding the chemical equations for prime and its reaction products...we call that slop bucket chemistry...my company specializes in that... :)

my speculation was correct in the fact that the reaction was covalent. It was incorrect in the fact that the reaction products DO allow the cycle to continue by being metabolized by nitrifying bacteria. I had incorrectly assumed that any such products would not be eaten by the bugs.

I guess it might be a nice product for its purposes then...Sincerely...Collin
 

mojoreef

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she seems to have for gotten to tell you about the new thread I left you on Sr/Ca here
Well she did have other things on mind :D I will take a peek and see if I can take a lucky stab at it :p



Mike
 

Boomer

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Collin

we call that slop bucket chemistry

Well, I have no real problem with that, I often do it but at least I have the same # of x,y & x on the left side as the right side. I don't pull some ion from the air and drop in the right side, when it is not on the left side.

On another note, even the inventor is not sure about all the reaction end-products. Randy has been trying to find a way to balance the equation and get all the end products, HE GAVE UP :lol:
 
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