Is Mgso4 Harmful To Shrimps And Snails?

Ch4rlie

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I have 2 tanks and one is 20 US gal tank  and the other is 25 US gals, and want to tweak my EI a little bit as am getting some BBA and thinking this may help in curbing the BBA growth as well as keeping my plants growing good.
 
Both my tanks have red cherry shrimps, amano shrimps, assassin snails and the other has MTS and Ramshorns.
 
Have come across a EI site for dosing Ei and one of the ingredients is MgSO4, Magnesium Sulphate. Which I sort of belive to be similar to Epsom Salt, probably wrong, but want to be doubly sure before going any further.
 
This particular site EI calculator I came across is loosely based on Tom Barr's site. And is saying to dose MgSO4 1/2 tsp for 10 - 20 gal tanks and 2/3 tsp for 20 - 40 gal tanks 3 times a week, seems a lot to me but wonder if i need to dose MgSO4.
 
Does anyone know if this is safe to dose or have come across a similar scenario for MgSO4 with shrimps and /or snails?
 
Also what does MgS04 actually do for plants?
 
Ta! :)
 
 
 
 
 

Byron

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I can partially answer your questions, I hope.  First, Magnesium sulphate is Epsom Salt, but this is not "salt" as we think of common table or aquarium salt.  Magnesium sulphate is a mineral compound containing the minerals magnesium and sulphur (oxygen is also in the compound).  These are two of 17 necessary nutrients for aquatic plants.  Most comprehensive liquid fertilizers will have both magnesium and sulfur in the product.  Magnesium and calcium are the prime minerals in "hard" water, and aragonite sand is calcium and magnesium based. 
 
Many years ago, in the 1980's, I followed the advice of a planted tank author in FAMA and added Epsom Salt to my largest tank (55g) after the water change.  I honestly cannot remember the amount, but it wasn't much.  I thought it did what was suggested, improve plant growth, and it may as i was adding nothing else; I had very soft water then (as now).  I did this for several years and to my knowledge the fish were OK with it (though this is very difficult to determine), but I wasn't adding much, maybe a teaspoon or two.  I had no shrimp, and my small snails did not do very well which I took to be the lack of mineral (primarily calcium) in the water, but I can't say for certain.
 
I am not a fan of the EI method, simply because it is overdosing minerals and these do get inside every fish in the tank.  Hard water fish have less issue than soft water with this, but I am hesitant to increase the TDS when it is deliberately overdosing, and any of these minerals will impact fish to some extent and that I prefer avoiding whenever I can.
 
Hope this helps.
 
Byron.
 
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Ch4rlie

Ch4rlie

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Hmm, thats interesting.
 
 
Thank you for confirming that MgS04 is indeed epsom salt, and knew its nothing like normal salt as in sodium chloride, so thats good to know.
 
Although I did know that Ei can be overdosing on ceratin minerals but not to the extent that it can affect soft water. Having said that, my tap water here is moderately hard, and the pH is generally around the 7.8 to 8.0 mark, its lower than this inside the tanks, around 7.4.
 
I am reluctant to add MgS04 as its an unknown element to me and have been adding KN03, KH2P04 as well as trace elements on a regular basis with no ill effects on my shrimps and snails to date, plants are growing fairly well. Though some snails do die and like you am wondering if this a calcium deficiency if sorts.
 
To dose or not to dose MgS04, that is the question......................
 

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If magnesium and sulphur are now missing from the supplements for plants, and assuming everything else is sufficient, then the plants will not be able to photosynthesize beyond the limiting factor which would be magnesium and/or sulphur.  Pardon me if this is old news, but aquatic plants will photosynthesize full out provided the light is of sufficient intensity to drive photosynthesis (and this is specific to each individual species) and provided all required nutrients are available.  As soon as one of these is insufficient to balance the rest (and the light), photosynthesis will slow.  It may even stop altogether depending upon the level of nutrients.  This is what we term Liebig's law of minimum, which is that growth is not controlled by the total amount of nutrients (technically resources, as light is involved too) but by the resource that is scarcest.
 
The principle of EI as Tom explained it to me is that we overdose everything so nothing will be minimal, and then do significant water changes to remove the excess.  This is fine for Tom and others, who have no fish in their tanks.  I see it very differently.  It is not the soft water that is affected, but the soft water species fish.  Increasing the TDS with more minerals can cause internal issues for fish.  I just went through something of this myself, in one of seven tanks.  Something was impacting the fish, and after over a year I was still unable to pin down exactly what, in just the one tank.  On the advice of two marine biologists I cut back on the ordinary plant fertilizers.  The plant additives turned out to be a part of the problem, rather to my surprise, and I was certainly no where near overdosing, but these were actually directly causing an organic diatom bloom.
 
You might recall the thread a few months back that sprang from the blue citation from Nathan Hill in my signature.  This came from an article in PFK in which he pointed out the detrimental effects to fish of diffused CO2.  One has to be careful, when adding any substance to a closed system with fish, as all of it will get inside the fish and can cause various problems, some unseen, depending.
 
Byron.
 

eaglesaquarium

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Salt has a 'hobbyist' definition and then it has a 'scientific' definition.
 
 
According to a scientific definition, epsom salt is absolutely salt... as are the dry fertilizer 'salts' used for planted tanks.  Salt is then being defined scientifically as an ionic compound formed as a result of an acid and base reacting.
 
 
The more hobbyist definition is a 'sodium' based ionic compound.  
 

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What does EI sand for???
 
As to sulfate Seachem Fluorish has it but not a lot since plants don't need much of it.  However I did read reacently that sulfate may slow the growth of some mosses.  Magnesium and Calcium are needed by all plants and animals.  It is my understanding that most streams have naturally occuring sulfides in the water.   So I don't think MgSulfate is dangerous AT LOW Doses.  If you start up at a low dose and then work up slowly I think you will be OK.   However Keep a close eye on your water hardness .  It the water is starting to get hard you are not cyclijng enough water or you are adding too much.  As with most things too much is not good while a little bit is.  You might want to look at your fertilizer bottles ingreadients list.  One might have Magniesium sulfate in it.  
 

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StevenF said:
What does EI sand for???
 
As to sulfate Seachem Fluorish has it but not a lot since plants don't need much of it.  However I did read reacently that sulfate may slow the growth of some mosses.  Magnesium and Calcium are needed by all plants and animals.  It is my understanding that most streams have naturally occuring sulfides in the water.   So I don't think MgSulfate is dangerous AT LOW Doses.  If you start up at a low dose and then work up slowly I think you will be OK.   However Keep a close eye on your water hardness .  It the water is starting to get hard you are not cyclijng enough water or you are adding too much.  As with most things too much is not good while a little bit is.  You might want to look at your fertilizer bottles ingreadients list.  One might have Magniesium sulfate in it.  
 
EI - Estimative Index 
 
Its a formula for 'overdosing' nutrients.  
 
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Ch4rlie

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StevenF said:
What does EI sand for???
 
You might want to look at your fertilizer bottles ingreadients list.  One might have Magniesium sulfate in it.  
 
Eagles has answered this, Estimative Index, basically its a mix of 'dry' minerals such as Potassium Nitrate, Potassium Phosphate and chelated trace for example, this is then is either made into a solution with distilled or RO water or as a dry mix and added to the tank on either a weekly or regular basis, usually added for tanks with high lights and CO2.
 
I do not have any bottles of fertiliser apart from Tropica Premium which a small amount is only added after a weekly 50% water change. So therefore I do not have any Magnesium Sulphate going into my tank at all at the moment.
 
 
Byron said:
You might recall the thread a few months back that sprang from the blue citation from Nathan Hill in my signature.  This came from an article in PFK in which he pointed out the detrimental effects to fish of diffused CO2.  One has to be careful, when adding any substance to a closed system with fish, as all of it will get inside the fish and can cause various problems, some unseen, depending.
 
This is something I am going to look out for, I do have a regular current subscription to PFK and I cannot actually recall this article but, for me, this is going to be a interesting read if i can find it amongst the PFK magazines I have filed.
 
Begining to wonder if its worth doing EI and co2 at all as it seems, from reading various sources, to be at the detriment of my stocking but benefitting the plants, incidently which, imho, is the wrong way round. The welfare of the stocking should come first, not the plants. Even though I have not had issues so far (touch wood).
 
I am trying to find the balance that does not harm the stocking but helps the plants which in turns helps the stocking....
 
But for now, thinking may dose MgS04 at a third of the recommended doses and see if anything happens from this, but even at this level I am a bit apprehensive.
 

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This is something I am going to look out for, I do have a regular current subscription to PFK and I cannot actually recall this article but, for me, this is going to be a interesting read if i can find it amongst the PFK magazines I have filed.
 
 
I get the newsletter, and it was in there, so here is the link:
http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/content.php?sid=6769
 
Begining to wonder if its worth doing EI and co2 at all as it seems, from reading various sources, to be at the detriment of my stocking but benefitting the plants, incidently which, imho, is the wrong way round. The welfare of the stocking should come first, not the plants. Even though I have not had issues so far (touch wood).
 
I am trying to find the balance that does not harm the stocking but helps the plants which in turns helps the stocking....
 
 
I have always had plants of some sort in my tanks, but my concern for the fish has kept me away from any form of CO2 supplementation.  Aside from the possible long-term issue with CO2 as set out in that article, I am much more concerned about the high level of light needed to balance, and then of course the daily (basically) dosing of mega nutrients.  The light is a serious issue for fish, and I do not want more light than the moderate level I have, so my plants have to balance that.  I find there is more than adequate CO2 occurring naturally in the tank from the breakdown of organics primarily, and I just find the duration for the light that will balance and not cause algae.  I have tanks of fish that happen to have plants, and I appreciate that the aquatic gardeners have a different approach, plants first and fish minimal or absent altogether.  My aim is to provide as natural an environment as I possibly can for the fish I select.  Which reminds me of another Nathan Hill citation from PFK...
Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. 
 
Byron.
 
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Ch4rlie

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Ah, much appreciated for the PFK link for Nathan Hill's article on the possible causes of high C02 levels.
 
Does make for rather depressing reading to be honest as this appears to be an unintended consenquence of trying C02.
 
Now am in a bit of a quandry as what to do now. Whether to carry on with my EI and C02 dosing regime which incidently I have not used for a while since my diffuser had to be replaced, I now have new C02 airline, bubble counter, drop checker and a new diffuser in eagerness to try this new set up but at the same time I do not want to have my little danios suffer becuase of selfish reasons to have a nice planted tank as well.
 
Is there such a thing as having a low co2 level dosing with moderate light and ei dosing as I may plan to do that instead in a small tank with perhaps just Amano shrimps but I fear they may be less tolerant of C02 than danios.
 

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If the aquarium in the photo at the bottom of your posts is the one with CO2, I would suggest that you shouldn't really need CO2.  The plants I can make out (can't enlarge the photo, but seems to be Vallisneria, floating something, a stem plant, and a sword) should do well with moderate lighting and no added CO2.
 
My 70g and 90g are below; the 90g isn't the best photo, it was one I hurriedly took for Neale Monks when we were working through the issue.  As I mentioned earlier, I have actually had to reduce the amount of fertilization.  I would benefit from some calcium/magnesium supplementation beyond the minimal amount in Flourish Comprehensive, but I quit the Equilibrium addition last summer because of the issue in the 90g, and I am not intending on re-starting; a few of the older leaves on the larger swords show signs of calcium deficiency, but I can live with that.  I have also begun to use the substrate tabs more often, and they have calcium and magnesium, and that may be one reason why I am not seeing significant signs of calcium deficiency like I did prior to the Equilibrium a couple years back.
 
Byron.
 

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Ch4rlie

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These tanks of yours are real nice, very much in keeping with what I would like personally.
 
This has turned out to be a bit of an intersting topic for me now despite my ignorance on MgS04.
 
The picture thats in my signature, the 25 gal long, that does not have c02, just ferts and some EI dry doses which surprisingly does work well without C02 and moderate lighting (T8's)  I tried without dosing for 3 week, the plants wilted a lot and seemed all the poorer without the EI.
 
And yes, there are vallisernias, anubias, cryptornes (several varieties), a bacopa type plant, elodea and the floating plants are water lettuce, all these plants are relatively low maintenance plants anyway.
 
Its mainly my other tank, the 20 gal long, even with very similar fert dosing as above and the difference in T5 light is not doing so hot, so that was the tank i was considering setting up my C02 up again.
 

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Ch4rlie said:
These tanks of yours are real nice, very much in keeping with what I would like personally.
 
This has turned out to be a bit of an intersting topic for me now despite my ignorance on MgS04.
 
The picture thats in my signature, the 25 gal long, that does not have c02, just ferts and some EI dry doses which surprisingly does work well without C02 and moderate lighting (T8's)  I tried without dosing for 3 week, the plants wilted a lot and seemed all the poorer without the EI.
 
And yes, there are vallisernias, anubias, cryptornes (several varieties), a bacopa type plant, elodea and the floating plants are water lettuce, all these plants are relatively low maintenance plants anyway.
 
Its mainly my other tank, the 20 gal long, even with very similar fert dosing as above and the difference in T5 light is not doing so hot, so that was the tank i was considering setting up my C02 up again.
 
There you are...your 25 long is your own example of what is achievable.  You will have issues in the 20 though, if you have T5 lighting; that is very intense.  It is all a question of balance...the light intensity and the nutrients have to be in balance for the plants (species and numbers).
 
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Ch4rlie

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Yes indeed, I am happy enough with the 25 gal long, and as for the 20 gal long hence why I was considering C02 for that tank with the T5 lighting.
 
And thats also the reason why was asking about MgS04, its for both tanks but really more for the 20 gal long.
 
I am still uncertain whether MgS04 is harmful to shrimps and inverts as well tbh but as mentioned in an earlier post, i am considering dosing a third of recommended doses, which in my mind is low enough as not to harm the amano shrimps and assassin snails which are in that particular tank.
 

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Have come across a EI site for dosing Ei and one of the ingredients is MgSO4, Magnesium Sulphate. Which I sort of belive to be similar to Epsom Salt, probably wrong, but want to be doubly sure before going any further.
As far as the plants are concerned they are mainly interested in the magnesium.  They don't care much for the sulfur.  In rivers you can find magnesium sulfate, magnesium nitrate, and magnesium carbonate.  magnesium carbonate and calcium carbonate are the least soluble in water.  Sulfates and nitrates are prefered for fertilizer because they are the most soluble.  The plants could care less if it is a carbonate, sulfate or nitrate.   
 
Instead of adding sulfate you could try carbonate instead.  Simply add a few sea shells to your aquarium   Sea shells are mainly magnesium and calcium carbonate.  When added to the aquarium magnesium and calcium levels  will quickly reach saturation and stay there.  if the plants use up the carbonate the shells will start to dissolve again.   Depending on your water harness it could take years for the shells to desolve away.  
 
I do this in my aquarium and my shrimp are doing fine and it has minimal effect on water harness.   So adding sea shells to an aquarium will never overfertilize the tank with magnesium or calcium and your shrimp and fish will never be harmed by it.  you don't have to worry about measuring it out once per week  because a few shells could last years.  You would only have to check them periodically and add more if needed.  Also an overdose is impossible to achieve. 
 
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