Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Ami 08-31-2011 09:48 AM

Plants and aquarium salt
My LFS has told me that I need to add aquarium salt for the health of my fish in both my fishtanks. (Please see my aquarium profiles). However I am a concerned that adding salt may ruin the plants I got...the 20 gallon has some live plants and the 55 gallon has only live plants.

If I can use salt, please advise on how much I should add. How to do water changes with salt (e.g. if I do a 25% water change, do I replace accordingly?) How to add the first time - use HOB power filter, or put in small container with holes like in the PETCO over here. Please note that I have corycats in my 20 gallon at the time.

Thanks !

Ami 08-31-2011 09:57 AM

I couldn't figure out how to edit the aquariums posted in my link. Anyways, here's the latest:

20 gallon:
4 female platys
8-12 platy fry
5 albino cory cats
1 oto

5 aponogetons
1 Anubias nana
1 Java fern var. Windelov
rest plastic

55 gallon
20 neon tetras
4 glowlight tetras (the other 4 suddenly had pale faces and died off)
3 honey gouramis
2 otos (the other 3 suddenly died in the last week)
On the deaths, I think I added too many fish too soon - I had added 8 harlequin rasboras along with the gouramis last weekend - but they are out). Fortunately the ammonia, nitrite and nitrates are OK).

BarbH 08-31-2011 10:29 AM

Adding aquarium salt is not necessary with freshwater fish. These fish come from areas where there is no salt in the water. Salt is not good for the plants, many plants are sensitive to it. Also corys are extremely sensitive to salt also, along with a lot of other medications. Unfortunately many LFS give bad advice, either to make a sale or because they are uninformed.

Byron 08-31-2011 10:30 AM

Salt should never be added to a freshwater aquarium unless it is necessary to treat a specific issue (disease, etc). And even then, some fish cannot handle salt. Plants may deterioriate depending upon species and amount. Here's why [copied from an earlier thread]:

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, 70-some percent water?]. The water in the aquarium and the water in the fish/plant are 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.

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, so 1 tsp of salt per gallon equates to more than 15 times the tolerable amount. Livebearers have a higher tolerance (mollies sometimes exist in brackish water) so the salt may be safe for them.

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.

That's the science. The fish you mention do not need salt for any reason, so please don't subject them to it. I have more than once been told by an employee in a fish store to use salt; I never have.


BarbH 08-31-2011 10:37 AM

Looks like Byron and I were posting at the same time, as usual Byron is able to provide more detailed information on the reasons why. ;-)

Byron 08-31-2011 11:14 AM


Originally Posted by BarbH (Post 806899)
Looks like Byron and I were posting at the same time, as usual Byron is able to provide more detailed information on the reasons why. ;-)

I am always quick to dispel these myths when i see them.:smash:

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