Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Are expensive water conditioners with de-chlorinators added better than sodium thiosulfate alone?


I have two questions: First, are expensive water conditioners with de-chlorinators added better than sodium thiosulfate alone? I was told they are, because they will eliminate ammonia completely before it becomes a problem for the fish. My second question is: During pond tour, you told my husband and I that we should keep all Ducks out of our pond, could you explain why? After all, we really can’t see any harm in letting them in the pond.


There are literally hundreds of unnecessarily, ineffective, and potentially harmful products available to the hobbyists. There are so many of these appalling products that I cannot list all of them here, but what I believe to be one of the worst offenders of this group is also the most popular, the chemical ammonia removers. 

These products are so ill conceived from their slick advertising, that I personally do not know how they became so successful as a claimed detoxifier. All of these products claim to chemically bind with ammonia, removing the toxic chemical from pond waters. They further claim that the bond and nontoxic ammonia remains available for Nitrosomonas oxidation. Nitrosomonas cannot oxidize the ammonia bound in the form urea, (I will discuss more about urea later), nor can it oxidize the ammonia bond with any other chemical. 

When these chemicals are used and the ammonia ion is temporarily bonded, two things happen: First, the Nitrosomonas is deprived of its food. Second, ammonia test kits give a very encouraging but very temporary and very deadly misleading negative reading. I mean temporary because in a short time (e.g., 24-hours) these complexes breakdown and all the ammonia is suddenly released back into bulk water leaving the pond hobbyists worse off than when they initially started. To make matters worse, many of the chemicals used to temporarily bind with ammonia are composed, in part, of ammonia. So as these complexes decay much more ammonia returns into solution than was originally present. To make matters even worse, many of these chemicals have never been adequately proven safe for our aquatic animals, invertebrates, or beneficial bacteria.

Considering their chemical composition, in fact, it is very likely that they are toxic. In actuality, many of the ammonia removers used today like (AmQuel®, ChlorAm-X®, etc.) contain reducing agents that cause the redox (ORP) potential to drop significantly and TDS to elevate when used in our ponds. If ozonation is being used, it must be turned off, otherwise the ORP controller will “falsely” sense a problem and turn the ozone equipment on, which will result in and overdose of ozone. If you wish, Poly-Filters® used as a supplementary filtration material will removal ammonia in emergencies, but would not be cost-effective in the long run.

I made mention in answering the first question that Nitrosomonas cannot oxidizes the ammonia bond in the form of the urea also called carbamide. You see all fresh water fish and marine fish, except sharks and rays; excrete ammonia as their principle nitrogen waste product. Sharks and rays on the other hand unlike any other fish in many respects, excrete urea; do to their excretory systems characteristics. While sharks and rays are the only fish that produce such urea waste, they are not the only animals to do so. All mammals (e.g., humans, whales, waterfowl, seals and dolphins) also produce urea as their principal nitrogen waste. The chemical composition of ammonia is (NH), and the chemical composition of urea (NH2CONH). Urea can be hydrolyzed (combined with water) with the use of an enzyme found in many heterotrophic bacteria. Unfortunately, it is not found in nitrifying bacteria. The Nitrosomonas bacteria are unable to metabolize urea. 

Much of the urea metabolize by the heterotrophic bacteria is not released as ammonia waste. Most of the nitrogen resulting from any urea that is hydrolyzed is needed and retained by the heterotrophic bacteria as opposed to being excreted as ammonia.

 The resulting high concentration of urea that accumulates in such a pond is toxic to our aquatic animals (e.g., Koi and Goldfish). In addition, the urea results in false positive ammonia test kit readings, as the test kit reagents react with the urea as if it were ammonia. These false reading may lead the hobbyists too take unneeded evasive action to eradicate ammonia when ammonia is not really the problem. You must also consider that the redox of your pond water will begin to drop at an accelerate rate from an overabundance of urea concentrations, which will make your pond noisome to its inhabitants, thus in turn will exacerbate any unknown problems.

Finally, yet importantly by being exposed to water in a closed biotope like our ponds without a constant renewable water source, like in natural systems, with waterfowl in it, the results; you will have carbamide and fecal matter all over your person. Moreover, as we all know children are not the most hygienic of little people and may place their hands in their eyes and/or mouth. I will not go into the amount of bacteria a waterfowl carries in its intestines.

 Ponds that allow waterfowl to swim in them have an abundance of horrific bacteria. One particular bacterium hobbyists must be informed about is Mycobacterium marinum (also known as M. maximum) — a strain of tuberculosis bacteria that lives in aquatic environments know as Granuloma. This bacterium loves your dirty fowl pond water. Get it, fowl pond water! 

This particular bacterium produces very slowly, and requires a long cycle, taking as much as three or more months of antibiotics to eradicate. More frightening, if the condition is left untreated, it can lead to serious complications of the soft tissue and bones! This particular strand of bacteria can infect humans and fish alike, through cuts on the hands and arms or even if one rubs their eyes. If you insist upon having waterfowl in your pond, and placing your hands in that water, them thoroughly wash with antibacterial soap afterwards.warning!

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