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Alum Dip For Aquarium Plants | Ultimate Guide To Get Rid Of Snails |

My aquarium faced constant snail attacks over the past few years and I had no idea what to do. Most importantly It troubled me so much and those unwelcomed guests destroy my aquarium’s beauty. But after extensive research and countless interviews with aquarium owners, I found a concert solution for my problem. That is “alum dip”. But do you know how to use alum dip for aquarium plants?

Alum dip is a widely used chemical treatment to kill microscopic bugs and snails. Many aquarists use alum dip for aquarium plants. It is a white color odorless compound. In this article, I will share my hands-on experience of Alum dip for aquarium plants to eliminate snails, slugs and their eggs. Keep reading further. 

What Is Alum Dip?

Alum Dip For Aquarium Plants Ultimate Guide To Get Rid Of Snails

Alum dip is a common method that is used to remove bugs and snails from aquatic plants. Moreover, Aluminum Sulfate or Alum use in different industries for different purposes such as,

  • Paper industry
  • leather industry
  • Ornamental fish industry
  • Water purification
  • Sewage treatments 
  • Clearing clay turbidity of ponds
  • Aquarium industry

Although Alum dip is a good way to remove snails, it is not very effective for removing snails’ eggs. However, Aluminum sulfate is available in most grocery shops, spices shops and pharmacies. 

How To Use Alum Dip For Aquarium Plants

Dipping live plants in Strong Alum solution.

Follow the below steps

  1. First, you should take a basket that is enough to dip your plants (2, 3 gallons Volume)
  2. Then, add the measured volume of warm water
  3. After that, add 1-3 tablespoons of alum per gallon of warm water
  4. Mix Alum in warm water 
  5. Soon after, Dip aquatic plants in that prepared solution 
  6. Allow plants to soak in water for at least 2-3 hours 
  7. Lastly, take plants from the solution and rinse them in dechlorinated freshwater

Dipping live plants in mild Alum solution 

The high concentration of alum can melt sensitive aquatic plants. Thus, you can follow this method to remove snails from sensitive live plants such as copper grass pilea and Cryptocoryne spiralis. Further, you can use this mild alum treatment for other live plants too. Follow these steps.

  1. First, take a basket that is enough to dip your plants (2, 3 gallons Volume)
  2. Then, add a measured volume of warm water 
  3. After that add one tablespoon of alum per gallon of warm water
  4. Mix Alum in warm water properly  
  5. Slowly, dip live aquatic plants in the prepared solution 
  6. Then, allow plants to soak in water for three days (3, 4 hours for sensitive plants.)
  7. Take plants from the solution and rinse them in dechlorinated freshwater

Note: If you treat sensitive live plants with alum, you should dip them for 3, or 4 hours to avoid plant melting. Some plants like Cryptocoryne spiralis, can melt after Alum dip. But these plants can recover after they are introduced to the aquarium.

Important tips:

  • It is better to place your plants in a quarantine tank for 30 days before introducing them into the main tank.
  • Warm water means water with 35-38 oC. Do not use boiling or too hot water because live plants may die if they cannot tolerate the high temperature.

How Long Should We use alum Dip for aquarium Plants?

Alum Dip For Aquarium Plants

The aquatic plants’ dip time depends on the Alum concentration and plant sensitivity. You can prepare a mild alum solution or strong Alum solution according to the above factors. The mild solution is good for the susceptible aquatic plants, and you can try a strong solution for the rest of the plants. 

Mild Alum solution preparation: add one tablespoon of alum per gallon of water

Strong Alum solution preparation: add three tablespoons of alum per gallon of water

If you use a mild solution, you need to keep plants for at least 2, or 3 days to kill snails and their eggs. If you use a strong solution, snails and their eggs may die within 2, or 3 hours. Thus, alum’s strong solution is a better choice to eliminate snails and eggs immediately.

How Alum Dip Works

Alum or Aluminium Sulfate is toxic to microscopic bugs, snails, slugs and their eggs. Further, it does not have an adverse effect on live aquatic plants. Thus, alum can effectively remove those unnecessary organisms from the plant. High concentration with short time dip or mild concentration with long time dip is a commonly used method. You can decide a suitable method according to your plant sensitivity. 

But some snails’ eggs can remain in the plants after the Alum dip treatments. Therefore it is recommended to place plants for 30 days in a separate container to prevent the entering of nuisance snails into your main aquarium. The most common nuisance snails are,

  • Pond snail
  • Trumpet snail 
  • Ram horn snail

Trumpet snails are a bit resistant to Alum treatment. Thus, if your plants cover with Trumpet snails, I recommend doing a strong alum dip treatment. When you dip live plants in alum solution, that may penetrate the snails’ bodies by their respiratory holes. Then snails’ respiratory function does not work correctly, and they tend to die.

Is Alum Effective To Remove Mollusks And Its Eggs?

snail on aquarium plant

The mollusks are found in the aquatic environment and also the land environment. They have soft bodies, and some species have a shell that covers their soft bodies. Slug and snails come under the Mollusks. Generally, some snails disturb people’s primary purposes, such as “Gardening” and “Aquascaping.” Thus, people searching for a method to prevent them.  Alum is the one solution that can speedily remove mollusks from the plants’ surfaces. Aluminum sulfate or alum effectively kills and controls the mollusk population. If the alum contacts the body tissues or shells of mollusks, it permeates the body.

Snails’ respiratory holes are situated on the upper part of their body, and alum penetrates from those holes. It causes the sudden death of snails and slugs.  Moreover, it does not have a very toxic effect on humans. Therefore, you can use alum to kill both aquatic mollusks and also land mollusks.  It is also used as a pesticide.

Is It Effective To Remove Microscopic Bugs?

Yes, alum is an effective chemical that can be used to remove microscopic bugs from live plants. Because manual removal of tiny bugs is not easy, you should go for the safe chemical option to clean your plant. Besides the alum, you can use the following method to prevent microscopic bugs from live aquarium plants.

  • Saltwater dipping method
  • Dip plants in the bleach solution

Bleach is a good alternative for Alum treatment. But when you use bleach, you should take safety precautions. You should wear gloves, and goggles to cover your hands and eyes. This chemical is more effective at killing snail eggs.

Does Alum Dip Harmful For Fish?

Harmful to fish

Never add alum directly to the aquarium. It will be toxic to the fish. Further, alum can;

  • Change the pH level of tank water
  • Kill valuable and beneficial invertebrates
  • Change water chemistry and dissolved oxygen level

It would be best if you separated the plants from the aquarium that covers snails and their eggs. Then you can apply alum treatment for them. 

Read Next : How To Clean Aquarium Plants With Hydrogen Peroxide?

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.