Prime, Ammonia, Ammonium and Amquel+

  • #1
Some threads I've read regarding Prime and cycling - or even it's use in established tanks and any 'potential' effects on beneficial nitrifying bacteria's food sources - got me to thinking (which can be dangerous sometimes I readily admit, lol).

It's said that Prime temporarily converts ammonia (NH3) to the less toxic ammonium (NH4). It's also known that in an aquarium with a PH below 7 ... that it's ammonium that is present rather than ammonia. Thus, it would seem that if healthy aquariums exist with a PH that's consistently below 7 (on the acidic side), that ammonium does infact feed the bio filter in the same manner as it's un-ionized version known as ammonia.
Regarding Amquel+ ... Kordon states that it temporarily detoxes both ammonia AND ammonium.

The below text is interesting. The text is from Dr. TI'm Hovanec's library that used to be available on Marineland's site and can still be found here:

Hovanec is of course the inventor of both Bio Spira and the Bio Wheel filter.

The bolded text is of particular interest.....

Using ammonia binder/removers: the detoxified ammonia is still available to the ammonia-oxidizing bacteria which convert it to nitrite. requires use of a salicylate-based ammonia test kit (6) Most people assume that the number of nitrifying bacteria increases in direct proportion to the amount of ammonia produced in the aquarium. Actually, in a scientific sense, this might not be the case. It is not known for certain whether continuing to add ammonia means that the population of nitrifying bacteria continually increases, or if the numbers level-off and those bacteria work more efficiently. More efficient is defined as the same number of bacteria oxidizing more ammonia in the same amount of time. (7)

Bio Spira from Marine Labs contains Nitrosomonas, Nitrosospira and Nitrospira. While it is best if refrigerated until used, recent research has shown that it has a 6 month shelf life at room temperature (Dr. TI'm Hovanec, electronic mail, 12/29/03). It can not be overdosed. Repeated dosing of your aquarium with ammonia removing liquids (such as BIO-Safe, Amquel, Ammo-lock and Aqua-Safe) can inhibit the beneficial action of BIO-Spira. Ammonia removing liquids should only be used to initially treat tap water. It is normal to have a small (<2 ppm) amount of ammonia or nitrate during the first few days after set-up. These concentrations are not harmful and will quickly drop to zero with proper use of BIO-Spira. (8) Optimal conditions for Bio Spira: Water Temperature: : 60°F-87°F (15°C-31°C) pH: range between 7.0-8.5 Within 24-48 hours, the bacteria will attach to the BIO-Wheel®, gravel, or other surface in the tank and your water should be clear. Don't use antibiotics. No UV light filters or proteain skimmers for 48 hours. (9, Dr. TI'm Hovanec, electronic mail, 12/29/03)

What I gather from the bolded text: I'm not sure products that actually lock ammonia would still make it available. But I would say it would still be available with Prime ... simply because it converts it to ammonium rather than locking it up completely. Amquel+ would be tougher to gauge, as Kordon themselves state that it detoxes both ammonia and ammonium as previously mentioned.

Regarding the second frame of bolded text: repeated doses during cycling = bad. But using Prime upon initial setup (putting water into brand new tank for 1st time) could be OK. Simply don't continue to dose repeatedly afterwards during the cycle ... and of course don't do water changes as they recommend.
  • #2
AmQuel's formula was changed relatively recently, so it does the same thing that Prime and the others do.
Since plenty of people on here have used Prime and the like on a regular basis, and since many will overdose to provide temporary aid in emergencies, and yet have not suffered cycle failure, I think it does still remain valid.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
sirdarksol ... I was actually referring to Amquel+ (the new formula ... not the older Amquel), when mentioning that Kordon states it detoxes both ammonia AND ammonium.

Prime on the other hand, is said to convert ammonia to the less toxic ammonium.
  • #4
Don't know anything about the methods of detoxification, but I do know that a member recently contacted the makers of Amquel (I'm just too lazy to type the + sign tonight), and was told that the ammonia is still available to the bacteria, just like with other detoxifiers.
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Yes, Kordon does state that it is still available to the benefical bacteria. However, they also state.....

From Kordon's site: AmQuel+ removes/detoxifies all forms of ammonia/ammonium/nitrites/nitrates from the water, including ammonia in chloramines
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
I want to say that I'm in no way attempting to bash Amquel+ as a product. I have used it ... but prefer Prime's dosage (2 drops per gal.) vs. the 15 or so (IIRC) drops of Amquel+ per gal. I also like and continue to use NovAqua plus and fish protector.

In any event, the jest of the post was the bolded text ... and also that Prime converts toxic ammonia to the less toxic ammonium. Thus, even in the event that the detoxed ammonia wasn't available to feed the bacteria during the detox time period ... the less toxic ammonium would still be available, and should act just as it does in tanks with a less than 7 PH and continue to feed the bacteria.
  • #7
been reading this as I just did a test on amqeul+

if your ph below 7 then you have ammonium in the water and not ammonia if it is above 7 then it is ammonia

the problem is they need 2 different types of bacteria to consume each type try it your self with a cycled tank if the ph drops below 7 then the cycle stalls and won't consume ammonia until it has been raised to above 7 this is because when under 7 the bacteria is a different strain which needs to be created hence y they say keeps dosing until it has gone as the bacteria need to be conolised (this takes about 5 days)whilst the old bacteria consme the normal ammonia on a constant basis

amquel according to the bottle and my test removes the ammonia (not sure for how long) and the ammonium
  • #8
no kbekl it does not REMOVE are getting a negative reading because of the test kits combined with the product haedra's comment to your other thread to better explain it..

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