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Aquarium Salt Creep

Dealing With A Corrosive Substance

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Aquarium Salt Creep

A Nasty Case of Aquarium Salt Creep Build Up

Photo by Debbie Hauter
What Is Aquarium Salt Creep?

Salt creep occurs when the water in an aquarium that contains salt splashes out of the tank, gets things wet, and after the fresh portion of the water evaporates, all that is left behind are salt crystals.

What Are The Effects of Salt Creep?

Salt is a corrosive substance, and therefore it can affect anything it touches. What degree of damage occurs primarily depends on how long an item is exposed to sodium chloride, and based on what type of material it comes in contact with, its effects are seen in varies ways.

  • Glass, acrylic and plastic becomes "etched". Where the saltwater settles and dries, residual white water spots develop, and glass in particular takes on a foggy appearance.
  • Electrical items corrode, especially metal parts of light fituxes, equipment power plugs and the outlets they are connected into.
  • Unprotected bulbs become encrusted with a layer of salt, which blocks light from getting into the aquarium.
  • Protective glass and acrylic light covers or canopies become encrusted, as well as etched, resulting in a reduction of light into the aquarium.
  • Wood, cement, plaster board or drywall, drapes or curtains, carpet and flooring materials slowly erode away, and paint peels off.

How To Deal With Salt Creep

The longer salt is allowed to sit and build up, the more damaging it can be. To lessen and slow down the effects of salt creep, the best way to deal with it is to regularly keep it cleaned up, and take steps to prevent unnecessary damage to anything near the aquarium. Here's how:

  • Keep the tank, hood, stand, light fixture and other such items clean by wiping them down with a cotton rag or wash cloth rinsed in freshwater. For unsightly white water spots that can develop on plastic items that are outside of the aquarium, a touch of vinegar applied to the cloth may help to reduce their appearance.
  • Remove and rinse off pieces of equipment that can be cleaned in freshwater.
  • Position electrical equipment out of range of splash zones.
  • Unplug and wipe down electrical equipment power cords, plugs, and outlets.
  • Protect nearby walls by attaching a sheet of clear acrylic to act as a splash board.
  • Place towels on the floor around the bottom of the aquarium during maintenance procedures.
  • Keep the water level up to or just above the tank's trim line to help reduce etching of the aquarium material.
  • Avoid using bubble wands or air stones, as these only contribute to an increase of salt creep problems.
  • Direct the flow of outlets that return water to the aquarium, as well as equipment that is used to move water inside the aquarium in a way that reduces excess splashing.

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