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shakaho

Dechlorinating with Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid / Ascorbate)

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Vitamin C, used at a dosage of 1 gram (1000 mg) per 100 gallons of water, will neutralize  1 ppm (1 mg/liter) chlorine/chloramine.  It has become very popular in aquaculture and aquaponics because it is cheap and approved for use with food fish. 

 

http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/html/05231301/05231301.html

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chloramine

 

I bought a kilogram of pure ascorbic acid powder, which is probably the cheapest way to get it.  At the dosage above, that's enough to treat 100,000 gallons of water and it cost me $22.  This makes it far cheaper than standard water conditioners.  It's also far cheaper than Vitamin C tablets for your own use.  If your drinking water tastes or smells of chlorine, a tiny pinch of ascorbic acid in a pitcher of water will eliminate the problem.

 

I checked my city water report, and found chlorine ranged from 0.6 to 2.1 ppm, so I decided to use Vitamin C at 2 grams per 100 gallons of water to cover any chlorine spikes.  It's not toxic and is actually good for fish, so this seems sensible. I've been using it for several months now and the fish seem happy with it.

 

There are some disadvantages to using Vitamin C.  

 

To me, the biggest is that you can't make up a stock solution and store it.  The dry powder/tablets will keep for more than a year.  As soon as you mix it with water it begins degrading and is gone in about 2 days.  

 

While Vitamin C neutralizes chloramine, as does Prime, it does NOT inactivate the ammonia (the "amine" part) released from the chloramine.  If you have chloramine in your water, do not use Vitamin C in an uncycled tank. If you don't know if you have chloramines, do the bucket test below. 

 

Ascorbic acid is an acid, so it has the potential to lower your pH.  If your water has a low/unstable pH, you can use sodium/calcium ascorbate, which is neutral.

 

Before using ascorbic acid in your fish tanks, test the effect it has on your water it in a bucket.  Fill the bucket with tap water and test the pH and ammonia.  Then add the ascorbic acid at the concentration you want to use.  (For example, if you are testing in a 5 gallon bucket and want to use 1 gram per 100 gallons, dissolve 1 gram of ascorbic acid in 50 ml of water.  Use 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of this solution in the 5 gallon bucket.)  Give it a few minutes to react, and test the pH and ammonia again. 

 

 

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Thank you, Sharon. This is very helpful!

 

Are you still using Prime in addition to Vitamin C? Are you just using Vitamin C for your aquaponic set up or for all you tanks and ponds?

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I'm using Vitamin C in all my ponds.  I have a fish who somehow scraped her scales off on both sides and is currently in a ten gallon hospital tank with 0.3% salt.  The filter is only partially cycled, so she gets Prime.  

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Very interesting stuff. I've been wondering (with zero effort made to research :rofl) about alternatives to Prime.

 

Thanks for posting this. :D

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Very interesting! I love the idea of a more natural alternative to water conditioners. I know that Prime, when used properly, is harmless, but the stench always makes me wonder what else is in it, and why other brands don't reek like that. Pew!

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Most aquarium conditioners use one sulphur containing compound or another; I imagine the reasons are largely that they are in a sweet spot of cost-effectiveness and safety.

Prime is no exception. I know the API conditioners I used for years also smelled sulphurous to me. (Though Prime's odor is stronger)

Our nose is very sensitive to minute amounts of a number of sulphur compounds. The big reason is they are naturally produced by rotting foods, and eating spoiled foods is in general a bad idea.

Our biology just hasn't kept up with our knowledge of the world around us. As we've developed chemistry in the last couple centuries, we've been able to isolate or produce these compounds without rotting food for the first time in history.

This is awesome, because now stink bombs don't have to be dangerous.

Edited by troy.telford

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Vitamin C, used at a dosage of 1 gram (1000 mg) per 100 gallons of water, will neutralize 1 ppm (1 mg/liter) chlorine/chloramine.

I've used higher doses than that... Granted, it was added to something I drank...

Which is kind of the point, I guess. It's mostly tame stuff.

There are some disadvantages to using Vitamin C.

Yup. Like acquiring a personal taste for the stuff.

Causality sucks. It hurt. A lot. Don't ask.

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I will always keep Prime on hand.  It provides safety when I'm using an uncycled hospital or quarantine tank.  It provides convenience if I'm away and my husband has to take care of the fish.  If he's busy, that little job of making a solution of Vitamin C in water, is just enough to make him decide the fish really don't need fresh water today.  

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I've now been using ascorbic acid for dechlorination for about a year and a half now.   I'm still on my first kilogram and I have ~ 1200 gallons of ponds.  It sounds funny, but the fish seem to prefer it.  When I have an uncycled holding tank and use Prime, the fish act bothered.  :)

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Thank you for this info and your hard work researching it and thank you again for following up. I hope to test this out with my well water as it uses chlorine tabs and not chloramines.

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Would citric acid be effective as well, or just ascorbic acid? Which part of the compound is affecting the chlorine, if you know?

Edited by Arctic Mama

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Come on, Taryl, I had my last organic chemistry class in 1965, LOL.  All I could find about the reaction was in the first link.

 

The only thing I could find about citric acid for dechlorinating came from some guys talking about using it in swimming pools. Between major acidification of the water and producing chloroform, it didn't sound promising. 

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