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Nh3 to Nh4 conversion with prime?

Discussion in 'General Freshwater' started by Penguin88, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. Penguin88

    Penguin88 AC Members

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    Can someone clarify for me...? I have read prime only does this conversion for 24 hrs... Once nh3 is converted to nh4, does it convert back to nh3 after 24 hours? Or does Prime just stop converting new nh3 molecules after 24 hours? Ie. 24 hours after prime will my entire total ammonia go back to toxic nh3, or will my nh3 just be from the new molecules that form after that time?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Tifftastic

    Tifftastic "With your powers combined . . ."

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    I'm trying to remember my chemistry, but I'm pretty sure NH3 and NH4+ are always in an equilibrium passing H atoms back and forth. Prime stops this and converts all to NH3 for 24 hours until it used up, then you'll see NH4+ come back because it starts picking up H atoms from the water. *I think this is what happens, but I took intro chem about 10 years ago. . .
     
  3. Bunsen Honeydew

    Bunsen Honeydew AC Members

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    To the best of my knowledge, prime doesn't convert ammonia to ammonium, it binds it. The ratio of ammonia to ammonium is a function of pH.
     
  4. Liz

    Liz AC Members

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    Can you tell me what you mean by "it binds it" and how that detoxifies it? Ammonium is a nontoxic salt, right? And do you mean at some pHs are less toxic because they have more ammonium and less ammonia?
    Found this on lovely google:
    NH3 (ammonia) is a gas and sometimes called toxic or free ammonia. It is the unionised form of NH4. NH4 (ammonium) is a nontoxic salt it is the ionised form of ammonia.
     
    #4 Liz, Mar 19, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  5. Bunsen Honeydew

    Bunsen Honeydew AC Members

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    Ammonia can bind to other compounds, usually metals, in a way that it forms a complex with the other compound, altering the chemistry of both. In the case of Prime, the manufacturer claims that this complex is safer for fish. I am unsure of what the specific chemistry is, so I cannot comment further on that claim as a chemist. As an aquarist, I am happy with their product, but I usually use it to dechlorinate. My wet dry and plants usually take care of the ammonia.
     
  6. FreshyFresh

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    Penguin, I have no idea on the specifics of the chemistry, but I believe even that 24 hour "rule" isn't exact. It's my understanding that the effectiveness of the detox/binding that Seachem Prime does, gradually fades away depending on the quantities. Not sure what your situation is, or what you're trying to accomplish, but lots of water testing and water changes may be needed.
     
  7. Bunsen Honeydew

    Bunsen Honeydew AC Members

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    Forgot to address the ammonia vs ammonium part. For all intents and purposes in the aquarium, every reference of ammonia is referring to ammonium hydroxide, since when gaseous ammonia almost completely converts to the ammonium compound. This is why ammonium chloride can be used for a fishless cycle. I would recommend water changes to reduce ammonia, and think that using a product to sequester ammonia may be dubious in efficacy.
     
  8. Bunsen Honeydew

    Bunsen Honeydew AC Members

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    A little reading has showed that Prime converts to a methenamine derivative by using proprietary hydrosulfite complexes. It likely doesn't work for more than 24 hours because it is a reducing agent (antioxidant), and would degrade in the presence of oxygen.
     
  9. Penguin88

    Penguin88 AC Members

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    I am asking because my tap water reads 1 ppm ammonia, and I use tap water and prime. But I have questions now because I set up a new, seeded tank where the ammonia from the tap water is not being used by my bacteria as quickly. My ammonia levels go down if I don't change the water....
     
  10. Bunsen Honeydew

    Bunsen Honeydew AC Members

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    The further reading that I have done shows that my binding assumption was incorrect. Prime does not bind by forming ammoniate complexes, but by reducing the ammonia (or chloramine) to a methenamine. This Compound can be broken down by a biological filter, and only can be converted back to ammonia under acidic conditions (outside of normal aquarium ranges). I guess that water changes would be a counterproductive way to reduce ammonia in your case. :)
     

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