Using Prime instead of Waterchanges during Cycle.... - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 8 Old 11-15-2011, 08:32 AM Thread Starter
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Using Prime instead of Waterchanges during Cycle....

During Cycle it is reccommended that the water is change everytime Ammonia or nitrites go over .25ppm...But the beneficial Bacteria in a tank needs Ammonia and Nitrites to feed off of...If doing a Fishless cycle people recommend 4ppm Ammonia....I have noticed Prime 'detoxifies' Ammonia and nitrites.....

So onto my question...If you use Prime daily during a cycle, would that leave Ammonia up to high enough levels that the Beneficial bacteria can eat....But also detoxify it enough so that the fish wouldn't be harmed?

IN MY CASE, i would still be doing weekly 50% water changes....But i would be able to avoid DAILY 50% water changes
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post #2 of 8 Old 11-15-2011, 08:38 AM
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Its my understnading that Prime only works for I think 24 hours and you would still need to check your water daily during the cycle process and do the water changes as needed. .

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I have a 55 gallon, 40 gallon, 29 gallon, 20 gallon tank, 5 gallon , and a 2.5 gallon all with real plants.
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post #3 of 8 Old 11-15-2011, 08:41 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Calmwaters View Post
Its my understnading that Prime only works for I think 24 hours and you would still need to check your water daily during the cycle process and do the water changes as needed. .
Thank you Calmwaters...So if i was dosing with Prime, i would need to do it at something like 18hr frequencies...But, with Prime Detoxifying everything, why would i need to do more then a weekly water change?
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post #4 of 8 Old 11-15-2011, 09:14 AM
I think your plan is sound if you dose with Prime every 48 hours if/when there is high ammonia and do your weekly water is supporting information for Seachem Tech Support.


Question to Seachem Tech Support:

Re: Prime questions...
So why does the chemical bond that detoxifies ammonia, nitrite and nitrate fail after 24-48 hours?
It is perhaps a moot point in an established aquarium, but can be a large issue in a newer setup.

Would it be safe to add the recommended dose of Prime every 24 hours for an extended period?
Are there any negatives in doing this? In such a case, will the repeatedly dosed Prime become inert in the water chemistry?

Thanks for your attention.


Tech Support EH Answer:
Re: Prime questions...
Thank you for your questions, Abbeysdad. All water conditioners only have the ability to bind to ammonia, nitrites and/or nitrates for a limited period of time; Prime actually will do this for a longer period than any other product available. You're correct; in an established tank, the beneficial bacteria will consume these things within this time period. However, in a new setup or cycling tank, we recommend dosing Prime every 48 hours to keep the ammonia/nitrites detoxified. As long as you are using Prime as directed, there is no harm in adding it this frequently for an extended period of time. Every 24 hours should not really be necessary, as it will remain active for up to 48 hours. We hope this answers your questions!

Re: Prime questions...
Thank-you. I have a follow-up question...
Often new tank setups face an ammonia spike as the beneficial bacteria colony is not established enough to handle. It is my understanding that high levels of ammonia will inhibit beneficial bacteria growth. If Prime is used to detox the ammonia, will this be beneficial for bacteria development or should water changes be done instead to reduce the ammonia concentration.


Re: Prime questions...
That is a very good question. Fortunately, even when bound to Prime, the ammonia will provide enough of a food source for the beneficial bacteria to survive and reproduce. Using Prime during cycling will not starve off any bacterial colonies, and there will still be a sufficient food source.

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post #5 of 8 Old 11-15-2011, 01:10 PM
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The issue of ammonia negatively affecting bacteria is important. There is scientific evidence indicating that the presence of ammonia will prevent the establishment of Nitrospira bacteria which are the bacteria responsible for changing nitrite to nitrate. A level of ammonia as low as 0.7 was shown to render Nitrospira bacteria 50% less effective, resulting in a rise in nitrite. You can read a bit more here (especially in Part 2):

I have no personal knowledge of whether ammonium does or does not do the same. This is something I will try to research when I have a moment. It is true that Prime and most other ammonia detoxifiers work by changing ammonia to ammonium. And it is true that ammonium is taken up by Nitrosomonas bacteria the same as ammonia.

With respect to water changes. I have no scientific data suggesting water changes are better or worse compared to overdosing with Prime. I do know there is evidence that a partial water change of 50% is not likely to retard the establishment of nitrifying bacteria by any significant amount. Ammonia and nitrite at very low levels is harmful to fish, so keeping both at near-zero is essential. I would prefer doing this with live plants. My second choice would be daily or alternate-day water changes. My last choice would be adding excess chemicals via Prime to the fish tank. The natural approach always seems safer.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #6 of 8 Old 11-15-2011, 08:40 PM
It was my understanding that Prime does not completely detoxify nitrite. Seachem themselves have said they don't actually know how Prime detoxifies nitrite. Its just proven that when you use it in excess during high nitrite spikes you loose less fish. There is nothing that says it completely detoxifies nitrites. Which is why the bottle says it removes ammonia, but doesn't include nitrites. Cost is also an issue with your plan Prime isn't very cheap and your going to have to overdose a lot. They tell you how much ammonia it neutralizes, but nitrite is not given. You can use up to 5 times regular dose but who knows how much nitrite this is going to effect. Your basically running blind there. Especially since nitrite is normally the most toxic part of the cycle.

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post #7 of 8 Old 11-15-2011, 10:05 PM
It seems like the recommendation here is to do water changes that in this case will include PRIME. With the exception of the dilution, the amount of Prime used will be approximately the same whether the water is changed or not. This does not amount to overdosing. Using a different tap water conditioner, one would absolutely have to do a water change if/when there is an ammonia spike. Using Prime, the water change would seem to be less significant.

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post #8 of 8 Old 11-15-2011, 11:06 PM
I have personally had the experience of using prime to detoxify nitrite while cycling and it did a good job no fish died at all *I do have hardy fish* but even so after using recommended dosses of prime to detoxify nitrite I had 0 ammonia *it was already at 0 before tho* and 0 nitrite but just before I used My api liquid test kit was showing between 2.0 and 5.0 ppm I used this for a week on my 26 gal until I had 0 ammonia 0 nitrite and some nitrate I do not know if it speeds up the cycle or slows it down or it if helps it but it sure did help my fish, as soon as i added the prime my black ruby barbs got there colors back and got on with fighting!* which they don't seem to stop doing, pretty spectacular to see its like a dance they spin really fast hehe* :)
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