I just wanted to make sure that everyone who has questions about salt and those that use it and may or may not know this information had it readily available. More specific information is welcome so please add it if you have it. Salinity ranges for live bearers would be helpful.
First and foremost, only add Aquarium salt, sea salt or pickling salt. Never use standard table salt. Never use any salt with anything like iodine or anything else added to it. I have also heard that rock salt, due to the possibility of more imputirties, is not a good idea to use.
When you add salt, regardless of how careful you think you are, there is always a chance of adding too much. With a water change you try to add the right amount for what you took out but it is almost impossible to get it perfect. I used to use salt in my tanks for the obvious purpose of preventing Ich and it did work. I also realized that I needed to get a hydrometer because I had no clue what my "actual" salt levels were. When I did I was actually about 45% higher than I should have been. You can be close, you might be right on but keeping the levels constant and within a certain range of salinity will not only keep things balanced but will keep your fish happy. Also remember that at different times of the year the amount of dissolved salt could change in your tap water especially if you are on a well or on a public water system that is not treated or goes through R/O like mine doesn't.
If you are going to use salt as a regular regiment, get a hydrometer and know where it should be for the fish you keep. There is no better way to keep proper track of the levels and to provide the fish with the best and most stable environment you can.
Most fish experts will not suggest using salt unless your fish absolutely require it or you are treating disease though. The main reason for salt is for osmoregulation and there is a big downfall to using it on a regular basis. So I always say that if you are in doubt about the level of salt in your tank, don't add more until you get it tested...its usually not a neccesity. Petsmarts test their salt levels twice a day and im sure some other pet stores do too and you can always bring in a sample and they would be able to test your salt levels as well as other parameters. A hydrometer is a good idea but most are designed for saltwater, so make sure it will test levels low enough for the salt level you desire.
as a bit of a side point, it should be noted that alot of catfish do not tolerate salt levels well at all.
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