Hydrogen peroxide

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About Hydrogen Peroxide

Typical cost £0.80 UK

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a very pale blue liquid which appears colourless in a dilute solution, slightly more viscous than water. It is a weak acid. It has very strong oxidizing properties and is therefore a powerful bleaching agent that has found uses as a disinfectant.

Even though it is a powerful and highly toxic chemical it can have a use in the aquarium if used in low dosages and with great care.

When added to water it rapidly breaks down into water and oxygen.

The concentration this liquid is supplied by your chemist shop is usually around 2 to 9%. Though check with the instructions on your bottle. You'll need to know the concentration!


As an oxygen aid

You can purchase small white tablets which are a dilute solution of H2O2 and when the tablets dissolve they release oxygen to the water. This is intended to aid the transport of fish in bags of water.

Alternatively drip liquid H2O2 into the tank in very low concentrations. Typically 0.05 times your tank volume in litres assuming 3% solution. So a 60L tank would need 0.05 × 60L = 3ml per 12 hours.

Levels of H2O2 as an Oxygen aid per 12 hours
% solution× per litre× per US gallonexample 60 Litres (15.9 US G.) tankexample 250 Litres (66 US G.) tank
3%0.050.187 3ml 12.5ml
6%0.0250.0935 1.5ml 6ml
9%0.0160.062 1ml 4ml


As an algae killer

Concentrations of around 60ml of 3% H2O2 (30ml of 6%, 15ml of 9%) in a 250 Litres (66 US G.) tank directly applied (usually via a syringe) slowly over 5 minutes onto a clump of algae will kill it and then rapidly be diluted and converted into harmless oxygen and water. Observe the results and wait 48 hours before applying any more. Plants may be effected.

As an antibacterial agent

Dilute concentrations added to the tank water can kill all bacteria in the water, including the nitrifying bacteria. It will also kill all micro-organisms, good and bad.

But you have to balance this with stressing the animal by trying to catch it, removing it from the water and applying this chemical which may or may not cause the animal pain as it destroys bacteria and dead skin alike. A stressed animal can't heal itself. Plus how do you judge the amount of time to keep the animal out of water to ensure the chemical does it's work on the skin or fin, and determine the percentage of H2O2 to use?

As an oxidising agent on organic mulm

Dilute concentrations of H2O2 applied to a tank can breakdown buildup of mulm. See Oxygen aid.

As a safe alternative to using bleach

H2O2 in high levels (1 part H2O2 to 4 parts water) will perform the same job as bleach for cleaning equipment and empty aquariums. Unlike bleach it does not stick to surfaces and only breaks down into water and oxygen.

To achieve 15 mg/l you want to add 1500 mg of H2O2 which will require the addition of 49.28 ml of 3% H2O2.

References

  1. The Tropical Fishlopaedia book by Mary Bailey and Peter Burgess (on page 314) say 1-2ml of 3% solution per 10 Litres (2.6 US G.) (5-10ml per 37.9 Litres (10 US G.)) can be used as a oxygen aid. (ISBN 1-86054-102-X)
  2. Barley Straw - Algae Control Literature Analysis


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