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Old 07-26-2005, 05:59 PM   #1
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why use salt in freshwater tank?

Recently someone asked why I put aquarium salt in my new freshwater tank, and I could not answer to their satisfaction. I know salt can help fish deal with disease, stress and high ammonia levels. But why is that? What exactly does it do for them?

(just FYI my new fish are cichlids and came from a pretty salty tank ... but I understood salt was good for all freshwater fish)
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Old 07-26-2005, 06:11 PM   #2
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Salt is not good for all freshwater fish, some fish can't tolerate it, such as loaches. Although ive heard some people use salt with loaches with no problems whatsoever. I lost a lot of clown loaches to a salt treatement, so i wouldn't suggest using it with any laoches or scaless fish. IMO the best use of salt would be a salt bath for a single fish, where you use about 4 TBS per gallon and soak the fish in it for about 30 minutes and then accimilate them back to the aquarium. But adding salt to the aquarium where they aren't naturally brackish or saltwater fish can cause problems.. such as interfering with the osmotic pressure.
here is an interesting article on how Salt works in a Freshwater aquarium
http://www.algone.com/salt_in_fresh.htm
HTH
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Old 07-26-2005, 07:33 PM   #3
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Fish don't need salt. It has never been proven to help prevent anything. Whether it treats a certain disease depends who you talk to. I would never add salt just as a maintenance routine but I have tried using it on a few illnesses. There are some fish like mollies that can survive in anything from saltwater to fresh and most livebearers don't mind salt but it really isn't necessary. Loaches, plecos, and cories are some fish that do not tolerate salt.
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Old 07-26-2005, 09:58 PM   #4
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Having beaten back a case of Ich just recently I can tell you it's made a world of difference in my fish and they are all healthier since adding and keeping salt in my tank. Since adding the salt for ich I've been keeping it right at 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons of water. I was questionable about doing it at first myself, but after talking with other folks that keep salt in thier tanks and seeing the difference in my own fish, I'll be keeping salt in my tanks from now on.

Mainly it's there to prevent Ich, as a side benefit my fish are all healthier and spawning more often. The only reason I could think of not to have it in there would be to reproduce specialized habitats for spawning.
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Old 07-27-2005, 12:57 PM   #5
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There are some livebearers, like mollies, that can spend their whole life in freshwater yet research shows that they thrive in a tank with some salt.

Now, aside from livebearers, I don't recommend keeping salt in freshwater tanks because research has also shown that salt is a miracle cure for many fish ailments yet it seems to be more powerful when used on fish who are not use to having salt in thier water. I think of it like an antibiotic- very powerful but will loose its potency if fish grow use to it.
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Old 07-27-2005, 01:19 PM   #6
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I don't use salt in any of my tanks on a regular basis, but I know of many people who have had great success using it combined with high temps as an ich treatment, especially if you are keeping fish that you think might be sensitive to medications. But like Ashley said, some fish like loaches don't tolerate salt well. I was thinking plecos also didn't like salt much but I can't remember for sure, can someone clear that up for me?
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Old 07-27-2005, 01:23 PM   #7
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Generally salt will be hard to tolerate or completely intolerable for any scaleless fish.
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Old 07-27-2005, 01:46 PM   #8
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I spend most of my time in SW forum, but this article has intrigued me. About two months ago, I was topping off my tanks and had some extra SW leftover. I have talked to the lfs people about adding salt to my FW, and have had opposing views on the benefit of it. I have a 10 gal with 2 angels, 2 gouramis (blue and red dwarf), 2 cories(albino, and I can't remember the other), and a silver dollar. ( I know it is overstocked, but I have a 30 gal that I am moving them into by next month). I added about a gallon of SW to the tank and within a week, I noticed much brighter colors in the fish, especially the gouramis. The cories seem, at times, lethargic, but are active most of the time. I will not make a habit of adding salt to the water, but I used sea salt and it seemed to brighten the fish up.
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Old 07-27-2005, 04:44 PM   #9
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Once you have treated your tank with salt for 2-3 weeks there is no need to keep it in the tank to prevent ich.. the ich is dead and will not come back unless its re-entodused into the tank with new fish and thats what QT is for.. Salt is for medical purposes in fresh water, maintaining salt at all times is likely to stress your fish unnessisarily.
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Old 07-27-2005, 05:14 PM   #10
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from what i have learnt the salt in the water enhances the capacity of the fish to produce a thicker protective 'slime' coating over its body.
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Old 07-27-2005, 05:25 PM   #11
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it is suppose to help them breath.. but as I said this is only nessisary for medical treatment..
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Old 07-27-2005, 09:44 PM   #12
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The use of any stress coat product and water conditioners with stress coat actually work better than adding salt. Also, you can cure ich with heat alone, without the addition of salt. And from what ive read, the salt will actually dehydrate fish and make them work harder to have the proper osmotic pressure.
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Old 07-27-2005, 10:40 PM   #13
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Just because ich has not come back does not mean the salt works. Healthy fish in a healthy tank do not get ich. Unhealthy fish with ich will bring in more than the healthy fish immune systems can handle making them get sick. In an unhealthy tank with stressed fish from various possible causes even a small amount of ich will find a chance to get ahold. Most of the time I don't even treat ich. Healthy fish in a healthy tank will recover from ich on their own. Raising the heat does not kill ich until the high 80's to 90s F but it does stress fish that aren't used to a really hot tank. It will also kill alot of bottom dwelling fish or algae eaters that don't appreciate temps over 80. The only use for heat is that it speeds up as well as interfering with the ich lifecycle allowing the meds to kill it better. If I do treat ich I use rid ich plus because I have used it effectively at full and half doses with all sorts of scaleless fish.
Salt might be useful in a tank with really soft water to raise the hardness but you'd be better off getting epsom salts(magnesium) and calcium salts. With hard water like mine salt would be very detrimental and put alot of osmotic stress on the fish.
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Old 07-27-2005, 11:21 PM   #14
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Heat kills the ich at 85+degrees.. salt is not nessisary
Once you treat for ich for 2-3 weeks strait it can not come back because its dead.
The temperature is only 6-8 degrees over the recomended temperature for tropical fish and increasing the airation is all that is needed to compensate for the higher temperature.
btw. alot of people keep tropical fish at 82 degrees anyway.. including bottom dwelling fish.. and heat treatments for discus and angel fish can run up into the 90's.. if heat kills fish like you say why has this never happened to me (corys, plecos) at some point in my 16 years in the hobby? I just dont think its a valid consern..
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Old 07-27-2005, 11:22 PM   #15
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btw. I heat treated all new fish in QT.. they were all tropicals..(I didnt keep goldfish).. I had no fish deaths that were from the heat.. 0, nata, zilch
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Old 07-28-2005, 04:46 AM   #16
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I use heat only to treat ich at 86 degrees with NO problems whatsoever. I had a lot of deaths when i used to treat with salt and/or meds. But ive never had a death with the heat only treatement.

Greenmagi posted a topic about Salt for ich treatement and we found this article
http://aquanic.org/publicat/state/il-in/as-459.pdf

It's a fact sheet from Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University and they clearly state:

"Probably the easiest treatment in indoor systems
for Warmwater species is to raise the water temperature
to 85°F for three weeks. Since Ich is a coolwatcr
protozoan, raising the temperature will kill the freeswimming
forms before they have a chance to
reinfect the fish"
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Old 07-29-2005, 12:30 PM   #17
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Houston we have a problem! Okies I've been keeping salt in my tanks since my ich outbreak. And I've spoken for doing so here. I've found one downside to it so far, other than the one that greenmagi mentioned. It seems the salt has the same effect on paramecium as it does on ich. They die, rather quickly I might add. While in a tank of adult fish it wouldn't really matter, it's had a serious culling effect on my Danio Fry. Without the paramecium in there, they had nothing to eat. And now of course the fry are acclimated to the salty water so if I freshen it for the paramecium, the fry will probably die. If I don't freshen it, the fry only get to eat when I put in the infusoria drops during the day, as shortly afterwords all the paramecium die and sink.

At this point I'm doubting any of the fry will survive without food. So i'm getting set up to contain the few survivors and go for another spawning.
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Old 07-29-2005, 12:55 PM   #18
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If you lower the salinity slowly your fry should survive fine...Skyrmir
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Old 07-29-2005, 02:37 PM   #19
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That's what I'm hoping, it's that I'm down to maybe half a dozen fry that are most likely a bit stressed from hunger to begin with. So I'm gonna have to be careful about it. That's my project for this weekend, saving the fry and getting the breeder tank set up to try again with fresher water.
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Old 07-29-2005, 03:37 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyrmir
That's what I'm hoping, it's that I'm down to maybe half a dozen fry that are most likely a bit stressed from hunger to begin with. So I'm gonna have to be careful about it. That's my project for this weekend, saving the fry and getting the breeder tank set up to try again with fresher water.
Good Luck!
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