08-27-2010, 12:17 PM
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I agree with what's been said so far. Below I will copy the issue concerning salt so you know why this is not recommended by ichthyologists or responsible aquarists.
Before that, some comments on your fish list. Mixing livebearers and soft water fish is not recommended. Livebearers (mollies, swordtails, platy, guppies) require mineral in their water and thus basic water (pH above 7) that has some degree of hardness. Soft waterfish are the opposite; soft water and slightly acidic (pH below 7). Some of the latter fish can adapt to slightly basic water. This information is included in our fish profiles [second tab from the left in the blue bar at the top, or click on shaded names in posts].
Second, loaches need to be in groups, at least 5-6. As explained in our profiles, they interact a great deal and without companions of the same species will be stressed, leading to health issues.
Here's the info on salt:
Salt is detrimental to freshwater fish and plants in varying degrees. To understand why, we must understand what salt does in water.
Salt makes the water more dense than the same water without salt. The aquarium contains water. The bodies of fish and plant leaves also contain water [just as we do--we are, what is it, 90-some percent water?]. The water in the aquarium and the water in the fish/plant are separated by a semi-permeable layer which is the cell. Water can pass through this cell. When either body of water is more dense, the other less-dense body of water will pass through the membrane to equalize the water on both sides.
Water is constantly passing through the cells of fish by osmosis in an attempt to equate the water inside the fish (which is more dense) with the water in the aquarium. Put another way, the aquarium water is diluting the fish's body water until they are equal. Freshwater fish regularly excrete this water through respiration and urination. This is the issue behind pH differences as well as salt and other substances. It increases the fish's work--the kidney is used in the case of salt--which also increases the fish's stress in order to maintain their internal stability. Also, the fish tends to produce more mucus especially in the gills; the reason now seems to be due to the irritant property of salt--the fish is trying to get away from it.
I have an interesting measurement for fish. Dr. Stanley Weitzman, who is Emeritus Research Scientist at the Department of Ichthyology of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington and an acknowledged authority on characoid fishes, writes that 100 ppm of salt is the maximum for characins, and there are several species that show considerable stress leading to death at 60 ppm. 100 ppm is equal to .38 of one gram of salt per gallon of water. One level teaspoon holds six grams of salt. You mention 1 to 3 teaspoons per gallon. If you have characins in this tank, that would be 6 to 18 grams per gallon, which is at minimum 15 times the amount they tolerate. Livebearers have a higher tolerance (mollies exist in brackish water) so the salt may be safe for them.
Plants: when salt is added to the aquarium water, the water inside the plant cells is less dense so it escapes through the cells. The result is that the plant literally dries out, and will wilt. I've so far been unable to find a measurement of how much salt will be detrimental to plants; all authorities I have found do note that some species are more sensitive than others, and all recommend no salt in planted aquaria.
Now you know why I never recommend salt.