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Using Hydrogen Peroxide in Aquariums

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Using Hydrogen Peroxide in Aquariums

Post by Rodda Prime on Fri Sep 04, 2015 3:23 pm

Prior this summer, my 5 gallon shrimp tank experienced a bacteria bloom that made my Rili shrimp turn a milky opaque and then die one by one.
I was very upset by this, I love my Rilis, I had gotten them by mistake when i ordered from shrimp fever, as some had been hiding among the cherry shrimp. I loved them in my tank.

After searching online i found that hydrogen peroxide would help prevent further blooms by killing bacteria in the water column, but unfortunately those shrimp t hat had already turned colour were doomed.
Online there's some disparity on the effects of hydrogen peroxide in the tank, so i switched from reading forum posts to reading scientific articles on the subject, needless to say its tedious reading. something that i found is that a lot of people were warning against the use of hydrogen peroxide in the tank but i found that advice to be misleading. Some posts stated that peroxide was poisonous and that water changes were needed after use. This is only half right, from what i had read, using solutions higher than 3% are indeed infringing on the territory of poisonous, so i only used 3%. The reason for this is because if you use say 3% vs 35% out of the bottle of solution your holding, 3% is peroxide and 97% is water vice versa for the other bottle 35% is peroxide and 65% is water. Why does this matter?

Hydrogen Peroxide, when it comes in contact with water, the breakdown is almost instantaneous at a molecular level. At 3% strength of a solution, it takes about 2-3 hours for it to totally dissipate from a 5 gallon tank at 10ml dose.
Now if i used a 35% solution it would take much longer, perhaps almost 5 -8 hours to break down if I used the same dose for the same tank.
Most of the studies using hydrogen peroxide, used large quantities in the gallons at 70 to 90% concentration, which are unavailable to the public. The most you could get is about 40-35% strength solution.

I'm talking about this because in the shrimp keeping business, oxygenators are huge. They improve the health of the tank and the health of the shrimp, but as i dug deeper it turned out the oxygenators were just using hydrogen peroxide at a 35% strength solution and slowly dissipating it into the tank.
The great thing about hydrogen peroxide is that not only does it kill bacteria in the water column but once it breaks down into water and oxygen, it makes the tank healthier.

My shrimp looks great , with shiny shells and good colours. I'm very proud of them. I even started to dose my Endler tank , at 1ml per gallon. I'm not seeing a huge result like my shrimp tank, but i haven't had to scrub the tank for algae or gotten a sick fish yet, so it's looking up.

Some notes about my peroxide use:
The first time I used H2O2 ( at 1ml/per gallon, 3% solution) I noticed that after an hour the water was very slightly "fizzy", streams of air were coming from the gravel and my shrimp seemed lively. After 2 weeks straight of dosing, my rili got better and the tank was stable
at 2ml/ per gallon the tank seemed cooler, the presence of oxygen seemed to bringing the temperature down and my dwarf Anubis started to pearl
at 4/ml per gallon not only did my Anubis pearl, but so did my Java moss, and my water sprite AND the whiskers of my shrimp, that was hilarious. The shrimp didn't seem to care about the pearl mustache. The tank seemed okay
I did not dose higher as it might affect the time the hydrogen peroxide is in the water before breaking down
In my 10 gallon endler tank, my endlers seemed to be indifferent to the H2O2, but that was before I bought a light for the tank, once the light was in place and i had cleaned the filter, which increased water agitation, the Endlers activity went through the roof as the H2O2 broke down more quickly and the oxygen levels went straight up.
I didn't dose higher than 2ml per gallon for my endler tank, as i was afraid that the unbroken down H2O2 would irritate their scales
I'm unsure how the H2O2 effected my CPO, its behavior didn't change during the dosing.
A note that H2O2 does kill snails! Direct contact with it makes them contract into their shells and prolonged exposure does lead to fizzy snail doom.
Thats been my documentation on using H2O2, i think that even though my endler tank is so majorly crowded, using H2O2 has helped keep them healthy , that and 2x weekly 50% water changes

Mentions that. I do not change the water after dosing H2O2, it breaks down into water and oxygen so unless you are using a large amount at 35%+ concentration, there's no need, unless you are dosing a very small tank with little water agitation.
I'd like to encourage the use of Hydrogen peroxide in aquariums! not for ,perhaps, delicate fish , but maybe for hardier species or holding tanks or hospital tanks. The addition of killing bacteria and algae while adding pure water and oxygen to the tank is really beneficial for them.
Using a 3% solution of course, which can be found at most dollar stores and grocery stores. One 946ml bottle lasts me a month almost. Higher dosages risk harming our aquatic friends!

Hope you enjoyed this!
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Re: Using Hydrogen Peroxide in Aquariums

Post by GaryE on Fri Sep 04, 2015 3:51 pm

Great article!

Peroxide's effects on beneficial bacteria are not easy to find - I would expect it to be deadly. So it most likely will mess up the cycle.

Years ago, I was told by a Russian Discus breeder that in his large bare tanks, he followed a standard procedure with fry of using lots of peroxide and water changes. He didn't filter much, and counted on massive water changing.

I've used it around killie eggs, once spilling it by mistake and getting a phenomenal hatch. The fry grew into great adults.

I've killed snails with it, as well as Hydra. Sometimes, if Hydra start to become established, I'll give the clusters shots with a pipette. It kills them in half an hour or so - 3% solution, direct hits.

For snails, it is a rapid killer. Some always survive, but it drives populations down fast.

So the issue, to me, is the filtration bacteria. I have always avoided using it in tanks with adult or juvenile fish, because of the uncertain effects on the beneficial bacteria in the filtration I use in every tank.
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Re: Using Hydrogen Peroxide in Aquariums

Post by francois on Sat Sep 05, 2015 7:25 am

Interesting observation.
2(H2O2) will give 2(H2O) and 1(O2) it is a kind of default decay in almost pure water.
Before doing that it will free 2(O) which are called reactive oxygen. Those are very reactive and could react with many things. When it reacts with some dirt or other organic material it does not produce O2 but mess up the molecular structure of what it reacts with (algae, bacteria, organic waste...).
I believe it will be difficult to draw any conclusion from one observation in a so complex environment such as a mature tank could be. I may be biased as I never really liked chimistry courses...  Mad
It is neithertheless a cool observation.

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Re: Using Hydrogen Peroxide in Aquariums

Post by Sbenson11 on Sun Sep 06, 2015 9:47 am

Interesting article,

I actually keep a bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide in my fish medicine cabinet, but for a different reason. One of my go to products for Parasites on Koi Is Potassium Permanganate. It is a very dangerous product and has to be measured precisely to dose correctly. It has to be weigh and accurate to the .1 of a gram. Even then you have a to carefully monitor the pond to insure the fish are not in trouble. I have an ORP meter that tells me how the PP is doing during the treatment. If I find the level is too high it has to be neutralized to stop the reaction. It is neutralized with you guess it Hydrogen Peroxide.

Steve
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Re: Using Hydrogen Peroxide in Aquariums

Post by alexmtl on Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:33 am

@francois wrote:Interesting observation.
2(H2O2) will give 2(H2O) and 1(O2) it is a kind of default decay in almost pure water.
Before doing that it will free 2(O) which are called reactive oxygen. Those are very reactive and could react with many things. When it reacts with some dirt or other organic material it does not produce O2 but mess up the molecular structure of what it reacts with (algae, bacteria, organic waste...).
I believe it will be difficult to draw any conclusion from one observation in a so complex environment such as a mature tank could be. I may be biased as I never really liked chimistry courses...  Mad
It is neithertheless a cool observation.

I tend to agree with Francois. I have never used hydrogen peroxide, but I know that it is a strong oxidizer used for many purposes like bleaching and sanitizing. While it is a source of extra oxygen, the chemical reaction required to liberate the "oxide" will liberate heat as well. As Steve Benson mentioned metal solutions will catalyse the reaction (ie quicken the dissociation). Strong reaction will occur when combined with oxidizing agents such as permangenates, chlorates, and nitrates. (Source : http://nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/1015.pdf). The solution must be maintained at a lower pH (optimum is 3.5 to 4.5) , so there is a possibility of pH shift when using regularly.

In an aquarium setting, this is an uncontrolled reaction as you cannot predict the effect. The commonly available 3% is an aqueous solution requires stabilizers, so depending upon the brand that you buy, you are introducing stabilizing excipients such as sodium silicate, magnesium sulphate or phenactin. These ingredients are also known mutagenics (cause genetic changes).

In my opinion the 3% is relatively mild and innocuous. It is used to treat sores, cuts and even as tooth whitener and mouthwash, so it is safe for human use. However abuse is noted and higher concentrations should be avoided. ( Source : http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/hydrogen_peroxide#section=Human-Toxicity-Excerpts )

For fair balance I am attaching what is known as an MSDS, which is a full disclosure of properties ( http://wcam.engr.wisc.edu/Public/Safety/MSDS/Hydrogen%20peroxide%20.pdf )

In summary, use of a 3% hydrogen peroxide in an aquarium system has benefits. One should discern what purpose is intended for use, as there may be better ways to achieve the result.



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