Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Epsom salt to help plants (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-planted-aquarium/epsom-salt-help-plants-79905/)

never quit 09-03-2011 11:58 AM

Epsom salt to help plants
 
Hi: I have a 41 gallon tank that I just added new plans to. One of the things recommended was "One teaspoon of Epsom salts per gallon once a month helps keep them green."
I want to get the experts opinion on this as I'm pretty new to this....So here's a couple of questions:

1. First off, what is your opinion? Good or bad? The water GH is 80 ppm

2. Are there species of fish that cannot tolerate this?

3. Should this addition be a standard practice or only every few months?

ANOTHER SUBJECT:

This tank was given to me, FREE...Really nice, stand, but the light is pretty poor....The tank measures 35" wide but the bulb inside the fixture is only 24"...And it's only 17 watts. It just says "Aquarium Lamp" on the bulb...So, since I can only get a 24" bulb, are there any recommendations for a bulb that would help put more light in the tank? Currently it looks like a crepuscular species tank!

Thanks for your help

Never Quit

PewPewPew 09-03-2011 07:39 PM

I've heard the same. Epsom is magnesium sulfate, which plants like.

If you dose ferts, just make sure you wont be adding excess amounts while dosing the epsom. Too much of a good thing? :P

kmiceray 09-04-2011 11:32 AM

Ive read several times on this forum not to use salt. However, at the aquarium shop I went to the other day the guy specifically said to use Epsom Salt. So, I am pretty confused on this as well. Sorry I am not much help :-(

never quit 09-04-2011 12:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PewPewPew (Post 811984)
I've heard the same. Epsom is magnesium sulfate, which plants like.

If you dose ferts, just make sure you wont be adding excess amounts while dosing the epsom. Too much of a good thing? :P

Good point that I overlooked....I'm using Flourish Comprehensive and it lists Mg on the analysis. So, would the addition of Epsom be too much? I'll try and search, but I think that'll be a tough one...If I find anything I'll post it.

Thanks
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never quit 09-04-2011 12:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kmiceray (Post 812779)
Ive read several times on this forum not to use salt. However, at the aquarium shop I went to the other day the guy specifically said to use Epsom Salt. So, I am pretty confused on this as well. Sorry I am not much help :-(

Thanks for getting back to me....I've heard that too..Some say add salt, some say not to..That's why I'm trying to figure this out.

Thanks
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BarbH 09-04-2011 12:28 PM

Epsom salt is different from aquarium salt. I do not know the vailidity of using epsom salt for plants, will have to let one of the other members with more experience comment on that.

Byron 09-04-2011 12:57 PM

First on the "salt" confusion; Barb is quite correct, Epsom Salt is not "salt" as in sodium (table or marine) salt.

"Salt" is a chemistry term referring to an ionic compound; you can read a lot more here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_(chemistry)

Sodium salt, which is table salt and marine salt, is the "bad" salt. Other salts vary, depending what they are. Water is hard or soft, depending upon the various mineral salts it contains, such as calcium salt and magnesium salt making it harder the more there are of these two salts. Read more in my article here:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-73276/

Second, on Epsom Salt. Yes, this is good for plants--provided it is pure Epsom Salt [magnesium sulfate] and contains no additives, and in moderation. One does have to be careful for the reason Pew mentioned, and I have had personal experience with this as I'll explain.

Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate, or the salts of magnesium [that second mineral that hardens water] and sulfur. Plants need both of these. Back in the 1980's I read in an aquascaping column in FAMA magazine that adding ES to a planted tank would give better plant growth, and in those days that was all the fertilizer I used. And the plants were fine. I had very soft water, so the slight mineral hardness was insignificant, though at the time I had no comprehension of hardness.:doh!:

I cannot remember the amount I used, but it was no where near the 1 teaspoon per gallon mentioned previously in this thread. I would not add that much, you will have serious fish trouble due to the sudden increase in hardness. At on this, I have found that in my present water which has < 1 d GH, using one teaspoon for every 30 gallons raises the hardness by 1 dGH. So in a 30g tank, adding 3 teaspoons will result immediately in hardness of 4 dGH in water that now has 1 dGH. And in a 90g tank adding 3 teaspoons will raise the hardness from 1 dGH to 2 dGH. Etc. However, this is in my 1 dGH soft water; I have never had "hard" tap water so I have no idea what effect this might have in already-hard water. Given that magnesium is one mineral that creates hard water, it is probably sufficient in most tap water as it is. Sulfur is often present in tap water too. Both of these are trace elements or micro-nutrients, meaning that they are not required in large quantity by the plants. [Never quit, you mention 80ppm which is around 4 dGH. That is perfect for soft water fish, so I would not want to mess with that.]

Which brings me to the fertilizer issue. Plants need 17 nutrients in proportion to each other. An excess of some can cause plants to shut down assimilation of others. And i had this occur in one tank. By adding ES only as 2 teaspoons in a 90g tank, I created an overdose of magnesium and the swords displayed an iron deficiency, since excess of magnesium can cause this because the plant shuts down on the iron assimilation. So my advice is, if you have very soft water, using ES will help since it will also raise the GH slightly, and might be sufficient on its own for the plants. But otherwise, I would go with a complete fertilizer like Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement.

To avoid mixing issues, I'll respond separately on the light question.

Byron.

Byron 09-04-2011 01:10 PM

Quote:

This tank was given to me, FREE...Really nice, stand, but the light is pretty poor....The tank measures 35" wide but the bulb inside the fixture is only 24"...And it's only 17 watts. It just says "Aquarium Lamp" on the bulb...So, since I can only get a 24" bulb, are there any recommendations for a bulb that would help put more light in the tank? Currently it looks like a crepuscular species tank!
So-called "aquarium" tubes generally are high in red and blue and nothing else, so the tank takes on a ghoulish purplish hue. This is fine for the plants on the spectrum side, but another fault with these tubes is that they are all far less intense light than the full spectrum or daylight I'll get to momentarily. So you have not only what I consider terrible colour, but weak light. Some of them are half the intensity, so that is significant.

The best tubes in T8 (standard fluorescent) are full spectrum or daylight, with a kelvin rating from 6000K to 7000K. There are several to choose from, though the tube length may limit this. And on the length/watts, all fluorescent tubes come in one standard wattage for the length of the tube, so you can't get higher wattage tubes. Not that that makes much difference anyway, but I won't get into that.

Taking the least expensive first, you can get daylight tubes in hardware stores (Home Depot, Lowe's, etc) made by GE, Phillips or Sylvania. I don't know if these come in all sizes; in my Home Depot I cannot get some sizes, only 48-inch and a couple others. But if they are available in 24 inches, something like the Phillips Alto Daylight Deluxe with a 6500K rating would work fine.

For more money, there are tubes sold by fish stores. ZooMed make a series of tubes that are good, and their Ultra Sun is the best for a single tube. Hagen also make good tubes in the "Glo" series, and their Life-Glo is the best; it has a 6700K rating. On my single-tube tanks, I only use Life-Glo as it is perfect for the plants and is the closest to mid-day sun so the fish and plant colours are rendered true to life.

Tubes need replacing every 12-18 months if they are T8.

Byron.

never quit 09-04-2011 04:02 PM

As always, thanks Bryon....I really enjoyed reading the two links you attached on hardness. They're good in that they explain WHY you do something....which gives you a deeper grasp of the subject and ultimately a more satisfying hobby....

Never Quit

never quit 09-04-2011 04:13 PM

And ditto on this reply.....I think the big issue here is the bulbs are advertised to do this and that with a lot of hype....I'm not saying they're not true, just saying that a half truth is the worse lie....Look at some of these weight loss programs....just pop a pill....and lose weight. If it was true, they wouldn't have to advertise, and they'd be the richest person on the planet....But that's a different story.

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