Foster and smith claims about using salt

Jaysee

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The catalog always has little articles in it on fish keeping topics. One of the new articles is about salt. The title is "salt benefits infreshwater aquariums." They claim that salt reduces stress, treats parasites, and protects fish from nitrite poisoning.

The only negative presented was use with scaleless fish.
 

harpua2002

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I've heard this from many sources and personally believe it to be true. I still don't use salt in my FW tanks though, as I don't cycle with fish and thus don't encounter nitrite poisoning.

Another salt related claim is the prevention of nitrite poisoning, which is also a theoretical true statement.

Let's assume your tank is brand new and cycling, or the beneficial bacteria are adjusting to a change in tank inhabitants, or worst case, you killed some bacteria colonies using antibiotics to nuke the small algae glancing at you.

Salt can be used to prevent nitrite poisoning, if the chloride ions are 30 times the concentration of nitrite ions.

Nitrite reaches a toxic level at about 0.1 ppm, which would require about 3 ppm of chloride ions. Depending on the salt (sodium chloride) used, it might translate to about 5 ppm (given that common salt has a chloride concentration of 60%) to ease possible nitrite poisoning. This in mind, one teaspoon of salt would be sufficient to provide this effect for a 300 Gallon tank.

As a brief summary, 1 teaspoon per 300 Gallons will do as described above. Table salt does contain iodine and anti caking additives (to prevent the salt from clumping together). Iodine is essential for certain plants and animals, and definitely of no concern, considering the low amount of salt and the low concentration of iodine added to the salt. Iodine at this concentration should be rather beneficial instead.
http://www.algone.com/index.php/fish-health/salt-in-freshwater-aquariums.html
 

Red1313

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If that's the case harpua, and 1 teaspoon is all that's needed for 300 gallons... Why does API say to does their salt at ?
It's discrepancies like this that I think are part of the basis for the whole salt arguement...
 

mathas

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I've heard this from many sources and personally believe it to be true. I still don't use salt in my FW tanks though, as I don't cycle with fish and thus don't encounter nitrite poisoning.
Same here.

The chloride ion of salt has the desirable ability to inhibit the uptake of nitrite into fishes' blood.

During shipping, fishes' excreted ammonia can form nitrite, and the addition of enough salt to make a 1% solution has been found to cut shipping losses by as much as 90% in commercial practice. Nitrite is toxic, as you know. Fish that are stricken with nitrite poisoning get lethargic. With higher levels they may gasp as if they were suffocating and die with their gillcovers open wide. The nitrite ion has the damaging habit of occupying the place on a hemoglobin molecule where oxygen ought to be carried. The resulting molecule, called "methemoglobin" carries no oxygen. Under the influence of high NO2 levels, the fish may suffer from "brown blood" syndrome or methemoglobinemia (yeah! "Me-THEME-o-Globe-anemia").

Though the main effect of nitrite is on the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells, it's recently been shown to suppress chloride cells in the gill lamellae, which play a major role in maintaing a balance of salts. (Download the abstract of a 2002 paper read by O.T. Ferreira da Costa and M. N. Fernandes of the University of Sao Carlos, Brazil, "Chloride cell changes induced by nitrite exposure...")

How much salt should you be adding to counteract nitrite? It is the chloride ion of salt that is effective, not the sodium ion. In order to be effective, the chloride-to-nitrite ratio should be five to one. So if nitrite tests at 1 ppm, you should add enough salt (as a temporary measure) to give a chloride level of 5 ppm. This corresponds to about 8.5 ppm of NaCl (table salt); very little — a fifteenth of a teaspoon or just a pinch — in ten gallons. In fact, your water quite likely already carries this much salt, without any extra dosing at all; at any rate, your normal partial water changes will dilute out additional salt after the crisis has passed.

By the way, that useful chloride ion could perfectly well come from another source: you could use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride, and plants would benefit from the potassium. Calcium chloride, CaCl2, has two chloride ions; though not as cheap as rock salt, calcium chloride proved in trials more than twice as effective. Check this abstract of an article reporting nitrite trials with striped bass, Morone saxatilis, (a marine fish, however). (Check correspondence at Patrick Timlin's website).

Now, try telling this to a friend who adds a pinch of salt to "ease stress."

This use of salt's chloride ion does not assuage high levels of cortisol that are arguably more responsible for "shipping stress" than simple nitrite poisoning. At any rate, don't be misled by vague references to "stress." The chloride ion of rock salt simply acts as a specific block to the uptake of nitrite formed from ammonia in shipping water.
If that's the case harpua, and 1 teaspoon is all that's needed for 300 gallons... Why does API say to does their salt at ?
Because they enjoy making money.
 

harpua2002

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If that's the case harpua, and 1 teaspoon is all that's needed for 300 gallons... Why does API say to does their salt at ?
It's discrepancies like this that I think are part of the basis for the whole salt arguement...
Hehe, remember Red, I am NOT a salt user and I agree with you that prolonged use is detrimental to our fishes' health. However, I do believe it has its place as a treatment... killing ich is one, nitrite poisoning is the other.

API says to dose the salt at that level as a general tonic, which IMO shouldn't be done at all, to keep people buying it!

Nitrites are actively transported across the gills and readily oxidize hemoglobin to form methemoglobin. Methemoglobinemia results in hypoxia severe enough to cause sudden death but often the fish will live until they exert themselves. The term "brown blood disease" comes from the appearance of the blood that has high levels of methemoglobin (which is brown). Often, gross lesions are lacking, therefore; the brown appearance of the blood can be a diagnostic tool. Another diagnostic method involves measuring nitrite levels in the water. This may be unrewarding if mortality is high enough to decrease fish density and subsequent nitrite levels. Nitrite levels should not exceed 0.10 mg/1 in channel catfish or 0.50 mg/1 in salmonids. The LC50 for the majority of freshwater fish ranges from 0.60 to 200 mg/1. Saltwater fish have a much higher tolerance for nitrites.
http://www.addl.purdue.edu/newsletters/1998/spring/nitrate.shtml

Sounds like the F and S article is touting the benefits of aquarium salt as a general tonic and disease preventative. We know that we shouldn't do this; that the long term use of salt is not good for FW fish. However, in the case of ich treatment or nitrite poisoning, IMO the benefit of treating the fish SHORT TERM with salt outweighs the detrimental effects. F & S is a retailer; they are trying to get us to use it all the time so they can sell us more salt. LOL
 
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Red1313

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Same here.
Because they enjoy making money.
Hehe, remember Red, I am NOT a salt user and I agree with you that prolonged use is detrimental to our fishes' health. However, I do believe it has its place as a treatment... killing ich is one, nitrite poisoning is the other.

API says to dose the salt at that level as a general tonic, which IMO shouldn't be done at all, to keep people buying it!
Makes sense

I'm not arguing that it's not something to keep around for treatment, but that it's something that has a big difference's between how it should be used (dosed) and how it's actually marketed.
 

Snowdrifter

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Perhaps my situation can be used as an example.

I understand my naivity is admonishable....

29 gal....still cycling after 5 weeks with fish....I check levels daily and I'm doing frequent 30-50% changes.

ph 8
ammonia .25
nitrIte 5
nitrate 5-10

LFS highly recommended adding A.salt routinely to prevent illness and 'stress' .....after adding salt 1tsp-5gal as directed by API (Only to new water @changes) for a couple weeks...I was advised to stop....I did...

I'm going through a nItrite spike pretty severely and I lost 2 fish (pictus cat, clown loach)...Perhaps there's more than 1 reason, but I suspect my water is a death trap.

Is my situation one that would benefit from adding salt doses to reduce the damage caused by nitrite until I finish cycling, or should I just ride it out?
 

harpua2002

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One of the main arguments in the articles linked is that a very low concentration of salt is needed to achieve its beneficial effects for nitrite poisoning- much, much less than what your LFS has advised you to add. IMO it's possible that the stress from the concentration of salt could have contributed to the deaths of your pictus and loach- neither are fish that tolerate salt well.

If you're going to use salt for nitrite poisoning, just a pinch should do. Dissolve it in a cup of tank water before you add it to the tank.
 

David C

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I've followed several threads on other boards that say Nitrite can be present in high concentrations (500ppm or so) in a SW tank with no adverse effects because the salt in the water neutralizes any danger posed. I'm personally not going to chance it, but it is an interesting thought and makes you wonder what problems people would be ignoring if they allowed their tanks to get to these levels.

Dave
 

LyndaB

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Salt has definitely been proven to help certain types of fish, like bettas. However, the sites that claim salt is the end all and be all, in my humble opinion, do not tell the flip side of that particular coin. They don't address the situation about scaleless fish, such as loaches, not being able to tolerate salt.

If you have a situation where your fish are in danger of nitrite poisoning, then you're making some serious mistakes anyway and using salt would certainly not correct that fact. Kind of like putting a bandaid on a broken leg.

In all the research I've done since I took up fishkeeping, salt has been one of those topics that seems to ruffle feathers, or would that be fins, the most. So, I've put salt on the "opinion" shelf. Since I have scaleless fish in both of my tanks, and no longer keep bettas, I never use salt anymore. Never.

It's all about the health, happiness and well-being of my fish. Period.
 

Lucy

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I'm going through a nItrite spike pretty severely and I lost 2 fish (pictus cat, clown loach)...Perhaps there's more than 1 reason, but I suspect my water is a death trap.
Cats and loaches don't do well with salt.
 

TedsTank

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I have used salt and it can be effective. I don't recommend it but have used it.

It totally eliminated gill flukes in young discus but the treatement was for only 5 minutes.

I treat my Koi pond every spring with a good dose of salt (they of course are tolerant of salt)...we occasionally get anchor worms and the one time treatment seems to temp clear it out.

This is only my opinion on salt treatments and salt bath's.
If you think you must use it on some species, please research the species first. It is not used as a long term treatment..
 

Goldwing_Don

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i feel that Salt as a drip treatment or in a quarantine tank is ok, but not for use in the main tank. As most of us know it hard enought as a newbe to understand the basics with out killing fish because someone told us to add salt to a tank that does not need it.
and water changes only remove so much salt at a time. so what would you do with the scaleless fish (if they / you have them )while you try to get the salt out of the tank?...JMHO
 

pepetj

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I have read my share on salt use for FW. I even purchased a small box of Hagen's Nutrafin Aquarium Salt for FW tanks. After reading some more, I decided NOT to use salt in my FW tanks.

My Brackish tanks I use Marine Salt Mix (e.g. Instant Ocean, Coralife).

I have used salt in medicated baths in combination with Methylene Blue but recently I switched to Pottassium Permanganate instead.

I have used Epsom salt for Popeye relief in hospital tanks. Other than that FW to me means zero salt.

Pepetj
Santo Domingo
 

Shawnie

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great thread!!!

and as per always, salt is going to be the ever ending debate in fishkeeping

there are many other things available now, that salt isnt needed anymore IMO...although many will use it for illness's or quick fixes for something thats wrong , sometimes if you learn the new things with this hobby, you will see its just not needed anymore....imagine salt on an open sore for yourself? do you think the fish likes that feeling either? vita chem, fish protector, stress coat (+) are a few that are more fish friendly ....

if you feel you need salt for ich, nitrites, or any other issue, maybe finding out why the issue happened , can alleviate the need for salt? I agree with others..you will always read a ton of info on salt, and its always going to come down to a personal preference no matter how many debates are raised
 

mathas

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Salt has definitely been proven to help certain types of fish, like bettas.
Where has this been proven? I'd be interested to read the reasoning behind the claim, particularly if explanations or real evidence are present, and not just "I put salt in my betta tank and the fish was healthy, so salt = good".
 

_Fried_Bettas_

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There sure is a lot of misinformation about salt around. One of my local fish stores has labels that read "needs salt" on all the tanks with livebearers (mollies, platys, guppies). I have heard this said from other sources about mollies specifically, but I have had all these fish thrive and reproduce without, so I sure wouldn't want to experiment. And to a new fishkeeper I can so easily see them really overdoing the salt.
 

Goldwing_Don

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Buy healthy stock and keep a clean tank and there is no need for salt. IMO salt just masks the problem. high N02 needs more water changes... Ick means temp not right or cold air drafts. Fix the cause and it will fix the problem..
 
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Jaysee

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great thread!!!

and as per always, salt is going to be the ever ending debate in fishkeeping

there are many other things available now, that salt isnt needed anymore IMO...although many will use it for illness's or quick fixes for something thats wrong , sometimes if you learn the new things with this hobby, you will see its just not needed anymore....imagine salt on an open sore for yourself? do you think the fish likes that feeling either? vita chem, fish protector, stress coat (+) are a few that are more fish friendly ....

if you feel you need salt for ich, nitrites, or any other issue, maybe finding out why the issue happened , can alleviate the need for salt? I agree with others..you will always read a ton of info on salt, and its always going to come down to a personal preference no matter how many debates are raised
I couldn't agree more with evereything shawnie said.
 

David C

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Most of my research has turned up that salt dips can be used for FW for the treatment of ich in the same fashion that FW dips for SW fish work for the treatment of ich. I haven't had the necessity to try a drip for either instance, but the logic behind it seems sound. I would prefer to do my best to provide an "optimal" environment for my fish and prevent the diseases from manifesting themselves than try a quick cure.

In the end, I'm definitely with Shawnie on this one, prevent the situation from developing rather than use bandaid cures.

Dave
 
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