View Full Version : Prime, and Nitrates....

06-01-2009, 16:37
What's the recommended dosage to detoxify nitrates or just 40 ppm of nitrates? Also, if I had an aquarium without any filters, gravels, ornaments, but just fish, how would any of the fish respond to 200 ppm of detoxified nitrates (assuming the nitrates have been detoxified before adding it to the tank)? Is it possible for the "detoxified" effect to wear off, if the detoxified nitrates are in the water for more than a week? Does it still affect the fish's hemoglobin content and oxygen consumption, or are the detoxified nitrates still "non-toxic fertilizer" for plants?

Tech Support JS
06-01-2009, 17:09

A single dose should suffice in detoxifying the 40 ppm of nitrates. Assuming the nitrates were detoxified, the fish should be fine since it will not be available to them. The nitrates will be detoxified for up to 48 hours. During that time, they will almost certainly be consumed by your bacterial filter/plants. Elevated nitrate can be toxic because it can convert oxygen carrying pigments (hemeglobin, hemocyanin) to forms such as methemoglobin, which are incapable of carrying oxygen; however, with nitrate and its low branchial permeability, it is significantly lower in toxicity (compared to NH3/NO2). The nitrates will still be available for plant fertilization. Thank you for your question and have a great day!

06-01-2009, 18:18
Thanks. Okay, a single dose can detoxify 40 ppm, however, it seems that to detoxify nitrite, one would need to do a 3x to 5x dose as labeled on the instructions. How much of the chemical (the complexed hydrosulfite) in Prime will be used up, if only 40 ppm of nitrates were to be detoxified will a single dose (assuming nitrates is the only factor)? I would like this in percentage...

I'm asking this because I want to know if I add chloramine-treated tap water to the aqaurium, will the "free" inactive hydrosulfite chemical in the water detoxify the chloramines + ammonia that is being added to the aqaurium (i.e it will be enough to detoxify any chloramines/ammonia in the aquarium within 24 hours).

06-01-2009, 19:34
I will try not to hijack this thread... but from what I have read above, if my Nitrates are at 40 ppm,(which they are) and I dose with Prime, the nitrates will be bound for up to 48 hours in which time the biofilter will convert them into... what??? Something which lessens the need for as many water changes? I have a overstocked 55 Gal fully cycled tank.
PH = 8.3
KH = 17
GH = 15-16

06-01-2009, 20:01
I think it could work faster if you would use Stability after dosing with Prime, because there will be a higher concentration of facultative bacteria in the water to consume the detoxified nitrates. I guess the bacteria would consume the nitrates as soon as they are released into the water, before colonizing.

The bi-product from this type of bacteria should be nitrogen gas.

-aerobic bacteria = ammonia/nitrite-eaters
-anaerobic bacteria = nitrate-eaters
-facultative bacteria (supposebly a different strain) = nitrate-eaters

Tech Support JS
06-02-2009, 10:09

The nitrate is converted to inert nitrogen gas that is gassed off and will no longer be present in the tank. With an overstocked tank, you will more thank likely always have higher than normal nitrates (here at Seachem, our overstocked cichlid tank typically runs pretty high nitrates). Prime will make them non toxic until your filter picks them up, but your fish will still be producing ammonia, which leads to nitrate. Stability will boost your biofilter with the anaerobic bacteria needed to convert more of the nitrates to inert nitrogen gas.


That number is impossible to calculate. If you have amines in your tap water and treat with Prime, it will bind to the ammonia and render it non toxic instantly.

Thanks you guys for the posts!

06-02-2009, 19:56
So, this can be done vice versa i.e. you add tap water to the aquarium and then Prime?

For example, I have a 180 gallon aquarium. I add/pour 5 gallons of tap water (chloramine-treated) to the tank. There is now some small percentage of toxic ammonia and/or chloramine in the water affecting the fish. If I add 0.5 ml of Prime, would that be sufficent in eliminating the "5 gallon" amount of chloramines,etc. in that larger volume of water, or should I dose for the whole tank (18 ml of Prime)?

Tech Support JS
06-03-2009, 09:47
If you add the water to the aquarium before you treat with Prime, you should dose for the entire water volume (in your case, 180 gallons). It's recommended to treat the water before you add it to the aquarium, only dosing for the change water volume (in your case, 5 gallons). This will save you money and work more efficiently. Thanks!

Tech Support JS
06-15-2009, 10:08
Hmmm... your post sounds familiar :)


08-09-2009, 12:42
We do fully understand the chemical mechanisms that go on in all of our products but, as you can assume, releasing that information would not be the wisest business decision. Thanks for the posts
so wait your saying this statement is just lie to keep trade statements? it was taken from the prime FAQ

The detoxification of nitrite and nitrate by Prime (when used at elevated levels) is not well understood from a mechanistic standpoint.

i dont mean to seem difficult or trying to cause a problem. i am just curious.

08-10-2009, 01:11
If you have a cycled tank, all you need to know is that Prime will allow the beneficial bacteria to use up most, if not, all of the non-toxic ammonia, and nitrite. If you have filter media that houses anaerobic bacteria, Prime will allow it to break down the non-toxic nitrate in your water.

Prime is 5x more concentrated than one of the best dechlorinators on the market, which is Amquel+ by Kordon. However, Prime works much faster, and you save a lot of money. Also, there's been a discussion on Prime vs other dechlorinators, and Prime seemed to have more benefits. Unlike other water conditoners, Prime stimulates slime coat production in fish, does not affect ph, does not build up in the water column (some water conditoners can build up and lead to low-oxygen problems in the tank, which can suffocate your fish), Prime has an indefinite expiration date or last for years under proper storage conditons (other companies, if you ask them, will say: "our product is too new to set an expiration date on it..."); and if nitrates is your only problem, Prime will bind to most of the nitrates (if there are less or practically no ammonia and/or ntrite) , in which your biological filter, anaerobic bacteria in the tank, and/or plants will break it down much faster.

It may seem hard to believe for the bacteria and/or plants to consume these nitrogen compounds with Prime, however, I know I've read somewhere or have been told that the formula in Prime allows plants and aerobic/anaerobic bacteria to prefer the final nitrogen compound complex. I'm not sure if other water conditioners (from other companies) work the same way, however, what comes first is the fish: toxic chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia can be deadly to fish, so Prime is the quickest and most concentrated (cheapest) choice.

Tech Support EH
08-10-2009, 12:12
sostoudt, you are not causing any problems, and we apologize for any conflicting information that you feel you have received. Regarding the removal of chlorine and chloramines, Prime actually works to break the bonds in the molecules. For example, in chlorine (Cl2), Prime breaks the bond between the 2 chloride atoms, resulting in 2 separate chloride atoms that will not re-bind. Similarly, in chloramine (NCl3), Prime breaks the bonds between the nitrogen and chloride atoms. The result of this chemical interaction is complete removal of both chlorine and chloramine in the water. Prime then takes this a step further, removing any ammonia that may have been formed when hydrogens were allowed to bind with the nitrogen.

Ammonia can exist in two different forms in an aquarium: free ammonia(NH3) and ionized ammonia(NH4), which is also known as ammonium. It is the free form of ammonia that is toxic in the confines of an aquarium. While your biological filter will remove the ionized form, the toxic form must be chemically removed by a process called reduction. Prime, being a reducing agent, does this.

The situation is a bit different regarding the removal of nitrites and nitrates. Rather than physically breaking bonds within these molecules, Prime binds to the molecules themselves, thus making them unavailable to cause harm in the system. This bond will hold for up to 48 hours, until the nitrites and nitrates are consumed by the bacteria in the biofilter. (Aerobic bacteria consume nitrites and anaerobic bacteria consume nitrates.) Therefore, it is important to have both types of bacteria and sufficient surface area on which they can colonize, as LabTest57 alluded to. Again, we did not intend to mislead anyone, and we hope that this may clear some confusion.

08-10-2009, 16:33
Good information...I knew ammonia would be detoxified differently than nitrites and nitrates, but just was not sure. =)

Tech Support EH
08-10-2009, 17:50
Thank you for the information you provided, as well!

08-13-2009, 01:47
What's the recommended dosage to detoxify nitrates or just 40 ppm of nitrates? Also, if I had an aquarium without any filters, gravels, ornaments, but just fish, how would any of the fish respond to 200 ppm of detoxified nitrates (assuming the nitrates have been detoxified before adding it to the tank)? Is it possible for the "detoxified" effect to wear off, if the detoxified nitrates are in the water for more than a week? Does it still affect the fish's hemoglobin content and oxygen consumption, or are the detoxified nitrates still "non-toxic fertilizer" for plants?

Nitrates have very low toxicity in fresh water. Aim for 10ppm in a planted tank. If you are regularly getting results above this then step up the volume and/or regularity of your partial water changes. High Nitrates are an indicator of waste products in general being high in your tank. Other waste products that you measure like phospahte as well as unmeasured waste products are also likely to be high. Partial water changes are the best way to rectify the situation.
Chemicals like Seachem's Prime are however very effective in immediately detoxifying ammonia and nitrites and should be used in conjunctin with daily water changes until both ammonium and nitrites reach 0ppm.

08-13-2009, 04:51
Actually, thanks to quatermass's "sugar" method for removing nitrates, I figured out a way to use sugar to lower nitrates w/o causing a bacterial bloom nor having any bacteria die (i.e. the nitrates rise again) when I stop dosing. I aimed for a maximum 15 ppm sugar/carbon level in my tank. A side-effect of dosing sugar in large increments every day or every other day is a bacetrial bloom and/or massive algae growth. Since I perform a 50% water change once a month, I would dose sugar after every water change, because the the higher the concentartion of something in the water the better chances of lowering it through a water change; adding sugar afterwards would decrease nitrates a bit w/o causing massive algae growth.

Also I would like to say something for those who add salt to their planted freshwater aquariums: a teaspoon of aquarium salt (sea salt) adds 11 ppm of salt per gallon of water. Most aquatic plants cannot tolerate anything above 1000 ppm. If you have more than that in your aquarium, don't think that four 25% water changes will reduce it to 0; actually, it will be reduced to "1/4 times the inital amount" less everytime you do a 25% water change. 6000 ppm of salt in a 160 gallon tank will take years to be reduced to a number above 0, doing water changes that are less than 50%; though a 100% water change would be the most logical choice.

Tech Support AN
08-13-2009, 10:09
That's interesting! Thanks for the info! :-)