The Great Aquarium Salt Debate

Schmidty
  • #1
I have heard so many conflicting views on the use of aquarium salt. Does anyone have some real information on whether it is good for all fish or only for certain types of fish (obviously I'm thinking of livebearers here) or not good for any fish at all. I've heard some people say here that it is just an irritant to fish. Any proof of that from something you read? Is there any links that could be provided to better understand both sides of the debate? Thanks for any and all information.


(I just love those little banana guys!)
 
TheEssigs
  • #2
... it all depends on your source water and your tank inhabitants.

The readers digest version, IMO, on this debate is this...

Aquarium salt has been used for decades as a sort of a "tonic" and/or cure for some sicknesses for freshwater fish. Many aquarists have noticed that certain fish simply do better with a small amount of aquarium salt added to their tanks.

Some tap water sources are very low in dissolved salts compared to certain areas with treated or conditioned water, and the addition of aquarium salt might simply make the fish feel more "at home". Salt provides replacement sodium and chloride ions that stressed or sick fish need. Salt may inhibit the fishes' uptake of toxic chemicals like nitrite. Salt also may inhibit parasites that are sometimes difficult to diagnose or treat.

Aside of brackish fish (which need salt in the water), certain fish, like livebearers seem to have better survival rates and fewer disease problems when kept with salt. Many others, like most barbs and tetras, seem more indifferent and few catfish are said to have very low tolerance for salt.

So again, every tank is different, as well as the fish and water parameters. It really becomes a judgement call...

Well, please keep in mind this is just my opinion... and Good Luck with your research and application thereof...

 
COBettaCouple
  • #3
aquarium salt acts as an irritant to cause a fish's system to generate more slime coating.. it can also in effect cause a dehydrating effect to the fish. With certain disease conditions, those are reasons to use the salt but under normal conditions, the salt simply isn't needed for freshwater fish. Salt also will slowly build up deposits in tanks.
 
jonjohn26
  • #4
hmmm......I have mollies and swordtails in my tank......and they seem to enjoy the water with aquarium salt.......I initially observed this when I bought my fishes from the LPS....and introduced them to my tank......with salt added onto it........with out acclimation....they swam into the water.......without any signs of stress on them.......and...it also helped cure my newly bought fish's fungus infection........so I must say that it is quite good for them......and as for the fact about salt being an irritant to the fish's skin.......I guess that principle would be properly inclined with those with a slimy skin like gold fishes and gouramis for example........and besides.....some studies did mention that this livebearers..(guppies,mollies,swordtails,platies)......are pretty much into brackish water conditions in the wild...........so.....I could say that they are good for the fish........^__^
 
Chief_waterchanger
  • #5
It ultimately comes down to personal opinion, as said by others. Dino and I do not use salt in any of our 100+ freshwater tanks, again that is our preference. A lot of people use it as a preventative measure to ward parasites, disease, etc, but... not meaning to be negative or arrogant with this next comment, but, by and large we don't have problems with illnesses due to our water conditions and tank maintainence. That is not to say that we won't have a fish die here and there, and we've even had 2 tank crashes since the fishhouse has been operating, but we have no serious issues as compaired to a lot of aquarists.

Again, it is a preference thing, we just see it as a preventative measure that we do not need, and do not need to put the fish through.
 
TheEssigs
  • #6
Does anyone have some real information on whether it is good for all fish or only for certain types of fish (obviously I'm thinking of livebearers here)

To answer this question more directly and personally... as my earlier post was kinda general in regard to the uses of salt... I have a 65g community/livebearer tank and do not use salt... I haven't had a problem with the fish in regard to that use.

I did have problems with new tank syndrome and illness which taught me that regular water maintenance, water changes and keeping an eye on water parameters is absolutley essentail. (and a QT tank dosent hurt either!!)

Again, good luck!
 
swords3711
  • #7
I don't know about it being an irritant
I know that it stimulates their protective slime coating making them less prone to diseases
it also protects fish against high nitrate levels
I also know that it does cause the fish to become more active
 
Dino
  • #8
It being an irritant is what causes the slI'm coat to kick into overdrive.

If your tank is running properly, ie qting new fish and doing the water changes, disease and high nitrate levels should not be a problem.
 
swords3711
  • #9
ya but because levels of nitrates aren't always stable
it is a good idea especially with fry to keeobecause they are very vulnerable to disease
 
Peterpiper
  • #10
ya but because levels of nitrates aren't always stable
it is a good idea especially with fry to keeobecause they are very vulnerable to disease

Would'nt it be better to address the Nitrite issue, and get your perm's stable.
 
swords3711
  • #11
Would'nt it be better to address the Nitrite issue, and get your perm's stable.

 
Dino
  • #12
If your tank is cycled, and you are doing regular water changes, you should have no ammonia, nitrite or nitrate issues.
 
swords3711
  • #13
yes it is but on a day to day basis it can change
although it may be slight, the effects can be harmful to fish
I have problems with nitrite levels and salt clears it up perfectly-0.0
 
Dino
  • #14
Sorry, but I do not agree.
 
Peterpiper
  • #15
yes it is but on a day to day basis it can change
although it may be slight, the effects can be harmful to fish
I have problems with nitrite levels and salt clears it up perfectly-0.0

Salt can build up in the water and require you to do more water changes.
How many fish do you have in your tank, and what size is your tank?
 
swords3711
  • #16
I know that I exceed the limirt for a thirty five g tank but I do do frequent water changes and the water levels remain at a substantial rate
my dad's tank 120 gallon is the one having the problem and he does not near exceed the limit for number of fish.
his nitrite levels go on a roller coaster ride every day
one day they are at 0 and the next they are up at 2 we can't figure it out but once salt is placed in, no fish are lost and the levels return to normal
as for my tank, I had goldfish which are salt lovers, so when I switched to tropical fish I continued the use of salt along with start right
I rarely lose fish and when I do it is because of old age
 
swords3711
  • #17
Sorry, but I do not agree.

everyone is entitled to an opinion
that's kind of what his site is about
ive learned so much since I joined and I know that ive helped many with their problems
I am not an expert when it comes to disease or water quality
that's why I'm always looking for someones opinion
when I post something that is incorrect id love to have others thoughts that way I can get my facts straight
my sources are either unreliable or outdated so unless I experience things first hand, I cannot say they are entirely proven
that's why I get incites from those on this site and I thank everyone for that
I just hope I can be as much of a help for the users on here as they are for me
 
COBettaCouple
  • #18
what additives and/or conditioners are being used on the tap water. it almost sounds like that tank is having "Cycle" added to it and going thru a constant series of mini-cycles. these results are from liquid tests?

when a tank is cycled, it will have 0 for ammonia and nitrites, like Dino said. our tanks have stayed 0 on both since not long after we moved.

If there is enough salt built up in a tank, it can distort the readings that you get from testing - which is why there are separate testing kits for saltwater and freshwater. This is what's most likely happening with that tank, since salt has no nitrifying bacteria in it.


my dad's tank 120 gallon is the one having the problem and he does not near exceed the limit for number of fish.
his nitrite levels go on a roller coaster ride every day
one day they are at 0 and the next they are up at 2 we can't figure it out but once salt is placed in, no fish are lost and the levels return to normal
as for my tank, I had goldfish which are salt lovers, so when I switched to tropical fish I continued the use of salt along with start right
I rarely lose fish and when I do it is because of old age
 
swords3711
  • #19
I see that makes a little more sense
he does use the cycle and he uses start right to dechlorinate
he has been using a chemical to keep the nitrite levels down
 
Chief_waterchanger
  • #20
I agree that it would be better to address the nitrite problem intellectually rather than covering it up with chemicals and/or salt.

If salt can be distorting the readings as said by several people, then that sounds, to me, like a reason to stop that. If the nitrites are fluxuating like that, that means your ammonia level is -more than likely- fluxuating also. That happens from uneatten food rotting, lack of tank maintainence, accumulated fish waste, or going into mini-cycles. Does your dad scrub his tank spotless and change the filter media completely, very often? Scrubbing a tank spotless or changing the filter media completely can either one throw one's tank into a mini-cycle, but if done together would be worse.
 
swords3711
  • #21
he has a different type of filter
it doesn't have cartidges like most filtration systems so I don't think he cleahs it out regularly
as for scrubbing the tanks, we only have to do that for goldfish because u can't keep algae eaters with them
we do siphon out are tanks weekly to dispose of all and excess food
my dad is thinking about getting corys, which I know will clear up the problem
our ammonia levels are never high though
as for salt covering the nitrite levels, I always read on the back that it says to protect the fish against high nitrite levels
I never knew that it could cover the actual reading
 
COBettaCouple
  • #22
I'd recommend discontinuing the Cycle and Start Right and using Prime instead. I'm fairly sure the combination of Cycle's mini-cycle effect and salt are causing the erratic readings in that tank.
 
Peterpiper
  • #23
I think sometimes we lose track of the lessons learnt. I mean, we are trying to rush the curing, cram more into our tanks, take short cuts that end up being the begging of a problem. We are trying to replicate nature, but then we add chemicals and things that are not the in fishes normal enviroment. I feel that sometime we do not do what's best for our fish.. but do what we want, to make our tank look good, at the expence of our finned friends.
 
Butterfly
  • #24
I think sometimes we lose track of the lessons learnt. I mean, we are trying to rush the curing, cram more into our tanks, take short cuts that end up being the begging of a problem. We are trying to replicate nature, but then we add chemicals and things that are not the in fishes normal enviroment. I feel that sometime we do not do what's best for our fish.. but do what we want, to make our tank look good, at the expence of our finned friends.
Well said!!
 

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