Possible Mechanism for Seachem Prime Detoxification of Ammonia

Theulli

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We also failed to detect Prime reducing free ammonia concentration with Seachem colorimetric films in their ammonia test kit and the ammonia alert badge. Seachem says these products detect free ammonia and can be used to observe Prime working. The conclusion is the same using Seneye or Seachem colorimetric films: Prime does not neutralize, combine with or detoxify ammonia in saltwater. And I will go out on a limb and say the similar claim about reducing nitrite and nitrate concentration is nonsense.

At this point a reaction mechanism that explains why Prime does not work in saltwater would be more useful.
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I have seen these claims before and found them interesting. I can’t refute or prove them because I haven’t taken a chemistry class in 25 years, but the part that always makes me wonder is - if it is the snake oil it is claimed to be, that would mean they are making huge amounts of money on a product that can be proven to be fraudulently marketed with at home testing. Where are the lawsuits and charges? This isn’t a gray area where the claim is “proven to make fish feel super happy” or something unprovable. This is a specific claim that you say is specifically refutable. So either they are making a claim based on some criteria we are not testing, or no one cares to do anything about outright fraud…the latter would seem odd.

Not picking a fight, it’s just always baffled me that this comes up so frequently on aquarium forums - incidentally I have seen the exact same claims on freshwater forums - but has never gone anywhere.
 

Dan_P

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I have seen these claims before and found them interesting. I can’t refute or prove them because I haven’t taken a chemistry class in 25 years, but the part that always makes me wonder is - if it is the snake oil it is claimed to be, that would mean they are making huge amounts of money on a product that can be proven to be fraudulently marketed with at home testing. Where are the lawsuits and charges? This isn’t a gray area where the claim is “proven to make fish feel super happy” or something unprovable. This is a specific claim that you say is specifically refutable. So either they are making a claim based on some criteria we are not testing, or no one cares to do anything about outright fraud…the latter would seem odd.

Not picking a fight, it’s just always baffled me that this comes up so frequently on aquarium forums - incidentally I have seen the exact same claims on freshwater forums - but has never gone anywhere.
I like your questions and don’t feel like you are picking a fight.

We present the science on Prime to help forum readers make more informed decisions about dealing with ammonia. There is also a secondary goal of encouraging others to confirm our findings or show us how we went wrong.
 

taricha

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We also failed to detect Prime reducing free ammonia concentration with Seachem colorimetric films in their ammonia test kit and the ammonia alert badge.
To Dan's point here, let's suppose this were the mechanism....

Here's a hypothesis that may be the reaction of Prime with ammonia based on known literature reactions and the exact composition claimed by Seachem. The product is NH2SO3-
... and Prime actually converted ammonia to NH2SO3-, but the NH3-sensing films still read the same level of ammonia, as Dan and I saw. Then the only way that could happen is if NH2SO3 also registered as ammonia via the films. But it seems it does not.

Here's solutions of tank water spiked with ammonia for zero, 0.5ppm N, and 1.5ppm N compared to adding sulfamic acid solutions of 0, 0.5ppm N, and 1.5ppm N. All were corrected to the same pH (8.35) and seachem ammonia sensing films were photographed after 1 hour.
20210917_171601-COLLAGE.jpg


Top is ammonia solutions, bottom is solutions made from sulfamic acid. It seems the ammonia sensing films are not fooled.

only caveat here is that the MSDS sheet for this product would only say that sulfamic acid is 60-100% of product...
Screen Shot 2021-09-17 at 8.42.13 PM.png


(Reagent grade would've been better, but I don't feel too far out on a limb thinking we can see how it'll turn out.)
 

taricha

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- if it is the snake oil it is claimed to be, that would mean they are making huge amounts of money on a product that can be proven to be fraudulently marketed with at home testing. Where are the lawsuits and charges? This isn’t a gray area where the claim is “proven to make fish feel super happy”
This is a fair question, but let me flip it around and I think it's an equally fair question. Being able to protect organisms from elevated ammonia is of considerable scientific and commercial interest.
So where is a study showing that this ammonia binding product does that? Where is a study showing that a control group of organisms dies under high ammonia and an experimental group that gets this product (at the same controlled pH) lives?
(*not snake oil. It dechlorinates.)
 
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Theulli

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So where is a study showing that this ammonia binding product does that? Where is a study showing that a control group of organisms dies under high ammonia and an experimental group that gets this product (at the same controlled pH) lives?
(*not snake oil. It dechlorinates.)
agreed it works both ways- another million dollar question is why sites like aquarium science have made exhaustively damaging claims about Prime and other Seachem products but haven’t had the pants sued off of them (that I know of - site’s still there after all)
 

brandon429

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Nobody bothered to test till now, is how I read the timing. We all bought the claims lock stock and barrel without testing, until recently / leave it up to chemists to relay new findings to the trained buyers. I’d been referring prime over the years (crashing reef arrests) in a few places solely due to groupthink involvement. I figured how could it not work lol, I bought the claims lock stock and barrel too.
 
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sfin52

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IMO - either will seneye and ammonia alert also react to other - non toxic forms of N - or Prime does not work. Both statements can´t be true - IMO

Sincerely Lasse
Thats seachems claim that they will read the ammonia but the ammonia has been converted to a non harmful form. They sate this is only for 24 hours.
 

Lasse

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They claim that the test will only read NH3 (which is a gas and the toxic form) They claim that Prime convert present NH3 into a nontoxic form (it means that the N will not be as NH3 any longer - the N is bound in another way) You can read NH3 with their test after adding Prime to a solution containing NH3. It is clear for me that at least one of these two claims most be wrong because the ammonia alert should only detect NH3 - a NH3 that Prime is supposed to take away. This is not chemistry - this is logical thinking.

Sincerely Lasse
 

Lasse

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At this point a reaction mechanism that explains why Prime does not work in saltwater would be more useful.
Do a test if Prime decrease the pH in freshwater - KH around 1 - 2 You need a water from a working freshwater aquarium

Sincerely Lasse
 
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Malcontent

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agreed it works both ways- another million dollar question is why sites like aquarium science have made exhaustively damaging claims about Prime and other Seachem products but haven’t had the pants sued off of them (that I know of - site’s still there after all)

Seachem's in house counsel (why do they have one?) has sent at least one demand letter.

I highly doubt they'd sue because there's a good chance they'd be forced to reveal the ingredients of Prime during discovery.
 

Dan_P

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To Dan's point here, let's suppose this were the mechanism....


... and Prime actually converted ammonia to NH2SO3-, but the NH3-sensing films still read the same level of ammonia, as Dan and I saw. Then the only way that could happen is if NH2SO3 also registered as ammonia via the films. But it seems it does not.

Here's solutions of tank water spiked with ammonia for zero, 0.5ppm N, and 1.5ppm N compared to adding sulfamic acid solutions of 0, 0.5ppm N, and 1.5ppm N. All were corrected to the same pH (8.35) and seachem ammonia sensing films were photographed after 1 hour.
20210917_171601-COLLAGE.jpg


Top is ammonia solutions, bottom is solutions made from sulfamic acid. It seems the ammonia sensing films are not fooled.

only caveat here is that the MSDS sheet for this product would only say that sulfamic acid is 60-100% of product...
Screen Shot 2021-09-17 at 8.42.13 PM.png


(Reagent grade would've been better, but I don't feel too far out on a limb thinking we can see how it'll turn out.)
Well, that pretty much wraps things up here. Back to investigating grunge fighting bacteria product claims :)
 

taricha

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Well, that pretty much wraps things up here. Back to investigating grunge fighting bacteria product claims :)
ok, ok. Just one more tiny little thing that bugs me.
So the papers that show hydroxymethanesulfonate (Amquel, ChlorAm-X) lowering ammonia in a dose-dependent way mostly tested with hach low range NH3-N kit which is salicylate.
Would be nice to check to confirm that this is a dose dependent lowering of ammonia and not just a dose-dependent interference with the salicylate kit.
I mean it shouldn't be that hard to tell the difference, right? ;)
 

Dan_P

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ok, ok. Just one more tiny little thing that bugs me.
So the papers that show hydroxymethanesulfonate (Amquel, ChlorAm-X) lowering ammonia in a dose-dependent way mostly tested with hach low range NH3-N kit which is salicylate.
Would be nice to check to confirm that this is a dose dependent lowering of ammonia and not just a dose-dependent interference with the salicylate kit.
I mean it shouldn't be that hard to tell the difference, right? ;)
Good point. These other ammonia binder products might stand up to the salicylate but if they don’t, then write the journals to discuss your finding. You can have both reefers and academics burning you in effigy :)
 
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DrZoidburg

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Every one over looking something though. You see a lot of the ingredients have the potential to make more stable water soluble polymers. I Don't specifically think it is one. I think it is a variety. It would be hard to say cause everyone's tank is different.
 

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ok, ok. Just one more tiny little thing that bugs me.
So the papers that show hydroxymethanesulfonate (Amquel, ChlorAm-X) lowering ammonia in a dose-dependent way mostly tested with hach low range NH3-N kit which is salicylate.
Would be nice to check to confirm that this is a dose dependent lowering of ammonia and not just a dose-dependent interference with the salicylate kit.
I mean it shouldn't be that hard to tell the difference, right? ;)
I do believe because the hach meter is colorimetric, like hannas. So more bound more color, less bound less.. It would seem it would be dose dependent.
 

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