Potassium permanganate in plant sanitizers...

SludgeMunkey

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Aquatronics no longer sells OTC to consumers.

This means that their excellent live plant sanitizing product, Lime-it is no longer available.
It was absolutely incredible for getting rid of ride alongs, like hydra, snails, snail eggs, and the like, without damaging your plants. That and it was definitely caudate friendly.


My own gallon jug of it is finally empty. I was browsing around the web looking of a replacement product of similar composition, however, I have not found any lime based ones available.


Seems other manufacturers are using Potassium permanganate solutions.

Is this caudate friendly? I am having trouble finding definitive information on this.



I have read that a solution of water and alum (10 teaspoons to a gallon) also works well. I suspect it is an attempt at the whole "alkalinity" bit that makes the lime work so well. Anyone tried this? Is alum caudate friendly?

I am off to the DIY store to buy some lime and make my own sanitizer, but often here on the forums folks ask about plant cleaning and quarantine and I would like to be able to suggest a readily available OTC product to them. I do not feel comfortable suggesting folk mess around with dangerous stuff like quicklime...
 

Irvin Loblolly

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I am interested in the outcome of this as well. Having planted tanks I have never heard of this to get rid of snail eggs and sanitize plants. Please keep us posted onthe outcome of this.
 

SludgeMunkey

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I am going to experiment with the alum method today- just waiting for the momNpop pet shop with their snail and hydra infested plant tank to open. I have a real shortage of non-food item invertebrates in my critter room.:rolleyes:

The quicklime method is very, very easy to do, however, DO NOT mess with this stuff unless you know what you are doing. Quicklime is dangerous stuff that can result in serious alkali burns, defatting and horrible scarring when used improperly. Also it reacts with water initially, so this makes it all the more dangerous. Even with proper PPE and so on, this stuff is nasty. I do not reccomend anyone without proper HAZMAT training to mess with it.

I do not even feel comfortable giving out directions to make the plant sanitizing solution, so I will not post it on the public forum here.

Alum, on the other hand, supposedly works very well, and is not dangerous to humans. It is actually used in making pickles and can be purchased at any grocer in the spices/canning section.

As for the potassium permanganate, I can not find any definitive data on any harmful effects to caudates. I can find plenty of veterinary texts on its use in treatment of infections, however, it is definitely toxic to amphibians in general in high doses. I have also found that every single OTC plant sanitizer in the U.S. contains this as the active ingredient, except the defunct Lime-it.

If anyone can suggest a p.p. free product I would be forever greatful!

I am hoping a couple of the vets and chemists we have floating about can throw their two cents worth in on this topic.
 

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In general I would recommend sanitizing in a way that doesn't contaminate your amphibians, period. Potassium permanganate, KMnO4, is a very strong oxidizer and reacts readily with most organic compounds, such as your snails and other hitchhikers. KMnO4 is pretty easy to neutralize or rinse away and you know it's there because it tends to be bright pink/purple if in any sort of concentrated solution. It doesn't have a long shelf life in solution and it dyes pretty much anything a disgusting brown, so be forewarned.

I personally prefer to use something like KMnO4 because then I know exactly what I am putting on my plants. Commercial pet products can often be a mystery. This webpage had some good tips for disinfecting plants.
 

SludgeMunkey

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The staining issue is what led me to the Lime-it back when I first got into live plants. i tested out the alum method, it definitely wipes out snails. Hydra have bunched up, but appear to be still alive, planaria were unaffected. I'll wait a few more weeks to see how it affected snail eggs if at all.
 

SludgeMunkey

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The experiment is complete.

Upon further research, I suggest avoiding over the counter plant sanitizers containing potassium permanganate for use in caudate tanks. (I did not use this in the experiment) I had trouble finding and accessing any pertinent data on this chemical's effects on caudates.


I tested alum versus a lime based solution.

I concocted two solutions, one of alum and one of quicklime, utilizing bottled spring water. Each substance was added in to the heated water to form a super saturated solution. Once cooled, each supersaturated solution had additional spring water mixed in until the target pH of 10 was achieved.

Next, I tested each solution on cabomba sp., elodea sp., java moss, and anubis sp. plants from the snail, hydra and copepod infested plant tanks at the local mom and pop pet shop. Each plant samples was seperated into three separate samples. Control samples were rinsed with spring water. One sample of each plant was treated in the alum solution for fifteen minutes. The remaining sample was treated with the lime solution for the same amount of time. Each sample was segregated in its own jar.

After 15 minutes, each plant was thoroughly rinsed with untreated tap water, then placed in new, clean jars (Thank you spaghetti sauce companies) and properly cycled tank water was added from a known pest free tank.

Results: (forgive the crude chart)

Control samples Alum Solution Lime Solution

1 day X O O

3.5 days X O O

1 week X S,P P


X= All pests present
O= No pests Present
S= Snails
H= Hydra
C= Copepods
P= Planaria*


Conclusions

* The planaria were most likely introduced AFTER sanitization was done, as upon further investigation, the tank water source did contain an active colony. I made the mistake of sampling the water whit the aquarium lighting off, resulting in free swimming planarians contaminating the sample.

The Quicklime solution was effective at removing all pests from the plants.
The alum had no effect on snail eggs.
The controls responded as expected.

No adverse effects were noted on the plants.
 
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Lugubris

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Potassium permanganate is bad news for anything living. It can be used safely but you must make sure there is none left behind. Like bleach it is a strong oxidizer, which makes me think Sodium hypochlorite (the chemical in bleach) may be a better alternative since you can use water conditioner to neutralize it. Here is a good article describing the effects and use of potassium permanganate.

To provide an example of its oxidative power, I have actually used potassium permanganate in home chemical reactions, mixing it with glycerine will actually cause it to spontaneously combust!
 
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