Calcium chloride to buffer nitrite?
In the past, I've always used very small amounts (about 1/8 tsp per 10 gal) of kosher salt as a buffer against nitrite spikes. I've been under the belief that the chloride molecules compete for nitrite on the gills of the fish and help to minimize poisoning.
Recently, I've acquired some food-grade calcium chloride.
I've found a few references online that this might be more effective and safer since there aren't the sodium issues.
However, I can't find any suggestions regarding appropriate levels.
Has you used calcium chloride as a nitrite buffer? If so, how much?
I'm just curious, but shouldn't nitrite levels be zero in a cycled tank? Nitrite should be broken down to nitrate by the beneficial bacteria.
Or do you mean nitrates (with an a)?
And definitely it should be at or near 0 if the tank is established.
But, I'll usually get ammonia/nitrite spikes in my established quarantine tanks when introducing new fish. Also, when setting up a new tank.
In both cases, keeping it low is critical, and PWCs are key. But, if there's also way to make them less poisoned during a spike that's safe, cheap, and effective, I'd like to do it.
For your quarantine tanks do you provide a source of ammonia when no fish are present? Without it I think the bacteria will all die and will basically be a brand new tank again.
I keep thinking about a quarantine tank since it's such a good idea when getting new guys, but stuck with the fact it would be forever un-cycled.
When I start a new tank, I think I'm going to go with a fishless cycle this time.
Although it could be risky to the fish in there, so far so good--and it helps get a feeling for any bullies. But due to the bioload on it already, adding new fish always seems to spike the levels for a while.
Separately, I'm also cycling a new 20 gal planted tank with a few danios--and this is the one with the NO2 spike at the moment. I'm controlling it with lots of plants and 50% PWCs.
I have read that sodium (common salt) is useful to combat nitrite poisoning, but calcium chloride (which is I believe is the salts of calcium and chlorine, the minerals?) I have not, and would question its effectiveness. The problem using regular salt is that while it may help deal with nitrite, many fish are highly sensitive to salt and while it maynot kill them outright as nitrite could, it will stress them and weaken their immune systems.
Live plants which you mention is the safest and in my view only way to "cycle" as sufficient plants (fast growing helps) will assimilate a considerable amount of ammonia/ammonium and they out-compete bacteria. The fish are spared any ammonia and nitrite effects, and these at even very low levels cause permanent damage even if the fish live through it.
Without disagreeing about the potential negative impact of sodium on the fish, it does appear that the primary effect revolves around the how the chloride ions competes with nitrite when taken in the gills. The calcium also has a slight secondary effect, but nothing on the order of chloride. And, to answer my original question, the effect for CaCl2 works at the same ppm as NaCl.
Since yesterday, I've come across these two articles which discuss the effect and the use of calcium chloride:
FA16/FA031: Ammonia in Aquatic Systems
From the latter:
"It's also important to note that nitrite is toxic to fish at levels as low as 0.10 mg/L. If the biofilter is immature or impaired, adding chloride in the form of salt (sodium chloride) or calcium chloride at the rate of 10 mg/L chloride for each 1 mg/L nitrite will reduce the toxic effects of nitrite on fish."
Someone check my math, but that roughly converts to 1 teaspoon per 100 gallons of water.
I was very surprised to learn that the nitrite levels in the fish are roughly 10x the measured amount in the water.
I used to use mrs wages pickling lime to saturate my freshwater top off water for my saltwater tanks. The calcium will also bind with some heavy metals and fall to the bottom of the container attached with the left over lime. The water can only absorb so much calcium and the rest will lay at the bottom of the container. Just add the calcium to your container and pour in the clear water and NO CALCIUM as it can burn your fishes gills pretty bad. Do not add lime or calcium directly to the aquarium but rather let it saturate in some water for 24hrs the add the water to the tank.
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