Water Clarifiers. What are they and how do they work?

Tenecor Aquariums

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Chances are the day you purchased your new aquarium, you also walked out with some accessories and a bottle each of dechlorinator and water clarifier. You may have asked yourself how such a small amount can almost magically transform a cloudy aquarium into a crystal clear tank. The secret ingredient is something called polydiallyldimethylammonium chloride, AKA polyDADMAC, AKA polyDDA, AKA polyquaternium-6. The name sounds scary but the chemical itself is harmless. It is what is called a homopolymer and is used extensively in wastewater treatment.

PolyDADMAC works as a "flocculation agent", which is a process in which colloids (fish waste) come out of suspension in the form of flakes or floc. PolyDADMAC is so effective that a mere 200 grams can treat about 1 ton of wastewater. This is why just a few drops cleans up cloudy aquariums so well. As many hobbyists already know, there are many similarities between aquarium filtration techniques and municipal wastewater treatment. I would argue keeping an aquarium environment healthy and stable is more challenging in many ways than treating Super Bowl half-time flushes.
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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Thanks for posting this.

As an aside, I suspect I'm the only Reef2Reef member who has actually synthesized polydiallyldimethyl ammonium chloride polymers from monomers. :)


Example 69 Copoly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride/acrylamide) (50:50)
A solution of diallyldimethylammonium chloride (49.8 g of a 65 percent solution in water), acrylamide (14.2 g), and 2,2′-azobis(2-amidinopropane)dihydrochloride (2.7 g of a 20 percent aqueous solution) in deionized water (91.1 g) was heated to 60° C. for 18 hours under a nitrogen atmosphere. After cooling to room temperature, the reaction solution was transferred to a Spectra/Por 1 dialysis membrane bag (molecular weight cutoff 6000 to 8000) and dialyzed against deionized water for at least 18 hours. The dialyzed polymer solution was dried in a forced-air oven at 70° C. to afford 27.8 g.



Here's how flocculants work:

Most of the suspended particles in seawater will carry a net negative charge. The polymers in question are positively charged with multiple positive charges along the chains.

When the polymers find their way to the particles, they bind to them. If two of these particles happen to bump into one another, some of the polymers will bind to both particles, spanning the gap and holding them together. This can happen multiple times until chunk big enough to settle out of the water is formed, and it lands on the bottom or gets stuck in a filter.
 
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Brandon3152134

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I have never had one of these products work for myself. I just wait for bacteria to subside or particles to fall naturally.-----Personal opinion
 

Dan_P

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Chances are the day you purchased your new aquarium, you also walked out with some accessories and a bottle each of dechlorinator and water clarifier. You may have asked yourself how such a small amount can almost magically transform a cloudy aquarium into a crystal clear tank. The secret ingredient is something called polydiallyldimethylammonium chloride, AKA polyDADMAC, AKA polyDDA, AKA polyquaternium-6. The name sounds scary but the chemical itself is harmless. It is what is called a homopolymer and is used extensively in wastewater treatment.

PolyDADMAC works as a "flocculation agent", which is a process in which colloids (fish waste) come out of suspension in the form of flakes or floc. PolyDADMAC is so effective that a mere 200 grams can treat about 1 ton of wastewater. This is why just a few drops cleans up cloudy aquariums so well. As many hobbyists already know, there are many similarities between aquarium filtration techniques and municipal wastewater treatment. I would argue keeping an aquarium environment healthy and stable is more challenging in many ways than treating Super Bowl half-time flushes.
What is the aquarium product called?
 
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Dan_P

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Chances are the day you purchased your new aquarium, you also walked out with some accessories and a bottle each of dechlorinator and water clarifier. You may have asked yourself how such a small amount can almost magically transform a cloudy aquarium into a crystal clear tank. The secret ingredient is something called polydiallyldimethylammonium chloride, AKA polyDADMAC, AKA polyDDA, AKA polyquaternium-6. The name sounds scary but the chemical itself is harmless. It is what is called a homopolymer and is used extensively in wastewater treatment.

PolyDADMAC works as a "flocculation agent", which is a process in which colloids (fish waste) come out of suspension in the form of flakes or floc. PolyDADMAC is so effective that a mere 200 grams can treat about 1 ton of wastewater. This is why just a few drops cleans up cloudy aquariums so well. As many hobbyists already know, there are many similarities between aquarium filtration techniques and municipal wastewater treatment. I would argue keeping an aquarium environment healthy and stable is more challenging in many ways than treating Super Bowl half-time flushes.
Does this information apply to any particular clarifier or do all “clarifiers” contain this polymer?
 

taricha

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Arthurfarris

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The clarifier I use is a solution that contains natural enzymes that cause a chemical reaction to the water. Clarifiers allow the solids suspended in the water to clump together, making them enough to get caught in the aquarium’s filter. Typically, I put maybe half of the usual amount every week to prevent the water from getting cloudy again. :)
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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I been thinking about using a clarifier, but didn't know what their effect would be on my tank, fish, or coral.

It was mentioned that this is harmless. Are there any scientific studies or data to confirm this?

I strongly expect there are no published studies.
 

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