The question starts off like this from another forum member...
So, when it comes to fish products I generally dislike mixing them, and prefer to stay with a brand once I begin using it. I currently use Stress Coat from API, and have been using them for around 10 years, however I'm interested in switching to another type of conditioner.
Simple, stupid question: Will there be any harm in "mixing" brands during a water change? As in, next week when I do my 50% changes, can I add another brand of conditioner and be fine? I'm no expert on how water conditioners work, but I assume that it dissipates after detoxifying the tank, correct?
I'm just curious because I have always heard (with medications at least), to never, ever mix brands.
Another forum member said:
I actually switched over from API Stress Coat to Seachem Prime myself a few weeks ago, Just changed over cold turkey during one of my water changes. Fish didn't even seem to notice. My plants are a lot nicer then they were, but I couldn't tell you if it's from the Prime or some of the ferts I've changed.
Then my first reply:
Why not just use API's actual dechlor product, Tap Water Conditioner which only treats chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals... none of the stress-this, slime-that type crap in it. It's very concentrated so a 16 oz. bottle will treat up to 9,400 gallons compared to 2,400 for most other 16 oz. bottles of dechlor products... and it usually costs less too.
Prime is good but it's overpriced for folks that aren't stuck with cycling with fish but it's very good for folks that are stuck with cycling with fish. Once a tank is mature enough that it has a good biological filter set up, then Prime really is not needed.
Something else I just though of. If you have a PetsMart nearby, they have Top Fin Tap Water Dechlorinator 8 oz. size, usually in stock in the stores for $5.49 which treats 2,400 gallons (Do NOT get the Top Fin Tap Water Conditioner which is the slime-this type product).
It's not as good of a deal as the API 16 oz. bottle but it's still a better price than some others. Petsmart.com has the 16oz. of API's Tap Water Conditioner for only 6.99 so you get four times the water treatment for 1.50 more. Talk to the store manager about getting the 16 oz. bottle in stock and remember the stores will match their online prices so check the prices online first.
Another member suggested Big Al's water conditioner.... and my reply:
Well, according to your sig, you have 15 aquariums... but it's the 64 oz. (not a gallon.. unless you can point me to what you buy)
I saw this.. http://www.bigalsonline.com/BigAlsUS/ctl3684/cp18580/si1381857/cl0/bigalsmultipurposewaterconditioner64oz for $16.99 but that is the slime-this/stress-that stuff and probably uses 5ml per 10G or even 10ml per 10G (their website doesn't give dosing info) whereas the API Tap Water Conditioner uses an average of 1ml per 10G (1ml per 20G for chlorine, 1ml per 5G for chloramine) and doesn't have all the stress-this/slime-that stuff in it. Big Al's does sell the actual gallon of API's product for $28.99... and that's a helluva deal for someone with lots of tanks or ponds. http://www.bigalsonline.com/BigAlsUS/ctl3684/cp18580/si3637700/cl0/aquariumpharmaceuticalstapwaterconditioner1gallon
I usually talk about the 16 oz. bottles for most aquarium keepers since even a 16 oz. bottle of API's product will last most people well over a year. 9,400 gallons of water changes is a LOT. LOL If you have 100G worth of tanks and do 25% weekly, that's only 1,300 gallons a year... so the 16 oz. bottle will last up to 7 seven years for chlorine and 2 years for chloramine treated water. People would die of old age before using a gallon of API's for only 100G worth of tanks. (Suggestion for Last Will & Testament... "I hereby leave the remaining amount of my gallon of API's Tap Water Conditioner to my fish....") LOL
Someone asked about Prime's ability to treat nitrites and nitrates... and my reply:
From Seachem's site...While I agree it's a good product for when it's needed when stuck with cycling with fish issues, lets discuss some of Prime's advertising because there is a LOT of salesman's fluff in their advertising...
Prime® is the complete and concentrated conditioner for both fresh and salt water. Prime® removes chlorine, chloramine and ammonia. Prime® converts ammonia into a safe, non-toxic form that is readily removed by the tank’s biofilter. Prime® may be used during tank cycling to alleviate ammonia/nitrite toxicity. Prime® detoxifies nitrite and nitrate, allowing the biofilter to more efficiently remove them. It will also detoxify any heavy metals found in the tap water at typical concentration levels. Prime® also promotes the production and regeneration of the natural slime coat. Prime® is non-acidic and will not impact pH. Prime® will not overactivate skimmers. Use at start-up and whenever adding or replacing water.
Prime® removes chlorine, chloramine and ammonia. Prime® converts ammonia into a safe, non-toxic form that is readily removed by the tank’s biofilter.
How can it "remove" the chlorine, chloramine and ammonia in one sentence and then convert the ammonia in the next sentence? I agree it does convert the ammonia to a non-toxic form but it doesn't remove chlorine or chloramine. It breaks chlorine and chloramine down and binds with them to make them not toxic... just like the sodium thiosulfate in other dechlor products.
Prime® may be used during tank cycling to alleviate ammonia/nitrite toxicity.
While it does alleviate ammonia toxicity, it's a VERY EXPENSIVE solution to nitrite toxicity... when a pinch of table salt per 10G will do the same thing. In fact, that is all Prime is doing with the added salts in their product. Prime is around $10.00++ for a 16 oz. bottle... table salt is around 50 cents for 2 pounds.
Prime® detoxifies nitrite and nitrate, allowing the biofilter to more efficiently remove them. (From another part of the page... To detoxify nitrite in an emergency, up to 5 times normal dose may be used.)
I already talked about nitrite above but IF Prime does do anything to detoxify nitrate.. which isn't really an issue since nitrate does not start to cause problems till it gets very high and normal tank maintenance will keep nitrates in check... but their claim that it "detoxifies... nitrate, allowing the biofilter to more efficiently remove them" is simply not true... since the biofilter in most of our aquariums do NOT convert nitrates.. unless one has the added filter systems (trickle filter, deep sand bed, etc.) for denitrifying nitrates.
Prime® also promotes the production and regeneration of the natural slime coat.
The likely reason for this is the added salts in Prime... most people do NOT need additional slime coat production for their fish.
Now all that said, once again, Prime is a good product but it is two to three times more expensive than what is needed.
On the down side, I've read some scientific info and even admissions on Seachem's forums from Seachem's reps that Prime causes a much higher reduction in O2 levels in tanks... especially when it's overdosed which they promote in their directions. In an overstocked tank that is going through cycling with fish issues, low O2 levels are NOT needed.
Most tap water treatments cause some reduction in O2 levels but most other products to not recommend overdosing their products so it's not usually as critical.
There's another thread in this forum where someone had a major fish kill in their tank after they used their dechlor for a partial water change and then also dosed their tank with Seachem's Excel for their plants and between the two products being used at the same time, Seachem said it probably lowered the O2 level too much and suffocated the fish. If I recall correctly, they lost around 1/2 of their fish... some of them nice fish!
Another member said:
Interesting posts Lenny, gives something to think about that's for sure.And my reply...
I've decided to stick with API, as I've done these last 10+ years. I was thinking of switching because I had heard from all the monster keepers that Prime is the biggest bang for your buck, and is wonderful. I suppose I'm better off staying with what I know works.
I've ordered many things off Foster/Smith's website, so I know they're awesome. My work hours recently hit a low note so I'm trying not to spend a whole lot right now, and while the API stuff is cheap I'm just not keen on paying shipping at the moment.
I work at a pet store and we carry small bottles of the API tap water conditioner. I've never tried picking it up because I have always used Stress Coat, however, I've decided it's time to change that and cut down on unnecessary things added to my water. I'll ask if we can order in some larger bottles of the stuff, because I'll get a flat 15% discount at my store on top of the monthly sales prices.
Once again, there's nothing wrong with Prime when used properly.... and I agree with you when sticking with one brand for most chemicals but a dechlor product is so basic and all of them are so close in composition that I don't think it matters. In fact, API only uses two chemicals in their dechlor... sodium thiosulfate and EDTA (which is the chelating agent that binds or chelates with heavy metals to make them non-toxic). Prime also has these same two chemicals and LOTS of other stuff so IF Prime is safe with Excel and Fluorish, then API's dechlor is definitely safe since it only has two of the chemicals that Prime has... but if you want to use Prime, it's fine.. it's just 2-3 times more expensive than needed.
If you use lots of different chemicals in your tanks, just make sure you don't overdose them and don't use them all at the same time. It's kind of basic that you don't want to ever change the water chemistry too much, too fast, at any one time so if someone is making the choice to use lots of different chemicals in their tanks, it's probably a good idea to spread out the doses and not do too many things at one time.
I'm not sure that API lowers O2 less... but API doesn't recommend overdosing their product whereas Seachem does say you can overdose by 5X right in their directions. Since most people already overdose a little... I think that's human nature... if a little is good.. then a little more must be better... right? Not necessarily! If Seachem says it's OK to overdose by 5X, human nature might lead some folks to overdose even more.
Prime's primary ingredient is probably still sodium thiosulfate, in all likelihood, since it's the primary ingredient in all dechlor products that I know of, but then Prime also has other undisclosed chemicals... that they call proprietary on their MSDS safety sheet but they are usually going to be some kinds of "salt" (sodium thiosulfate is a "salt" also) and not that I recommend it, but if you ever taste your dechlor product, it's VERY salty and nasty tasting. Don't ask! ;-)
This is why they also can claim that their product "detoxifies" nitrite... because of the high levels of salt in their product... and I'm not sure what they mean by "detoxifies" but plain old salt (sodium chloride) will also protect fish from nitrite poisoning (brown blood disorder) and all it takes is a pinch of salt per 10G (which is not a very salty solution) to protect fish from up to 2ppm of nitrite and if nitrites get over that level, they should be reduced via PWC's (partial water changes) and/or reducing the bioload on a tank during cycling with fish. When stuck with cycling with fish, you do need some level of ammonia and nitrite to feed/grow the nitrifying bacteria but you just have to keep them at low enough levels to grow the bacteria while minimizing damage to the fish.
I just went and found that other thread so you can see what Seachem said in their reply to the hobbyist.
So I e-mailed Seachem outlining the situation and variables discussed in the thread. Here is their response:
I'm so sorry to hear about your fish. Flourish Excel does have reducing properties just like every water conditioner on the market. When reducing agents are used in excess, they can potentially reduce the oxygen in a tank because they do not have anything to bind with or reduce. Since you were using more than the recommended dose of Flourish Excel, along with your de-chlorinator, the reduction of oxygen took place. For future use, I would not recommend using the Excel at the same time as your de-chlorinator. I would recommend waiting until later that evening or the next day to dose the Excel, after using your de-chlor. Again, we truly do apologize for your losses and hope that you will remain a loyal Seachem customer. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance. Have a nice day.
Good to know not to use it at the same time as water conditioner as that has been my proceedure in the past. I would add excel and any trace element supplements into the buckets I was filling; my thinking being that would dilute the additives some before being added to the tank. I would also think that the directions on the package are a bit misleading as they recomend and increased dose following a large water change (presumably with water treatment in the majority of home aquariums).
Live and learn...hopefully my experience will help others...Here's the entire thread if you want to read more. http://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=232193
I've also seen some cycling with fish threads where people were using Prime (and I've suggested Prime in this situation many times) but then when overdosing it and their nitrifying bacteria took longer to grow and I think it was probably because of the oxygen reduction that takes place when overdosing chemicals. I did not know about this adverse side-effect until the above thread. I should add that nitrifying bacteria are aerobic bacteria meaning they like oxygen and grow much better in higher O2 level water compared to low O2 level water.
Another member chimes in...
top fin sucks! just putting that out there...
there's nothing wrong with prime. just putting it out there...
if you're not overstocked, not fishy cycling currently, etc. you can also use bulk sodium thiosulfate just the same. you can get it at any decent photography shop. since price is part of this discussion... you'll never find a product containing it in water that's cheaper than the powder. shipping a gallon of water is multiple times more expensive than shipping a teaspoon of powder...
sodium thiosulfate binds the chlorine in chloramine leaving the ammo unlocked floating around in the water. prime "detoxifies" this by turning it into ammonium somehow... same can be done just by having a low ph. either way the bond isn't permanent but should last long enough for your filter to convert the ammonium since it's still available for the bacteria to consume.And my reply:
most folks keep their stock pretty high. cycling is far from the only time the "added benefits" are applicable.
primes active ingredients are "proprietary sulfate salts" that's always nice to know... mystery anyone? either way it's an excellent product and the risks related to it are the same with any other product containing sulfates. for example... if you have a well... and your water smells like rotting eggs... you're smelling sulfides in your water... which happen to be displacing o2 atoms. they can be removed with correct filtration or gassed off by aeration prior to use.
any water treater will be a better buy if you use their pond version because it'll be more concentrated. in other words you'd use about half as much to treat the same amount of water. prime is no exception.
i, personally have tried a few different dechlor products. i find prime to be a superior product and aside from just dosing sodium thiosulfate powder you're not going to be out your pocket enough for a price difference to matter. don't believe me? next time you go to your lfs... check out the labels and prices. bring a calculator if you feel the need. pay no mind to how much water is in each bottle 16 oz of crap is just that... 16 oz of water. check the bottom of the front label. most bottles will print right in the front how many gallons of water the entire bottle will treat. compare THAT number (and only that number since it's really the only number useful) to the price. i think you'll be surprised.
The only problem with dry sodium thiosulfate is that there is no EDTA in it to chelate any heavy metals that might be present... other than that, it is the best bargain although for home hobbyists with only a few tanks, the dry product might be a LOT of water treatment so see my suggestion for an addition to your "Last Will & Testament" above. ;-)
As far as the residual ammonia left over after breaking the chloramine bond (chloramine is made by binding 1ppm of ammonia and 4 ppm of chlorine), would be 1ppm of ammonia. With a 25% PWC, this would result in slowly adding 0.25ppm of ammonia to a tank during a water change. Once again, this is SLOWLY adding the 0.25ppm of ammonia since nobody dumps all of their water change water into their tank at one time... at least nobody that I know... so with the filters running and if a mature and cycled tank, the nitrifying bacteria in the filters will immediatly convert this very low level of ammonia while it's being added to the tank. This low level of ammonia is no different than the ammonia being constantly put out by fish and decaying detritus.
Now, for folks who are stuck with cycling with fish, Prime is a good product but it's simply an overpriced dechlor product for anyone else.
I should add... why do you say Top Fin's Tap Water Dechlorinator sucks? The MSDS sheet shows it has the same two ingredients as every other basic dechlor product.
That earlier member replied back...
i don't think the edta would be necessary, honestly. i've never heard of such but i could be wrong.And my reply:
i just had issues when i used top fin. fish didn't respond well, plants didn't respond well, w/c's were a scary time, etc., etc.. as well i had numerous chemical reactions in my tank during that time. not one since switching to prime. when i originally switched to prime it caused a nasty cloudy precip. i stuck it out for a couple weeks since the fish seemed to be no worse for the wear. everything cleared up and the tank was clearer than ever. i switched back and went right back to square one in one application. i've since not been willing to test it again. if you want the rest of my bottle of top fin i'd be happy to send it to you.
EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) is the part of most dechlor products that treats heavy metals in tap water and most other water sources... even natural well or spring water can have heavy metals in it. Untreated heavy metals accumulate inside of fish organs (kidneys, liver, etc.) and cause all kinds of health problems over time. EVen things like copper, zinc, lead etc. from home plumbing... and all the other heavy metals that leach into our water supplies from factories, shipping and good old Mother Nature when water drips down through layers of earth to get back to an underground aquifer or reservoir water that is in contact with the earth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylenediaminetetraacetic_acid (also read the Chelating Agent link in the first paragraph)
The sodium thiosulfate ONLY treats chlorine/chloramine, not heavy metals.
As far as *why* Prime costs more... as previously mentioned, API's Tap Water Conditioner costs around $5-$6 for a 16 oz. bottle which treats up to 9,400 gallons. Prime costs $10-$12 for a 16 oz. (500ml) bottle and only treats 5,000 gallons so it would take almost two bottles of Prime to treat what one bottle of API treats... so technically it could be as much as 4-5X's more costly depending on the prices paid for each product. They are both good products... just Prime isn't needed for most hobbyists with mature and fully cycled tanks or those who are not stuck with cycling with fish.
Were you using the Top Fin Tap Water Dechlorinator or the Top Fin Tap Water Conditioner? They are separate products and the Top Fin Tap Water Conditioner adds a lot of other unnecessary crap like slime-this/stress-that type products. I NEVER recommend those types of products unless there is full disclosure as to what is in it and then the informed hobbyist can decide whether then need aloe in their water or some other completely unnatural and unnecessary chemicals in their tanks. Lots of people accidentally buy the wrong product since they are so similarly named... now for that, you could say Top Fin sucks in general but the Top Fin Tap Water Dechlorinator is simply Sodium Thiosulfate and EDTA in a water solution... just not as concentrated as API's Tap Water Conditioner (I wish they'd change it to Dechlorinator.... since Conditioner's from other companies usually adds other crap)
An earlier poster replied...
Well, I'm certainly no expert at all, and this is honestly the first time I have read into this myself. That said, I may or may not be right, I'm just posting what I found through a Wiki search.And my reply:
Lenny's original statement was in regards to Top Fin's Tap Water Dechlorinator. It's ingredients according to Petsmart's own page are: Sodium thiosulfate, sodium carbonate, water. As Lenny mentioned, these ingredients are in other dechlorinator brands, however I have no doubt in my mind that the ingredients in the Top Fin declorinator are very low-grade and cheap. I cannot prove this, however... so it's a hunch on my end.
My bad experiences are with Top Fin's Water Conditioner, here's the ingredients list: Water, EDTA, PVP, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Thiosulfate, Glycerin.
One ingredient stands out: PVP. I'll save my time and any possible misinterpretation and just link to the Wiki about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poly_vinyl_pyrrolidone
This stuff is most likely what causes the vaseline effect within tanks that I've experienced. And I would never want to expose my fish to things of that nature.
I think PetsMart's page has the wrong ingredients listed in the *more details* section for Top Fin Tap Water Dechlorinator. http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2752208&lmdn=Fish#prodTab1
Those ingredients sound like a buffer product with the Sodium Carbonate ingredient and not mentioning EDTA. I looked at the MSDS a while back and it does have ONLY Sodium Thiosulfate and EDTA and the bottle on the website also says it treats heavy metals meaning that it would have EDTA in it. If you work for them, you might want to bring this to their attention. I'm guessing those ingredients would be for a buffer up or pH neutral type product.
I wish all companies were required to keep their MSDS sheets available right from the product page. That is one good thing about both Seachem and API... although both of them do use the "proprietary ingredients" non-disclosure trick on a regular basis.
Another poster replied...
Actually seachem SAFE is by far the best dollar value out there..... not PRIME. Same product in a powdered form.
And my last reply at the time I am writing this blog...
I'm not going to repeat myself by saying that Prime is a good product for people stuck with cycling with fish but it's simply not needed by folks with fully cycled tanks and it adds LOTS of crap that we always talk about NOT adding to their tanks.. the slime-this/stress-that type crap. Oh wait... I just repeated it again. ;-)
Since a lot of people in this thread were concerned about adding too many chemicals to their tanks... and IMO, I don't like adding stuff to my tanks unless I know what's in it and Prime doesn't list their ingredients, I decided to do some digging.
The below quotes are info right from Seachem's representatives, either posts in forums or emails sent to customers...
First, I was surprised to find out that Prime does NOT have EDTA in it and was never formulated to treat heavy metals but they later found out that one or more of their "proprietary" ingredients had some kind of effect on some heavy metals but it's not the same as the chelating effect of EDTA. Here's what Seachem says:
Prime is not a chelating agent, so it does not work that way with heavy metals. Soluble heavy metals (metal ions that can be absorbed) are in an oxidized state. Prime reduces metals, which detoxifies them. Note that it does not remove metals from the water (it just detoxifies them), so you really should have a decent water supply or RO/DI equipment. Please also note again that we talk about detoxifying heavy metals found in tap water at typical concentrations; we do not sell Prime to detoxify heavy metals at abnormally high concentrations.Just a note to Discus keepers... or other low pH fish keepers.
Prime does not affect the pH of tanks, unless it is severely, drastically overdosed. In the bottle it has a pH that is neutral to alkaline, and it works very well over that pH range. It is less effective if the pH is strongly acidic. However, we have used it in tanks that run at a pH of 4.5 or so.I don't like how they say "remove" but I guess it's semantics. As noted above, it doesn't "remove" but does "reduce" low levels of heavy metals.
The standard dose of Prime (1 mL/10 gallons) will remove:The next quote is self explanatory and admits that Prime has some slime-this type chemicals in it.
Copper - 2.6 ppm in 10 gallons
Lead - 8.5 ppm in 10 gallons
Nickel - 2.4 ppm in 10 gallons
We say "OR" between each because that is the maximum amount of each that can be removed assuming none of the other components are present; so for example, one could remove 1.3 ppm copper and 4.4 ppm lead or any other variety of differing ratios between them.
We hope this helps
This is Seachem's response to my query as to why Prime has "slime enhancers" and their claims of "removing heavy metals":
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 12:56:17 -0500
From: Seachem Tech Support
Subject: Re: Prime Slime Coat/Metals
I appreciate your concerns and will try to address them below.
Our Prime contains a mild stimulant to assist the fish with production of slime coat. Prime does help the fish "provide a slime coat" by stimulating the fish to do so. We do not use amine based polymers for this purpose as most of our competitors do.
This is quite different from another product in our line called Stress Guard. Stress Guard contains protein active polymers that actively seek out exposed proteins (wounds, abrasions, etc.) for healing purposes.....it can almost be thought of as a liquid bandage. Basically Prime helps to stimulate while our Stress Guard actually coats.
Regarding another statement "..... fish that cannot replenish its slime coat in 24 hours is sick and needs a lot more help than Prime." I completely agree! That is why we do not market Prime as a medication. However we do manufacture a full line of medications if needed.
As for metal precipitation, this was an unintended function of the product. Other dechlorinators use sulfur based reducing salts and the result is similar. So it is listed on the label.... mainly for marketing purposes. But again, I agree that if you have lead or other harmful metals present in your source water a better method of removal if called for. That is why we also offer RO/DI filters for ultimate water purification.
Seachem Technical Support,rb
Seachem Laboratories, Inc. www.seachem.com 888-SEACHEM
Of course I just HAD to email SeaChem and see if they would divulge their secret ingredient, and of course they wouldn't but I had to ask!
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 10:13:11 -0500
From: Seachem Tech Support
Subject: Re: Prime Slime Coat/Metals
You are welcome. And regarding the stimulant that is used in Prime, I unfortunately can not divulge that as it is proprietary. Most water conditioners include some type of slime coat stimulator or coating agent. We include a small amount of mild stimulant (as mentioned) in Prime but we do not market Prime as a slime coat type product. We market it as a water conditioner that removes chlorine, chloramine and ammonia etc. (see label). We DO however market our StressGuard as a slime coat type product. Our StressGuard is one of my personal favorites in our line and often overlooked. Our StressGuard is a disinfectant to help control spread of disease, it is not sold as a dechlorinator. Since StressGuard controls the spread of disease with a disinfectant and contains protein active polymers to promote the healing process, it is great to use when quarantining new fish or introducing new fish into the main system. I have also found it very helpful for cichlid hobbyists (I'm a big cichlid hobbyist myself). I use it when cichlids don't play nice as it really helps heal wounds, torn fins, etc. If slime coat type products are a topic of discussion on your forum, you may wish to mention that Prime is our dechlorinator while StressGuard is our slime coat product/disinfectant.
Seachem Technical Support,rb
Seachem Laboratories, Inc. www.seachem.com 888-SEACHEM
THE END... FOR NOW! ;-)