04-26-2010, 06:57 PM
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Interesting question about the Prime. It doesn't give "false" readings, though I know what you mean. Prime detoxifies ammonia by coverting it to ammonium, so when you test for "ammonia" with most test kits you will still see the "ammonia" even though it may be in the relatively harmless form of ammonium. According to the info on their website (Seachem's), Prime contains a binder that renders nitrite and nitrate non-toxic, allowing the bio-filter to more efficiently remove them. This suggests to me that they are still there though in non-toxic form. Which seems realistic.
Assuming you are using the API nitrate test, be advised that the test will not read accurately unless the second regent bottle is shaken very thoroughly for 2 minutes. The instructions say 30 seconds, but it takes 2+ minutes of shaking to ensure the Regent #2 is mixed. Those who do this have reported significantly lower nitrate readings afterwards. And Seachem have stated in writing that this is the case, as we have gone into previously in a couple of other threads here.
Nitrates will be higher in non-planted tanks than in planted, all else being equal. And "planted" means well-planted, not just one plant in a 10g and three plants in a 50g, although they will help especially as they are swords that assimilate a lot of nutrients. But before we can advise on this, we need to know the number for nitrate? "High" can mean different things to different aquarists. Bearing in mind the above on the API test, try it again and post the number.
One other thought, Prime's detoxifying does not last more than 24 hours (also according to Seachem in response to my direct question) so if the source of ammonia, nitrite or nitrate is within the aquarium, or the biological bacteria cannot process the ammonia or nitrite sufficient to keep up, it may again become toxic. However, as we seem to be concerned only with nitrate, and assuming the ammonia and nitrite are OK, this is not so critical. But that again depends upon how "high" it actually is; different fish have different tolerance levels.