What is Prime? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-31-2019, 12:37 PM Thread Starter
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What is Prime?

I keep hearing about this thing called prime. Apparently it comes in a red and white bottle. What I really want to know is what is it? Is it a bacteria starter, or is it a chlorine remover? Thanks in advance!

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-31-2019, 02:05 PM
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It's a chlorine remover, active ingredient is sodium thiosulfate, which also neutralizes heavy metals. It's popular because it's one of the strongest on the market today at two drops per gallon dose. API Genesis used to be 1 drop per gallon, but they curiously removed it from the market a few years back. Prime also is said to detoxify ammonia and nitrite though I've never used it for that purpose.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-31-2019, 06:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Ridge Reef View Post
It's a chlorine remover, active ingredient is sodium thiosulfate, which also neutralizes heavy metals. It's popular because it's one of the strongest on the market today at two drops per gallon dose. API Genesis used to be 1 drop per gallon, but they curiously removed it from the market a few years back. Prime also is said to detoxify ammonia and nitrite though I've never used it for that purpose.
I really liked that you made this point: That you haven't used it strictly as a means to detoxify ammonia and nitrite. New aquarists often think Prime is a substitute for water changes. This understanding comes to them honestly- they are told to use Prime in this way. If you are using Prime in between water changes with fish your walking a tight-rope with high probability of error. Better to do the water change that will eliminate that risk.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-31-2019, 09:56 PM
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I have a question about Prime as well, and I hope it's okay to ask it in this thread instead of starting a new one.

I just bought a bottle of Prime and was wondering about the effects of detoxifying ammonia & nitrites in a fishless tank. I just completed cycling of my aquarium with Dr Tims products and haven't added fish yet, just plants. If I add Prime and it eliminates ammonia & nitrites, or significantly reduces them, will the bacteria starve and kill the cycle?

I've been dosing with the Dr Tims ammonia to 1 ppm daily, and ammonia & nitrites are at 0 the next day. I plan to add fish in the next few weeks, so should I hold off using Prime until I get the fish and they start adding ammonia to keep the cycle going?

I'd been using an API product to remove chlorine, but thought I'd try Prime since everyone recommends it.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-31-2019, 10:04 PM
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Prime detoxifies the ammonia but it does not remove it, so your bacterias can happily continue their buffet as though nothing has happened.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-31-2019, 10:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Wigglespank View Post
I have a question about Prime as well, and I hope it's okay to ask it in this thread instead of starting a new one.

I just bought a bottle of Prime and was wondering about the effects of detoxifying ammonia & nitrites in a fishless tank. I just completed cycling of my aquarium with Dr Tims products and haven't added fish yet, just plants. If I add Prime and it eliminates ammonia & nitrites, or significantly reduces them, will the bacteria starve and kill the cycle?
As member Celadon mentioned, it is still bio available in the form of ammonium which is my understanding that it's converted to. And in our (almost always lower than 9 pH) freshwater tanks, much more is in the form of ammonium (NH+4) anyway. This video shows the relationship of pH and NH3/NH+4 than I could:
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Originally Posted by Dr. Wigglespank View Post
I've been dosing with the Dr Tims ammonia to 1 ppm daily, and ammonia & nitrites are at 0 the next day. I plan to add fish in the next few weeks, so should I hold off using Prime until I get the fish and they start adding ammonia to keep the cycle going?
You should only need to use Prime for your change out and possibly top off water. I say *possibly* because I tend to top off without since it's an every other day chore around here and no tanks are getting more than a couple of percent water added. But the important thing here is that if you are doing a 5 gallon water change for example, 10 drops of Prime in the fill bucket will neutralize chlorine from the tap in that bucket. There is none in your tank, so no need to add more even if the tank is 100 gallons. I can't tell if you were dechlorinating your entire tank every partial water change, but just making sure.

Just an aside, but no real need to buy ammonia "made" for aquariums. Household ammonia (unscented, no additives) is literally the same thing only about 2-3 bucks per gallon and most of us have it around the house for other purposes anyway. Similar to products like API's pH Up powder which is 100% baking soda, there's nothing "wrong" with the products, it's just that you probably already have them!
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I'd been using an API product to remove chlorine, but thought I'd try Prime since everyone recommends it.
As far as I am aware, every dechlorinating product on the market uses the active ingredient sodium thiosulfate. Prime is suggested because it's a good bang for your buck and available most everywhere. If Genesis was still on the market, I would still use that because at the time it was sold it was 2x strength Prime and lower priced. I had some sodium thiosulfate crystals at one point that I used but as cheap as they were it was simply too strong and watering it down to a drop per gallon dose was more trouble than the cost of a bottle of Prime for me. It also stank! All of this to say that a whole lot of things marketed for aquariums are simply re-bottled/re-branded items from other industries (baking soda = pH Up, crushed coral = oyster grit, etc.). The aquarium industry is too small and unprofitable for all the research and development needed to create new products, sadly -and many, many items on pet shop shelves are just other things rebranded and put in a bottle with a picture of a fish on them and jacked up 1000% in price.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-31-2019, 11:58 PM
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I agree with what has been said and I will add if you have an emergency situation...IE: ammonia spike from some known/unknown reason , then Prime will detox the ammonia till you can do water changes and correct the source of the problem . Helps the livestock till you can get them clean water .

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-01-2019, 12:28 AM
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Thank you guys for the very helpful info. That's an excellent video, as well.

I've only been adding the dechlorinator to the bucket when I do water changes, so this bottle of Prime should last a very long while.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-01-2019, 12:40 AM
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Thanks for this thread--it answers a lot of questions I've had rejoining the hobby after many years. In my day tap water was treated with chlorine, not chloramine--so you could just let it sit overnight and the gas would dissipate. No products needed, unless you were in a hurry.

So does Prime have anything else in it besides sodium thiosulfate? Their marketing claims that it not only breaks down neutralizes the chlorine, but also neutralizes the resulting ammonia from breaking the chlorine/ammonia bond in the chloramine. Presumably this means it's converting the ammonia into ammonium. Is there a separate ingredient doing that, or is it sodium thiosulfate doing all of it?
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-01-2019, 12:51 AM
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I do not know! They don't list ingredients on the label unfortunately.

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-01-2019, 01:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WinterSoldier. View Post
I keep hearing about this thing called prime. Apparently it comes in a red and white bottle. What I really want to know is what is it? Is it a bacteria starter, or is it a chlorine remover? Thanks in advance!
Prime is principally used to remove chlorine/chloramine, but it also briefly detoxifies ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. However, it only binds these for [as I recall] about 24 hours. It is expected that the BB and plants will remove the bound toxins before they return to their more dangerous state …and it usually does the job long enough so that the danger is reduced.

If your pH is below 7.0, your ammonia is already in the safer ammonium state, which is what Prime does as well. Seachem advertises that it “detoxifies” nitrates, but nitrates aren’t a problem at typical levels found in our tanks. As far as nitrites go, this would only be a problem during cycling or if your BB were all dead (requiring new cycling). This leaves Prime’s detoxification benefits mainly applicable to ammonia where a sudden spike might happen or when transporting fish.

At even twice recommended levels Prime is safe, but be sure not to overdose as it is a reducing agent and will lower oxygen levels. I am concerned about this mainly when I add a drop or two to fish bought in my LFS when I have more than about 15-20 minutes to get them home.

If you are monitoring total ammonia (most kits do this), then your ammonia readings won’t change even though it is in the safer ammonium form. So, if you dose according to directions, don’t panic when you don’t see the ammonia readings change, but a water change is always advisable in such situations.
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