04-13-2010, 06:06 PM
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I don't recommend long term aquarium salt with most species of fish, it can cause other problems related to overall health and long term use and wrong dosage can create resistant pathogens/parasites, and some species are really sensitive to long term salt like cory cats.
On the water changes...can you not use your water from the tap with a python or hose of some type.....that seems like a lot of work, but I know some people in some locations have water restriction, location of taps etc...that can make water changes more of a challenge...
Vacuuming will not upset the nitrogen cycle and vacuuming will help keep the nitrates under control, most of the NB are in the filter media and this is where a mini cycle can happen when you change out the filter media or kill it by over cleaning it with chlorinated water, best to give the filter media a swish in old tank water with a water change to get the larger gunk off but only when the water flow has slowed, you want the filter media to look dirty but still have good water flow.
Nitrifying bacteria (NB) are sticking and adhere to everything in the tank like the walls, decorations, plants both real and fake, in the top layer of the substrate and most are in the filter media itself so water changes will not up set the cycle but you don't want to vacuum anymore that once every 7 days.
Knowing your water pram numbers can be helpful "Fine" or "normal" can mean anything, you want your ammonia and nitrite to be 0ppm and the nitrate to be 5-10ppm....high nitrate can cause problems too by affecting the immune response, sudden changes in nitrate just like in pH can shock and even kill fish and often a large water change in a high nitrate tank will be blamed for killing fish when it was a sudden nitrate drop, so it is important to know that number before making water changes, this can help a hobbyist know how much water to remove and vacuuming can be safely made in a poorly maintained tank and this can also be a factor in death in new fish that went from a low nitrate to high nitrate tank and then the new fish that just died will cause health issues with the old fish due to their compromised immunity from living in high nitrates.
Active plant growth can help these issues too, you have 9 plants and depending on what type they are and if actively growing can be helpful in the overall health of the water.
What kind of plants do you have and would love to see pic of your set up.....