Will Aquarium Salt Kill Snails in Your Fish Tank
By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise
When most freshwater aquarists do a major-water change, they add aquarium salt to their fish tank to keep the new water pristine and parasites in check.
Many owners also add salt when they have ich in their fish tank or when treating bettas and other long, flowy tail fish for fin rot.
However, adding salt can be a daunting task if you have snails and other inverts, like shrimp, in your fish tank.
Of most concern is whether salt will kill your snails.
Well, salt may be dangerous to snails, but if precautionary measures are taken, damage to your inverts can be averted.
Only use a small amount of aquarium, non-iodized salt, and never put it straight to the tank without dissolving. Also, add the salt sparingly as you watch your snail’s reaction.
Even so, if your fish tank is already on the more saline side of a freshwater aquarium, you may want to remove your inverts when spot treating your fish with salt.
Move your snails if you plan on treating ich with salt and medicine.
Please read on for more insight on keeping snails and other inverts in a salinated freshwater aquarium.
Can Snails Tolerate Salt in Aquariums
Almost all inverts kept in freshwater aquariums, including snails and shrimp, are less tolerant to salt than tropical fish. If you accidentally add a little too much to your tank, your snails will be most likely be the first ones to succumb.
But freshwater snails can sustain a reasonable amount of salt, as long as it’s recommended for aquarium use.
I recommended adding less salt than you would ordinarily use in a fish-only tank, both for Ich treatment and general use. Try adding the salt to your water sparingly as well.
Make sure you dissolve aquarium salt in a cup and mix thoroughly with a portion of clean, conditioned water and a part of your aquarium water before you add to your fish tank.
How Much Aquarium Salt Will Kill Snails in A Fish Tank
I add a tablespoon of salt for every 10 gallons in my fish tank for general purposes but increase the concentration to a tablespoon of salt for every five gallons for saline baths.
However, if I have snails and shrimp in a fish tank I’m treating, I prefer using a tablespoon for every 10 gallons for all purposes. If I need to treat my fish with a higher saline concentration, I’ll either move my inverts or fish into a hospital tank.
If you need to treat your entire tank, as you would when dealing with Ick, moving your snails would be more effective than relocating the fish.
Moving your fish would be appropriate when doing saline dips and baths for a fish with fin rot or a secondary infection from nippings by tank mates.
Will Aquarium Salt Kill Snail Eggs
Yes, aquarium salt will kill snail eggs, but not inside the tank. It is more a remedy for cleaning new plants from a source you don’t trust.
See, when most plants come from a seller, they will carry any detritus from a former tank, including any eggs laid on them, and since most tropical fish don’t lay on plants, the eggs will most likely be from snails.
If you let them stay, the eggs will hatch in your aquarium, and given the right conditions, babies will be adults in no time and produce another colony of snails.
And unwanted snails can be a nuisance. They reproduce readily, and although most will clean leftover food from your substrate, they will take over your aquarium if left unchecked.
Some will even feed on your lush aquatic plants.
So, do a salt dip for any new plants you get if you do not want snails in your fish tank. Alternatively, you can dip the plants in a mild bleach solution, potassium permanganate, or warm water.
Will Aquarium Salt Kill Your Shrimp
Shrimp are a lot like snails. Both are inverts commonly kept in freshwater aquariums but compared to tropical fish, they are less tolerant to aquarium salt.
Anywhere from 5 to 10 gallons won’t hurt your shrimp too much, but any higher concentration may kill them.
When using a small amount of salt, as salinity increases, water will get sucked out from pathogens, and they die, which is good as long as the salt is not too much because the same fate will befall your shrimp.
Will Aquarium Salt Kill Your Plecos
Catfish and plecos are sensitive to salt, almost as much as shrimp and snails, but in small doses like those used for medicating your tank, most should be fine.
Some species like Ancistrus show more resistance to salt and can handle salinity levels almost as much as those in Rift Valley cichlid tanks, but others are too sensitive.
As such, if you want to keep plecos in your fish tank, try pairing them with other tropical fish that can’t stand too much salinity in a biotope tank.
The small amount of aquarium salt you’ll add into your tank will be safe for all your fish, but you will also not be tempted to push the boundaries.
Do not pair your plecos with fish like Malawi cichlids, mollies, platys, and other saltwater fish that like things on the saltier side. Also, never add salt in an aquarium with scaleless fish, whether bottom-dwelling or not.
Will Salt Kill Algae in Your Aquarium
Techinacally, algae hate salt and will die as soon as they come to contact. However, in a freshwater aquarium, the amount of salt you would need to kill algae will very likely also kill your plants, inverts (snails, shrimp), and even your fish.
So, instead of taking the risk and overdosing your tank with salt, move your fish and plants to a new well cycled tank, then do the salt treatment to exterminate all algae in the old tank.
Alternatively, you can introduce algae eaters to your fish tank.
What Kills Snails in Freshwater Aquariums
Assuming you are dealing with a pest snail infestation and need to exterminate them, salt is probably not the best solution.
Any amount of salt that will kill snails in your tank will likely also kill your shrimp, plants, and even fish.
Therefore, the best approach would be to use other recommended (proven) hacks to remove or kill the snails. For instance, you can use vegetables like cucumber or zucchini to attract snails then remove them manually.
Plastic snail traps and adding algae eaters also work pretty well, depending on the numbers of snails in your aquarium.
Below is the list of tricks I’ve used to remove pest snails from my fish tank.
That’s all for this post, see you in the next one.
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