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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been struggling to get my lights, DIY CO2 and ferts in order and have battled this, that, and the other kind of algae off an on for quite a while. (Admittedly, this is my own fault -- I've been keeping up with water changes, but haven't been as diligent as I should with dosing ferts or changing the DIY CO2 bottles.) At any rate, the result was quite a few kinds of algae happening at the same time -- some BGA on the tops of some tall plants, some grayish hairlike stuff in the foreground, green dust on the glass -- pretty much, if you name it, I might have it.

I had a fish that looked to have injured itself and I noticed one small white speck on the same fish and thought that perhaps the fish had scraped itself due to the beginnings of ick. I've never had an outbreak in my tank before and hadn't added any new inhabitants in months, but thought, "Better safe than sorry." So last week, I did two big water changes, bumped up the temperature a few degrees and added aquarium salt per the usual guidelines for ick in a planted tank that I've seen in this forum.

The result? The algae all DISAPPEARED. All of it. Even the BGA. And the plants seem to be fine so far -- some have even put out a bumper crop of new leaves. Even the cherry shrimp seem happier -- there are baby shrimp all over the HM in the foreground. So I'm guessing the salt must have knocked back the algae. Have others had a similar experience?

I'll do a big water change today to reduce the salt concentration and will fertilize and refill the DIY CO2 bottles when I do so. Maybe this relief from the algae will give me the breathing room to get on top of the fertilizing schedule.

Anyway, just thought I would share this experience and see if anyone else had a similar algae-die-back while dosing salt for ick or other medicinal purposes. And if any of the folks in-the-know might know why the salt would have this effect, I would love to hear the explanation!
 

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Can you tell me which plants and fish you have in your tank? How much salt did you add?

I think salt has its uses but some plants cannot tolerate it at all, so you are lucky.

kara
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The tank is a 29 gallon and I added about 5 TBSP of salt, dissolved in tank water over a period of time. I had read (on this forum and elsewhere) that 1 TBSP of salt per 5-6 gallons of water was a reasonable amount for treating ich without stressing fish or plants too much. I bumped the temperature up to 80-81 degrees F. The algae began to decline after about 3 days and was all but gone after 5 days.

The plants include HM, crypts, wisteria, bacopa, chain sword, java fern, and a few other stem plants. The wisteria and HM have put out a lot of new leaves during the salt treatment and the java fern and crypts appear to be thriving. I do see the first signs of some yellowing on the wisteria today, though.

Inhabitants include an angel, two small swordtails, small clown loaches, khuli loaches, otos, and cherry shrimp. It appears to be "business as usual" for all of the tank inhabitants and the one fish that had an injury of some sort seems to have healed up quite nicely.

I do plan to change the water to decrease the salt concentration pretty quickly because I know that, long term, the salt is not going to do the plants any favors. But I found it interesting that the plants have been growing well despite the salt while the algae has all but disappeared.
 

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Did you use sea/ocean salt? or did you use kosher salt? And were you fertilizing at the time? Did anything else change besides adding the salt? That is very interesting
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I used canning salt (no iodine and no other additives). I had read that there was no appreciable difference between that and what's labeled as aquarium salt, and I had the canning salt on hand.

I had slacked off on my fertilizing for a while, so I hadn't added any ferts to the tank for a couple of weeks. I think the CO2 from the DIY bottles had also trickled to about nil. (Big surprise I was having algae troubles with no significant ferts or CO2, huh?) And the only other difference was raising the temperature by a couple of degrees.

After a big water change to reduce the salt concentration, refilling the CO2 bottles (I use two 2-L DIY bottles), and getting back with the EI program (using Greg Watson ferts), there's still a little stubborn green dust on the back glass and on the filter intake and heater holder, and a little fuzzy freen stuff on some java fern, but I would say that 90% of the algae is gone. The plants are pearling by evening and I see some bright green new growth on the HM, the bacopa, and the ludwigia. The only thing that may have been harmed by the salt is some dwarf sag or chain sword (I forget which it is) that's in the foreground --a few leaves are yellowed, but there is also some new growth, so I think it's recovering.

We'll see if this turns out to be my "leg up" in the algae war and, of course, I don't know if it was the salt that did it or if I just got lucky -- certainly putting salt in a planted tank is probably not something that people want to rush out and do for no reason given how sensitive many plants are to salt! But whatever the case, I thought it was interesting enough to share the experience and see if other people had ever noticed anything similar.
 

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Ocean/reef salt I use would be different since it contains no metal traces and has more nuitrients in it for my saltwater tank, also it is more of a powder than a regular salt. Sounds like were on to something!
 

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Was it the salt or that you started taking good care of the plants again?

You need to rule that out and induce the algae again and not do anythign other than add salt with a good algae bloom going.

Algae and plants are tolerant of some salt, but there is little selectivity.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, the algae died back before I started back up with the EI dosing and the DIY CO2 bottles, but I'm sure that the better care of the tank after the initial algae reduction has contributed to the algae's continued retreat.

You're absolutely right that it would take a controlled experiment to figure out if salt alone would result in a die-back of algae. That's why I asked if anyone had noticed an algae retreat when treating for ick -- since salt + raised temperature seems to be a pretty commonly used ick treatment in planted tanks and since many planted tanks are battling algae at any given time, I figured that maybe someone else had used salt and heat for ick in a tank that also had some algae in it and could chime in about whether they noticed any algae retreat during the treatment or not. Of course that's anecdotal and there are many uncontrolled variables, but I figured it was worth asking since I don't know if what happened in my tank was a total fluke.

Whatever the case, I'm glad that getting back to EI dosing and CO2 is helping my tank remain, if not totally algae free yet, at least mostly so!
 

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More anecdotal evidence (or lack thereof): I treated an unplanted (a Java fern clump) tank for ich. No ferts, CO2, or lighting or anything on this tank. No algae except the little green specks on the glass that you can easily handle once a week. One tablespoon salt per gallon (the amount supposed to approximate a 0.3% conc.) of kosher salt with temperature only raised to 75ish. (I had to pull out the cookbook for conversions. It was something like 8 cups, so no, no aquarium salt for this application!) (And by the way, how we measure salt is pretty imprecise--aquarium salt has big grains which not only makes it less suitable for tank use as it dissolves slower, but I'm pretty sure a tablespoon of that stuff is less salt than canning or kosher. And then if they absorb moisture from the environment...well, maybe salt doesn't swell, but get a hygrometer when you run your tests.) (You're going to run tests aren't you?) :hihi:

My creeping glass algae still grew just fine. Unfortunately I don't know what types of algae it is, but you could really really tell that my apple snails were somewhere else for those few weeks of saltiness!

My Java fern looked terrible after the salting--wasn't very strong before after having gone through some abuse (being buried in a bucket of gravel for 2 weeks)--but is thinking of coming back a few months later.
 
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