Ammonia chip, thoughts? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-16-2014, 04:18 AM Thread Starter
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Ammonia chip, thoughts?

Hi all,

I was just wondering what your opinions are on the ammonia remover chips for filter inserts. I often miss dead leaves while cleaning and they can cause ammonia spikes. I also use poolfilter sand capped mineralized topsoil and sometimes replanting can also cause ammonia spikes. I figured that adding a bag of the ammonia remover crystal after all my biological filtration would ensure that they pick up w/e my BB couldnt. That way I'm not damaging the BB system by taking away their food supply.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-16-2014, 12:39 PM
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In general I would advocate the use of ammonia remover in emergency situations or unusual ones that are likely to cause ammonia spikes (ie: filter media and had to be replaced entirely for some reason.) I wouldn't suggest using them all the time as this will ultimately reduce your bacterial colonies.

Some thoughts:

Ammonia remover and feeding BB:
The chips will still be reducing the amount of nutrient available to your BB. The BB don't consume all the ammonia in one pass through the filter, they consume over time and it takes multiple passes (This is part of why we generally aim for filter flow sufficient to do the whole tank at least 5 times per hour). With the ammonia chips being after your biofilter the BB will have first stab at it, but the chips will then consume all the leftovers and keep the BB from having "seconds".

Decaying leaves:

It seems strange to me that a few dead leaves are causing detectable ammonia spikes. I often have several and it is a non-issue in my tank, Ammonia results from the decomposition of nitrogen containing compounds like protein. Plant leaves contain very little dry material to decompose, and what they do contain has comparatively little protein. Yes, they will produce some ammonia, but unless your stocking is light, or the quantity of leaves is large, I would not expect this to be that much extra load on the biofilter. It should just consume the small increase in ammonia and convert it to nitrate without issue. Your cleanup crew (snails, shrimp, catfish and other algae eaters) should also consume some of the dead plant leaves, reducing this issue further.


As a precaution I could see adding the ammonia remover in for a day or so after replanting, since your substrate seems to leech ammonia. I don't have any experience with dirt substrates, but this seems reasonable enough to me. That said, this is easy to do with a HOB filter, but not so much with a canister...
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-17-2014, 03:05 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply! Do you think Seachem Purigen would be a better choice than just plain ammonia chips?
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-17-2014, 03:56 AM
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I use purigen and I like it, but it isn't really comparable to ammonia chips (ie: Zeolite).

Purigen is more like a selective version of activated carbon. It ends up reducing ammonia, but not directly. It removes organic waste, which ends up preventing ammonia from forming from that source in the first place. It does nothing for the ammonia portion of fish waste, only the longer-chain organics that it contains.

Since Purigen is selective, it doesn't impact your fertilizers as much, and lasts a lot longer. It can still affect medicines that are based on organics. (I theorize that kordon ich attack may be affected, since it is a plant extract.).

It may help protect you from ammonia spikes caused by rotting plant leaves, but it is really more used for its "water polishing" effect. It makes water extraordinarily clear, removing organics that can give it a dingy tint or make it just a tad cloudy. I have a mild GDA outbreak at the moment, but before that purigen made the water so clear it was hard to see. It looked more like fish floating behind glass, which was pretty cool.

In short:

Zeolite - removes ammonia

Purigen - removes nitrogen containing organics, possibly including a few medicines. Indirectly controls ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate as a result.

Activated carbon - removes organic waste, chlorine (slowly), and a wide variety of other things (including several medicines, minerals, metals, and fertilizers).
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