09-30-2009, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by willieturnip
Equally, you don't know the effects of keeping fish in captivity without salt in the tank..
I would think we do, or at any rate we can be more certain. We know that salt has an irritating effect, as described in the linked article. We know that the fish in nature would not be subjected to this, and that is an absolute, because these fish only inhabit specific watercourses where the presence of any salt is impossible. So the fish have evolved over thousands and indeed millions of years to live in certain water. Providing water parameters in the aquarium that are as close as reasonably possible to the natural water is logically going to allow the fish to live more naturally and free of stress, and we certainly know that means healthier. Stress causes fish to contract a number of diseases and parasites because it weakens their immune systems by diverting energy to deal with the stress. This is (not surprisingly) no different than with humans.
In an article in the December 2006 TFH, Laura Muha dealt with factors affecting fish growth. She contacted a number of qualified biologists and ichthyologists (she named them) in researching her article. On the issue of pH and salinity, Ms. Muha wrote that subjecting fish to a degree of pH and salinity that is outside its preferred range [determined by its natural habitat] affects the normal functioning of the complex physiological processes that work to maintain a certain blood pH, feed the tissues, and keep its immune system functioning. When the fish has to expend more energy to carry out these basic functions, the stress weakens the fish in several ways. The analogy of driving a car up a hill was used; it takes considerably more energy and fuel to maintain the same speed, and this is additional wear and tear on the car.
Just as we (hopefully) listen to the advice of our medical professionals to maintain our own health at optimum levels, it makes sense to listen to the scientific data and information to provide the best environment in the aquarium.