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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-14-2015, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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API Ammo Lock and Planted tank

Hi
I have a semi Hi tec(DIY CO2) planted tank. 20G Long with 11 Neon Tetra, 4 Oto and few Glass Shrimp. I want to say it is heavily planted but the definition varies so lets say it is planted. My question, I read somewhere that the planted tank need the heavy metals from tap water but not the Chlorine and Chloramines. The easily available tap water conditioner that will not eliminate heavy metal but remove chlorine is API Ammo Lock. But I am worried about uncycling my tank. I am planning to condition the tap water with Ammo Lock outside of the tank, wait for a day and then add it to the tank. Do you think this will continue to eliminate ammonia after it is in the tank?
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 06:56 AM
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Plants do not need heavy metals from tap water. If your tap water has heavy metals these should be locked up using a chelator or other method.

Tap water can contain calcium and magnesium which plants and fish need. A dechlorinator will not lock up these minerals.

Tap water may contain chlorine or chloramines.
A dechlorinator will break the chlorine-ammonia bond and lock up both of these. Read the label to be sure it does both (if your tap water has chloramine). Not all products will do this. The cheaper or older products just deal with chlorine, and allow the ammonia to be free in the tank. Other specialty products might just lock up ammonia, and not deal with the chlorine or chloramine.

Fish food has protein which decomposes to become ammonia and other wastes. Nitrifying bacteria use the ammonia as food. They turn it into nitrite. Then other species of bacteria remove the nitrite and produce nitrate. In a fully cycled tank the ammonia and nitrite will always test 0ppm. The nitrate may be high or low, depending on how well the plants use the nitrogen.
If the tank is not fully cycled, the bacteria population is not up to dealing with the fish food, and the fish will be exposed to toxins. You will need to do more frequent and larger water changes.
A dechlorinator used a day or two ago will not usually deal with ammonia etc produced more than 24 hours after the dechlor was added to the water. If the tank is still cycling, but you have added the fish too soon, then you will be doing frequent water changes, and adding dechlor perhaps daily. This can help with the ammonia and nitrite.

Do enough water changes to keep the ammonia under .25ppm and the nitrite under 1ppm.

Add nitrifying bacteria that contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. These are the correct species of nitrifying bacteria that an uncycled tank lacks. They will cycle the tank within 24-48 hours.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the info Diana. This is an established tank and I have been using API Stress coat to dechlorinate that will remove, Chlorine, Chloramines and it says heavy metals and some coating for the fishes through Aloe Vera. And I read somewhere that the plants need everything other than Chlorine and Chloramine. And I saw a chart that shows API Ammo lock to be the one with just a dechlorinator and also eliminates Chloramine. That is the basis of my doubt.
I am not sure if i can post a link but here is the chart I read

http://www.thetropicaltank.co.uk/rev-cond.htm

I have 0Ammo and 0Nitrite and I am unable to maintain above 5PPM nitrate. So I usually dose nitrogen. I have good plant growth except there was a BGA issue I had to deal with. Nitrate fell to 0 to less than 5PPM since then.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 03:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Plants do not need heavy metals from tap water. If your tap water has heavy metals these should be locked up using a chelator or other method.
The chelator in your dechlorinator (often sodium EDTA) won't even "lock up" the metals. And depending on your definition of "heavy metal" some plant-essential metals are on the list (copper and zinc are both at times considered to be heavy metals)..

That said, the chelatoris just going to convert the metals to chelates, which are what we use as fertilizers anyway. Copper EDTA, Zinc EDTA, etc... They're less toxic to aquatic critters in this form, but still plant-available. Copper running in a more readily available form, like sulfate, can be poisonous to tank critters if there's a enough of it.

The linked chart uses the term "binds heavy metals" but that's a pretty strong term.. a better term would be "chelates" or "reduces" (in the sense of electron transfer in chemistry, not the common term).



Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Tap water may contain chlorine or chloramines.
A dechlorinator will break the chlorine-ammonia bond and lock up both of these.
Well, a dechlorinator will break the bond, and convert the chlorine to chloride, which is a plant-essential trace nutrient. (yes, plants need chlorine, but it is only usable by them in chloride form, and they only need really tiny amounts.)

Some dechlorinators (ie: prime or amquel) go a step further and have ingredients temporarily detoxify the ammonia from chloramine, but basic dechlorinators like sodium thiosulfate or ascorbic acid, don't do this. The linked chart covers this part.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thats really good info. You guys rock. One more question. What is your opinion on the 3rd column where they say about medications in the conditioner like slime builder and stress coat etc?
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by plantetra View Post
Thats really good info. You guys rock. One more question. What is your opinion on the 3rd column where they say about medications in the conditioner like slime builder and stress coat etc?
I have concerns about some of them... Some add polymers that are supposed to stick to the fishes skin, but it's not exactly clear how they avoid sticking to the gills.

Others seem to just work by stimulating the fishes natural production of slime coat. I suppose that's fine as long as they don't overdo it.

Personally, I'm a fan of Seachem Prime, which falls in the later category in terms of slime coat action.

I have traditionally used API Tap water conditioner for bulk dechlorinating water that isn't going to be exposed to fish (ie: quarantine of plants, rinse water used for cleaning things outside the tank, dechlorinating things cleaned with bleach, etc), but have recently ordered some bulk sodium thiosulfate for this task.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot. Seachem Prime seems to be the best bet in that case.

I hope this is the last question here. I know that these conditioners have some chemicals to react with unwanted chemicals from tap water. What if we add a little extra or the tap water doesn have enough bad chemicals to react with? Will it be ok or will that create an issue to the fish by itself. I have always tried to measure it as good as possible but it has always been a concern.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 05:33 PM
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Excess dechlorinator isn't an issue.. pretty much all of these products dose considerably more than is absolutely necessary for the job.

Seachem prime can be double-dosed safely. In emergencies, you can go up to 5 times the label rate. This much is on their website and label.

The major risk to overdosing dechlorinators is that they all work as reducing agents. If you overdose them by quite a lot they can start stripping the oxygen out of the water. But you've really gotta OD it, or have already low oxygen levels, for this to affect your fish.

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 05:44 PM
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You should not need to use a product like Ammo Lock. Just get a normal dechlorinator like SeaChem Prime. I used to use API conditioner for the same thing before it ran out. Like matt says it really isn't a big deal if you double-dose Prime. I have never harmed anything through the use of dechlorination products.

Basically you should not rely on bottled products to do anything except dechlorinate your water and treat diseases if they come up. I'm not sure what 'detoxifies ammonia' (from the Ammo Lock bottle) means but my gut tells me there are just unnecessary chemicals involved. IMO you are overthinking the other aspects (which is what API wants so they can sell so many ridiculous products that nobody needs).

For water changes I literally hook up a garden hose to my sink, add 3mL of Prime to a 30 gallon rubber trash barrel, fill it with tap water, and immediately pump it into the tank. IMO there is no need to treat water for an entire day before putting it in the tank. I have never killed any kind of livestock doing water changes this way.

Especially since you have a small tank stocked with undemanding livestock. Neon tetras and glass shrimp aren't fragile by any means. They'll be fine.

Use dry ferts or something to supplement your plants if you're worried about that. Trace micro ferts like CSM+B supply the metals you reference and you don't need much of it for plants to be fine. Like barely any at all (that's why they are called trace elements). If you want to dose macro elements (N,P,K) then look to things like KNO3, KH2PO4, etc


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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klibs View Post
You should not need to use a product like Ammo Lock. Just get a normal dechlorinator like SeaChem Prime.
Prime is an ammonia sequestering agent just like Ammo Lock is. Both are also dechlorinators. Prime goes further and stimulates fish slime and binds heavy metals.

If you wanted "just a dechlorinator", Ammo Lock is closer...


Quote:
Originally Posted by klibs View Post
I'm not sure what 'detoxifies ammonia' (from the Ammo Lock bottle) means but my gut tells me there are just unnecessary chemicals involved.
So, that's substantially more suspicious than:

Quote:
Prime® converts ammonia into a safe, non-toxic form that is readily removed by the tank’s biofilter.

That said, I am a fan of Prime.. but to think of it as just a dechlorinator is silly. It does a lot of extra stuff.

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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 07:14 PM
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True true it was definitely incorrect to label prime as purely a dechlorinator. I guess what I meant was prime is marketed solely as something to treat new water with to make it more suitable to fish. Without looking into the ammo-lock product in too much detail it just makes it seem like you would buy this off the shelf mostly to lower/control ammonia levels in your tank which is apparently not what it should be used for. When I think of treating water before putting it in my tank I am not thinking of getting ammonia out of my tap water (or anything along those lines). Just the way it is marketed makes it seem like less of a water treatment for tap water and more of something you would use to keep your ammonia levels down.

Either way I highly doubt that using these kinds of products to treat/dechlorinate water will have the unintended effects of harming plants by removing minerals/metals or whatever. My response is basically 'don't worry about it' - you'll be fine using whatever


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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again Klibs and Matt. I have always been using RO water from Walmart but that seems to be too soft and with CO2 injection it is all over the place. Thats the reason why i am starting to use tap water with dechlorinator. So all these questions. Thanks
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2015, 10:52 PM
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One of the beauties of a planted tank is the ability to use tap water without having to worry about algae blooms as a result (you can still get algae of course). I come from salt water where RO is pretty much a given unless you have enough macro algae.

I just treat the tank with prime and fill it up directly from the sink. If you use a bucket like mentioned above you will save some money on prime since you only have to treat the amount changed. Otherwise you need to put enough to treat the entire tank worth of water. With a small tank, it might not be worth it to get out the bucket.

Of course, some shrimp are sensitive enough to warrant RO water so it still has its place.
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