Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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redchigh 04-13-2010 11:25 AM

Salt tolerance for my plants? (fighting ich)
Does anyone know how much salt I can add without destroying my plants? I have the temp close to 82, and have approximately 1.5 teaspoons per gallon. (give or take a half tsp, since the math threw me for a loop during a waterchange) I read that for ich, apply 1-3 tsp per gallon. I'm going to add more to make it about 2.5 (to give me some flexibility) if it won't harm my snails, shrimp, and plants. The only fish in the tank are livebearers- so they can definately tolerate the salt. (endlers have even been found in a brackish lagoon- The lagoon gets seperated from the oceon often, and gradually becomes freshwater... but obviously the salt won't hurt them.) I've also stopped using my dechlorinator, because I've found it reacts violently with salt!!! Makes sense, sodium CHLORIDE + dechlorinator = sodium infused water + chlorine GAS. (I added the dechlor to some water, waited an hour, added salt to the water, and the water went cloudy white with "smoke" comming off the water. Smelled like chlorine to me... burned my nose. ( I think a while back that caused a mass die off in my tank that I think I posted about. oddly, when it happened, oxygenation made it worse. I turned the pump off, began a water change, but before I even added the new water it quickly began clearing up.) All this was several months ago, and it took me this long to figure out what caused it.. Gah, I just noticed- I always type really long posts. :p

Austin 04-13-2010 12:07 PM

Well, you certainly don't want chlorine in your water so personally I think dechlorination would come before salt.

What if you let new water sit a few days before adding salt to it?

Also, I shoulda replied to your other thread about Ich but my original reply wasn't going anywhere and made no sense. :X

If you have 7 guppies, 20 guppy fry, 2 platies, and 2 black mollies (regular mollies are rather large fish), in a 10g tank, that might be your problem with ich. Too many fish in a small space and stressful for the fish probably.

You might have said in your other topic, but how did you get ich? New fish? Did it just randomly come about?

To answer your question on salt tolerance. I have no experience with it. I read plants can survive a bit with salt as long as it is removed before they actually die I think. But I don't know I'd wait for a better reply.

redchigh 04-13-2010 01:40 PM

well a molly died, and the fry are all under a couple cm long. It probably is overstocked tho... Stupid livebearers....

Byron 04-13-2010 01:48 PM

Salt is detrimental to freshwater fish and plants in varying degrees. To understand why, we must understand what salt does in water.

Salt makes the water more dense than the same water without salt. The aquarium contains water. The bodies of fish and plant leaves also contain water [just as we do--we are, what is it, 90-some percent water?]. The water in the aquarium and the water in the fish/plant is separated by a semi-permeable layer which is the cell. Water can pass through this cell. When either body of water is more dense, the other less-dense body of water will pass through the membrane to equalize the water on both sides.

Water is constantly passing through the cells of fish by osmosis in an attempt to equate the water inside the fish (which is more dense) with the water in the aquarium. Put another way, the aquarium water is diluting the fish's body water until they are equal. Freshwater fish regularly excrete this water through respiration and urination. This is the issue behind pH differences as well as salt and other substances. It increases the fish's work--the kidney is used in the case of salt--which also increases the fish's stress in order to maintain their internal stability. Also, the fish tends to produce more mucus especially in the gills; the reason now seems to be due to the irritant property of salt--the fish is trying to get away from it.

But as you asked specifically about plants: when salt is added to the aquarium water, the water inside the plant cells is less dense so it escapes through the cells. The result is that the plant literally dries out, and will wilt. I've so far been unable to find a measurement of how much salt will be detrimental to plants; all authorities I have found do note that some species are more sensitive than others, and all recommend no salt in planted aquaria.

I have an interesting measurement for fish. Dr. Stanley Weitzman, who is Emeritus Research Scientist at the Department of Ichthyology of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington and an acknowledged authority on characoid fishes, writes that 100 ppm of salt is the maximum for characins, and there are several species that show considerable stress leading to death at 60 ppm. 100 ppm is equal to .38 of one gram of salt per gallon of water. One level teaspoon holds six grams of salt. You mention 1 to 3 teaspoons per gallon. If you have characins in this tank, that would be 6 to 18 grams per gallon, which is at minimum 15 times the amount they tolerate. Livebearers have a higher tolerance (mollies exist in brackish water) so the salt may be safe for them.

Now perhaps you know why I never recommend salt.


redchigh 04-13-2010 01:56 PM

Well my fish are all livebearers, and, (although I hate to admit it) the fish are more important than the plants. Perhaps... the salt is unneccesary and I just just give the molly dips in mild potassium permegranite and salt solution. Seemed to work (today her fins aren't clamped anymore, the spots are almost entirely gone, and she 'seems' happier, I just felt like I needed to treat the whole tank to keep it from spreading.

Byron 04-13-2010 02:11 PM

Yes, in your tank it is the plants and snails that would/could be harmed by salt, I don't know the measurement limits as I mentioned.

Some aquarists advocate simply raising the temp for ich. A member here mentioned that a while back, and I have come across it elsewhere. I think quite high, but won't mention a number in case I'm not correct. A "search" might find the post.

When I feel the need to treat ich, I always use Aquari-Sol. It is copper-based, but less than most ich remedies, and it is said to be safe for sensitive fish (catfish, characins) for which other remedies recommend at half-strength. I always feel the copper will have significantly less of an effect on these fish than salt, plus it doesn't hurt the plants at such minimal amounts, nor my snails. Plants can detoxify heavy metals like copper anyway. Aquari-Sol has never failed me for ich or velvet.

LisaC144 04-13-2010 02:25 PM

I have battled Ich twice. Both times I kept the temperature exactly the same. In my opinion, raising the temperature to the peak of what is tolerable for the fish only adds to the stress of the Ich they are battling. I treated the whole tank (very successfully!!) with RidIch at half strength. Both times I lost no fish and the Ich was irraticated.

Byron 04-13-2010 02:47 PM


Originally Posted by LisaC144 (Post 362410)
I have battled Ich twice. Both times I kept the temperature exactly the same. In my opinion, raising the temperature to the peak of what is tolerable for the fish only adds to the stress of the Ich they are battling. I treated the whole tank (very successfully!!) with RidIch at half strength. Both times I lost no fish and the Ich was irraticated.

I personally agree on the temp, same reasoning. I only mentioned it because of the concern over shrimp, I don't know if these can handle medications?? But I totally agree, the less stress on top of ich the better. When I use Aquari-Sol I never adjust the temp.

redchigh 04-13-2010 02:54 PM

Hmm. Well the salts in the tank (3rd day) I'll keep the levels the same and keep an eye on it. I actually lowered the temp a bit since it seemed to be stressing the fish.

Mikaila31 04-13-2010 06:11 PM

I would remove what shrimp you can, they can not get the parasite ich. If left on their own in a tank or filtered bucket for a week or two with lots of water changes they should be fine. I personally prefer to move fish to a tank or Rubbermaid bin, I move the media with them and add a heater. They get treated in their for up to a month just using a copper med(Cu(SO4)2) is what I perfer. No salt, no temp increases. I loose very few fish to ich, and personally if a fish gets sick I would rather it be parasites than anything else. Those have always been the easiest to treat.

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