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[APD] Chemical (mis?)information
Quotes from some recent postings:
[Anon, because I'm sorta critical.]
Doing a major water change to a tank which is cycling will only cause
further stress to every living thing involved; fish, bacteria AND
aquarist and worst part is it will only cause the same ugly problem
to rear its ugly head in a couple of days time.
Fixing a cycling tank is so trivial it wasn't exactly what I read into
the original question. I didn't know *anyone* observed an ammonium spike
in a planted tank that had been started with some old filter medium or
mulm. Why would one do anything else?
I also doubt one could overfeed enough to ever generate a reading of 0.5
ppm! That tank was very lightly-stocked, as I recall.
As for those "ammonia locking" products on the market they are only
good for keeping ammonia down in bait buckets as far as the average
Hogwash! They are vital if you don't have enough slow carbon filtration
in your tap-water line to remove the massive amounts of ammonia that all
major municipal water suppliers are finally being required to add (as
If you cause the ammonia to go into a locked state you will starve
out the very bacteria you need to prevent this from happening again.
Not so. There have been extensive controlled tests that the stable
dechloraminators, like "Amquel" easily release their loosely-bound (not
"locked") ammonium/ammonia to the biofilter. Less-controlled tests by
SFBAAPS members demonstrated, to my satisfaction, that the
ammonium/ammonia was just about as available to plants as in the free forms.
These products do have a down side, but mostly to fish breeders who need
the infusoria they kill for their baby fish. Otherwise, they are pretty
benign and do their job well. [Don't add them to your Daphnia-raising
tank, either, but they do a number on Hydra. :-)]
Also these products are notorious for suddenly loosing the "lock"
and having all that ammonia flood back into the aquarium- usually
right when the fish are just starting to recover.
I know of none quite *that* unstable.
"Ammo" chips (i.e., zeolite) are far, far more likely to reversibly
"dump" their ammonium/ammonia when an ion they like better replaces it.
[I suspect adding salt to such a tank could cause a burst of ammonium,
with subsequent reports of how deadly salt is. :-)]
Usually the result you describe is a combination of extra high (2-3ppm)
chloramine and the use of an old-fashioned hypo-based dechlorinator that
releases the burst of ammonia/ammonium immediately. [These products
claim to "break the chlorine-ammonia bond."] This can be pretty deadly
when high-percent water changes and high pH are both present. [Some
famous Betta breeders have found this out the hard way -- total fishroom
The formaldehyde-like dechloraminators do *not* do that until they
completely decompose. Most, like "Amquel," "Ammo Lock 2" or "Prime" are
pretty good at hanging around for a long time.
These products are widely used in aquaculture, and the literature on
their properties is extensive. We aquarists ride on the coat-tails of
that much larger set of customers, who depend on them for their livings.
I am not a chemist so I wouldn't know if there could be a chemical
reaction between the mix and water to cause a drastic pH change. I
would think entering an aquarium would immediately dilute the mixture
to the point that it would be unable to create a substantial amount
pH crash mostly is the province of very poor, dead water (low tds), with
almost no buffering. [Folks often use such water to torture their Discus
and Tetras. ;-)]
The DIY CO2 generator contents will just provide food for a sudden
bacteria/fungus bloom. Snails and infusoria (paramecia, rotifers, etc.)
will feed on the bloom and quickly control it if you let them.
Too much dead and dying "stuff" may drop the pH a lot in softer water,
but a tiny amount of baking soda will stop that cold if it bothers you
for some reason. [It probably shouldn't.]
Anyone know the effect the yeast will have on the tank?
Not much, if it is the usual bread or beverage-brewing yeast. It will
mostly die from lack of food and feed resident bacteria and fungi, if
the snails don't get the settled "must" first. The sugar is a more
active (energetic) food and could contribute more/longer to the bloom.
Since it will stay in solution, the biofilter must catch and remove it,
or active circulation must bring it in contact with walls, substrate and
plants for them, and their resident critters, to catch and remove it.
Remember that our hobby is an UNREGULATED industry- basically
products can make any claim they want and no one will challenge false
claims. Many products have been marketed to the beginner that does
not know better-
The newbies may do better if they find their way to the Krib, this list,
etc. We all challenge those claims daily, here. :-)
If LFS store-owners are inherently evil snake-oil merchants, how do you
find a system that will sort through all the bad folks to get some
*good* ones to regulate things? Riiiiiight! :-) [Shades of the so-called
"War on Drugs!"]
The solution is not more Gestapos (aka crooks on the govt. payroll), but
free flow of information. I'm probably not 100% correct on what I claim
above, but I can count on someone, here, with more specific knowledge to
correct my misinformation if it is going to lead someone astray. [I also
hope they know I won't get mad if they do, as good information needs to
drive out bad -- even mine! :-)]
it is a real shame because I have seen many people
quit the hobby because of hundreds of dollars spent on products that
are basically snake oil. Keep things simple and LEARN as much as you
can about the basic biology/chemistry in your aquarium and try not to
succumb to that dreaded aquarist disease "Gotta-have-it-itis".
Had to include this, because I agree so heartily with it! RIGHT ON!
In sunny E. CA high desert, where it has suddenly turned warm (80s days
and 50s nights).
Wright Huntley - Rt. 001 Box K36, Bishop CA 93514 - whuntley at verizon_net
"Do we really think that a government-dominated education is going to
produce citizens capable of dominating their government, as the
education of a truly vigilant self-governing people requires?" [Alan Keyes]
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