Hypo Salinity

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Articles and How To's' started by Da_Gopherboy, Apr 27, 2009.

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  1. Da_Gopherboy

    Da_Gopherboy Fire Shrimp

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    VERY IMPORTANT: Corals, feather dusters, and all types of invertebrates WILL be killed rather quickly if kept in this type of environment. As such this to be used to treat fish in a quarantine tank only!
    ICH! That single parasite can wreck havoc on our display tanks, and is probably one of the most common problems that we as hobbyists’ have to deal with. This hobby supports hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of product each year trying to destroy this single parasite. On top of that, we have black ich, marine velvet, brooklynella, uronema marinum, myxobolus, etc. (and these are just some of the parasites! This does not include the laundry list of bacterial and fungal problems fish can develop)<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    So how can we protect our pets from this insidious parasite and many others that we can get from our local live fish store? Hypo-Salinity! Have you ever heard the old saying, a prevention is better than cure? By using this natural method we are able to kill many parasites (including the dreaded cryptocaryon irritans). So what exactly is hypo-salinity? How does it work? Why should I use it? Let’s take a quick peek:<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Hypo means "lower than normal” and salinity "a concentration (as in a solution) of salt"<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    By lowering the salinity of the water we are doing several things. First and foremost, we are reducing stress on our fish. Marine fish like every animal have a certain amount of freshwater within their bodies. That being the case, organs in their bodies will filter the excess salt from their bodies to keep the natural freshwater balance within their bodies intact. Now doing this requires energy, by reducing the amount of salt our fish have to filter they have that much more energy to divert to something else.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    This reduction of salinity also lowers the osmotic pressure in the water. This drop in osmotic pressure is actually will kill the parasites! While fish are able to tolerate this drop, parasites and other nasty’s are not. For a more scientific description of Osmotic Pressure (I’m stupid, don’t ask me questions with big words), see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmotic_Pressure. One of the reasons I appreciate the Wikipedia entry on this, it if you look at the diagram you can see what happens to parasites that float in the water (under hypotonic). <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Ok, all of the above reading is interesting and fine, but how can I actually use this information to benefit me? Good question, there are so many ways you can use this information to your benefit. By taking your salinity from ~1.024 to about 1.010 in a quarantine tank over the period of a few days, you are able to reduce stress on your fish and begin treatment of whatever ails them. By keeping your fish in this environment for a period of six weeks, you can break the life cycle of certain parasites. By keeping them inside a quarantine tank, the bugs inside your display tank have nothing to feed on and thus die. Between the attack on the bugs in the quarantine tank, and the starvation of the bugs in the display tank you are thus eliminating them permanently. The only way to get these parasites in your tank again is to reintroduce them via new arrivals.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Also by having your fish in hypo salinity, any treatment of fungus, bacteria, or wounds will be more effective. This is due to the fact that any medication applied to the quarantine tank during this period, will have the benefit of fish with more energy devoted to healing rather than keeping internal osmotic pressure.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    After the quarantine period of six weeks, you can begin to bring your salinity levels back up. Over the period of the next few days slowly raise your salinity back to ~1.024. I have found it effective to drain roughly one fourth of the quarantine tank volume, and replace it with water at normal salinity. Over the period of four days then, your salinity is back to ~1.024 and you can then re-acclimate your fish to your display tank water, and re-introduce them. That’s it, like a lot of things it’s easy, it just takes time.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    So as a brief recap:<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Pros<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    1. Any treatments done to your fish are more effective due to the lack of stress.<o:p></o:p>
    2. Kills the ich parasites when they are in their free floating stage. <o:p></o:p>
    3. Kills off any parasites that may be living in your DT due to the fact there is no food <o:p></o:p>
    for them to eat while your fish are in a QT. <o:p></o:p>
    4. Its practically free as all you need to do is supply the saltwater.<o:p></o:p>
    5. Once the parasites are killed over the period of six weeks, the parasite must be reintroduced for outbreaks to happen (i.e. once this treatment is done, parasites are gone period)<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Cons<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    1. Means your fish aren't in your DT for a period of about six weeks<o:p></o:p>
    2. Needs more time to monitor the Water Quality in the Quarantine Tank than a Display<o:p></o:p>
    3. Kill inverts and corals, and certain animals off live rock (so if you use this method for LR<o:p></o:p>
    feather dusters and such that you wanted will die)<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Now this is pretty much just a primer for the method and information on hypo salinity treatment. Additional information will be added as time become available.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Hope you enjoyed the reading,<o:p></o:p>
    -Gavin<o:p></o:p>
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 29, 2009
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  3. steve wright

    steve wright Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Gavin, thats a great post !

    interesting article, I have tried and failed to save fish using this method but admittedly I used this method in the DT - had I a seperate Quarantine tank - I would have used Cuprazin in that,( hands down the method that has given me the best success ratio when treating fish with parasites) rather than lower the SG in that.

    so I did try and hypo the DT (Trelane dont make me famous , please)
    for me, the biggest disadvantage was the requirement to lower no more than 0.01 SG per day - with my reef kept at 1.026 it would take to many days to get down to the desired level
    (In those days the 90s the target was 1.018 I know these days its even lower )and fish died while they waited for me to do somethingto sort problem out

    Im sure this method has worked for many people
    its just not a method that I have anything but sad memories of - if I had stripped my reef, isolated my fish, in early stages of parasite infection and treated with copper based meds - I feel sure, I would have saved more fish than I lost

    Steve
     
  4. Da_Gopherboy

    Da_Gopherboy Fire Shrimp

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    I appreciate your input! I've heard it go both ways for people. Some say it doesn't work as well as they'd like. Others swear by it. However the fact (proven by science) that it will reduce fish stress, and kill the most common parasite we face makes it a win win. And the best part in my humble opinion is that, you can aggressively treat your fish with whatever type of meds you need! Thus reaping the benefits of hypo and any meds you may choose to use!

    As far as dropping the Salinity Down... I make it happen in about four days. 1/4 water change with the hypo level water (in a 10 gallon QT though) a day, but thats just my personal experiece. And in all honestly the most of the time I've had to do this is when a friend will call me with a fish thats been wicked sick for a week before I get there. So I'm sure its better and easier to treat at a slower decline in salinity. But when your in a pinch, gotta do whatcha gotta do!

    -Gavin
     
  5. steve wright

    steve wright Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Gavin, thanks for this

    In your opinion if you are considering this method in a seperate tank (as I do think my negative experience may have resulted from using this method in isloation in the DT) what rate per day is it possible with safety for the fish in question to lower the SG?

    Steve
     
  6. Fish76

    Fish76 Fire Worm

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    Great write-up. I have found this an excellent way to rid ich. I've tried Copper (Cupramine) and found that the fishes seem more stressed out (appetite, swimming behavior, etc.).


    I've done a lot of reading up on this subject and from what I've read, salinity can be lowered over a 36-48hr period depending on type of fish. The critical part in which you should do it slowly is when you bring salinity back up. From my readings, a minimum period of 6 days should be used.
     
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  7. Dr.Fragenstein

    Dr.Fragenstein Panda Puffer

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    Good article Gopherboy but there is a few things I would like to clarify....

    2. Kills the ich parasites when they are in their free floating stage.
    This would be true IF you took the salinity down to near freshwater levels.... Most of the hyposalinity info dates back to the '60s and is mostly wive's tales... Yes the lower salinity will help with osmotic stress esp during transport, taking SG down to say 1.017 or so is NOT nearly low enough to kill most parasites. You would need to go to say 1.010(S.Pro 2003) or lower which will cause more ILL effects to the fish than anything.
    That is just ick, if we are talking about amyloodinium ocellatum or velvet that would not even come close working as it can handle just about straight freshwater or a salinity as low as 3ppt.

    3. Kills off any parasites that may be living in your DT due to the fact there is no food
    for them to eat while your fish are in a QT.

    This again is a misconception as it has recently been proven that ick WILL go dormant with the lack of fish/fish pheremones in the tank(Delbeek). So you take all your fish out, only to have the ick go dormant and reinfect your fish later.... Sounds like a bummer to me. The only way for that to work is if you had a tank free of fish but still had the pheremones in the water to trick the ick into staying "awake". This would entail adding water from a tank with fish in it into the fishless tank, EVERYDAY until the entire ick life cycle is broken.
    Also with velvet again, you have another hurdle to overcome.... velvet will live off light so essentially you would need to have the tank in ENTIRE darkness for this to work, and if you have corals you can say bye to them now....

    5. Once the parasites are killed over the period of six weeks, the parasite must be reintroduced for outbreaks to happen (i.e. once this treatment is done, parasites are gone period) Also like stated this COULD happen but with hyposalinity most likely not. Your options for total erradictation would be either copper, formalin, or a combination of both. Acriflavine has been shown to be effective against velvet but not nearly as effective against ick...

    So while hyposalinity can be a good route WHILE treating a QT with another medictation, it is by no means a cure all or complete fix.

    Happy reefing!
     
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  9. ychachad

    ychachad Plankton

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    I have read that it is most critical NOT to treat fish with copper in a hypo-salinity situation, as this condition is LETHAL to fish. Copper may be used with pure fresh water in a FOWLR DT without fish, while the fish are out in a QT.
    The following is the most informative post I have found on the subject, posted by Lee Birch.
    http://www.reefland.com/forum/marin...e-treatment/20321-marine-ich-myths-facts.html

    I have truly believed that cleaner shrimp, cleaner fish and garlic will NOT eradicate marine ICH from any tank or any fish.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2009
  10. UltimateWarrior

    UltimateWarrior Spaghetti Worm

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    What if you have a fish that will be more stressed about being in a small tank? Like a tang, or another fish that requires lots of swimming space.
    Will this help reduce the stress of being in a small environment and allow for a "more aggressive" treatment?
     
  11. ychachad

    ychachad Plankton

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    The QT still needs to be large enough to accomodate the well being of the fish you are going to keep in there as they will be there from 4 to 6 weeks. We are not talking about a couple of hours or days of discomfort, but several weeks of housing.

    So the QT cannot be a 10 gallon for a tang. Obviously, nobody has just one fish in their tank, so the QT must be large enough to accommodate all the fish.

     
  12. GreyGhost

    GreyGhost Purple Spiny Lobster

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    So the answer in my opinion would be to have a 30 gallon tank already set up at 1.015 and just drip acclimate the fish for a few hour's from the 1.026 D.T. to the Q.T. 1.015 and leave it there for a few week's. Is this what your trying to get across? Sound's rather simple. Seem's people try to make reef and saltwater fish such a science. But as alway's Dr Frag is right bout it going dormant and waiting for a host, same with Velvet, which seem's to be a faster killer. So the answer is what? Keeping in mind the water temperature play's a big role in this since ICH and Velvet are cold water parasites.
    Ghost