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On 7/2/2021 at 7:56 AM, Bettakeeper86 said:

My tank is currently at 0.25 ppm. Should I do a water change? All other perimeters are perfect. 

I would advise against it.  Depending on your temperature and pH level, this is likely not a toxic level.

I would also advise against using any chemical additive.  Ammo “locking” chemicals do not remove ammonia, just temporarily convert it to another form.  This is TEMPORARY, any “locked” ammonia will be released as ammonia once again in 24-48 hours.  Strategies such as this should only be used to buy you a little time in order to do a water change.

None of that is necessary right now, IMO.  Let the normal nitrification process do it’s work.

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On 7/2/2021 at 7:17 AM, tonyjuliano said:

I would advise against it.  Depending on your temperature and pH level, this is likely not a toxic level.

I would also advise against using any chemical additive.  Ammo “locking” chemicals do not remove ammonia, just temporarily convert it to another form.  This is TEMPORARY, any “locked” ammonia will be released as ammonia once again in 24-48 hours.  Strategies such as this should only be used to buy you a little time in order to do a water change.

None of that is necessary right now, IMO.  Let the normal nitrification process do it’s work.

Using prime to detoxify ammonia temporarily removes stress from fish and allows the bacteria to handle the ammonia before the prime wears off. I don't understand why you would discourage someone from making the water safe for their livestock during an ammonia spike, even a mild one. 

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Posted (edited)
On 7/2/2021 at 8:24 AM, Nirvanaquatics said:

I don't understand why you would discourage someone from making the water safe for their livestock during an ammonia spike, even a mild one. 

Why?  A couple of very good reasons...

First, and foremost, the true level of toxicity he is measuring is most likely far less than "0.25".  This measurement is 0.25 TOTAL ammonia, not the toxic level.  

To measure the "toxic" level of ammonia (free ammonia) some calculations need to me made, it is dependent on three factors - total ammonia, temperature and pH.

For a thorough explanation of this process, see this post...

https://forum.aquariumcoop.com/topic/13203-understanding-ammonia-toxicity/

On 7/2/2021 at 9:48 AM, Daniel said:

I would leave it alone because in the long run it is better to let the bacterial communities sort it out.

Secondly, is for the exact reason that @Daniel is alluding to above.  Ammonia altering chemistry, such as Prime for example, do not eliminate (or reduce) said ammonia, they just change its form temporarily (which will be released as ammonia again in a short period of time).  This change in form is renders it unavailable to the beneficial bacteria that needs it as an energy source to survive.  If you take this away, you interrupt the normal functionality of the nitrogen cycle to some degree.  In other words, you risk stalling the cycle, and when the ammonia is released again, it will take longer to function as nature has designed and intended.

My strong recommendation is to resist the use of ammonia locking agents unless you are trying to buy a day or so to rectify "truly" toxic ammonia (free ammonia, not total) through another means, such as water change.

I have a bottle of Prime in my supply, but it's the dustiest bottle on the shelf.

Edited by tonyjuliano
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On 7/2/2021 at 9:28 AM, tonyjuliano said:

Why?  A couple of very good reasons...

First, and foremost, the true level of toxicity he is measuring is most likely far less than "0.25".  This measurement is 0.25 TOTAL ammonia, not the toxic level.  

To measure the "toxic" level of ammonia (free ammonia) some calculations need to me made, it is dependent on three factors - total ammonia, temperature and pH.

For a thorough explanation of this process, see this post...

https://forum.aquariumcoop.com/topic/13203-understanding-ammonia-toxicity/

Secondly, is for the exact reason that @Daniel is alluding to above.  Water altering chemistry, such as Prime for example, do not eliminate ammonia, they just change its form temporarily (which will be released as ammonia again in a short period of time).  This change in form is renders it unavailable to the beneficial bacteria that needs it as an energy source to survive.  If you take this away, you interrupt the normal functionality of the nitrogen cycle to some degree.  In other words, you risk stalling the cycle, and when the ammonia is released again, it will take longer to function as nature has designed and intended.

My strong recommendation is to resist the use of ammonia locking agents unless you are trying to buy a day or so to rectify "truly" toxic ammonia (free ammonia, not total) through another means, such as water change.

I have a bottle of Prime in my supply, but it's the dustiest bottle on the shelf.

I would like to see actual evidence to contribute to the idea that the ammonia is unavailable to bacteria, because I do not believe that is the case. Prime converts ammonia to ammonium, which nitrosoma can still metabolize. 

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On 7/2/2021 at 10:34 AM, Nirvanaquatics said:

Prime converts ammonia to ammonium, which nitrosoma can still metabolize. 

The amount of ammonium produced after this conversion is less than the preceding available total ammonia.  The conversion process generates ammonium and other substances.  Nitrosomonas will metabolize ammonium, but not as readily as ammonia.

And again - this is TEMPORARY.

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On 7/2/2021 at 9:45 AM, tonyjuliano said:

The amount of ammonium produced after this conversion is less than the preceding available total ammonia.  The conversion process generates ammonium and other substances.  Nitrosomonas will metabolize ammonium, but not as readily as ammonia.

And again - this is TEMPORARY.

Right, but if it saves a fish from ammonia poisoning - temporarily - why would you discourage it? If it won't crash the cycle (even if it prolongs the process a bit) I don't see the harm in taking precautions. 

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Posted (edited)
On 7/2/2021 at 10:56 AM, Nirvanaquatics said:

Right, but if it saves a fish from ammonia poisoning - temporarily - why would you discourage it?

In the situation as proposed by the original poster, the measured level (total ammonia, not free ammonia) is NOT "poisonous" (read the post I linked to for clarification), so my recommendation was akin to "if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it".

I would personally discourage anyone (and hopefully, I have at this point) from introducing ANYTHING "artificial" into the system, unless there is no other option.

It is my firmly held belief, developed through years of fishkeeping and a career in the commercial wastewater treatment industry, that the human race's struggles to replicate the benefits of naturally occurring processes often fall far short in terms of efficacy, and are more frequently disruptive and/or destructive.

Edited by tonyjuliano
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Posted (edited)
On 7/2/2021 at 12:59 PM, Zenzo said:

There are different perspectives and different forms of advice on this thread. This is just a reminder to all to be respectful of other's opinions. It is fine to agree to disagree. Thank you! 🙂

I should hope that my replies would be viewed as being nothing short of respectful, because they clearly are.

And I will add that everyone participating in this discussion has exhibited that same amount of respect.

Questioning my viewpoint (or doing the same to others myself) should be encouraged.  

Putting as much information out there, that is freely available to everyone, is an important aspect of scientific debate, and an opportunity for those without direct knowledge to form their own opinion, based on the merits of the experiences postulated by others.

Edited by tonyjuliano
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On 7/2/2021 at 12:27 PM, tonyjuliano said:

I should hope that my replies would be viewed as being nothing short of respectful, because they clearly are.

And I will add that everyone participating in this discussion has exhibited that same amount of respect.

Questioning my viewpoint (or doing the same to others myself) should be encouraged.  

Putting as much information out there, that is freely available to everyone, is an important aspect of scientific debate, and an opportunity for those without direct knowledge to form their own opinion, based on the merits of the experiences postulated by others.

I'd still like to see a peer-reviewed article supporting your claims, because if I'm wrong I want to know about it. However, I have been searching for a good while at this point and can find absolutely nothing about ammonia binders being harmful during an initial cycle. I did find a thread from another forum basically stating that this is simply false info that's been circulated by word of mouth. 

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I don't think .25 ppm ammonia is going to kill fish, although it is something that should be watched closely. I understand the inclination to do a water change. It won't hurt, it doesn't cost anything but the effort, and the ammonia level - toxic or not - will be reduced.

I think there is good reason to doubt Prime's claim that it makes ammonia harmless for 24 hours. Just google "aquariumscience.org Prime." for an anti-Prime viewpoint. On the other hand I cannot cite anything for the proposition that Prime is harmful to the cycle, so I understand why people might try it when they are afraid their fish are in danger.

After all that, my advice would be to do nothing and test again in 10-12 hours to see if the ammonia level is changing and in which direction.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/2/2021 at 2:15 PM, Nirvanaquatics said:

I'd still like to see a peer-reviewed article supporting your claims,

I’d like to see one too.  But there are not a lot of scientifically peer reviewed articles dealing with a commercially developed product intended for sale solely to hobbyists.  In fact, I’ve never seen any that fit this description, nor will you find one independently commissioned by the manufacturer itself.

The advice I gave is based on my own experience and empirical testing, plus years of exposure to the intricacies of waste management and reduction during my professional career.

On 7/2/2021 at 2:57 PM, HH Morant said:

I read the aquariumscience.org article again, and it does say that a test showed that, if used during cycling, Prime prolongs the time to complete the cycle by 12 days.

Although the information on that website supports my assertions, I would caution anyone relying on postulations from this particular source.

The owner/author refuses to identify himself (citing “privacy concerns”) when he has been questioned about the veracity of any of his claims.

In my opinion, if someone makes statements of fact - only while shielded in a cloak of anonymity - then those assertions should be taken very lightly.

Edited by tonyjuliano
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On 7/2/2021 at 7:34 AM, Nirvanaquatics said:

Prime converts ammonia to ammonium...

I think this is not true.  The kinetics of NH3 + H <-> NH4+, are dependent on the concentrations [NH3], [H] and [NH4].  So you'd have to change the pH or remove some NH4+ in order to shift the equilibrium further toward NH4+.  I'd love to be wrong though if anyone knows how else that can happen. 

 

On 7/2/2021 at 1:08 PM, tonyjuliano said:

Although the information on that website supports my assertions, I would caution anyone relying on postulations from this particular source.

The owner/author refuses to identify himself (citing “privacy concerns”) when he has been questioned about the veracity of any of his claims.

In my opinion, if someone makes statements of fact - only while shielded in a cloak of anonymity - then those assertions should be taken very lightly.

^this.  Although I have less of a problem with him being anonymous and more of a problem with him just saying he did experiments and often times not showing data.  Also he makes a lot of assertions as fact that that are unsupported, which may or may not be true (I don't know enough to evaluate that).  Given that he's trying to be "scientific" it makes me dubious.  But if you use a critical eye there's still lots of good info and food for thought there.  Just don't take it as cannon.

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On 7/2/2021 at 4:24 PM, CT_ said:

I think this is not true.  The kinetics of NH3 + H <-> NH4+, are dependent on the concentrations [NH3], [H] and [NH4].  So you'd have to change the pH or remove some NH4+ in order to shift the equilibrium further toward NH4+

This is exactly why I made this statement…

On 7/2/2021 at 10:45 AM, tonyjuliano said:

The amount of ammonium produced after this conversion is less than the preceding available total ammonia.  The conversion process generates ammonium and other substances.

Good call!

But in fairness to @Nirvanaquatics, some of the “converted” substance is ammonium, just not all of it.

Seachem will not elaborate on the intricacies of the whole process, just stating that ammonium is one of the results.

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On 7/2/2021 at 1:34 PM, tonyjuliano said:

Seachem will not elaborate on the intricacies of the whole process, just stating that ammonium is one of the results.

I haven't been able to find a statement like this from seachem.  They do repeatedly say it "binds" to ammonia though, so I always assumed there were some steric effects that prevent it from being toxic while bound.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/2/2021 at 4:08 PM, tonyjuliano said:

Although the information on that website supports my assertions, I would caution anyone relying on postulations from this particular source.

The owner/author refuses to identify himself (citing “privacy concerns”) when he has been questioned about the veracity of any of his claims.

In my opinion, if someone makes statements of fact - only while shielded in a cloak of anonymity - then those assertions should be taken very lightly.

Completely agree re: that source. I've perused his site before, and I dislike his apparent biases and lack of stringent methodology. He presents himself as a scientist and as an authority, but many of his 'replicable' experiments are not rigorously designed and tested. It's deceptive for the untrained eye and it's how misinformation campaigns take hold. It makes it hard for novices to approach and understand without being able to question his claims. I think it's interesting to read his perspective and arguments, but it's best to take what he writes with a grain of salt and a hefty dose of skepticism. It would be fair to fact-check him and cross reference other sources and perspectives.

Caveat -- this is me speaking with a background in research methods, statistics, and study design. I don't have any degrees in biochemistry, but I do know what a strong study should look like.

Edited by laritheloud
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The aquariumscience.org guy is anonymous, just like me and all the people on this forum.

He has written hundreds of pages of articles on many aspects of fishkeeping. That took hundreds of hours and was not easy. He has put them on the internet. He has not tried to monetize them in any way. He gives his opinions for free to anyone who wants to read them. He has strong opinions, many of which are contrary to what we read on the labels on the fish foods, medications, equipment, and water treatments we buy.

I don't agree with anyone 100% of the time, but I consider this guy more credible than the label on Prime.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/2/2021 at 6:56 AM, Bettakeeper86 said:

What is an acceptable range of ammonia? My tank is currently at 0.25 ppm. Should I do a water change? All other perimeters are perfect. 

What is the pH, and temperature of the water? If the pH is ~7, then, as @tonyjulianohas said, most of the 'ammonia' is actually ammonium. Only the free ammonia, 'actual NH3' is toxic to fish (I mean ammonium is too, but not at aquarium concentrations.). The chemistry that the API test kit utilizes for the ammonia test, is detects combined ammonia/ammonium concentration so we have to rely on the pH and temperature to approximate the actual free NH3 concentration.

 

The following web page built by a faculty member at Iowa State will do the math for you. http://home.eng.iastate.edu/~jea/w3-research/free-ammonia/nh3.html

If you want to do the math yourself, this paper will walk you through it:
https://floridadep.gov/sites/default/files/5-Unionized-Ammonia-SOP_1.pdf

If you want to utilize his calculator, you can make the assumption that ppm == mg/liter. That assumption is slighlty flawed, but only ever so slightly. 0.998859 is the approximate density/specific gravity of water at ~20 - 25 C) and the the actual conversion is: mg/liter = ppm * 0.998859

 

 

I assumed your water temp was ~25C and running your .25ppm ammonia/ammonium through the calculator with an assumption of pH 8.2 to get an  approximate free ammonia concentration of 0.0207 mg/liter (ppm).

 

Cheers,

Edited by DShelton
added a reference, and a decimal point
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