Can I get my fish yet...With Prime?
OK so it's been over 4 weeks and my tank refuses to cycle :-( I know it takes, what 4-6 weeks? I'm probably being impatient but I just want my fish! So my readings have been steady for weeks, literally unchanging:
Ammonia: exactly between 1.0 and 2.0
It NEVER changes! :shock:
By the way, we have ammonia in our tap water so I can't do water changes to get ammonia levels down. I currently have 2 feeder goldfish in there and they've been fine right along this whole process.
So my question is: I would like to add some more fish - no more than 2 because I know that's pushing it - so can I add them if I put in Seachman's Prime? I hear it's good for converting ammonia into non-toxic ammonium and it does not hinder the cycling process. That said, technically, if I had wicked high ammonia levels, my fish will be 100% fine if I add Prime before putting them in, right? I read a thread about it saying it works for only a certain amount of time or something, I was confused by that so how often do I need to add Prime to keep the ammonia into ammonium? Just when I do water changes or do I need to add the stuff every day? Thank you for your help...
Prime is a water conditioner intended for use when new water is added such as initially or at a partial water change. I point this out because Prime is not meant to be a general tonic (for lack of a better word) to handle an on-going issue like ammonia, nitrite or nitrate. For this reason, its effectiveness (according to Seachem when I specifically asked them) works for around 24 hours, possibly slightly longer, but basically 24 hours. It will detoxify ammonia (or nitrite or nitrate) that may be in the source water (tap water) used during a water change, for the initial 24-hour period, after which the bacteria or live plants in the tank will be expected to be able to handle any residual ammonia/nitrite/nitrate.
You are correct, Prime detoxifies ammonia by changing it to harmless ammonium, and the bacteria will use ammonium/ammonia interchangeably. If ammonia is present in the tap water, you should always and only use a conditioner that detoxifies ammonia (along with chlorine and chloramine of course). Prime is one, Ultimate (made by Aquarium Solutions) is another that also handles nitrite as well as ammonium. And there are others that handle ammonia but not nitrite.
While I cannot say that daily use of any water conditioner will cause problems, the fact that these products contain whatever substances that are--aside from during a water change--not necessary and may be detrimental over time, and as they are not intended for daily use (unless water is being changed obviously), it would be preferable to use a product specifically intended for on-going ammonia issues. But once a tank is cycled, this should not be an issue, and the water conditioner will handle the influx of ammonia at the water change.
Another thing to note is that in acidic water--having a pH below 7--ammonia automatically changes to ammonium. This is much the same as the effect of Prime (and most other commonly-available ammonia detoxifiers too). However, should the pH rise above 7, the ammonium changes back into toxic ammonia. A pH of exactly 7 is un-natural, as fish in nature will live in either acidic or basic water, and the acidity/alkalinity of the water is determined by its source and what it flows over/through. In an aquarium, the pH tends to drift downwards as the tank becomes established. The extent of this largely depends upon the hardness of the tap water. The less mineral content, the quicker the shift; the harder the water (more mineral content), the slower even to the point of none if the hardness is sufficient to buffer the pH, and be maintained by regular partial water changes.
Some of the above is meant to provide some background as to why this or that happens. So to your specific issues, I must ask some questions: What is the tank size (volume)? Are there any live plants? As you have goldfish, is the water heated and to what temperature?
As for your questions, I have a 20 gallon. I do not have any live plants. In the past I guess I didn't care for them properly and they always ended up shedding and rotting and dying on me so I'm a little worried about purchasing live plants. Also I thought I read that if you have live plants they soak up all the ammonia and therefore the cycling process never occurs? Is that true? That's why I'm not sure if I should add live plants. I do have a heater in there set to 70 as I heard higher temps speeds up the process. I know it's more like in the upper 80s but as their goldfish I didn't want to harm them. Even if its set to 70 it fluctuates in the tank between 70 to73.
On plants, they will assimilate so much ammonia (as ammonium) that in new tanks with a good number of plants and only a few fish there is basically no discernible cycle issue. The bacteria obviously appear and colonize, but fewer than in the same conditions without plants. But the benefit is that plants use the ammonia, and there is no nitrite resulting, so the "cycle" is very limited and not sufficient to cause stress to fish--provided the fish load is small and the plants many.
Goldfish naturally eat plants, so any fine-leaf or tender plants would be food fairly quick. I think the tougher plants like Java Fern and Anubias manage, but this is outside my direct experience (goldfish) so someone like Lupin can enlighten us on this aspect.
There may also be an issue with 4 goldfish in a 20g tank, depending what type they are. Goldfish are huge biological machines, producing a lot of waste. This is probably part of the ammonia problem. I`ll let the goldfish folks sort this out, rather than my misleading you.
I would not use Prime at all. It is best not to use any chemicals in fish tanks. Do 25% water changes every week. To get rid of the chlorine, use Tap Water Conditioner with each change, and vacuum the gravel, also. Ammonia should always be 0. While ammonia is high, do 25% water changes daily, until the ammonia is at 0.
Seachem Prime IS tap water conditioner. It's one of the best if not the best one out there.
Just wanted to clear that up for you. You're right about adding unnecessary chemicals to a tank.
I have used Prime in the past, and was told to stop it. Nowhere on the bottle does it state it is a Tap Water Conditioner. (Seachem) . Some of these products actually kill off the good bacteria, which I found out the hard way.
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