Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Blackfeet 08-26-2012 12:45 AM

Brackish tank set-up
I am starting this thread due to the apparant lack of brackish keepers here.
Most fish living in a brackish enviroment are quite hardy to changing water enviroments. This is due to their natural environment has changing tides which brings an ever changing salinity level. This changing environment also has the added benefit of killing off pathogens. Some fish live in estuaries and some live in the salt marshes. The difference here is that a salt marsh as any other type of marsh has very little water flow so these fish live in slow moving water with a closer to stable salinity level and lots of plants and driftwood. An estuary has a variable water flow from one side of the river to the other and variable salinity per foot. There are plants living in an estuary but much less than in a salt marsh.
brackish fish include Mollies, guppies, some breeds of goby and puffers, scats, and chromides, as well as many others. The trick here is that alot of breeds start as brackish for the safety of the younger small fry to grow in an area with less predators and as they grow migrate to a fully marine environment such as the green spotted puffer. Research is the key.
The natural substrate will be mostly sand with gravel mixed in and rocks and driftwood to hide in.
Plants is one area I am still researching. I have found from personal experiance that some very hardy plants such as anacharis, amazon sword, and java fern can tolerate a lower end salinity if acclimated slowly. This means increasing the salinity by one extra scoop of salt added after water changes every month per month. At first it will kill off particularily week plants and temporarily hault the growth of others. If aiming for higher end salinity some species of macro algae can tolerate lower than marine salinty which would give more color options
Lower end means salinty of 1.002-1.008, higher end means 1.010-fully marine.
Make sure that the additives and equipment you use is for both marine and fresh water use. Marine salt is better for this use due to the added PH buffering. A hydrometer or refractometer is reguired to keep track of the salinity though some species can tolerate a small amount of salinity change

TheWonderfulWub 08-29-2012 12:16 PM

This could be a nice primer for keeping brackish water fish with a little formatting and a little more information.

Blackfeet 08-30-2012 12:25 AM

After quite a bit of research I have some info on plants and getting some plants to adapt to salt water.
I referencing another site Tropical Fish - The ultimate UK fish keeping resource for all types of tropical and marine fish, including fish books, articles, fish shops, fish clubs and more.

They list a good variety of plants that can be adapted to live in salt water. The secret is slow acclimation. Spelled out is adding one more scoop of salt per month after water change. Month one add 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon of water changed not of entire tank, month 2 add 2 tablespoons of salt per gallon of water changed not of entire tank and continue in this fashion until the desired salinity is reached.
If you want a lot of different plants shoot for salinity of 1.003 as most can't tolerate higher. They don't list a very long list of plants as most have not been tested, experimentation is encouraged. A thoroughly planted brakish tank is a labor of patience. This low salinity will be lower than preferred by brackish inhabitants but still better than no salinity.
The low salinity preferred by most brackish inhabitants starts at 1.005 and goes up from there some plants will tolerate this salinty as well but slow acclimation helps to ensure success here too. Without acclimation the salinity will kill weak plants and stunt/stop growth in others. Java moss, java fern, and hornwort are good hardy examples for this salinity.
It is possible that some kinds of macro algea (marine plants) could tolerate lower than oceanic salinity, but so far I have hit a wall on what plants they would be and what salinity level is tolerated.
Some brackish inhabitants are born in brackish water but migrate downstream nearer to the Ocean as they grow, and some eventually become fully oceanic, such as some breeds of puffer and goby. This the reason why most brackish have such a wide PH, KH, GH, and salinity range. I have seen no evidence of ill effects of maintaining the same salinity level throughout a fish's life span instead of following their natural progression to a marine environment

Htennek 08-30-2012 05:35 PM


I want to do a brackish tank sometime in the future.

redchigh 08-30-2012 05:39 PM

dwarf hairgrass, vallisneria, hygrophila, crypts, saggitaria and bacopa monnerei will also adapt well to brackish water.

Blackfeet 11-05-2012 06:44 PM

I have almost finished my tank set up and have learned a few more things and better clarification on others. These are the plant varieties I have now Aquarium Lily - Nymphaea sp., Lemon Bacopa - Bacopa caroliniana, Dwarf Subulata - Sagittaria subulata, Red Wendtii - Cryptocoryne wendtii, Cryptocoryne blassii, Aponogeton crispus, Amazon sword -*Echinodorus amazonicus. They are all thriving the growth rate for the amazon sword is just a little slower. I just have to get more of the plants I already have.
First macro-algea in a brackish tank is possible but requires at least half seawater salinity, any lower and it will not survive. Most say to acclimate by lowering the salinity by .01 per month to ensure success. I am sure that a hardy variety would be able to acclimate faster but the emphasis here is to ENSURE SUCCESS, this is for all the varieties. Keep in mind that temp plays just as much a role here as in a saltwater environment.
Second is plants in a lower end brackish environment (SQ 1.01 - 1.05). Acclimating is much faster and easier than I previously thought. Get a container of some sort to acclimate your plants in. Adjust the Specific Gravity by .01 per day until it matches the SG of your tank. Then plants and fertilize as you normally would. I would choose hardy plants they will be most likely to adjust and flourish. For less hardy varieties, such as my lilly, I adjusted the SG by swapping the tank water with the container's. This lowered my tank SG and increased the SG of the container until I was replacing half the volume in the container daily for 3 days then I planted the lilly and it is thriving. I have had to trim the lily twice a week since the first week after planting.
Adjusting the salinity. I have found nothing good said about adding salts directly to the tank. Without a sump how are you supposed to adjust it then you ask? (I know I did.). The better equiped than the masses heat and treat their refill water before adding it to the tank just as if it was a saltwater tank. I tried other options and this is what I observed. If you have a HOB power filter you are set, add to the filter let it distribute for you. No HOB filter? OK, mine broke so I was there too, take a couple cups of tank water and do your best to dissolve the salt by swirling with a spoon (heating the water helps a lot). Then pour the mix in away from the fish. Personally, I dont like this option unless you can pour into your filter discharge VERY slowly. The first time and last time I tried this the salty cloud enveloped and killed one of my panda corys. I now dump the salt directly into the tank and let it be. Remember it is a brackish environment and this means that salinity changes and in the brackish environment the also means layers of different SG's until they are completely mixed and there is no rhyme or reason as to where the layers are. I learned that one while in the Navy on subs.

Blackfeet 11-05-2012 06:54 PM

Can we create a new aquatic environment tab for this? Yes, I am assuming a moderator will see this and know I am asking them.

Reefing Madness 11-05-2012 07:01 PM

What do you mean by New Aquatic Tab? You already have a tab, Brackish Water. ??

Blackfeet 11-06-2012 09:40 PM

That is pretty much what I was thinking like the fesh and salt water sections

registereduser 01-27-2013 02:46 PM

is a regular HOB filter for freshwater tanks OK for brackish?

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