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Salt and plants

Dave Gomberg wrote:

>Karen, or anyone, how much salt (NaCl) can the most sensitive plants
>tolerate before it adversely affects their growth?

I haven't heard any hard numbers, and it certainly varies according to
species... some are much more salt-tolerant than others.  OTOH, I helped a
number of people trouble shoot problems in planted tanks with "softened"
water.  In each case, the people were using softened water to avoid
problems from their hard well water.  In each case, when we by-passed the
softener, and went with the straight well water, the plants did better.  It
didn't necessarily solve _all_ the problems, but there are a lot of plants
that will grow well in hard water, and many more that will grow well in
hard water if supplemental CO2 is provided.

That said, I also know some folks who can't talk themselves out of adding
small amounts of salt to their FW aquariums, and still do fine with many
species of plant.  So there is certainly _some_ level of salt that many
species can tolerate.

My guess is that for _most_ water supplies, the amount of salt added by a
softening unit probably won't adversely affect many species.  But don't
think you're doing your plants a favor by "softening" the water... you're
probably not.  You're removing minerals that plants can use, and replacing
them with minerals that they don't use (or at least not in any quantitiy).

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association