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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

This is my first time posting on this site and I could use some advice as I am not sure how address the issue.

I have a 16 gallon bow front. It has been set up since June 2015. My tank is cycled or so I think (starting to doubt).

Over the past couple of months I test my water at least once a week and do water changes once every 10 days or as needed.

PH 6.4
Nitrites have always been 0
Nitrates have ranged from 5- 40, currently at 5 about 2 months now.

However ammonia is the problem. In all the times i have test on the API i have gotten 0 = yellow 3 times. Otherwise it is either .25, .50 rarely 1.0. Before and after water changes right after using Prime or waiting 24-48 hrs after Prime. I cant get this to consistently 0 and i dont know what the problem.

Every time I am in double I use the Seachem free ammonia test and it always says zero. All of the fish are swimming and eating fine. It is very frustrating though.

Here is my stocking - i don't think i am overstocked

1 - pearl gourami
5- serpae tetras
2 - lox cories ( i know not ideal) but they seem to be fine with each other

I could use the advice. I have read on other forums about the API test and how it can be problematic with Prime and such, but that hasn't calm my nerves about ammonia.


Premium Member
606 Posts
From Seachem's Website:

Q: I am using Prime® to control ammonia but my test kit says it is not doing anything, in fact it looks like it added ammonia! What is going on?

A: A Nessler based kit will not read ammonia properly if you are using Prime®... it will look "off scale", sort of a muddy brown (incidentally a Nessler kit will not work with any other products similar to Prime®). A salicylate based kit can be used, but with caution. Under the conditions of a salicylate kit the ammonia-Prime complex will be broken down eventually giving a false reading of ammonia (same as with other products like Prime®), so the key with a salicylate kit is to take the reading right away. However, the best solution ;-) is to use our MultiTest™ Ammonia kit... it uses a gas exchange sensor system which is not affected by the presence of Prime® or other similar products. It also has the added advantage that it can detect the more dangerous free ammonia and distinguish it from total ammonia (which is both the free and ionized forms of ammonia (the ionized form is not toxic)).

Q: I tested my tap water after using Prime and came up with an ammonia reading. Is this because of chloramine? Could you explain how this works in removing chloramine?

A: Prime works by removing chlorine from the water and then binds with ammonia until it can be consumed by your biological filtration (chloramine minus chlorine = ammonia). The bond is not reversible and ammonia is still available for your bacteria to consume. Prime will not halt your cycling process.

I am going to assume that you were using a liquid based reagent test kit (Nessler based, silica). Any type of reducing agent or ammonia binder (dechlorinators, etc) will give you a false positive. You can avoid this by using our MultiTest™ Ammonia kit (not affected by reducing agents) or you can wait to test, Prime dissipates from your system within 24 hours.
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