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spoot 04-09-2010 12:02 PM

swords and salt?
Is salt needed to keep swords happy? If so how much? What kind of effect will it have on my plants? What plants can I still use and have flourish in the tank?

I haven't kept livebearers before tbh. I knew Mollies liked/need salt but the lfs is saying swords need it as well. How is this going to affect my krib setup?
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redchigh 04-09-2010 12:09 PM

Never listen to a LFS.
Salt MAY be required in a store situation- rampant disease, constant stress, overpopulation, constant injuries from mismatched tankmates, etc

but in a personal and planted tank, it is NOT neccesary, and if you constantly add it, it takes away the ability to use short-term salt treatment for disease...

Keep salt on hand, but do not use it. It can inhibit plant growth, and is much better as your "ace in the hole"/"secret weapon"/"last resort" in case of an emergency.

Some LFS also say add salt because it increases GH and ph- swordtails ARE livebearers, so they like slightly higher ph (7.5) and slightly hard water... but salt is on of the WORST ways to change PH/GH.
Use dolomite instead in the filter or substrate. (I use chalk, placed in a corner of the tank where I can see it. Also produced CO2 as it dissolves, so plants like it. :), but you have to add it slowly, a 1-1.5-inch piece per day max, and only if the previous piece has dissolved completely.)- chalk will dissolve fast in PH of 6, but will barely dissolve at all around 7-7.5.

spoot 04-09-2010 12:44 PM

Thanks for the info. I've always used it to treat ich and other illnesses at about a 2:5 ratio. Usually this store gives me pretty good advise (IE, I can order you lights but you can get em cheaper at lighting stores), except for this one dude... and it was he who suggested it. That's why I was leary.

My water stays around 7.5 to 7.8, so I don't need to raise the Ph. I never knew about the chalk though. Good info. When I had cichlids I use to raise the PH and hardness with limestone and crushed coral. Never would have thought about chalk though.

Edited for bad spelling.
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Byron 04-09-2010 01:58 PM

Redchigh has generally answered your question, so my comments will just expand on a couple points for background.

Salt is not something that should go into a freshwater fish aquarium, except perhaps as a treatment for specific issues. I say perhaps because there are some fish that do not tolerate salt and I would never use it for any reason: characins (tetras, pencilfish, hatchetfish), most catfish that occur in soft water including Corydoras, Farlowella, etc., and soft water SE Asian species. Livebearers can tolerate salt better, but it is not necessary or advised in general, even with mollies. These latter do occur in brackish water which is why many recommend salt with mollies, but they are freshwater fish and do just as well without salt.

The issue with salt is internal; it is a bit involved, but as fish take in water via osmosis through their cells (comparable to our drinking water), the salinity as well as the pH and hardness of the water has an effect on their physiology. In one article I read, Laura Muha described it thus: "When pH and/or salinity stray outside the ideal range for any given species, the fishes' bodies must work harder and use more energy to maintain the physiological equilibrium." This adds stress to the fish, and stress affects the immune system and other functions. No authority I have so far read recommends using salt with any freshwater fish except as a specific treatment.

Plants will not grow with salt; I have not experimented to see what level the salt has to reach before it becomes detrimental to plant growth, as I never intend using salt anyway. But there is absolutely no question that using salt will cause our common aquarium plants to die; which is one reason why salt treatment for ich was never recommend in planted tanks.

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