Question About Prime

Discussion in 'Water Conditioners and Supplements' started by Corycat, Apr 4, 2017.

  1. CorycatValued MemberMember

    Hey there! I'm trying to figure out some info on prime. I've tried looking on the seachem forum and on here and I haven't found the answer so maybe one of you knowledgeable people can help me. I keep reading about prime helping with nitrite and dosing 5x as much as normal. But what about ammonia? Currently I'm at .5 or 1 ppm amm. In my 10 gallon tank, no nitrite and 10-20 nitrate. (Soooo hard to tell on api liquid test.) So how much would I add to "detoxify" the ammonia to turn all the free ammonia into ammonium? My ph is 7.4 to 7.6. I did a 40-50% water change, gravel vac and cleaned the filter in extracted tank water at 6 AM ET and am torn in between doing another change or just trying to detoxify the ammonia. Also does any one know of a liquid test that differentiates between NH3 and NH4? Because I know if its ammonium the api test will still read that I have ammonia present. My fish are flashing and my cory is frantic so I feel that there is still free ammonia present. I would like to preserve my fish, somebody pleeeeease help me out?
  2. Bizarro252Well Known MemberMember

    I would do a 50% change and dose with prime, the standard amount for the full volume of the tank. ASAP.

    The up to 5x is the max you can go, its not the 'normal' amount you want to use :)
    For free ammonia there are more expensive liquid kits out there that do measure only free ammonia, the other thing I know of is the Seachem Ammonia Alert, its a little thing you stick inside the tank, lasts a year, and reads out free ammonia in a color form, they are awesome :)

    Be careful cleaning your filter while in an ammonia spike situation, make sure you are ONLY rinsing it in tank water, but unless it is clogged leave it alone until you get the ammonia under control. Continue to vac you gravel though, that will help.

    Prime will lock up the ammonia (I believe up to 1ppm, thats one of the things this thread is trying to confirm...) for 24-48 hours according to Seachem. but I would be doing a 50% change every day until you get this under control since you have fish in there.

    Hope that helps

    Found the kit I was thinking of, I know there is at least one other brand as well that will measure both total and free separately. API measures TOTAL, I know that for sure. : Seachem MultiTest Ammonia Test Kit : Aquarium Test Kits : Pet Supplies

    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017
  3. CorycatValued MemberMember

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! When I tested today with my api kit it was crazy, like 1 ppm ammonia but everyone except 1 cory looked fine. So I know some of that had to be ammonium but I still did a water change and dosed the whole thing with prime. I'm going to try and get those products from seachem you recommended, I've seen the ammonia alert before but I bought the api test instead. I agree with cleaning the filter if it were up to me I'd never mess with it but it was thick with buildup it seemed to be the thing to do. I also agree with the water changes until everything sorts out. I moved some stock into the 55 gallon tank that's doing well so hopefully that helps the situation.

  4. Bizarro252Well Known MemberMember

    Good to hear! The ammonia alert is not a replacement for the API kit, you didnt make a mistake buying that :) It tests more than just ammonia and its always good to be able to double check even your ammonia.

    It sounds like you did OK cleaning the filter, if it was clogged up a rinse (with tank water only) is fine. Just leave it alone until your cycle gets itself in order now that its de-crusted :p

    If your 55gal is cycled and your stock is compatible with it I would recommend moving it all over, at least everything compatible - unless you have something new in there that may be sick, wouldn't want to contaminate your 55. If you have different water conditions/temps remember to acclimate them just as you would when you bring them home when moving them. If you cant move them or dont want to as long as you keep up on the large water changes and dosing with prime they should be OK. Get that ammonia down as fast as you can, if its still above .25 tonight do another large water change.

    Lastly keep in mind the numbers you see on the ammonia alert will be different than what you see on the API kit, the numbers in the 'alert' and 'danger' zones you will notice are MUCH lower (0.2 showing 'alarm' when the API kits first tick above 0 is 0.25 :) This is because the API kit registers total ammonia and the ammonia alert ONLY shows free ammonia, I hope that makes sense.

    Good luck!

  5. CorycatValued MemberMember

    I just saw this response and thank you for your response. So I am 99% sure it was the filter because I've been showing yellow on the api test kit since that day. I am definitely going to go get an ammonia alert because something to differentiate free ammonia from total ammonia is what I've been looking for. So that's really good to know. Maybe you can help me with one more thing. I had 7 salt and pepper pygmy cories. For the last 3 days, one has died each day. One looks like he is going to pass as I type. My heart breaks whenever this happens. They have done so well, even through some high-ish ammonia the last few weeks. (Usually .25-.50 ppm) Initially, I'd chalk it up to being exposed to the ammonia and accept that as the cause. They are breathing heavy and turning pale. However, just now I could swear I saw a bug in the gravel. I have black gravel and it really did look like a dark bug crawling down. By the time I got the net I couldn't track it. It is a little late so unfortunately I cant be digging in there so much but what could that possible be? Can that be the culprit for the cories demise? In the 8 or 9 years I have kept fish tanks I have NEVER seen anything like that before. I'm pretty creeped out to be honest! HALP!!!!
  6. Bizarro252Well Known MemberMember

    Hahaha, I am not sure what you saw but I very much doubt it has to do with your fishes deaths.

    Sadly ammonia exposure can sometimes not kill, but it will at a bare minimum damage the fish. Light exposure for short periods can stunt them, etc. The most common thing that happens is the ammonia burns their gills, making them less efficient as exchanging oxygen - this is probably what happened to your cories since you said before they were exposed to 1ppm :(

    Keep up the water changes and testing to keep levels low until you get cycled (dont buy more fish until you are :)) but sadly if your cories have burned up gills there is not much you can do for them :(
  7. CorycatValued MemberMember

    Hey there again Bizarro...I agree about the ammonia damage and not being able to do much. This has been so hard watching them suffer and not being able to do much. My balloon molly fry are passing too which is absolutely devestating. I've removed some of the excess gravel because I feel there was too much and waste was building up, vaccumed the remaining gravel, changed about 30% of the water, dosed prime. I am still at .25 ammonia. I dosed 35 ml of prime to hopefully detoxify the ammonia. I can do another water change if you think it's better. What should I do to salvage the 4 cories and 2 otto cats and the 6 balloon molly fry?
  8. Bizarro252Well Known MemberMember

    Keep up on those water changes and prime dosage until you get your cycle going. Thats about all you can do as if you move them to another tank you will have them same issues (unless you or a buddy has a tank going you can house them in :))

    For .25ppm ammonia I think the standard dose of prime should be enough, it should tell you on the bottle (I dont have one handy, at work :p)

    You can up your changes too, either more than one a day or larger. There are some people that dont even filter fry tanks because they are doing so many 90+ % water changes. I currently have a single fish (the guy in my avatar pic) in a 5 gal bucket with a heater and air bubbler. I checked for ammonia at 12 hours and saw none, did a 80% change anyways because he is damaged from fighting and I want to give him the cleanest water I can. So you can keep the levels low, just with lots of water exchanges.

    However, if you are at between 0 and 0.25 and dosing with prime to detox it, you should be fine, that will give the bacteria food and keep the fish safe :)

    Good luck!
  9. CorycatValued MemberMember

    Here's my tank is cycled? I put the question mark there because I am perplexed about where the ammonia keeps coming from. I tested at about 4 pm today and it was yellow (api test indicating no ammonia). But it can range anywhere from none to 1.0. I have 0 nitrites ever and nitrates are present ranging from 10 to 80 unfortunately. I water change when they get that high. But why I guess they get so high is because there's ammonia coming from somewhere. Technically, this has been going on for months. In early March, I took source water in to my LFS (not a chain but legit fish store where they uss the api liquid case). Turns out my source water (well water) had somewhere between .25 and .5 of ammonia. I was dumbfounded. So since then, I've been buying spring water for water changes as the nice man in the store recommended. But I've still had ammonia problems. I just cant seem to get to the bottom of it and it's really driving me nuts. I'm hoping removing some gravel and washing the filter in tank water we discussed the other day will help. I didn't want to over clean the tank and get "new tank syndrome" by removing precious beneficial bacteria. That's how I wound up on this thread is to figure out a good prime dosage. I don't want to overdose the tank (if that's possible). The bottle says 5 mL for 50 G. So that works out to .5 per G. It says to detoxify nitite in an emergency up to 5 times normal dose may be used. But I don't see where it says how much to use to detoxify ammonia. Is it just the normal dose? I have checked the seachem forum and didnt see what I'm looking for. Although the bottle says prime "removes approx 1 mg/L ammonia." So it binds to the ammonia to make it ammonium so it doesn't truly remove it. Where my problem comes in is if I dose the tank then test I still get ammonia on my readings. I suppose some of it is ammonium and then possibly new ammonia but it is impossible for me to tell the difference currently to know how much to dose the tank so detoxify it or if a water change is necessary. That's why I was looking for those seachem products you recommended so I can know how much "free ammonia" I am dealing with. I hope your baby fish makes a speedy recovery!! If anyone can help me clarify my confusion with prime I'd surely appreciate it!
  10. Bizarro252Well Known MemberMember

    From what I have read here is what a standard dose of prime can detox (not sure on the Nitrite/Nitrate):
    approximately 1 mg/L ammonia, 4 mg/L chloramine, or 5 mg/L chlorine
    (1mg/L = 1ppm btw)

    And you are right, prime does not get rid of the ammonia, it converts it, temporarily (24-48hrs) to ammonium, which is less toxic (maybe even non toxic, not sure). Your BB can still consume this compound. The API kit will read both ammonia and ammonium the same, so yes your readings will not change after a prime dose (they can however actually go up if your source water has chloramines in them as it will split the bond between the chlorine and ammonia in chloramine, offgassing the chlorine and leaving the ammonia behind in the water for the BB to take care of. If the total isnt above 1ppm it will also detox this ammonia to ammonium - this works pretty well :)

    You said you have ammonia in your source water, are you seeing that strait out of the tap (a positive result) or AFTER dosing with prime? Your well should not have chloramines in it but I suppose its possible to have ammonia from fertilizer runoff or something.

    Your filter should be able to deal with this .5ppm or so ammonia in a day or less however so its weird that you are seeing these readings randomly. Or are you only seeing them after water changes? like...if you do a water change, and test 2-3 days later, are you seeing ammonia? Is it truly random or is it related to water changes?
  11. AvalancheDaveWell Known MemberMember

    Some possibilities:
    • Test faulty.
    • Too much decaying organic matter for your biofilter to handle. It doesn't take much to produce a small amount of ammonia. Thoroughly inspect every part of your tank. That includes every corner of the filters.
    • Ammonia being absorbed from the air. Any bird cages overdue for a cleaning or litter boxes? Even bottles of ammonia.
    I would get some distilled water and run an ammonia test on it. Do it outside in fresh air (I'm assuming you don't live downwind of a pig farm). Don't expose the water to any indoor air. If it's zero, leave some distilled water out for a few hours then do another test to see if it picked up any.
  12. CorycatValued MemberMember

    Yes, right out of the tap! So I haven't put any in the tanks since March. I've been using bottled spring water so I wouldnt expect any contaminates in it? I suppose I could test it for ammomia but how could I test it for anything else? It is what the man at the lfs recommended. I thought that would clear up the problem, mystery solved. So that's why I'm trying to figure out where the ammonia is coming from. I've vaccummed the gravel, lightly cleaned the filter, I have plants and none are rotting that I know of I've been keeping them pruned. I did vaccum under the java moss mat it was kinda dirty under there. No dead fish hiding anywhere. The only correlation is perhaps when I feed them. Before you say overfeeding, I feed every other day and only a very small amount in my opinion. I break a hikari tablet in half. I used to have 7 salt and pepper pygmy cories and 2 very small albino cories in there. Also 2 otto cates. Maybe the bio load was too big. But now I'm down to 2 otto cats, 2 albino cories and only 3 salt and pepper pygmy cories. Oh and the 6 remaining fry. The adult balloons are in my 55 gallon. I was thinking about switching the fry but I am nervous about transporting them. Id like to preserve everyone I have left. So I feeding in the morning and monitering the levels (I usually feed in the evening). I just tested about an hour ago and what do you know .25. I dosed with prime. I will do a change in the morning. I do notice a gray haze like a dust on the bottom of the tank and on the plants. In 8 years of tanking, I've never had encountered so much trouble. Sigh. Thanks for the replies, it's great these forums are here, the people at the corporate fish stores really don't know these answers most of the time.

    Wow, thanks Dave for these ideas, I didn't think of the air contributing. That's scary! No bird cages here and the cat box is waaaaay on the other side of the house but I like this experiment so I'm going to try it asap. I did a thorough redo of the tank on Sunday where I added more aeration, pruned and replanted plants, all while vaccumming the gravel. I didn't take the filter apart as much as what you are suggeating because I had rinsed it in tank water earlier in the week. But I will give the filter another look just in case there was something I didn't notice last week when I was trying to clean this and figure it out. I read on another forum that a man had high nitrates and the cause was a very dirty filter so that's what made me clean mine. I am just scared of over cleaning and disturbing the beneficial bacteria. I was getting high nitrates as well but theyve seem to have gone down since I rinsed out the sponges and replaced one side of the carbon. I have a fluval u2 just to include that. I greatly appreciate everyone's input, as I've been really upset losing fish and not knowing what to do to get everything in order. I used to have tanks I didn't touch for days even weeks and everything was fine.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 11, 2017
  13. Jocelyn AdelmanFishlore VIPMember

    @Corycat @Bizarro252 FYI, first post from bizarro said to wash in tap water, (assuming it was an autocorrect thing) while second post said tank water. Bizarro, maybe edit your first post?
    Just to be clear, filter material (bio) should always only be cleaned in in tank water, never tap :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 11, 2017
  14. Bizarro252Well Known MemberMember

    Thank you for pointing that out! Yikes! Post has been edited.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 11, 2017
  15. CorycatValued MemberMember

    I washed them in tank water only

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