Does Prime actually "Detoxify" free ammonia, NH3?

Lasse

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I'd be surprised ANY of those customers actually had lethal levels of nitrate or nitrite before adding Prime. it is not easy to attain acutely lethal levels of nitrate or nitrite in seawater. The data I collected for nitrite suggest the lowest lethal concentration of nitrite I could find was 147 ppm. Does anyone believe that any customers using Prime had nitrite of 147 ppm?
To be fair to them - they probably referring to fresh water but still - it is a remarkable statement. They do not base their statement on own research, or known chemical pathways - they rely only on what other have reported. They also say that high nitrate concentrations is lethal - they are not, not even in fresh water IME

Sincerely Lasse
 
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How does everyone feel about ion chromatography in this situation? There's a lab near me and I should be able to easily create some samples.

Surely if Prime is binding ammonia it'll be detectable via ion chromatography.
 

MnFish1

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As far as I know, Seachem does not reveal anything interpretable about what the mechanism is, because they do not clearly ever indicate the ingredients, although they do make come confusing statements about what it is not.

They also indicate their level of rigor (or lack thereof) in making claims for Prime when they write:

"I wish we had some more "concrete" explanation, but the end result is the same, it does actually detoxify nitrite and nitrate. This was unexpected chemically and thus initially we were not even aware of this, however we received numerous reports from customers stating that when they overdosed with Prime® they were able to reduce or eliminate the high death rates they experienced when their nitrite and nitrate levels were high. We have received enough reports to date to ensure that this is no fluke and is in fact a verifiable function of the product."


I'd be surprised if ANY of those customers actually had lethal levels of nitrate or nitrite before adding Prime. it is not easy to attain acutely lethal levels of nitrate or nitrite in seawater. The data I collected for nitrite suggest the lowest lethal concentration of nitrite I could find was 147 ppm. Does anyone believe that any customers using Prime had nitrite of 147 ppm?
I agree - their explanations are obfuscations to a degree. The point was that they do explain some of their methods - and there were more answers in the FAQ. Does this comment shed any light on a possible mechanism?: "
Some chemicals, families of chemicals, have many oxidation states, others have only one or two. Dithionate is one of many states for sulfur. The family tree runs from sulfide (-2) through sulfate (+6) to peroxydisulfate (+7?), and there are literally more than a dozen steps along the way, thiosulfate, dithionate that take a scorecard for me to keep track of."
 
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taricha

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It would be interesting to see what Seachem says about the methods you're using and a possible different explanation.
Interestingly, when @Dan_P specifically emailed requesting help understanding discrepancies between their claims about detoxifying ammonia and our measurements with NH3 sensing films, their response was essentially (my paraphrase) Prime is very important to our business and please respect our right to tell you nothing about it.

For reasons already discussed - I do not think the amphipod study is done correctly.
I'd go farther and say it is not possible to do the amphipod study "correctly" - since by correctly you mean under something nearing tank conditions. Amphipods are tough as nails. You cannot approach lethality with them at anything that looks like reef tank water.
There was no version of that test that could have shown any effect within the narrow bounds of "tank conditions" no matter how generously you define those.
Prime says 1x detoxifies 1ppm, 2x for 2ppm...etc up to 5x for 5ppm ammonia. So I tried 12x for 12ppm. Best I could do. Sorry.


I also think it gets very confusing when in one sentence the word 'ammonia' is used - and in another 'Total ammonia' and in another 'NH3' throughout many of these posts.
Yeah, I try to be clean but I goof sometimes. Casually I say ammonia, if I give a chart or a measurement I'll say the unit I'm using.
But since you bring it up, does Seachem say if the 1ppm "ammonia" their standard dose of Prime detoxifies is NH3 or Total Ammonia? :)
 
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taricha

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They do not base their statement on own research, or known chemical pathways - they rely only on what other have reported.
...and those users have reported that using test kits that are interfered with by the dechlorinator. It's just absurd.
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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How does everyone feel about ion chromatography in this situation? There's a lab near me and I should be able to easily create some samples.

Surely if Prime is binding ammonia it'll be detectable via ion chromatography.

Assuming the conditions are not altered in a way that could break apart any product (such as very high or low pH), it seems a good method to me.
 

MnFish1

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Interestingly, when @Dan_P specifically emailed requesting help understanding discrepancies between their claims about detoxifying ammonia and our measurements with NH3 sensing films, their response was essentially (my paraphrase) Prime is very important to our business and please respect our right to tell you nothing about it.


I'd go farther and say it is not possible to do the amphipod study "correctly" - since by correctly you mean under something nearing tank conditions. Amphipods are tough as nails. You cannot approach lethality with them at anything that looks like reef tank water.
There was no version of that test that could have shown any effect within the narrow bounds of "tank conditions" no matter how generously you define those.
Prime says 1x detoxifies 1ppm, 2x for 2ppm...etc up to 5x for 5ppm ammonia. So I tried 12x for 12ppm. Best I could do. Sorry.



Yeah, I try to be clean but I goof sometimes. Casually I say ammonia, if I give a chart or a measurement I'll say the unit I'm using.
But since you bring it up, does Seachem say if the 1ppm "ammonia" their standard dose of Prime detoxifies is NH3 or Total Ammonia? :)
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. So - am I paraphrasing 'too much' to say - toss the amphipod study out? To me there many to many confounding issues (pH and ammonia concentrations being the big ones). As to the test results - with different test kits - and prime - I agree - it looks like something is 'off'. BUT - I think your guys standpoint that this proves anything with regards to keeping fish in a tank is wrong. BUT LAUDABLE
 
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Dan_P

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Interestingly, when @Dan_P specifically emailed requesting help understanding discrepancies between their claims about detoxifying ammonia and our measurements with NH3 sensing films, their response was essentially (my paraphrase) Prime is very important to our business and please respect our right to tell you nothing about it.


I'd go farther and say it is not possible to do the amphipod study "correctly" - since by correctly you mean under something nearing tank conditions. Amphipods are tough as nails. You cannot approach lethality with them at anything that looks like reef tank water.
There was no version of that test that could have shown any effect within the narrow bounds of "tank conditions" no matter how generously you define those.
Prime says 1x detoxifies 1ppm, 2x for 2ppm...etc up to 5x for 5ppm ammonia. So I tried 12x for 12ppm. Best I could do. Sorry.



Yeah, I try to be clean but I goof sometimes. Casually I say ammonia, if I give a chart or a measurement I'll say the unit I'm using.
But since you bring it up, does Seachem say if the 1ppm "ammonia" their standard dose of Prime detoxifies is NH3 or Total Ammonia? :)
Seachem tech support consistently plays the “it is proprietary information“ to all requests for information which means they do not have unequivocal evidence that the product works.

How hard would it be to use a an ion selective electrode to show what happens when Prime is added to an ammonium chloride solution. No secrets would be revealed, just a dramatic demonstration to sell their product.
 

MnFish1

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Seachem tech support consistently plays the “it is proprietary information“ to all requests for information which means they do not have unequivocal evidence that the product works.

How hard would it be to use a an ion selective electrode to show what happens when Prime is added to an ammonium chloride solution. No secrets would be revealed, just a dramatic demonstration to sell their product.
Their product already sells. They are basically telling you point blank that you're wrong with their product information. The premise of their product is that what you're saying is wrong. Before I posted on an international message board - based on (well intentioned) testing that a product didnt work, I would be on the phone with their technical support saying we did this, we got this result, we want to post it online, do you have a response? If you did that, great. But - I mean - you (to my reading) basically said 'Prime does not work to detoxify ammonia'
 
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Lasse

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Yeah, I try to be clean but I goof sometimes. Casually I say ammonia, if I give a chart or a measurement I'll say the unit I'm using.
But since you bring it up, does Seachem say if the 1ppm "ammonia" their standard dose of Prime detoxifies is NH3 or Total Ammonia? :)
Why not use proper English (the Oxford variant) ammonium for NH4 and ammoniac for NH3
How hard would it be to use a an ion selective electrode to show what happens when Prime is added to an ammonium chloride solution.
Its hard because they are - IME - very difficult to calibrate in these levels we are interested of. Below 0.1 ppm as NH3-N they are not responding in a linear way. The lowest calibration point for Orion HP seems to be 0.14 as NH3-N. The general idea with these electrodes is that you rise the samples pH above 12.5 and then measure the NH3. In our application we can´t rise the pH - if so we get all NH4 with the reading. We need to try to analyse free NH3 at given pH.

Sincerely Lasse
 
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taricha

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Thanks for the thoughtful reply. So - am I paraphrasing 'too much' to say - toss the amphipod study out? To me there a many to man confounding issues (pH and ammonia concentrations being the big ones).
Noting the limitations, I'd object to throwing out the amphipod study entirely. Let me tell you why I think it tells us a little, rather than nothing.
1) high ph and ammonia are not "confounding issues", they are literally the entire point - they are the only things that matter. NH3 is what Prime is supposed to protect against.
2) pH in the 8.5s is high but not outside of values reported regularly here on the board, and Prime doesn't suggest pH is an issue. So as I see it, the issue that makes it not applicable to reef tanks is only 12ppm ammonia. Would it be relevant in your opinion if that level were achieved in a shipping bag? (I just had a fish survive Fedex screwup that left it in a bag for 96 hours)
3) Prime implies (but does not say) that it detoxifies ammonia in a dose-responsive manner 1x for 1ppm ammonia... 5x for 5ppm ammonia. This shows that an implied dose dependent mechanism does not hold at 12ppm total ammonia (~1ppm NH3). If one believed it did, this would be important info.
4) had it worked and the pods with prime survived, all the caveats would be irrelevant and this would be powerful evidence in favor of Prime.
5) If the prime+ammonia treatment had died significantly after the no-prime, then one might conclude with some evidence that some protection less than the full 12ppm (perhaps the promised 5ppm) was achieved. That would have been my conclusion.
6) There were also other possible outcomes that didn't happen that would have pointed to test issues or other important conclusions. If Prime-only treatment had also died etc.

So that's my limited defense of the amphipods.
 
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taricha

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Before I posted on an international message board - based on (well intentioned) testing that a product didnt work, I would be on the phone with their technical support saying we did this, we got this result, we want to post it online, do you have a response? If you did that, great. But - I mean - you (to my reading) basically said 'Prime does not work to detoxify ammonia'
I am not entirely sure I get this perspective, but I should probably let it go since it's irrelevant to the science questions.
They make a lot of claims without providing any evidence, but you seem to suggest that we're in the wrong for saying their claims probably aren't true and providing the best evidence we have of that position. Should we have also given their nonsense claim to detoxify Nitrate the same "due process"? Or are we in the wrong for pointing out as Randy and many others have that nitrate isn't toxic and thus they print nonsensical claims on the bottle?

seriously, I appreciate your critiques. It's helpful to have skeptical eyeballs on the science to think through these things.
 

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Why not use proper English (the Oxford variant) ammonium for NH4 and ammoniac for NH3

Its hard because they are - IME - very difficult to calibrate in these levels we are interested of. Below 0.1 ppm as NH3-N they are not responding in a linear way. The lowest calibration point for Orion HP seems to be 0.14 as NH3-N. The general idea with these electrodes is that you rise the samples pH above 12.5 and then measure the NH3. In our application we can´t rise the pH - if so we get all NH4 with the reading. We need to try to analyse free NH3 at given pH.

Sincerely Lasse
@Lasse, this is very useful information. This helps me understand what is going on in the ClorAm-X patent and to question the validity of the measurement of NH3 in the range of 0-0.1 ppm range In 1986.
 

MnFish1

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Noting the limitations, I'd object to throwing out the amphipod study entirely. Let me tell you why I think it tells us a little, rather than nothing.
1) high ph and ammonia are not "confounding issues", they are literally the entire point - they are the only things that matter. NH3 is what Prime is supposed to protect against.
2) pH in the 8.5s is high but not outside of values reported regularly here on the board, and Prime doesn't suggest pH is an issue. So as I see it, the issue that makes it not applicable to reef tanks is only 12ppm ammonia. Would it be relevant in your opinion if that level were achieved in a shipping bag? (I just had a fish survive Fedex screwup that left it in a bag for 96 hours)
3) Prime implies (but does not say) that it detoxifies ammonia in a dose-responsive manner 1x for 1ppm ammonia... 5x for 5ppm ammonia. This shows that an implied dose dependent mechanism does not hold at 12ppm total ammonia (~1ppm NH3). If one believed it did, this would be important info.
4) had it worked and the pods with prime survived, all the caveats would be irrelevant and this would be powerful evidence in favor of Prime.
5) If the prime+ammonia treatment had died significantly after the no-prime, then one might conclude with some evidence that some protection less than the full 12ppm (perhaps the promised 5ppm) was achieved. That would have been my conclusion.
6) There were also other possible outcomes that didn't happen that would have pointed to test issues or other important conclusions. If Prime-only treatment had also died etc.

So that's my limited defense of the amphipods.
Thanks. You're not getting my point entirely. Of course, you need to have NH3 to do an NH3 study. My point was that it is not 'normal' to have very high ammonia as well as 'very high pH' (compared to most tanks. Thus the conditions are not conventional. AND - I know you have data saying that Amphipods can tolerate higher ammonia than lets say 'fish'. BUT - the amount of NH3 increases quickly with higher pH. And - I don't believe you have any data that suggests that Amphipods tolerate the same. I don't remember but I believe you did a study with the amphipods just in Prime alone (with no ammonia)?

Additionally, Amgard (another Seachem product) - says it does lose effectiveness at higher pH (my understanding is that it is a pH higher than 8.5-8.6 though).

BTW - I have said it a couple times. I agree with you that some of the way they (and other companies) describe NH3 detoxification is vague. Detoxify, though, does not mean 'eliminate', it means make the water safe for fish etc. Prime (to the reading of the Seachem website is not for use in an 'ammonia emergency' - but that Amgard is recommended instead. Prime is used to prevent ammonia symptoms more during a cycle.

An interesting experiment would be to take tap water with a known amount of chloramine. Mix salt, then add Thiosulfate into one simply measure ammonia afterwards (or add a known amount of chloramine to RODI water with Salt). It may very well be that in most communities with 'chloramines' - that after the ammonia/chlorine bond is broken that there is not enough ammonia present to cause a problem anyway.

On the other hand - if in that experiment, you find ammonia levels with potentially toxic levels, I would compare 2 tanks 1 with the original formulation (tap-water, thiosulfate and salt) with a second tank with the same - + prime. After adding Prime I would measure using an NH3 (free) - measuring device - as well as an accurate pH meter. It may well be that Prime lower pH ENOUGH to mitigate toxicity in that situation.

Note I'm not being lazy - and I dont want to force you to do experiments. I just have no access to the meters needed (a Seneye) - etc - to adequately do it.

The last experiment would be to do that same experiment - with the 2 tanks - try it with amphipods, first - if no difference - try it with saltwater mollies - or another saltwater adapted fish (like a bait fish/minnow). Then - just like you did in your amphipod experiment, you can use the fish for bait:)
 
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MnFish1

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They make a lot of claims without providing any evidence, but you seem to suggest that we're in the wrong for saying their claims probably aren't true and providing the best evidence we have of that position.
I'm saying you're wrong because you're not saying 'their claims are probably not true', you're saying point blank 'prime does not detoxify ammonia'. Based on what I've learned from Seachem and Seneye, the most I get out of the experiments are their claims 'might not be true or 'might be exaggerated', but given the limitations of the testing you guys did I'm not sure you can realistically say even that.

So - I'll say it again. I like the idea of the experiments, they are an interesting discussion point, they MAY suggest that some of the claims by Seachem are not correct (or exaggerations, etc). But just because as you state above you are 'providing the best evidence we have of that position' - that does not make the thesis correct.

When Seneye themselves state - in response to this specific question that I asked (I did not mention Prime): "Are there any chemicals/additives that can affect the Seneye monitor like antibiotics, water conditioners, etc?" and the answer is : "Anything that can color the water like malachite green, anything corrosive, like Chlorine, and PRIME because of the way it binds ammonia". To me this negates the Seneye experiments with Prime - wouldn't that make sense to you?

I then asked "Can high ammonia levels cause errors in measurement?" She said "Yes at levels (I believe) above .0499" it may not be reliable - especially for longer periods of time.

I will let you know when I get more information (than already posted) concerning the Seachem free ammonia tests.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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When Seneye themselves state - in response to this specific question that I asked (I did not mention Prime): "Are there any chemicals/additives that can affect the Seneye monitor like antibiotics, water conditioners, etc?" and the answer is : "Anything that can color the water like malachite green, anything corrosive, like Chlorine, and PRIME because of the way it binds ammonia". To me this negates the Seneye experiments with Prime - wouldn't that make sense to you?

I doubt the Seneye folks know any more about Prime than we do, so I'd be very cautious in interpreting their statement.

"effect" the Seneye monitor includes both causing misreadings (like a colored compound in the water) and something that bound and held ammonia with the ammonia level going down and the Seneye reading the correct level after binding. It's not apparent which they mean, or if they have any basis for intending one interpretation over the other.
 

MnFish1

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I doubt the Seneye folks know any more about Prime than we do, so I'd be very cautious in interpreting their statement.

"effect" the Seneye monitor includes both causing misreadings (like a colored compound in the water) and something that bound and held ammonia with the ammonia level going down and the Seneye reading the correct level after binding. It's not apparent which they mean, or if they have any basis for intending one interpretation over the other.
The answer I got from tech support was not to use a Seneye for 24 hours after dosing Prime, because it can cause erroneous readings (just like chlorine, high ammonia, and colored chemicals). Note - I did not mention 'Prime' when I called (specifically to avoid any bias). The woman on the phone listed Prime in her list of problematic additions.

The point I was trying to make was not that Seneye was supporting the assertion that Prime reduces free ammonia, but instead that after using Prime, Seneye results are suspect until after 24 hours.

Thus, the experiments here using the Seneye to me are questionable.
 

MnFish1

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PS - I accidentally posted this in the other thread - it was meant for here:

Some interesting information from the Seachem website, a phone call to Seachem tech support, and a phone call to Seneye

1. According to Seneye, Prime can affect Seneye measurements for 24 hours after addition, and measurements should not be trusted until 24 hours after addition of Prime.

2. According to Seneye, concentrations of ammonia (especially prolonged) of >.0499 can not be trusted to be correct, because the slide will be damaged. Same with Chlorine (ie anything 'corrosive'). additionally or any other staining type materials will affect accuracy (such as malachite green).

1. This quote From Seachem website IMPLIES that there are not 1 but 2 ingredients in Prime: "Typically, dechlorinators stop there, leaving an aquarium full of toxic ammonia! Seachem® takes the necessary next step by including an ammonia binder to detoxify the ammonia produced in the reduction process."

2. I called Seachem - and got the following response: we had an email some weeks ago asking about Whether Prime affects ammonia readings with the Seneye. The answer we gave was 'we do not have the knowledge of how the Seneye works and we have not tested it, so we cannot give information as to whether it would be accurate or not with Prime addition.

I also asked Seachem to clarify whether their free NH3 tests (recommended on their website) are accurate at high levels of ammonia or confounded by other variables. She said in general the test kits are to be used with ammonia levels found in aquaria, as compared to a scientific experiment. She said that when used under the proper conditions, the Free NH3 level should read lower after prime addition. They are going to discuss by Email and respond as to whether using higher doses of ammonia, etc with prime, whether the tests are sensitive enough to show a difference.

Thus, As I wondered in the beginning, whether there could be confounding issues with the test procedures used - as compared to the claim that 'Prime does not detoxify ammonia'. After discussing with both companies, I would say logically a problem with the experiments is more likely than a problem with prime (or other ammonia detoxifiers). Note - I'm not saying or advocating for Prime doing anything except dechlorination. I'm only saying that the experiments in this thread based on what I've learned are not adequate to make that claim.
 

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The answer I got from tech support was not to use a Seneye for 24 hours after dosing Prime, because it can cause erroneous readings (just like chlorine, high ammonia, and colored chemicals). Note - I did not mention 'Prime' when I called (specifically to avoid any bias). The woman on the phone listed Prime in her list of problematic additions.

The point I was trying to make was not that Seneye was supporting the assertion that Prime reduces free ammonia, but instead that after using Prime, Seneye results are suspect until after 24 hours.

How would they know the difference between interference and a true reduced level?
 
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