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Amquel and Plants

Wright wrote: 

....<snipped discussion on acclimation> Not wishing to vigorously 
aereate for three weeks, I have been using "Amquel" and "Novaqua" in 
both barrels. Lately, I dropped the "Novaqua" for it is supposed to tie 
up metals, and I have been suspecting it of removing trace minerals that 
my plants need. It's the "Amquel" that really has me worried. According 
to John Kuhns, the inventor, it leaves the bound ammonia available for 
bacterial conversions to nitrites/nitrates. He says they have no 
evidence of whether the loose binding leaves the ammonia available for 
plants! Maybe it is grabbing the fish-produced ammonia my plants need! I 
was using two carbon filters in series to remove the chloramine for some 
months. When I changed to using the "Amquel"/"Novaqua" combo, I 
perceived a noticeable drop in plant growth and vigor. In particular, I 
even had Java moss dying where it had been thriving....are we killing 
our plants when we use "Prime," "Amquel," "Novaqua," "Stress Coat," 


Hello Wright, 

Living in the SF Bay Area I also have to deal with chloramine in the 
water supply. Long before the local water company instituted chloramine, 
I used AmQuel to detoxify chlorine in one heavily planted tank and noted 
subdued growth of faster growing species, as opposed to a similar set-up 
plant tank which which received water changes with no additives 
instituted for Cl "neutralization." While I did not conduct rigorous 
scientific tests and though I know of those who use AmQuel in planted 
aquaria with no ill affects, I believed at the time that Kordon's AmQuel 
negatively affected the plants perhaps through limitation of trace 
elements (introduced through water changes and via fertilization) or 
compounds such as ammonia/um, which it was (and still is) designed to 
"bind." I cannot prove that the AmQuel was responsible, but I remain 
convinced that it was playing a role in plant growth and overall 

Sometime after I switched to pure sodium thiosulfate (Na2O3S2) and 
observed a significant recovery of plants within the previously AmQuel 
treated tank. I have used sodium thiosulfate in various tanks since and 
have never encountered problems with regard to Cl (and now NH3) 
toxicity. I am particularly wary with regards to discus fishes, but feel 
very comfortable using the s. thiosulfate to treat water during *very 
large* daily water exchanges on discus tanks. 

Moreover, smaller and more active fishes which respire at faster rates 
(usually the first to exhibit signs of Cl toxicity) show no adverse 
reactions to water (containing either chlorine/chloramine) treated with 
s. thiosulfate. When treating water containing chloramine, s. 
thiosulfate severs the Cl-NH3 bond and neutralizes the Cl. Subsequent 
errant ammonia is then converted by nitrifying bacteria within a well 
established tank that is amply endowed with such organisms, or perhaps 
quickly utilized by plants. NH3 is even less of a concern when present 
in water that is pH=<7 (you mention using R/O & tap water in 
combination, achieving water of approx. pH=5 for betta, killies and 

Unless you are working with water which is potentially toxic with 
regards to high levels of copper and other metals--wherein using a 
product such as AmQuel is not a bad idea--or are using NovAqua to help 
rehabilitate fishes with injuries/abrasions and/or perhaps to buffer 
slightly acidic water, I see no reason to use either product 
individually or in combination. Exceptions to this might lie in the 
treatment of water with chloramine for recently setup aquaria wherein 
nitrifying bacteria may not have yet established in ample numbers, 
whereby the addition of free NH3 might compound related toxicity 
problems, particularly following large water exchanges; in tanks with 
very heavy fishloads already taxing biological filtration; with water 
that is quite alkaline (and remains alkaline, either for a particular 
species or otherwise); or with water that is high in metals approaching 
toxicity. In these instances the use of AmQuel or similar products might 
be beneficial and/or necessary. 

I am personally hesitant to use GAC as I'd need to monitor such media in 
order to replace it before saturation and see a greater potential for 
human oversight, though I know discus breeder Bing Seto uses it for 
chloramine removal in his hatchery. If your water is otherwise "safe" my 
suggestion is to try sodium thiosulfate either in crystalized or powder 
form, or in commercially prepared formulations (i.e. Kent Marine's 
"Chlorinex," or Wardley's "Chlor-Out") for chloramine breakdown. It is 
inexpensive and effective. Chlorine ppm is not static and tends to vary 
where deemed necessary by the water company; sodium thiosulfate is safe 
for aquarium fish if slightly overdosed as a cautionary measure.

Frozen like a popsicle in California, 

Erik Leung 


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