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Re: Salt in planted tanks

"I'd be interested to hear what other list members have to say. Can the
actually benefit from these electrolytes (in moderation) or am I barking up
wrong tree?"

woof, woof, woof...... ;-)

A lot depends upon the water you start with and the plants (and fish) you
intend to keep in the tank.

The comments you posted from the label, "Aquarium salt adds natural
electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, magnesium and chloride. These
electrolytes are essential for fish to maintain healthy gill function and
osmoregulation." are true - to a point, but they don't tell the whole story.

We never (well, most of us don't anyway) attempt to maintain aquatic
organisms (plants or fish) in PURE water (for our purposes, read that as
100% deionized, distilled or R/O water) because it lacks the elements
required by living organisms in order to function properly. If you start out
with 100% PURE water, you have to add back those elements, either by mixing
it with some tap water or adding something like Equilibrium (Seachem) or R/O
Right (Kent) or Roger Miller's mixture of salts (see the archive). We do
this to end up with a _natural_ and "life-friendly" solution for our plants
and fish to live in.

If you are starting out with tap water, you have to know what is in it as it
comes out of the tap before you can start adding or subtracting anything
to/from it before it goes into an aquarium. Just because I might add
something to my water doesn't mean that you should add the same thing to
your water because, more than likely, we are both starting out with
different waters.

If you have naturally soft, acidic water and want to keep Africian Rift Lake
Cichlids (or any others normally found in hard, alkaline water), then you
might very well need to add something to the water. But what you need to add
(and how much you need to add) depends entirely on how much (and what) is
there to start with. There is no ONE correct answer which applies to every

The words on a label of anything are there, first and foremost, to SELL the
product. Take them with a grain of salt (literally).

Your tap water may very well have enough "natural electrolytes" just as it
is. Increasing the level of those electrolytes as a matter of course because
you read it in some book or web site, or because other people do it and get
away with it, is bad practice. The people who claim that the extra salt
content is a prophylaxis against parasites and/or disease need to learn how
to properly care for their tanks in order to keep disease and/or pest
organisms out of there in the first place (quarantine and proper

And not every little "bug" or "worm" that people notice in their tanks is
"bad" and in need of erradication. I get shivers when I read posts from
people who say that they have discovered "things" in their tanks and want to
get rid of them because they are "creepy". These are probably the same sorts
of people who have golf green lawns maintained with every chemical under the
sun. It just isn't "natural" at all. (Not that any of our aquariums are
truly "natural".)

Fish and plants are adaptable organisms - they can survive over a range of
conditions. But there is no need to subject either to artificially high
levels of salt as a matter of course. And plants are usually MORE sensitive
to higher concentations of salts than fish are. So a lot of people keeping
plants will run into difficulty with adding extra salts unless they really
know why they are doing it and know how much they can safely add.

I've said it before and it bears repeating - a lot of practices common in
general fishkeeping are not appropriate to planted tanks. In my opinion,
extra salt is one of them.

James Purchase