Give me a chemistry lesson re ammonia tests and prime? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-30-2008, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Give me a chemistry lesson re ammonia tests and prime?

Greetings all,

Yet another newbie here, and I'm so thankful for the great information and support I'm receiving on these forums. I wondered if some of the more scientifically-minded of you could answer a question for me.

I am currently using a dechlorinator on my (cycling) 5 gal hex tank that only neutralizes chlorine and chloramine. I had heard that using one of the products that "locks up" or "detoxes" ammonia, nitrite, etc. can lead to false test results, and I wanted to be able to monitor the true conditions of my tank. However, I'm hearing rave reviews for Prime all over the forum and am interested in switching when my current (tiny) bottle of dechlorinator runs dry.

My question is twofold:

1) I currently use the API Master Freshwater test kit - the one with the test tubes, etc. If I switch to Prime, will that affect the test results I get with that kit, and if so, what brand kit should I use as an alternate?

2) Can you explain to me the chemistry behind this? How does Prime "lock" ammonia and why does one kind of ammonia test detect it and one doesn't? Chemistry equations are fine in explaining that, if you are the professorial type.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-30-2008, 04:46 PM
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OK you'll have to wait for someone who understands the exact chemical processes to give you a more thorough answer, but I can explain the basic principles, at least?

Part of the issue is that ammonia can be "locked" into various different compounds, and different products will do this in different ways.

One of the advantages Seachem advertises with Prime is that Prime will lock the ammonia into a compound that neutralizes the toxins to livestock but still leaves the ammonia able to be nitrified/utilized by the N-bacteria and converted into nitrAte for plants.

This coumpound will still be read as "ammonia present" by many other test kits, however.

Seachem's test kits are made to be compatible with all their products, so if you're using Prime, I'd recommend using their test kits.

There may be more info on the www.Seachem.com website?

HTH till someone else can explain the precise chemistry (which I look forward to as well )





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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-30-2008, 07:01 PM
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Prime binds the NH3 (ammonia) and converts it into the less toxic NH4 (ammonium).

Prime doesn't actually skew the test results of the API kit--because its a "Total Ammonia" kit(NH3 & NH4). I use Seachem Ammonia Alerts. They only read NH3 (Free-ammonia), and they last over the 1 yr advertised. Great Product! Their pH alert things really suck--so don't be tempted! Additionally, the Seachem test kit will test for Total Ammonia (NH3 & NH4) or Free-ammonia (NH3).

HTH


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