Hello! New Cichlid Owner!
I currently converted my 30 gallon to a cichlid tank. I always wanted a cichlid tank, but heard they were much harder to keep than tropical. After keeping a fifty five gallon tropical tank for two years with no issues, I figured it was time. ^-^
I recently traded some baby guppies for a very healthy, and very aggressive, red zebra mbuna. He is a beautiful and very vibrant fish. I already read enough about limestone and substrate to make my head spin, so that topic Im pretty good about. This next topic, not so much.
Ive looked everywhere, it seems, for the answer to this question...do lake malawi cichlids prefer saltier water than tropicals? My tropical tank gets one tablespoon per five gallons of 50 marine salt, 50 regular aquarium salt. (I never knew if there was much difference, but with this combo my fishes colors have really never been so vibrant and rich). I added what my trops would get but have been hesitant to add more. My LFS doesnt really seem to know about their cichlids, and even told me that they do well in brackish conditions....true?
Thank you for any help!
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Add salt and they will be uncomfortable. I don't know why you put salt in your regular tank anyway.
All the best. Keep that fish alive.:-)
You don't say what fish you have (other than mentioning cichlids and guppies) but salt is not recommended for freshwater tanks except to cure a disease, and then only if the fish can tolerate it. Not all can safely.
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 is 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. Livebearers have a higher tolerance (mollies do occur in brackish water) so the salt may be safe for them but unless there is a specific health issue it should not be added.
The above is why I never recommend salt. To date I have found no authoritative writer who recommends salt as a general addition to freshwater tanks.
To your question on rift lake cichlids, the "salts" one can now buy for their tanks is not salt as we think of it, but minerals to create the sort of water they are healthier in; high in mineral content (calcium and magnesium primarily). The pH of the rift lakes is between 8 and 9.
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