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FAQs on (Aquarium, Epsom...) Salts/Use in Freshwater

Related Articles: Salts (Marine, Table/NaCl, Epsom): Use in Freshwater Aquariums & Ponds by Neale Monks, Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Freshwater DiseasesNutritional Disease, Ich/White Spot Disease

Related FAQs: FW Salt Use 2,
FAQs on: Salt Use for Treating Ich, Salt for Treating PopEye, Salt for Treating Bloat, by type of salt: Table/NaCl, Epsom/MgSO4, Seawater, Rift Valley Salt Mix, &
Freshwater Medications, Aquarium Maintenance, Ich/White Spot DiseaseAfrican Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

The Salt of the Earth, the Salt from the Sea... http://www.aquariumboard.com/forums/articles/4770.htm

Salt and Anabantoids   3/5/14
Hey, I was always under the impression that using salt on Anabantoids was a bad idea and that it can hurt the labyrinth organ in some way.
<I know that many Anabantoids are routinely "salted" in the trade... Not all though (e.g. Licorice, Chocolates...)>
Is this false? And are there any research articles or studies you are aware of that I can read on the subject?
<Not w/o making a haul to an institution that allows (free) access to searchable databases (e.g. BIOSIS, Zool. Abstracts)...>
Sorry to bug you, I know you have lots of ppl to help, you just seemed like a good place to ask.
<You can search on WWM on how to do these searches in turn. Bob Fenner>

Help with Koi with Dropsy... and use of antibiotics in ponds f'      10/22/13
As you can see... from my original message, in such a state... typed wrong e-mail address.  Thank you.
Hi, finny expert:
Not trying to be funny, actually I'm almost in a panic state. We've never had a problem with our Koi in 15 years! I have a Butterfly Koi that's approx. 14 years old that we've had in our pond almost since its inception.  Last Wednesday/Thursday/Friday I thought she was full of eggs, thought it odd, but with Koi I read on one of the fish websites that it's possible even here in Ohio.
<Mmm; not likely this time of year... too cold>
 No aquatic vets..._am in touch
with one in a close by city, but he hasn't gotten back to me.  Not my regular vet... is that why there is no sense of urgency.  He was formerly vet for one of the better known zoos in Ohio and has retired to private practice.  He's my only chance for "doctor advice"... other than you kind folks! _
Microbe-Lift pond expert has been very helpful.  An answer from a "not free" online service suggested Maracyn II which I am currently using. 
<... Erythromycin... for what? Dropsy? From what presumed cause/s? I'd simply use Epsom Salt>

Dropsy was diagnosed by them and Microbe-Lift expert.  The latter said that since Sunny's scales were in the pinecone stages, only on her bloated belly and not on her back, that it was bacterial Dropsy and treatment should proceed.
<... Might be bacteria involvement... But... the Mardel product... not a good, first choice... Was any sort of culture work done?>
 She is in only 21 gallons
<... a poor idea. Exceedingly. I would return this fish to larger quarters, as it will assuredly perish here>

of water in a tub in our basement right now, since Sunday afternoon.  I'm using the Maracyn II as directed. I've an air pump in there, testing... ammonia reading is 4.0,
<... deadly toxic. See above. MOVE this fish NOW>

after having done a 50% water change.  I added "Ammonia out" for aquariums and have not yet tested again.
<...  won't, WILL NOT remove the ongoing excreted and secreted ammonia>

 We're equipped for a pond, not aquarium setting.  We want to build her a larger area, with cement blocks and pond liner, but then need larger amounts of Maracyn 2... which is very expensive, even on Amazon, which I just checked.  Usage is 2 packets per every  10 gallons of water.  If we put her in a 60 - 100 gallon holding pond that would mean 12 - 20 packets per day for five days then repeat treatment for another five days.   I paid $25 at PetSmart for a 24 packet box... it's $11.50 for same at Amazon. But that would be a minimum of $12/day.  If there is nothing else, we will do it.  But if something better, we'll keep her in the 20 gal for five days and they transfer her.
<.... this fish won't live that long in this setting>
<I do know... See/Read on WWM re Pondfish health, dropsical conditions. You can/could administer an antibiotic to foods, inject... putting it in the water is of very small use/efficacy>
It states on Maracyn 2
<STOP. Don't treat w/ this further>

 package to finish treatment and not use any other antibiotics while using it.  Is there something I can purchase over the counter or obtain a veterinary script for?
Incidentally, if my dear Sunny is alive after being treated for 10 days with Maracyn 2... what then... another series of antibiotics? 
<... not if it were my fish. I would NOT put antibiotics, antimicrobials directly in the water... OF ALMOST NO USE>
My dear friend is also my vet but she knows absolutely nothing about fish.  She would write me any script I needed and there is a local Pharm that fills pet scripts... but we would need to know what... and if there is an alternative that I could substitute for the Maracyn 2 after we transfer her (we haven't built...  the larger pool yet) -- without killing her.
 My vet advised that I call OSU, their Vet Med or Zoology Dept but they offered nothing.  Since Sunday afternoon I've made 26 phone inquiries... all dead ended.  I want to move my girl to larger quarters  but can't afford to keep buying the packets of Maracyn 2 I would need to maintain a volume of say 60 - 100 gallons, which would be anywhere from 12 packets to 20 packets per day.  Sunny is two feet long and can't really move where she is.  I've put bacteria in but I know that has to seed.  I will try anything to try to save her.  Can you please help?
This morning her scales don't seem to be protruding as much... or am I seeing that I hope to see?  She is eating thawed frozen peas and her water temp is 70 degrees, whereas our pond is now 50 degrees outside.
_Do I start feeding her? _  I'm going to petstore as soon as they open to get a piece of tubing to get out the waste.  At least she is pooping.  Is that a good sign?  Our pond is pristine and all tests are perfect.  I'm just scared to death that this same bacteria will infect my other finny guys. I've been praying a lot.
Please help... I'd really appreciate it.  Thank you
ps  Am in this for the long haul... and am prepared to winter her in the basement so as not to stress her any more by putting her back in her home.
<Read on WWM... re MgSO4... return this fish to the main pond, treat the water there w/ this salt... IF your friend/vet wants to inject the fish, have her contact me directly (here). I do NOT want to encourage private individuals in such matters... Or have her read Ed Noga's work/tome re the same... Bob Fenner>

Salt for fungus?    11/19/12
Does aquarium salt effectively treat fungus?
<Not reliably, no.
Brackish water fish get fungus if they're kept in freshwater, and adding salt helps them recover, so to some degree, that gives the impression salt treats fungus. But in and of itself, no, salt isn't a reliable antifungal. Methylene blue is much more effective and normally harmless, even to fish eggs and fry.>
Is a dosing of 1 tbsp per gallon enough?
The pet store fish geek said he uses it all the time and that it's not as harsh. When I used an antifungal on the periwinkles (that I'll never purchase again)
<Periwinkles? Like the little marine snails? Or the plants?>
it made me feel dizzy to be around them.
I've never had to use it on a fish. Maybe it's not as awful as the plant kind? Really, if salt will probably work, it's preferable.
<The only thing salt has in its favour is that it is cheap, which is why many people desperately want it to be a cure-all. But it isn't. Salt basically treats just two things, Whitespot and Velvet; for virtually everything else, you need to choose another treatment. As Bob would say, Hmm… do read:
Hope this clears things up for you, Neale.>

Salt for fungus?    11/19/12
Does aquarium salt effectively treat fungus?
<Not reliably, no.
Brackish water fish get fungus if they're kept in freshwater, and adding salt helps them recover, so to some degree, that gives the impression salt treats fungus. But in and of itself, no, salt isn't a reliable antifungal. Methylene blue is much more effective and normally harmless, even to fish eggs and fry.>
Is a dosing of 1 tbsp per gallon enough?
The pet store fish geek said he uses it all the time and that it's not as harsh. When I used an antifungal on the periwinkles (that I'll never purchase again)
<Periwinkles? Like the little marine snails? Or the plants?>
it made me feel dizzy to be around them.
I've never had to use it on a fish. Maybe it's not as awful as the plant kind? Really, if salt will probably work, it's preferable.
<The only thing salt has in its favour is that it is cheap, which is why many people desperately want it to be a cure-all. But it isn't. Salt basically treats just two things, Whitespot and Velvet; for virtually everything else, you need to choose another treatment. As Bob would say, Hmm… do read:
Hope this clears things up for you, Neale.>
Re: Salt for fungus?  & Betta dis., trtmt.     – 11/19/12
Periwinkles are flowers.
<Ah yes, as in Vinca minor. Have that in my garden.>
They developed a tendency to a fungus and prior had been hardy annuals.
<I see.>
I was young and attempted to save my garden, but I think the fungal treatment was very strong stuff... I just recall feeling dizzy around it.  Don't know why, but wouldn't use it again on annuals!!!!!
That's why I felt a little nervous about the treatment of the tank!  I come in contact with the water when I clean it.  I think the Methylene is different than what's used in the garden though.  I need to check... But I might want to wear gloves with it anyway.
<Methylene blue is safe, at least if used as directed by the manufacturers.>
I like organic natural stuff, so when the guy said salt worked for him and I'd read it several places as well I was hoping....but knew I ought to ask you in case the "naturalists" were wrong.
<I'm as much of a naturalistic as the next guy… my garden is mostly organic save occasional use of slug pellets… but there are situations where you do need the real McCoy. Put another way, there are "natural" anti-fungals like Melafix but these are not necessarily safer to use (either for the fish or the filter bacteria) and their unreliability means that they aren't always good choices. By all means use Melafix as a preventative, after fish are damaged, but once you see symptoms, I'd go for the real stuff, Methylene Blue or whatever.>
I didn't want to jeopardize the fish.  I'd also heard the medicine could be hard on the fish and I wanted to be cautious.
<Methylene blue is very gentle on fish.>
I looked at my Betta closer... He actually has a little spot of white coloration on his back that when he was acting sick, I mistook for fungus.  So it isn't fungus after all.  Which makes sense, as I clean regularly. I think there have been times in the past that white spot worried me, but it's not that noticeable...so I forgot it's a fleck of natural colouring. He's older...I had him a number of years now, I think 3 or 4.  He doesn't look like he'll make it....   And I can't see an obvious symptom other than lying at the bottom looking listless like he's on the way out.
<Perhaps… 4 years is a fair age for Betta splendens.>
I worried it was water hardness, something I could have helped by adding a little neutral water.  My other tank tested so high recently!  However the  Betta's water tested much lower than the large tank...  (weird)....so it's probably his old age.  I guess because he's in a smaller volume tank, and there's java fern and moss, it helped lower the hardness for him.
Betta tank is ph 7.2, alkalinity 180, hardness 125.
That was tested at PetSmart with little strips. A fish store seasoned fishkeeping employee tested my big tank like a chemist with little bottles that she shook and they changed colours. 29 gallon was ph 8.4, alkalinity 180, hardness 300.
<Rock hard water! Not ideal for Southeast Asian fish like Bettas, but I dare say livable.>
Is there something I can treat him with, an antibiotic, in case it's related to the gills?
<Randomly medicating rarely helps.>
If he dies anyway can I treat the java plants with an antibiotic so that they'd be safe if I bought another fish?
<Unnecessary; the bacteria that cause most fish deaths are opportunistic ones… they live in all tanks, all the time. They only cause problems when something else is amiss… the fish is stressed, the water quality is poor, the fish is old.>
I'd change out the gravel for new gravel if that's necessary, and totally wash the tank and rinse it thoroughly and completely.  I really hate to throw out the plants and I always like to keep a Betta.  I think someone once told me to use tetracycline to sterilize plants from disease...though if I treat him I guess I could keep dosing whatever antibiotic I give him.  But he's not looming like he has much longer to go.
Thanks again.  I'm sad to be losing this little fish!
<Indeed. Neale.>
Re: Salt for fungus? Betta dis., trtmt.     – 11/20/12

Thanks Neil.  That's good to know about the plants.
Yeah, my home is kept much warmer than most.  I was afraid to use small tank heaters before, but I invested $13 for one that works to 5 gallon when I noticed he was ill.    I guess as he was older maybe needed his water even warmer.  I'm too embarrassed  to say how warm my home is sometimes kept, but it tends to favor Bettas' preferred climate!  But now with a heater the future fish (if he doesn't pull through) will at least have a heater kick on on the coldest days of Texas, which are rare days.....  It's been in the 80s most of Oct.  Today is cooler…70s.
<Real good. Cheers, Neale.>
Better!!....re: Salt for fungus?     – 11/20/12

The little Betta guy seemed 1/8 less close to his death bed this afternoon, which I hadn't expected. Due to his mild response to salt and heat, I changed 25% water(someone said change 100% but he is obviously liking the heater so I didn't want to chill him).  I added a little stress coat and the new water also contains salt. Then I decided his gills are probably stressed and gave some tetracycline. ....  It just felt right....he was just at the bottom looking stressed with labored breathing and no other observable symptoms.
Good news:  A little later he actually ate, then he ate again just now.  Now he's swimming around.
This room is probably getting draftier as the home ages and the fish is older. and much less flexible.  I was afraid of small thermometers due to reading awful reviews, but this one is a little mat I can stick under the gravel as opposed to glass that can explode.
<Honestly, the glass ones don't explode unless someone does something silly with them, like use them to stir up the gravel. Even then, they snap rather than explode, and the red alcohol inside them isn't especially toxic.>
I'm going to buy more plants too...I think they increase the health benefits adding oxygen and natural filter as well as reducing the water hardness in an amazing way.
<Which is…? Almost all the "reduce hardness quickly, easily and cheaply" tricks don't work.>
I think he's going to make it.  I hope so anyway! Well....I hope things are normal for a while now.  I wish I'd get the hang of it like gardening. Jill
<Good luck with both fish and plants, Neale.>
Re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus?     11/21/12

The plants and stock really seem to reduce water hardness...I can't think of what else it would be that would cause the difference between my 2 tanks using the exact same water source.
<There is a process called Biogenic Decalcification which some aquatic plants do. They use bicarbonate ions as the source of carbon for photosynthesis. It's a clever trick. Two popular aquarium plants that can do this very effectively are Vallisneria and Egeria, but for this to happen, they need to be exposed to bright light. That's because Biogenic Decalcification is a way of getting extra carbon for photosynthesis when the dissolved carbon dioxide in the water isn't enough. None of the slow-growing plants (like ferns and mosses) are known to do Biogenic Decalcification; they probably don't need to because they grow very slowly, and therefore the amount of carbon dioxide in the water is sufficient to their needs. If you suspect Biogenic Decalcification is going on, ask yourself whether your aquarium is under strong lighting, i.e., at least three or four fluorescent lights running the length of the hood. If it's not, then Biogenic Decalcification isn't likely the issue, because if it is happening at all, it'll be happening so slowly there won't be much effect on water chemistry, specifically, carbonate hardness (as should be obvious, if you remove bicarbonate, which is a type of carbonate hardness, then that won't change general hardness).>
My large tank, the 29 has 2 small fish at 1/2" and some sparse, snail chopped plants and the hardness rose quite high in the recent months.  But the smaller Betta tank is much less hard.  When the plants were healthier and there were more fish in the 29 gallon, it was not testing quite so hard either!
<A mystery.>
A pet store geek said if I ever want to keep other species like Corys or loaches or barbs...all I need to do is remove 1/3 water and replace it with distilled (which I know you should never use for a whole tank filling as there aren't any minerals!)
<I would concur; I have liquid rock water here, but mix 50/50 with rainwater, and that allows me to keep all sorts of Amazonian fish without problems.>
She said the neutral water brings hardness down some,
<It dilutes it. If you have tap water hardness of 21 degrees dH, but mix 2 parts tap water with 1 part deionised water, then the result will be 14 degrees dH overall. As it happens, pH will likely stay around the 7.5 mark, but that's fine.>
and then having a good stocked tank and lots of plants adds acidity and help keeps it from  climbing quite so high, so other types of fish can also thrive.
<Sort of. During photosynthesis plants remove CO2 faster that they "breathe" it out because of respiration, so the pH actually goes up. But by night they are only respiring, so they add to the CO2 in the water, albeit not that much compared to animals. As noted above, Biogenic Decalcification only happens under specific conditions and with certain plant species.>
The Betta tank affirms what she's saying as it contrasts with the 29 gallon in both stock ratio and plant ratio.  They keep tons of barbs and loaches and catfish alive, so I guess there are natural ways to get there.  The plants most likely contribute to my Bettas longevity, as well as having a filter and more space to swim in. I've always loved biology far more than chemistry....I probably need to spend a little more time trying to learn the basics.  It's great that pet stores all test water for free and explain it.  But I'd understand it  better if I reviewed basic high school chemistry!
Have a nice week.
<You too, Neale.>
Re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus?  11/21/12

That's cool, thanks!
<Welcome, Neale.>

Chain loach and Cherry Barb? (salt tolerance question)    11/14/12
Hi Neale,
I'm wanting to start up chain loaches and cherry barbs.
<Two very nice and versatile species.>
I read your article on loaches,
I read other articles too at various sites and I asked this question at several fish stores.  There was a difference in opinions.
I heard the loaches (chain loach) don't tolerate salt, though one article and one fish store said theirs tolerated minimal salt.  But since they are saying something different from everyone else, I figure I should get your opinion and trust that first. 
<Depends what sort of salinity you're talking about. Like all freshwater fish, they will tolerate very low salinities, around 2 gram/litre, across short terms, e.g., a week or two, for the purposes of treating Whitespot.
Using salinity in this way is much safer than using copper- or formalin-based medications. On the other hand, routine addition of salt isn't necessary when keeping these or any freshwater fish, and elevated salinity levels as you'd need for brackish water fish will stress most loaches. One or two species naturally inhabit brackish water habitats, for example the Horseface Loach, and can do well around the 3-4 g/l salinity level, but I'm not aware of any loach that prefers brackish water or does well in even middling-salinity brackish water. Oh, and the idea that loaches are "scaleless fishes" and therefore more sensitive to salt is a myth perpetrated by folks without biology degrees! Moray eels are fish without scales but live in the sea, as are of course sharks. On the other than, there are plenty of fish with scales (such as Rift Valley cichlids) that come to obvious harm when salt is routinely added to their tanks (Malawi Bloat being the commonest problem). Salinity tolerance is all to do with the osmoregulation, in particular organs that conserve or remove salt and water. For sure some groups of fish are less tolerant of salt than others, but it's not as easy as simply saying that if the fish has scales, it's more tolerant of salt.>
I have a 29 gallon....I'm switching the fish that are there to another one as they neither eat snails nor share water type with those that do!  
Currently the 29 tank has 1 tbsp aquarium salt per 5 gallons.  
<An unnecessary addition.>
Could the Cherry barbs tolerate that amount initially?  I suspect they will but I just want to be sure.
<As with the loaches, so too with the cyprinids. A handful of barbs tolerate low-end brackish conditions indefinitely, such as the Ticto Barb and Olive Barb, but most are strictly freshwater fish and shouldn't be exposed to salt across the long term. Again, short term usage of 2 g/l salinity levels are fine.>
I will change a third of the water, adding more water with no salt before I add them.
<Very wise.>
How many water changes should I do before the water will be fresh enough to add chain loaches? 
<One tablespoon is 3 teaspoons, or about 3 x 6 = 18 gram salt (but check with your own kitchen scales). 5 US gallons is about 19 litres, so you're adding 18 grams of salt to about 19 litres of water, so barely 1 gram per litre. That's a trivial salinity level, and won't do even these fish any harm across the short term. On the other hand, it won't be doing much good either; it's too little to treat Whitespot, and there's always the risk that across months, years such usage of salt can interfere with the osmoregulation of freshwater fish. I'm not a big fan of routine use of salt in freshwater tanks.>
Do Cherry Barbs cycle ok, as I don't have very many fish in there now, plus they're tiny?  (I'll be adding 6 so it will probably cycle.)  I'm hoping to find small ones.
<Cherry Barbs are quite hardy, so all else being equal, they can get through the cycling process, though I'd strongly recommend maturing the tank beforehand, or at least adding some live biological media from another tank.>
I plan to add driftwood too, and more plants once I add the chain loaches. 
The reason for the switch is I learned the hard way about snails. So future plants in other tanks that I wish to keep clean will either be certified snail free (yeah, PetSmart sells those!) or rinsed in a solution.
<Do the latter; dip the plants, then put in the tank. Be careful with the dips though: used at high concentration as a dip, potassium permanganate at least can kill plants if used for too long.>
Also, is it really necessary to change water weekly for chain loaches?!??
<Depends entirely on stocking density and how often the fish are fed. If the tank is understocked and you feed sparingly, then you can probably go 2-3 weeks between 20% water changes. But most community tanks are fully stocked, if not overstocked, so water changes are crucial to keeping the fish healthy.>
I'll be adding more plants, a longer strip of a bubbler, and there will be 6 each cherry barb and 6 chain loaches in 29 gallons.
<That's an understocked tank.>
I usually change water every 3 weeks.  Should I change to weekly or every 2 weeks?
<If you want. Keep an eye on the fish, and do pH and nitrate tests every couple weeks just to be sure, at least for the first 2-3 months. If pH drops a lot, or nitrate is way above the ambient level in your tap water, then you may be doing too few water changes.>
One more thing... Sometimes the house temp gets to 79 or 80, is that going to make the water too hot?
<Unlikely. Evaporation tends to keep fish tanks a bit cooler than the room.
In any event, providing the tank only gets warm in the day, but cools down at night, then these are tropical fish after all and will adapt to such things.>
I probably need to lower the heater for the loaches.  I can barely read the thermometer but it's in the green safe zone for tropical fish.
<Set the heater around the 24 C/75 F mark, and see what happens. If the fish are heat-stressed, the loaches will gulp air and the barbs will be close to the surface all the time.>
Thanks Neale!  I'm very new to this hobby, and your articles are always helpful.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Chain loach and Cherry Barb? (salt tolerance question)
Thank you.  Great info!
I look forward to getting these fish.  The male barbs have a nice colour
<As ever though, be sure to get as many females as males, if not more -- with more females to display to, the males develop better colours without fighting all the time. Unlike plain vanilla barbs, Cherry Barbs are somewhat territorial.>
and I've always liked the little chain loaches.  They're active and interesting.  I hope they all get along without bullying.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Chain loach and Cherry Barb? (salt tolerance question)    11/17/12

Just curious, Neale, About Mollies I'd heard this answer is "no," and that they're NOT a sociable fish, that they merely "tolerate" other fish due to not being true schoolers.....(I've misplaced that article). But then I saw an article today that you'd written on them that begs to differ on their sociability: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/mollies.htm
The pet store clerks also speak highly of molly sociability. And their tanks are heavily stocked.  But here I'm thinking of going to loach and barb due to that my mollies were so unfriendly. Would increasing the number of mollies make them less inclined to bully?!??!!
<Yes indeed. Like cichlids, if the Molly males are numerous, none can become overly dominant, and none will be bullied too much. That's the theory anyway, and on the whole, it works, as you've likely seen in your retailer's tank. It's when you have one male Molly and he chases all the other livebearers around that people realise how aggressive male Mollies can be. Furthermore, if you keep just a pair, then unless the tank is large and well-planted, chances are the male will harass the female endlessly.>
1st I understocked them.  I had 5 females and 1 male in a 29 gallon, then I added a female, then I added a male.
<Two males will create a dominance structure, with the strongest male likely chasing the other all the time. But if you had, say, 5 males, then this isn't likely to happen. On the other hand, if you wanted females as well, then you'd have to have 10 females to those 5 males, and that's a lot of fish for the average community tank (though as the heart of a Molly aquarium around the 55 gallon mark, they'd be lovely).>
I had thought I was doing good to have a low stock. The bullying was primarily done by females, and it would leave the weaker ones cowering in a cave or behind the many plants looking ill.
<It's unusual for females to be aggressive, but I guess it does happen.>
I became known as the lady who'd bring mollies back in a day or so and I'd trade them. Once I even tried having 3 males to 3 females as an experiment....and it was no better.  (A pet store clerk suggested that!)
((( Off topic-  Also, if one's water is quite hard like an 8, it's still advisable to do low end brackish, correct?)))
<Hmm… "8" what? 8 degrees dH is not especially hard. What's the carbonate hardness? If that's high as well, say, 5-8 degrees KH, and the pH stays around the 7.5 to 8 mark, then you might be fine without salt. Nonetheless, I'd always choose Molly companions that I knew could tolerate salt, just in case you needed to use it because the Mollies were always getting sick. Horseface Loaches, Brown Hoplo Catfish, Ticto Barbs, Blue Acara and most Rainbowfish are examples of fish that don't need salt but will tolerate 2-3 grammes per litre without complaint, and this can be just enough to keep Mollies hearty and healthy.>
I was going to switch species and see if using driftwood and heavily planting would bring it to steady 7.5 for changing over to the loaches and rosy barbs...and if that didn't work then I was thinking to try peat filtration and have diamond tetras and rummy nose if that worked, what the heck anyway if it's that much trouble--have the sparkly beauties!!!
<Both Diamonds and Rummynose Tetras are lovely fish, but as you realise, not good companions for Mollies. While you don't need to go out of your way to create very soft water for them, you certainly do want to be aiming for between 2-12 degrees dH, pH 6-7.5 for them.>
But I love the mollies, and the only reason I'm switching from them was I didn't enjoy the evil junior high schoolyard scenes they put on daily!  (Which altered their health).  (True, my water had been salted according to popular Mollie lore, and I understand now I must use marine salt if I do them again.)
<Hmm… do also research Liberty Mollies (Poecilia salvatoris). They are extremely pretty fish, silvery with red, white and blue markings, but a mean disposition, so not good community fish. But in large groups they work well together, and if you feel like trying something special with Mollies, they're great fish. Oh, and do also look at Ameca splendens, a Goodeid with lovely colours and a very feisty personality, but in a group of 3 males and 5-6 females, I had not the least trouble in a 180-litre aquarium. My point is, livebearers are more aggressive than people realise, so big groups help.>
Thanks again...   if you tell me a stock number will probably erase my ills I'll even do water changes bi-weekly for them and low level brackish.  If they're just plain ornery, I need to let Go!!!!!    But I sort of feel like giving them one more try if I can find some advise.
<Mollies are definitely worth keeping, but as you realise, the bigger the group, the easier.>
P.S. This guy suggests isolations, which I was doing (using a 10 gallon) and it helped.  But it was a pain in the blank to have to constantly be switching out bratty females.  (I wonder if a 2.5 gallon like he used would be more effective in that it's really no fun!)  http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/livebearers/help-aggressive-female-molly-61201/
I'm mainly just wondering if the aggression was a stock issue, or maybe I needed to move the current ones out into the 10 gallon and rearrange things before adding new and put everyone in at once?
<Isolation works as a one-off, but it's hardly practical in the long term.>
or do I just need to switch to a more amiable species of fish?!  I'm sad as I love Dalmatian and black mollies.  It's popularly reported that black ones are the most frequently aggressive.
<I've not really noticed this to be honest. Big male Sailfins seem far more boisterous and aggressive. I guess "popularly reported" may mean than more people keep Black Mollies, and many of those people keep them in communities with smaller fish like Guppies and Platies, and I'm quite sure Black Mollies can, do bully them. On the other hand, keep Black Mollies in a brackish water community with Scats and Monos and they're right at the bottom of the pecking order.>
I just don't like fish dying from bullying.
<Indeed not.>
A little harmless posturing wouldn't bother me.
<Which in a sense is what the fish want to do -- it's normal social interaction of the kind we tend to prevent with most other pets. So long as the fish can avoid being bullied and hurt, then threats and displays are all part of their normal lives.>
And I don't recall if I fed them once or twice a day, I wonder if that was an issue.....if they needed more food and were grouchy.
<With Mollies, 12-hour a day algal grazing is the ideal. Failing that, a little but often. Oh, and one tidbit of relevance here: male livebearers in the wild are often far less aggressive because they don't have the time, they need to spend much more time feeding on algae. Why? Because algae provides little energy, so without feeding for many hours a day, they would starve. In captivity we give them all the energy they need in 30 seconds' worth of flake -- so they have all the rest of the day to fight. Maybe create a tank with strong lighting and lots of flat rocks, so algae grows rapidly and profusely. Minimise your feeding, let the Mollies feed themselves on the algae (which is what they evolved to do, and why they have very distinctive mouths). Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Chain loach and Cherry Barb? (salt tolerance question)    11/17/12
Thanks Neil.
My tank is fine for algae!  That's why the mollies are fun to watch....They're picking around on the bottom or among the plants and even the walls of the tank.  They seem to have more personality than some of the other types of fish. I'm thinking my 29 gallon is too small....  unless it's ok to stock only females?
Or does that cause fights?
If I need both sexes than definitely having 10 female and 5 male fish x 3"  (sorry, Americans and their inches!) is overstock. If it's alright to do only females, I could increase the number of mollies without going over....I could do 10 females. I'd only house mollies with other brackish....   I'd go to low brackish. The stuff about driftwood and peat is only if I give up on keeping mollies and switch to loaches! It seems though, that it would be easier to work with what I have which is hard water!
<Likely so.>
Regarding snails again:
I read this blog this morning and it sounds like if I have too many snails it's possible the tank isn't biologically balanced and possible I need to feed the plants too.  The person said snails are no big deal at all in his/her planted tank!!!
<Snails aren't a problem in my planted tank. I'm sure there's 100s of them, but I hardly see them, and they don't the plants any harm. In any event, healthy plants generally aren't damaged my Physa and Melanoides-type snails, though Apple Snails and their relatives may eat them.>
I didn't feed my plants or use special substrate because I read so many things suggesting 1) you don't need to feed low light plants in a low light tank,
<Hmm… not sure this is necessarily true, though I hardly ever fertilise my planted tanks, and they are stocked with mostly undemanding plants (Anubias, Crypts, floating Indian Fern, Aponogeton hybrids, etc.).>
and 2) fertilizer is Harmful to many fish and assassin snails too
<Used as directed, fertilisers shouldn't cause any harm.>
and 3) fertilizer increases algae increases snails.
<Possibly, but snails are just as likely to eat fish food and fish waste as they are algae, so there's probably not much in this either way.>
Do you agree with this, or should I use better substrate and or feed the plants?
<I do like to use rich substrates, but again, lots of people don't, and have first-rate results. A lot depends on the plants you're growing. For the slow-growing epiphytes like Anubias and Java fern, these ignore the substrate any way, so a little fertiliser added to the water will help them. On the other hand, Amazon Swords and Crypts do seem to enjoy a good substrate, or at least a suitable alternative, like fertiliser pellets pushed into the gravel around them every once a month or so. I'm a big advocate for choosing plants that suit your style of fishkeeping rather than trying to change the way you keep fish so your plants are happy, but each to their own.>
I have fine natural gravel and it seems to have materials in it and the fish stores all said it was good enough.
<Plain vanilla gravel is inert, and contains virtually no nutrients of any kind. Over time bacteria cause some degree of fertilisation inside deep gravel beds (a couple inches or more) so that certain nutrients, including nitrate and phosphate, are produced from the fish wastes and other sources of decay. No real surprise there. But iron and magnesium are two nutrients that are often lacking, and if your plants have yellow patches on otherwise normal leaves, it's a clue that these sorts of minerals are missing. On the other hand, if your plants look okay but grow slowly or outright fail to thrive, limited nutrients aren't nearly as likely a cause as the wrong environment (typically not enough light).>
Plants with roots are all potted in the gravel, and the other types are attached to rocks.  But the plants have been nibbled down by snail babies and look very scrawny now.   :-(
Plants: java ferns, Anubias, Crypts, and sparce hornwort...it mostly died out or perhaps was eaten as the others.  I've seen snails on it.
<If snails are damaging plants, it's almost always the case the plant was failing anyway. As noted above, the small pest snails don't normally harm healthy plants.>
I attached a picture so you can see the plant scrawniness.  They were much larger at purchase.
<My guess is that the problems here are mostly to do with lighting. How many strip lights do you have across the top of the tank? One? Two? If only one or two, forget about anything light green and fast growing, such as Hygrophila or Rotala or even Amazon Swords. Instead, focus on Anubias, Java fern, Java moss, and potted hardy Cryptocoryne species, especially Cryptocoryne wendtii. These plants are undemanding. Don't ram Anubias or Java fern into shells or anywhere like that; instead, simply use black cotton to gentle tie them onto (ideally) bogwood or chemically inert stones (like slate or lava rock). Buy some floating Indian Fern for the top of the tank and leave it there. Hornwort might work if this tank were coldwater, but this coldwater plant "speeds up" in tropical tanks, and needs very strong lighting if its food production (photosynthesis) is to keep up with its metabolism (growth). Do also try and buy reflectors for the tubes, so all the light goes towards the plants; if that isn't an option, then aluminium foil stuck to the inside of the hood works okay. Indian Fern provides not just shade but also helps suppress algae. Oh, and all the plants I've mentioned as suitable are salt-tolerant, so they're good choices for Mollies.>
((WOW, I just cleaned the tank last week and I scraped partially the other night, and yet the picture is showing algae again on the glass.  It isn't visible in low lighting but it's obvious in my photo!))
Thanks Again.
I really hope to come up with a final decision this weekend of which direction to go now with this tank.  I super appreciate your input.  I know you know what you're talking about and helps me sort through the often conflicting opinions in some of the other forums and sources.
<Glad to help. There are some great planted aquarium forums out there, so do peruse and solicit second opinions from those who know more about plants than me! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Chain loach and Cherry Barb? (salt tolerance question) - 11/17/12
Thanks Neil,
I'll try feeding the plants and use better substrate in the pots.  I bought rough/porous pots to discourage snails.   I'll buy a rougher stone like lava to attach the javas to. I have all the low light plants... Maybe the store will have Indian fern.
<Do be sure to buy the real thing, Ceratopteris thalictroides. Numerous other ferns are pushed onto casual aquarists by unscrupulous retailers.>
I'm going to see if the fish store can help with reflectors too or do a makeshift one like you suggested. The pet store lady suggested little black Kuhlis that get to 4 inches, they are super cute too, however....my water is 300 hardness, alk 180, ph 8.4!!!  The scary thing is they're keeping theirs in the same water.
<Can do okay in hard water… but not recommended, no.>
Another guy at the pet store said skunk loaches are amazing for snails, and tolerate hard water, but I just read they're awfully aggressive.
<Skunk Loaches, yes, semi-aggressive. Okay with barbs of similar size, but not with smaller fish.>
 I hope I can get the plants happier before the snails win!!  It sounds lime that's the solution. by, have a nice weekend.
<Real good. Cheers, Neale.>

salt, no rdg.     7/6/12
can salt be add to a fish tank with live plants  

<Many plants can "tolerate" a modicum of salt/s... Have you read here:
and here:
and the linked files above? Bob Fenner>

ADF's, no salt please  4/16/11
Hey Folks,
I recently lost about six ADF's in two separate tanks over the course of a couple days.
The female Betta fish that were with them are doing fine. I had gotten in the habit of adding a heaping tablespoon of salt per gallon of water with the Betta's water changes .
<Why? Please read here:
and the linked files above... There is a persistent "wives' tale" re salt use... in this case, toxic>
The frogs were added about a month ago. Today I read on the internet that I might be using too much salt.
At any rate do you think that the salt might have killed my froggies?
<Oh yes>
I read on your site that they absorb through their skin. Most of them looked normal but a few were bloated. The strange thing is that they did fine for a month and then suddenly over the course of several days they all died. Last week I bought some HBH frog and tadpole bits. They are larger and sink. Before that I was feeding something smaller that floated on the surface and the Betta girls were getting huge. Water, food, or something else.
Thanks so much for your time,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: ADF's  4/16/11
Hi Bob,
<Big D!>
Thanks so much for your timely response. Very kind of you. I appreciate the information. Have a great weekend. GOD bless.
<And you, BobF>

Re: Mollies  1/28/11
Thank you for your response!
<Glad to help.>
I'm sorry for asking so many questions; I'm new at this, and I'm getting so much conflicting information its difficult to sort through.
<Odd. The needs of Mollies, re: their preference for brackish water, is actually very well known and stated in every book I can think of. While some web sites might suggest otherwise, it's as well to remember the Internet is a hugely unreliable source of information. Always review carefully who says what and why. A retailer will tell you many things, but remember he/she is trying to sell you something too'¦ some retailers are wonderfully honest people, but others, a bit less so.>
So, I plan to separate my ADF's and my mollies; I purchased another small tank today for the ADF's.
<Do read up on the needs of these. Very small tanks, less than 5 gallons, aren't worth using.>
My question now is: What is the best way to go about transferring the frogs into the new tank?
<Divide the existing water out 50/50 between the new tank and the old tank. Move the frogs and Mollies into each tank. Top up both with dechlorinated water. In the case of the Mollies, I strongly recommend adding at least 2 grammes of marine aquarium salt mix per litre of water. Although splitting water does nothing to move bacteria between the two tanks, it will minimise shock through temperature and water chemistry changes.>
My original tank is still cycling, so the pH levels are a little low and the ammonia levels are unstable.
<Salt will help detoxify the nitrite, and this will help the Mollies immensely.>
Should I use some water from the original tank to transfer them into, or should I start over completely and begin cycling this new tank, then put the frogs in once its done cycling?
<You will need to divide the mature filter media between the two tanks. Around 50/50. Done that way, both tanks will be instantly mature. Top up both filters with new media, and that's that! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Mollies, Aq. salts (FW) f'
Hi! Thanks for being so helpful...a little update and a couple more questions :)'¦.. I put the frogs in a 5 gal tank of their own. Now I'm trying to get the water right in the molly tank. I bought sea salt for it, but PetSmart told me to NOT use sea salt, to use aquarium salt instead.
<What do you mean by "sea salt"? Marine aquarium salt is precisely what you want. Sea salt used for cooking is not. As for generic "aquarium salt" as you'd use in a FRESHWATER aquarium to treat Whitespot is adequate but less useful. Your pet shop clerk is correct you don't want to use cooking sea salt, but absolutely wrong about using marine aquarium salt.>
So I put aquarium salt in my tank...it came in big chunks so I just put the correct amount of tablespoons in the tank, thinking the crystals would dissolve over time.
<No! Do not add salt this way! NEVER, EVER add salt directly to the aquarium.>
So, now how do I get the aquarium salt out to put sea salt in?
<You don't need to.>
Am I going to have to take out the gravel substrate and clean it or should I just wait a little while for the salt to dissolve completely then add sea salt to my water changes?
<Let's start again. Attend carefully! What you want is marine aquarium salt, for example Reef Crystals or Instant Ocean. PetSmart may even have their own generic brand. Ask the clerk for the salt used in marine reef tanks. That's the stuff! A small box shouldn't cost more than $5-10. Now, go home, and weigh out on kitchen scales precisely 5 grammes. That's how much you add to each litre of water IN A BUCKET. It should be a bit under one level teaspoon (which should hold about 6 grammes of marine salt mix). If your bucket holds 15 litres of water, then you add 15 x 5 = 75 grammes. Stir into the water until it's all dissolved. Add that to your aquarium with each water change. So if you take out 15 litres per water change, you add 15 litres of the water and salt mix. If you need to work in non-metric units, the concentration we're doing here is 0.65 ounces per US gallon. It's really very simple. Every time you take some water out, you replace that missing water with a new bucket of water to which JUST THE RIGHT amount of salt has been added FOR THAT BUCKET not the whole tank. Do that, and the water should stay very slightly brackish, about SG 1.002 if you have a hydrometer (well worth getting, a cheap glass one costs $5). If you need to, print this e-mail off, show it to the store clerk, and have them choose the salt mix and the hydrometer for you. Marine aquarium salt mix is BETTER than "aquarium" salt because it contains minerals that raise hardness and steady the pH, both essential to long-term success with Mollies. Hope this clarifies things. Cheers, Neale.>

Epsom salts   1/21/11
Hi - what is the proper use of Epsom salts in a freshwater aquarium, if any. I need a way to raise my pH. TY Mark
<Hello Mark. Epsom salt, magnesium sulphate, doesn't raise pH. It raises general hardness. To raise pH you need to raise carbonate hardness, which is done either by using sodium bicarbonate (also known as baking soda) or by adding a small quantity of crushed coral to your filter (this latter approach a bit fiddly and not recommended for beginners). For most community tanks that include both hard and soft water fish, a general hardness of 10 degrees dH together with a pH around 7.5 should be fine. In practical terms, one-quarter to one-half the normal Rift Valley Salt Mix dosage should do the trick nicely.
Cheers, Neale.> 

Magnesium sulfate duration   12/23/10
Hello Crew,
I am really sorry to bother you again but may I know for how long do I have to keep my Gourami in Epsom salt solution.
Thanks in advance.
<If treating constipation, a couple weeks should do the trick. If pop-eye, until the swelling goes down. In either case, Epsom salt will only help if the causes of constipation or pop-eye were fixed. Cheers, Neale.>

Prob1... A dingo ate my... Actually a Red Devil ate a polyethylene plant    10/15/10
Hello there!
Attached is a picture that shows my friend's fish's problem pretty clearly.
:-) Can you give us any suggestions? This is a mature, male red devil of approximately 13" in length that has eaten part of a plastic plant decoration. Will this just pass? I assume she should remove all such
decorations so this won't happen again?
Thank you!
P.S. You can stop laughing now! ;-)
<Wow, I'd laugh, but it looks REAL painful. Anyway, yes, it should pass out the anus in time. The use of Epsom salt at 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons will help a good deal by loosening the muscles and acting like a laxative. So that's a cheap and easy way to help. Other than that, don't pull, because you'd likely tear something delicate inside the fish. If it doesn't pass out within a day, then there's a very real risk of faeces compacting within the rectum, and that will soon be fatal. So if things are still looking bad tomorrow morning, call a vet. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Prob1   10/15/10
Thanks Neale! You guys are always great! I did try searching the site first, but didn't find anything specific to this problem.
Take care!
<Glad to help. Would be very interested to know how things go. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: FW: Prob1   10/15/10
I'll be happy to let you know. She's a really nice lady who started out as a customer of mine, and has become a friend, but she sure gets into some weird situations with her fish! LOL
<Doesn't get much weirder. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: FW: Prob1   10/16/10
The comments below are for Neale. Thanks again! You're a hero!
"That is very nice!!! I have awesome news!!! I put the Epsom salt in and within 10 min the blockage was gone!!!! Whew!!!!!! Please thank him for me as well! What a relief!!"
<Oh, what a great result! I'm very pleased. Often it's all doom-and-gloom by the time people write to us, so happy endings are always welcome. In the meantime, do recommend floating Indian Fern as greenery for cichlid tanks.
Because it floats, it can't be uprooted; and because it's edible and rich in fibre and vitamins, it's a great supplement to their diet. Cheers,

Re: FW: Prob1  10/18/10
I know how you feel, good news is rare, especially these days! I work Customer Service for a large aquatics manufacturer, and most of my customers have fish in dire straits when they need my help. Luckily, she called immediately, LOL.
Take care!
<I plan on doing so! Thanks for your message. Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish water and Guppies?   9/1/10
Yesterday, my favorite very unique Platy showed the very beginning signs of sickness that leads to rapid death.
<I see. One problem with farmed livebearers is a certain tendency towards Mycobacteria infections, typically associated with red sores on the bodies, wasting, and then death. Not much you can do about that. But otherwise livebearers tend to be quite tough, if given the right conditions. In the case of Platies, cool, moderately hard, basic water is what you want; 22-24 C, 10+ degrees dH, pH 7-8.>
I have had many fish that have died and know the signs. But loosing this platy would of sent me over the edge so I took a bold step and added 2 gallons of Spring water that I put 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt in each.
<Okay. Now, do understand that while salt can help, it's not a miracle.
Among other misconceptions, recall that salt doesn't do anything to raise hardness. So if you have soft water, salt isn't what you want, at least, not on its own. Marine aquarium salt mix is somewhat different because it includes other minerals that do raise hardness and pH, and 5-6 grammes/litre would be easily tolerated by Platies and indeed all other livebearers too.>
Unfortunately this was my first time using salt so I was unaware to make sure it was completely dissolved and melted.
<It's not a big deal, so don't panic about this. A few grains of undissolved salt won't kill your fish.>
I than added an air stone to help circulate more oxygen into the tank.
<Good. In summer especially Platies can easily be overheated 25 C/77 F is really at the top end of their comfort zone, and they're far healthier kept cooler than that.>
This is a 10 gal tank that has been cycled along time ago.
<A bit on the small side for Platies, to be honest. Stress between fighting males, or males harassing pregnant females, can lead to "unexplained" deaths.>
All I have in the tank are 2 platy's and 1 guppy. Let me back up and say that I lost an additional platy that was in this tank, only a few days ago.
I did not have any nitrate/ammonia test strips at home so I had to make a quick guess.
<You should have these two test kits: pH and nitrite (nitrite with an "i", not nitrate with an "a"). If you give me these two pieces of information, I can be A LOT more helpful.>
Well the moment I added the salt & air stone the platy I love came out of hiding and looking sick, and started to soar all over the tank, and is doing just fine. I was so excited as this is the first time I have been able to reverse a death. However the guppy after only one night in the brackish tank, has taken fatally ill. The last time I saw him this morning he was shaking under a rock, and now I have come home 6 hours later and he is nowhere to be found.
<The amount of salt you added, 1 tablespoon/3 teaspoons per US gallon is not that much. I actually prefer weights because not everyone's spoons are the same sizes! One level teaspoon of salt should be about 6 grammes, which is very easy to remember. A tablespoon will be three times that, i.e., 18 grammes. Normal seawater contains about 35 grammes of marine salt mix per litre, or about 6 teaspoons. One US gallon is 3.8 litres, so that's 133 grammes per US gallon. The reason I'm telling you all this is to point out that your roughly 18 grammes of salt per gallon, or 4.7 grammes per litre, is about one-seventh (14%) the salinity of normal seawater. That's well within the tolerances of Guppies and Platies. So there's no reason at all to imagine the salt killed either fish.>
I have not removed everything yet to find him. As the tank was just cleaned and set back up and the air stone is just perfect.
<Okay. But you really do need to test the pH (to see if the water chemistry is right for livebearers) and the nitrite (to make sure water quality is good). You want a pH around 7.5, and a nitrite level of zero.>
Questions: Is the salt compatible with guppies (brackish water)?
<Yes. In fact Guppies are arguably happier and healthier in slightly brackish water. Certainly they do better in such conditions than they will do in soft water.>
And how long can I leave the guppy "lost" or dead before I have to find him?
<If he's alive, you should see him within the next day or two. Check he hasn't jumped out, swum into the filter, got stuck behind objects inside the tank, etc.>
Will disease travel throughout the tank if not removed promptly?
<Depends on the disease. Many are opportunistic, and they exists in most aquaria all the time. They only cause problems when we, the aquarists, stress our fish and weaken their immune systems.>
If I find him, alive but sick, is there anything I can do for the poor guy.
<Depends on what's wrong with him. You haven't really supplied me with any useful information on water chemistry or water quality. Without lists of symptoms, or a photo (no bigger than about 500 KB!) I can't say anything at all about disease.>
If I take him out of the brackish water the tank I put him in will not have cycled water in it?
<And that would be bad.>
I appreciate your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Update: Brackish water and Guppies?
In response to some of your questions below; first let me state none of my fish are female livebearers.
All 3 fish are MALE 2 small Platies and 1 guppy, so I thought a 10 gal was more than adequate.
<Not the case, unfortunately. Males will squabble in tanks this small.>
I was able to test the water today and it appears the Nitrate is in caution (20ppm) the nitrite is perfect! (0) The hardness is ideal (300ppm). The alkalinity is high (300ppm) and the PH is between 8-8.5 Please tell me what I should do to correct any of this?
<Nothing. That's all fine for livebearers.>
The guppy (which I found) is real lethargic sitting behind the filter canister, the platy that seemed to come back from the dead yesterday has been hiding under a rock ledge, and my other platy who has not showed any sign of distress is now inside the tunnel hole.
<Could be stress from fighting. But my gut feeling is Mycobacteriosis, sometimes called Wasting Disease. This is very common among livebearers.
For some reason juveniles don't often show the symptoms, but as the fish mature they start to waste away, getting thinner and often exhibiting poor colouration and sores on their flanks. It's essentially incurable and very contagious, so it's important to euthanise infected fish and isolate the affected tank from any others in your house, e.g., by not sharing nets or buckets.
Water quality seems fine, and water chemistry shouldn't be a problem either.>
Help! What do I need to do? Can I save them??
<Sorry I can't offer any better advice. A photo of the ailing fish would really help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Update and photos 9/3/10
I appreciate all your advice, but still you keep making reference to livebearers, which I thought were only females?
<Nope. "Livebearers" is the word given to species that produce fully-formed young rather than eggs. Both male and female Guppies and Platies are livebearers. Just the same way both men and women are placental mammals, even though it's only women who get pregnant.>
and my fish are male. They never fight. Because their is nothing to fight over.
<If you say so.>
No females ever in the house/tank. I have attached some pics however I am afraid they are not clear enough very hard to do.
<Indeed. With respect, blurry photos don't help me at all. I can't really tell anything about the fish from that photo. Do use the "macro" setting on your camera, and you'll find close-up shots easier to take.>
The yellow one is the guppy that is very sick, sits by back of filter, but will come out and swim all around and eat. The orange platy appears to be fine. The white spotted Platies (very rare gorgeous fish) is the one I love the most.
His color is very brilliant white not faded at all. but his gills are red and look a little swollen but seem to have always been like that. These 3 fish have been in this tank for at least 6 months if not longer. Other fish have passed on but it never affected them.
<Do understand that Guppies and Platies should live 3-4 years. If they only live for a year, then something may be amiss with the aquarium or the way you are keeping them. Review the needs of livebearing fish:
Also review the basics of fishkeeping:
Be under no illusion about this: 99% of premature deaths in aquaria are caused by the fishkeeper doing something wrong. In the right conditions, fish are much less likely to get sick than most other pet animals.>
This gut feeling you have about Mycobacteriosis does it affect males?
and will they still be so eager to eat, as mine are?
<Generally no. So that's a good sign. If Mycobacteriosis isn't the issue, review Finrot, which affects the fins and skin and looks like red or white patches. Finrot is almost always caused by either physical damage or poor environmental conditions. It's easy enough to cure if caught early, but you do need to provide the right living conditions for them to recover.
They come running out of hiding and scarf the food down. Very strange. I also thought maybe the airstone bubbles/noise could be spooking them or is stressful, hence making them hide.
<Possibly; Guppies dislike strong water currents, but at the same time, one small airstone shouldn't be a big deal.>
Won't more salt be helpful to stop the infection from spreading so quickly?
<No, salt doesn't have any effect on Finrot or bacterial infections. Marine fish can get Finrot, and they're kept in seawater! Anyone who tells you salt helps cure bacterial diseases is an idiot.>
Or other bacteria kill stuff?
<If by "bacteria kill stuff" you mean an antibiotic medication like Maracyn, or an antimicrobial product like eSHa 2000, then yes, that can help.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pix too poor to be of use 

Re: macro pics   9/4/10
I am going to try one more time. I have attached 3 pix of Butter Cup the yellow guppy. I know it still may be hard to see the coat of his body.
<Still impossible to see anything. If the image isn't sharp, it's useless. Try, try, and try again, I'm afraid! Don't point the camera directly at the glass because then it acts like a mirror; angle the camera so you're pointing slightly below or above the fish. The flash won't bounce off the glass so badly.>
His fins look good to me no rot, however his gills are severely deformed and I think you can notice that a bit in the photo's, can you see it?
<Not really. But anyway, if the deformity to the gill covers have always been there, then the chances are they're not the cause of sickness. If the gills have suddenly become deformed, then that's another issue, and most likely an issue connected to water quality.>
Other than a slight bent posture which he always had that I thought was odd, the gills are the only thing looking really wrong. In the first pix as luck has it, there is a pretty good shot of Paprika the spotted platy with the orange tail. She looks okay to me, except as you can see the pix her gills are very red. Is this normal?
<Not normal. You shouldn't normally see the red gill filaments at all. In some cases inbreeding means that the gill covers are deformed and the gill filaments are more obvious. While such fish might be marginally more delicate, there's no particular reason deformed gill covers should cause sickness. But as stated before, if the gills have suddenly become deformed or more obviously red, then that's a problem.>
One more issue I do have a lot of direct sunlight from a sky light just above the tank, sometimes during peak time I will shade the tank with a towel. However I do have a lot of algae. I try and clean it off often. However I am wondering if algae can cause sickness?
<No, but overheating if temperature goes up dramatically can stress fish.>
What is the best way to control Algae?
<Read here:
Usually the addition of fast-growing plants under bright lighting is required. The addition of algae-eating Nerite snails may help, but every time you add an animal to an aquarium you make water conditions worse. Shops will sell you algae-eating fish, but mostly these are more trouble than they're worth, especially the cheap "Chinese Algae Eaters" and common Plecs.>
Lastly, if your advice is still euthanasia. Which is the most humane way? I heard to drop the fish in ice cold water, I also heard let it freeze slowly to death in the freezer.
<Not quite.>
the Internet says to smash its head with a hammer. I am afraid I could not do that one. If we are sure. I don't want to see the little guy suffer, so please let me know your preferred method.
<Do read here:
Once again Thank you very much, I appreciate all the advice you are giving me.
<Always glad to help. Cheers, Neale.> 


To salt or not to salt...    9/1/10
Hey crew!
<Hello Matt,>
I'm starting a brand new 29 gallon tank this week. Been adding bacteria and was told to put in a black molly.
<Why? A very bad first fish for a freshwater aquarium. Quite a good choice for brackish and marine tanks though.>
From what I read on your site (I've read A LOT) that was a good thing for them to suggest.
<See above.>
I'm in the waiting period for the cycle right now and while waiting I'm reading up on the next fish that I'll be purchasing. Reading a lot about freshwater, adding salt or full barack.
<Brackish, not Barack, who if I recall correctly is the President of the United States of America.>
My question is simply what is the best direction to go from here. I'd like a tank with some specific things going on and I'm not sure which tank type would best serve my desires.
<Ah, I see. If you want Mollies, the best approach is to understand their needs, and then at the very least choose companions that will tolerate slightly brackish conditions, should you need to add some salt. Neon tetras would be bad, but Australian Rainbowfish would be good. Corydoras catfish bad, but Brown Hoplo catfish good. Clown loaches bad, Horseface loaches good.
If you aren't wedded to the idea of keeping Mollies, then of course you can choose plain vanilla freshwater fish, though I'd recommend you choose species that appreciate your local water chemistry. If you have hard water, then hard water fish livebearers are good choices; if you have soft water, then tetras are more sensible.
I'd like a school of colorful active fish swimming around, I'd also like a few bottom dwellers (I'd like invertebrates, but keeping the tank clean and healthy is my main focus), and a "show-fish" of some type.
<Indeed. Read above.>
A cool looking one that gets up to 4 or 5", but obviously not too big for my tank. I'm not going to jump into real plants yet. I'm not interested in breeding or anything yet so I'd either like the bottom dwellers or large fish to take care of any fry, or not mix males and females.
<If you keep Mollies, Glassfish (good in freshwater or brackish water) or Knight Gobies (brackish water only) will eat any fry produced.>
I've read compatibility charts after compatibility charts but it's difficult to put together names of fish with how they look all while remembering which are freshwater and which are barack. I'm learning that I can't ask the people at our pet store and trust their answers!
<It's really not that hard. Start by establishing your water chemistry.
Soft water, hard water, or if you add marine salt mix, brackish water. Then decide the water temperature. Neons and Platies for example need cooler water than Angelfish or Guppies. By the time you've reviewed these factors, you can then go through your aquarium book and choose the species you want to keep. Let's say you have hard freshwater but don't want to add marine salt mix. So you won't want to buy Mollies. You further decide to keep the tank relatively cool, 24 C/75 F. Good choices for such a tank include Platies, Swordtails, Zebra Danios, Peppered and Bronze Corydoras, X-ray
Tetras, Blind Cave Tetras, Bristlenose Catfish, Australian Rainbowfish and Florida Flagfish.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: To salt or not to salt...   9/4/10

Thank you very much for the information!
<Happy to help.>
Read the articles and did the research on my water. Chose to go pure freshwater.
The black molly served it's purpose in cycling my tank, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10 nitrates but since I decided to go freshwater I returned him to the store. Also picked up some test kits and found out that my water was soft and had decent pH (7.4).
I decided to go with a final 29g tank setup of 2 angelfish, 5 swordtails (1m, 4f), and 6 Cory cats.
<Not a perfect set of animals. Corydoras and Swordtails prefer quite cool water and quite strong water currents; Angelfish prefer warm water and gentle water currents. You can keep them together, but you will need to be careful.>
Should I consider trying to keep my pH lower with each water change or just leave it stable?
<Leave it where it is. If you think pH is important, you haven't understood what you've read! pH is remarkably unimportant, and provided it's around 7, it's fine, whether slightly above or slightly below. Hardness is far more important.>
I'm currently going with 78 degrees, good?
<Not for Corydoras or Swordtails, both of which do best between 72-75 F/22-24 C. The exception among Corydoras is Corydoras sterbai, which will do well in the water Angelfish enjoy. If you can find them, Brochis splendens is superficially similar to Corydoras aeneus but unlike Corydoras aeneus it is happy in deep, warm water like that Angelfish enjoy. Because your water is soft, I'd skip Swordtails altogether, and instead keep something like Harlequin Rasboras or the very hardy X-ray Tetras, schooling fish that are happy in warm, soft water and don't nip fins. Avoid Neons and Danios -- these also like cool water. Barbs can be okay, but some species, like Tiger Barbs, are nippy, and will harass Angels. Do also remember adult Angels are predatory, and small fish like Neons and male Guppies are food as far as they're concerned.>
I picked up my angelfish first, will add the others slowly. The angelfish that I picked up are quite small. Slightly over 1".
<Very, very delicate at this size. Would not recommend buying them this small.>
The filter I'm using filters 200 gallons per hour. Are the currents created by my filter (and 2 airstones maybe?) causing my fish to move quickly from cover to cover instead of swimming around?
<Perhaps. Angelfish you buy in shops are hybrids to be sure, but all Angelfish species evolved in sluggish, slow-moving waters moving around sunken wood. They aren't able to swim strongly at all. They're happiest
with water turnover rates of 4-6 times the volume of the tank per hour, i.e., for a 30 gallon aquarium, a filter rated at 120 to 180 gallons per hour. If the water current is strong, use vertical objects like bogwood, rocks, slates and tall plants to create still areas around the tank where the fish can hover. Or else, if your filter has an adjustment dial, turn down the flow rate until the Angels feel more comfortable.>
Possibly staying hidden because of there being no dither fish?
<Perhaps. Certainly, Angels are happiest kept in tanks with dither fish.>
Just needing to stay in the tank for a few more days to get used to it?
Just want to make sure my filter isn't causing these new little guys/girls to be stressed out unnecessarily.
I *think* I've got a good grasp on what's going on because of the info on your site. Just wanting to make sure before problems arise rather than after!
<Very good.>
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Fish Tolerance to Aquarium Salt   7/1/10
I discovered today that I have an Ich outbreak in my 20 gallon tank which I attribute to the mollies that I just added. As I am going away for the weekend on Friday, I would like to use the heat/salt method to treat the tank. I am worried, however, that some of my fish will not tolerate the salt. The tank is stocked with: 4 Mollies, 2 Platies, 3 Danios, and 1 Bristlenose Pleco. Is it ok to add salt to a tank with these fish or should I only raise the temperature and skip the salt? If the salt will work, how much would you recommend using? Also, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are all good. Thank you in advance for all of
your help.
<At the low dose required -- 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt per gallon -- salt will not cause any stress to your fish. Indeed, the key thing about salt is that it is LESS stressful to freshwater fish that the more widely used alternatives such as formalin. That's why you use salt when medicating sensitive fish like stingrays and Mormyrids. In fact I just finished using the salt/heat method to treat an aquarium of my own that contained soft water fish including Corydoras, a whiptail catfish, a cherry-fin loach and Celebes halfbeaks. One quick tip though: add the salt it batches. Count up how many teaspoons of salt you need, add to a jug of warm water, and then add that to the aquarium in 3-4 batches across an hour or two. Cheers, Neale.>

Livebearers and Salt   5/2/10
I have a 40 gallon freshwater tank and in it is gouramis, swordtails, neon tetras and a Pleco.
<Most Plecs will quickly outgrow 40 gallons, assuming we're talking about Hypostomus/Pterygoplichthys type things.>
I have tested the water and had it tested by two different pet stores and both stores said the water quality is fine and it was fine when I tested
<"Fine" doesn't mean much; give me the numbers. Why? Because what's "fine" for Neons can be lethal for Swordtails. Neons come from soft, acidic streams and are happiest maintained between pH 6.5 and 7.5, hardness 5-10 degrees dH. Swordtails come from limestone streams, and they need much more alkaline water: pH 7.5-8, hardness 10+ degrees dH. You can't actually create conditions ideal for both species, so whatever you do, one will always be stressed to some degree.>
and there is <are> no signs of any parasites or anything on any of the fish they look fine but for some reason some of the swordtails have been sluggish, lethargic and sit at the bottom of the tank and I have lost a couple of them
<Swordtails need a bunch of things to be happy. Firstly, the water shouldn't be too warm: 22-25 C/72-75 F. Secondly, the water should be hard and alkaline, as explained above. Finally, the water needs a strong water current. Just look at their streamlined shape! Gouramis are fish for swampy habitats, so they have deep bodies. Swordtails have streamlined shapes, and need strong water currents. Gouramis would hate the sort of tanks Swordtails prefer, and vice versa. As we state repeatedly here at WWM, it's critical to choose fish that share the same requirements: water chemistry, temperature, and water current.>
however the gouramis, tetras and Pleco all seem perfectly fine and there has been no new fish added to the tank so I am at a loss as to what's wrong with them.
<See above.>
I went to a well known pet store and "knowledgeable" after telling her everything I just told you and testing my water witch <which> again came out fine told me that anytime they are sluggish or clamped fins and no signs of disease witch there isn't to add salt to the water and she even demonstrated for me she grabbed a handful of salt and threw it into the tank and said that's what you do so I bought a box
<Hmm... not really what you're meant to do. In some instances salt is therapeutic, but you have to measure the amount of salt you use, at least approximately.>
I however have not used it yet because after some reading around on the internet I have seen a lot of back and forth some saying no way !! Do not use salt !!!
<The addition of 2-3 grammes of salt per litre can be therapeutic when livebearers aren't behaving properly, especially in soft water conditions. But that amount of salt will stress soft water fish like Neons in the long term.>
And I checked with a smaller locally owned very good pet store that has been around for 40 yrs and I trust there knowledge and have had very good luck with any fish I have bought there...asked them about adding salt after explaining the situation and they also said no you don't need to add salt just put in a good water treatment/conditioner as that has worked very well for them over the years.
<It is certainly true that you do not need to use salt for Swordtails, Platies or Guppies if the aquarium has clean, hard, basic water. Mollies is more of a tricky one, since they really do seem to need at least slightly
brackish conditions to be "easy" to keep.>
So I am rather confused do I add salt or no as there is soooo much back and forth about it or add a some water conditioner and just let things be for a bit ?
<See above. Without knowing real details about your tank, I can't say anything sensible. In the meantime do read:
Any help or advice would be great. Thank you in advance.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Livebearers and Salt   5/3/10

It sounds like the best way to go is ether with gouramis or Swordtails and that they are not the best to mix together
Heh as far as keeping them both happy and comfortable ..can gouramis and tetras survive and be comfortable in the same tank ?
<Yes, so long as the Tetras you choose [a] need the same temperature water; and [b] they aren't a nippy species like Serpae, Black Widow, Colombian and a few other tetras species.>
And thanks a lot for the info you gave me it was very helpful.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Livebearers and Salt

Do you know of any good sites that give you some guidelines as to what are suitable tank mates for gouramis (gold gouramis) ?
<Do read here, and linked articles:
Female Three-spot Gouramis are basically peaceful and can be mixed with most community fish that require similar water chemistry, temperature.
Males are aggressive towards one another and other gouramis, and sometimes also similar-looking fish, for example Angelfish.>
Just so I know in future what fish to avoid mixing with them chances are for awhile at least I am not going to introduce any new fish for awhile but its still good to have something to refer to.
<Good choices would be Diamond Tetras, X-ray Tetras, Lemon Tetras, Penguin Tetras, Harlequin Rasboras, Scissortail Rasboras, Corydoras sterbai, Ancistrus spp. catfish, Horseface Loaches, Kuhli Loaches, Cherry Barbs, 5-banded Barbs, among others.>
Thanks again for your help :)
<Cheers, Neale.>

salt in freshwater aquariums -- 02/02/10
I'm curious if maintaining a salt level in a freshwater aquarium provides any benefit.
<Usually, none.>
I've read so many different opinions that I thought I ask would about my specific setups.
<Has been discussed to death, I agree. But aquarium health books written by vets and biologists all agree that adding salt to freshwater tanks -- except as a specific treatment to a certain disease -- is usually pointless.>
The first is a 29 gallon with several different goldfish and one albino chocolate Pleco. The second is a 90 gallon community with tiger barbs, panda barbs, green tiger barbs, counterfeit silver dollars, lyre tail mollies, Golden killifish, Siamese algae eaters, Albino dwarf catfish, bristle nose Pleco , African dwarf frogs and several live plants. I've read that many people put as much a one tablespoon per 5 gallons but that seems like a lot.
<Do understand the salinity of normal seawater is about 35 grammes per litre of water. That's about 6 teaspoons or 2 tablespoons of marine salt mix per litre. 5 gallons is about 19 litres, meaning normal seawater contains about 19 x 6 tablespoons = 114 tablespoons of marine salt mix. So your one tablespoon is less than one-hundredth the salinity of normal seawater. A can of soda will contain more salt than that. It's a useless, meaningless amount of salt that won't do anything much.>
I know the live plants don't tolerate much
<Actually, that's not true. Some aquarium plants will tolerate brackish water rather better than many fish!>
but I'd like to know if there is a level that will provide some benefit.
<None. Back in the prehistory of the hobby, adding salt was common. Sodium chloride does detoxify nitrate, and given people did water changes very rarely, this might have been helpful. It's the same reason carbon was used in the past. Like salt, carbon is obsolete now because we have better filters and above all do more water changes. At best, adding salt does nothing, but there are some specific situations where adding salt may cause harm over the long term. See, for example, Malawi Bloat, a syndrome particular to cichlids where constant exposure to salt is believed to be a triggering factor.>
There is so much conflicting info on the net about using salt in freshwater aquariums a good article by you guys would be great, if I missed something that's already posted please forgive me.
<A good idea for an article!><<I'll say! RMF>>
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Ick Problem/ Dilemma 12/23/09
I got home from work today to discover one of my platys has Ick. I'm going to visit my parents for Christmas and I leave tomorrow afternoon. I don't have another tank to put the platy in. Should I treat the tank for Ich ASAP and perform a water change right before I leave? (20 hours from now). My room mate was going to feed the fish while I was gone, but I don't think he's going to want/ be able to perform a water change. I will be gone for 10 days.
Thanks again WetWebMedia for the invaluable help.
<Just treat using the salt/heat method.
This will cause no problems for your Platies, and the Ick parasite life cycle will be broken. If you're keeping Platies on their own or with other livebearers, then you can raise the specific gravity up to 1.003 (5-6 grammes/litre). Otherwise, aim for about half that dose. Raise the temperature to 25 degrees C, maybe slightly higher (Platies as you know should be kept cooler most of the time, 22-24 C being the ideal, much above that being stressful over the long term). Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ick Problem/ Dilemma

So performing a 50% water change with a good gravel vacuum before I go, treat with aquarium salt, and raise the temperature should be sufficient.
And hope for the best over the next 10 days?
<Well, they will need some food. Feeding blocks are useless, but a couple of blanched lettuce leaves and a wedge of courgette should keep them going, Platies being herbivores. Weight these down with that lead strip used to hold aquarium plants in place.>
I have 3 gouramis and a Pleco in the tank, will this change anything?
<Not really.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Ick Problem/ Dilemma

With a 25 gallon aquarium with fish other than live bearers (gouramis), am I right in assuming I should add 25-30g of salt?
Thanks again,
<In US gallons, you're aiming for 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt per gallon. One level teaspoon is about 6 grammes, or 0.22 oz. Cheers, Neale.>

Epsom Salt Dosage - safe level for African cichlid fry
Rusty Cichlid Injured/Diseased   12/22/09

Hello Crew, I have a Iodotropheus sprengerae (Rusty) cichlid that appears to have damaged it's eye - I noticed it a week ago - it was scarily swollen but he was acting normal and the swelling seemed to go down so I thought I
dodged a bullet. Over the weekend, he was appearing to not feel well - not eating, just hanging amongst the rocks and the eye, although not nearly as swollen looks cloudy. Today while feeding the rest, he got chased out of the rocks and ended up at the top corner of the aquarium - amazingly enough I was able to pop a hatch and get him netted. It's a 240g with 70 cichlids and full rockwork - netting him was incredibly lucky.
So I carted him over to my 10 gallon that has one inhabitant, a Astatotilapia latifasciata (Obliquiden Zebra) fry that is about 3/8" long.
His name is Lucky as I found him the day after Thanksgiving floating at the top of the tank (Oh Noes - dead baby) but when I netted him, he started doing back flips! I have lots of Pseudotropheus sp. demasoni (Pombo Rocks) fry that are surviving in the main tank but the Zebra fry just don't seem to be smart enough to make it. Anyway, I was thinking on using Epsom Salt on the Rusty but am concerned that a concentration enough to aid him might cause harm to the fry. (Could not find in the FAQ on Epsom salt and fry).
In observing the Rusty, he is seems to be gasping. He has a couple of areas on his side that appear to injuries to his scales (very very small but noticeable) His dorsal fin looks like it's been nipped in a couple of spots and he's currently got his head stuck in the stream of bubbles from the airstone! His fins are not clamped but he's not swimming very much and the tail fin seems to be curving up. He's not well. He is about 3" long.
What would you recommend for dosing level and for how long? Should I consider treating with Ethyromicin also? And if I did use an antibiotic, the same question comes up as to enough medicine to treat him could possibly be harmful to the fry. My well water from the tap is pH 8.2, KG/GH 12 so frequent water changes are not a hassle.
Main Tank: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 20 nitrate (time for the weekly wc). QT: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10 nitrate
Thank You in advance. I LOVE this website and all the good that you do.
Dawn Gulick
< Thank you for your kind words. Forget the salt as a treatment. At this stage you need some serious antibiotics. I would recommend Nitrofuranace or another Furazone type antibiotic. The eye problem s probably a symptom of an internal infection as well. When you treat the tank, the antibiotics will probably not affect the fry directly. It will or may affect the biological filtration so there may be deadly ammonia spikes. Any nitrogenous wastes have an affect on the growth rate of young fish. Try and keep the water quality as good as possible after the treatment until the biological filtration get back up and going. It may be almost like starting from scratch.-Chuck> 

How to turn brackish water to fresh water?  12/17/09
Hello crew ok I was told at Wal-Mart that all fish needed a little salt in there water
<Good gravy! They told you that! Very, very wrong of them...>
well now I have found out that my pictus catfish cant have salt in its water
<Depends how much salt you've been adding. A teaspoon of salt per gallon will make no real difference either way. This DOES NOT make brackish water, but NEITHER does it stress freshwater fish. Adding tiny amounts of salt like this is what people did decades ago. It worked because people didn't really understand about water quality and water chemistry, and in small amounts sodium chloride (i.e., table salt) reduces the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate. So adding salt was the lesser of two evils. The fish people kept in the 1950s and 1960s were pretty tough species, so they weren't too fussed about the salt, and without the salt, the dangerous levels of nitrite and nitrate would have killed them anyway. But nowadays we keep a wider range of fish, and many fish that were hardy in the 1950s are delicate now because of the inbreeding required to create "fancy" Guppies or whatever.>
so now I would like to know how to turn brackish water into freshwater?
<Just stop adding the salt.>
I have had him in brackish water for almost a year now and he has done fine but I imagine he is not very happy.
<Indeed not. Actually, most catfish in the family Pimelodidae are very adaptable, and some species at least do occur in brackish water (for some of the time, anyway). So tiny amounts of salt aren't likely to cause serious harm. But you are correct in believing that the correct water chemistry is plain vanilla freshwater conditions. Aim for 5-20 degrees dH, a pH around 7 to 7.5, and water temperature no higher than 25 C (77 F).
Naturally, you want 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. Pimelodus pictus is a schooling catfish, and best kept in groups of three or more specimens.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: how to turn brackish water to fresh water?  12/17/09

Ok well what Wal-Mart told me to use is aquarium salt and its directions for use is add 1 rounded tablespoonful for every 5 U.S.. gallons, or 1/2 rounded teaspoon for every U.S.. gallon of aquarium water.
<You do realise these amounts are different? One level tablespoon (and these are always done level, not rounded) is three level teaspoons. Ergo, one tablespoon per 5 gallons would be three teaspoons per 5 gallons. The fact these people can't even add up properly should be a clue they don't know what they're talking about.>
So I'm confused is this ok for guppies, mollies, Platies and swordtails?
<Guppies, Platies and Swordtails don't need salt. They need hard, basic water. In other words, high levels of general hardness and carbonate hardness. Aquarium salt (i.e., sodium chloride) DOES NOT raise either general or carbonate hardness. Salt changes salinity, not hardness or pH.
If you live in a hard water area, you should be able to maintain Guppies, Platies and Swordtails without adjusting water chemistry at all. Use your water chemistry test kits -- and I assume you have some -- to check, at minimum, the pH and general hardness. If you find the pH is around 7.5, and the general hardness somewhere in the "medium hard" to "hard" range, you're fine. Mollies are a bit trickier. They can be maintained in plain hard water just like Guppies, Platies and Swordtails, but they are EASIER to maintain in water that has some marine salt mix added -- not plain tonic/aquarium salt, but the stuff used in reef tanks. Add at around 5 g/l (about 0.8 oz/US gal.).>
Or do they need more salt? I also want to put albino Cory catfish, Pleco and zebra Danios fish in a bigger aquarium with my mollies Platies swordtails.
<You cannot add marine salt mix in the amounts preferred by Mollies in a tank containing Corydoras, Plecos, or Danios. On the other hand, if you don't add any marine salt mix, and you take a chance on your Mollies staying healthy, you can add whatever fish you want, assuming the water is moderately hard to hard and the pH around 7.5. Actually, let me modify this slightly by observing that whereas Danios, Corydoras, Swordtails and Platies are best kept somewhat cool, 22-24 C (72-75 F), Guppies and especially Mollies do better when kept much warmer, around 28 C (82 F).>
Is this amount of salt ok for all fish listed? Thank you so much.
<Do read up on the needs of fish PRIOR to purchase. Unless you have a darn good reason to believe otherwise, it is generally safe to assume that clerks in stores not dedicated to tropical fish do not know what they're talking about. Buy/borrow a book; e-mail us; read over the WWM site.
Anything. But just don't ever trust the word of someone trying to sell you something. You wouldn't when buying a car or choosing a new outfit, so why do so with livestock? Cheers, Neale.>
Re: how to turn brackish water to fresh water?  12/17/09

Thank you. I'm going to get a 75 gallon aquarium and I want to put Platies, swordtails, mollies, albino Corys and maybe a Pleco I'm not going to add any salt and hope for the best
<Not exactly the best approach. Much better to choose fish that require the same conditions (both temperature and water chemistry) and then optimise the aquarium to provide those conditions. Hoping for the best is, among other things, how the UK and US governments managed to screw up our respective economies.>
for my mollies but do u think they will be ok and also would a dragon goby be ok in freshwater or not?
<Absolutely not. Dragon Gobies (Gobioides broussonnetii) are BRACKISH water fish and the stores that sell them as freshwater fish are taking advantage of the ignorance of their customers. These fish rarely live long in
freshwater aquaria. In brackish water aquaria they are hardy and quite easy to keep, though they do need very specific types of foods (not flake!), a soft sandy substrate, and plenty of room (they reach 50 cm in length).
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: how to turn brackish water to fresh water?  12/17/09
Ok well definitely not getting a dragon goby. So will mollies do good in freshwater or will they have lots of problems?
<... ? Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm
and the linked files above. Please search, and read before writing us. Bob Fenner>

Question RE previous advice given by Neale, H20 chem., FW    5/7/09
I wrote in a week (?) ago or so about water chemistry, and having a high level of sulphur in my well water. I am taking Neale's excellent advice and have decided to keep Mollies for starters once my tank is done cycling. My question now is regarding the salt mix. I'm going to maintain my SG level at 1.005 (hope I got that right), and looked at the salt mix recipe listed on your site (Epsom, baking soda, marine salt). I purchased some Instant Ocean marine salt mix to use, I'm hoping this is the right stuff. Here is the meat of my question: I read on your page about what different ingredients do to PH and hardness, since my water has a very high PH (about 8.4), and is very hard carbonate and bicarbonate, will the salt mix (or some of the individual ingredients that is) raise these even higher?
<The effect will be marginal; while marine salt mix contains some carbonate hardness, carbonate and bicarbonate are buffering in both directions:
besides stopping acidification, they also inhibit pH rises above a certain level too.>
Is there maybe an ingredient I should leave out? Or, since I gathered from reading, "tonic" salt won't do anything to PH would that be a better choice?
<Tonic salt isn't a better choice, though I dare say given your local water conditions, it would work adequately well. In any case, Mollies (and livebearers generally) are happiest in "liquid rock" so what you're doing here isn't going to cause them any hardship.>
Thanks again for you all of your help, and sorry I don't seem to grasp all the concepts easily!
Thanks again!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Requesting small freshwater aquarium stocking advice 3/26/09
Hi Neale.
<Hello Nick,>
Super duper quick question for you. Is this considered Rift Valley salt:
There were a couple Cichlid salts and I just wanted to make sure I got the right one in reference to our below conversation.
<If "rolling your own" doesn't appeal, then any of these commercial cichlid salts should stabilize pH by raising carbonate hardness (~ alkalinity). Pick whichever is economical, and start by using a much lower dose than required for Malawian cichlids; I'd suggest 25-33% dosages to begin with.>
Thanks so much and see, sometimes when I say I'll be quick, I really am (unfortunately that's pretty rare though!). Thanks a ton!-Nick
<Cheers, Neale.>

Fancy Guppies (salinity, calculations thereof) -- 03/02/09 Dear Crew, I am keeping fancy guppies. I have several ten gallon tanks for breeding them in. I am using the Jungle six in one test strips and nitrates are 0-20, nitrites are 0-20, hardness is 150+, chlorine is 0 (well water), KH is 180, and PH is between 7.8 and 8.4. These tanks have been set up a week now. I would like to complete the set up using instant ocean. My question is: Is there a cooking spoon measure that corresponds with the proper amount of salt per gallon and if so, what is it. Thanks for the help. Bill <Hello Bill. There's a reason we don't recommend weight or volume measurements for adding salt: once a salt package is opened, it absorbs water from the air, so over time a given weight or volume of salt actually contains a bit less salt than you think, because some of that measurement is water, not salt. Once you've added some salt to the water, you use a hydrometer to test the salinity via a proxy measurement, density (in this case called specific gravity, or SG for short). For guppies, a low salinity is ample, around SG 1.003 being perfect, and even a bit less being more than adequate. It isn't essential to add salt, but it does help if you live in a soft water or high nitrate area. Now, a salinity of 6 grammes per litre is roughly SG 1.003 at 25 degrees C, and very conveniently, 6 grammes of salt happens to be about the same as one level teaspoon. So if you're prepared to use the metric system, estimating the amount of salt couldn't be easier! Roughly one teaspoon of marine salt mix per litre of water will get perfect Guppy water! If you absolutely must work in US gallons and ounces, you'll find my Brack Calc tool flips between both measuring systems as well as salinity and specific gravity. It's a free application and runs on Macs and Windows PCs. http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/Programs/brackcalc.html Hope this helps, Neale.>

How to use Epsom salt 11/21/08
Good Morning, Thank you very much for your prompt reply. Sorry for bothering you guys again. Our goldfish is in 2.65 gallon tank with a filter, aerator, and airstones ( we got the new big tank it is cycling right now).
She is hanging near the surface nearly vertically, has completely clamped her fins to her body, not eating much like her usual self and has something not sure what on her body like a clear and in some places cloudy film, and one wispy strand on her head that has since disappeared after putting in PimaFix. After reading through your website came to the conclusion she has some kind of parasitic infection and not the fungal infection. In some places it is mentioned to use 1 table spoons of Epsom salt for 5 gallons, and in some use the 2-3 table spoons of aquarium salts. Want to know what should be used for treating her and how much. The water is in perfect condition with Ammonia = 0 ppm, Nitrites = 0 ppm, Nitrates = 5 ppm and pH = 7.5. She has always been kept with aquarium salt in her water about 1 table spoon in 5 gallons, as it was suggested by the Pet Smart where we got her. How do we go about removing that completely and putting in Epsom salt.
Your help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
<Greetings. When using Epsom salt, a good dose is 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons of water. You can use it alongside aquarium salt without problems, even though aquarium salt isn't necessary when keeping Goldfish. HOWEVER, your aquarium is ridiculously small; 2.65 gallons is NOT NEARLY enough space for a Goldfish. I would move the Goldfish to your new, big tank IMMEDIATELY.
Even if it isn't 100% cycled yet, conditions will be much better for your Goldfish. (Especially if you do regular water changes, e.g., 25% every 2 days until the tank is cycled; and then 25-50% water changes weekly.) Why do you think this fish has a parasitic infection? Epsom salt fixes very specific things; it is a muscle relaxant and helps with constipation. It also helps to reduce certain types of swelling. But it doesn't kill parasites and it doesn't fix bacterial or fungal infections. If you think your fish has a disease caused by parasites, bacteria or fungi, then Epsom salt IS NOT what you need. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: How to use Epsom salt 11/23/08
Hi Neale, <Hello again!> Thank you for your comprehensive and informative answer. I am sorry for bothering you again. Have moved the fish to the bigger tank as you suggested. Tried the Epsom salt, she has after several days opened up all of her fins and swimming in the bottom of the tank and if you turn off the filters then she even explores the new environment (thank you very much). Have also removed the gravel and all the ornaments from the tank. <Glad she's looking better.> Our LFS people after listening to Goldie's condition said she has parasite infection and suggested the medication. She had developed tail rot in half of her tail about four weeks ago (my mistake 25% water change was made every day in her small tank and didn't do it for three consecutive days) when Melafix didn't help it was treated with Maracyn, <Melafix tends to be useless. Best avoided, despite being cheap. Maracyn much more effective: a clinically tested version of the antibiotic Erythromycin, as opposed to so-called cures like Melafix based on tea-tree oil that haven't been tested.> I didn't want to put in any more medications hence my question about the Epsom salt but when you said it doesn't heal any parasite infections, I had put the medication in the tank yesterday morning and removed the carbon from the filters. But now she has one long white stringy thing attached to her tail and something white and fluffy is on edges of the tail and I can see few red streaks in the tail that were not there yesterday and it looks like the edges are loosing colour becoming transparent and starting to fray. <Almost certainly Finrot, quite likely with a bit of Fungus thrown in (the two often occur together).> Also found one stringy wispy stuff similar to what is attached to the tail floating in the water and removed it with the net but couldn't figure out what it was. The area that was affected by the tail rot seems to be most affected now with black being covered by something white. She still seems to be covered by the film with two flecks of white on her head. All of this has developed over the night nothing was there yesterday other than the film. The water still checks out perfect with pH=7.5, Nitrates=5ppm, Nitrites=0ppm and Ammonia=0ppm. <The water is fine; keep treating for Finrot. Do not put carbon back in the filter until you have finished all treatments. In fact, I'd recommend against carbon altogether: in the Goldfish aquarium, use all the space in the filter for biological and mechanical filtration.> Can you please make a diagnoses as to what it is? Can those two flecks be Ick? Please need help, she had just recovered from the tail rot and was swimming again happy and healthy. When you put your finger in the water she would just come up and scratch her head against it, every one in our family loves it. She has become the baby of our house, and every one is really worried. Your help is very appreciated. Thank you. Best Regards, Midhat. <Cheers, Neale.>

Salt- Koi- Goldfish... and Anchorworm evidently   8/5/08 Dear WetWeb Crew, Could someone there tell me the correct amount of salt to use for medicinal purposes-salt bathes. My Koi and Gold fish have a parasite on them. It looks like a barb or needle sticking out of the base of the dorsal fin. Also how long should I leave them in the salt solution. I would greatly appreciate your help. Thanks for your time. John. <The following is a table modified from "The Interpet Manual of Fish Health", a useful little book: --- 0.1% (1 gramme per litre): General additive for livebearers or in tanks where fish show physical damage (i.e., lesions, fin damage). Use in the aquarium. 0.3% (3 g/l): Reduces nitrite toxicity or to treat physical damage. Use in the aquarium. 0.3-0.5% (3-5 g/l): To control Hydra. Use in the aquarium for no more than 5 to 7 days, then change water to gradually reduce salinity. 1% (10 g/l): To treat ulcer disease on coldwater fish. Acclimate fish gradually and then reduce salinity gradually once fish are cured. 2-3% (20-30 g/l): To remove leeches from pond fish. Use as a bath, with fish put into bath for 15-30 minute dips. --- In you case, it sounds like you have leeches or anchor worm. Salt dips will certainly deal with leeches, but anchor worms will need a specific treatment of some sort. Salt won't help because the free-living stages are in the water column, so even if the adults are killed, another generation of anchor worms will find their way onto your fish. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/contrpdparasit.htm Your local pond supplier may well have a variety of other treatments available. Cheers, Neale.>

A few Kribensis questions 4/22/08 Good afternoon. My son's Kribs have become parents, and the fry have been swimming freely now for about a week. The parents and fry are in a well planted 14 gallon tank by themselves and the parents seem to be doing a great job herding them around and leading them to food (and not eating them). <Very good! Do check the pH though: if you have a pH above 7, you'll get mostly males; if the pH is below 7, mostly females. Tropical fish shops -- for obvious reasons -- only want equal numbers of males and females, so establish the pH and then decide whether raising the fry is worth it. Remember, surplus fry in the community tank will eventually get attacked by the parents as they prepare to breed again, and that's when things become chaotic (and bloody).> The stand on which the 14 gal aquarium is on is rather large, and he was recently given a 30 long (with lighting, filter, heater!) that he would like to eventually set there, but I was not sure what the reaction would be of the Krib parents if they partially drained their tank to move it with the Kribs in it to a smaller surface, or netted them all to a temporary container/tank then moved the tank and put them back if the fry might be endangered by the parents. <Parents will likely eat the eggs/fry, and then spawn a couple of weeks later.> If they do need to wait, what is the safest time/age of the fry to move the tank. The 30 might be their eventual home after it has been properly cycled in a month or two, which is also why they would like to be able to move it sooner than later to allow time for that. <You can't move parents and fry, and then expect the "bond" between them to be stable. Rather, you wait until one batch of fry is mature enough to rear yourself (which you could do right now, but is easier after 2-3 weeks) and then remove all the fry. Then move the parents, and let them start over.> Also, I have a tank with Kribs of my own and was wondering about salts. <Kribs do not need salt. What they ideally want is soft to moderately hard water at pH 7. Anything other than that is less than ideal, and causes problems with sex ratio in the brood.> I noticed that marine salt and cichlid salt has a lot of other trace minerals that a lot that plants actually like quite a bit compared to aquarium salt which is just sodium chloride, namely potassium, calcium and magnesium. <No relation here: the minerals in marine salt aren't the ones plants use. So one doesn't remove the need for another. The *elements* like potassium may be the same, but the minerals (*compounds*) are completely different. Similar to the fact we need oxygen to breathe, but can't "breathe" carbon dioxide, despite the fact that gas contains oxygen.> Are any of these salts safe using or beneficial in a community Krib tank (with barbs, glassfish) that also has an S.A.E. and Otos. <Glassfish are quite happy with salt, but none of your other fish want/tolerate salt.> If not, and hopefully not a dumb question, what are the non-salt tolerant fish non tolerant of specifically that are in these different types of salts? Sodium in any form? <It's complicated, and to do with pH, carbonate hardness, general hardness, and salinity -- all different ways of describing different aspects of the mineral composition of water. Every environment is different, and fish evolved to work in one set of conditions may not work in another. The best thing with community fish is to aim for soft to moderate hard, zero salinity, neutral pH water. Apart from livebearers, most community fish will be very happy with that. Cheers, Neale.>

To salt are not to salt? that's the question. Adding Salt to An Oscar Tank  3/14/08 At once I want to tell you that you have a awesome website. < Thank you for your kind words.> I recommend to all fish Hobbyists. It seems I'm very confused about adding aquarium salt to my Oscars water. I know they don't need to be brackish. At the same time I read on your website that some aquarium salt is beneficial. I recently received a 50 Gallon Bowfront tank from my brother. It came with a huge Tiger Oscar, ( He's a good 12 inches if not larger) I named him Sampson. He has a 404 Fluval pumping 340 gallons a hour. Good water quality as well. My brother said he kept the water somewhat brackish. I really never heard of that. The equipment reflects it though. There is salt on the light hood and full glass hood, this is an all glass tank. My brother left town and the fish was supposed to be cared for by someone else. It wasn't. I went to break the tank down and it smelled like sewage. Even at that the fish was very healthy. I couldn't believe it. Now, to the water change. Naturally I went to fresh water because that's how Oscars are cared for. The only thing about Sampson that looks unhealthy is nose hole erosion. I figure water quality can do this. The water pH is good, I keep it vacuumed and do my water changes. You all hit the nail on the head when you say a canister is tough to clean! It takes a lot of pressure to close it back once your done cleaning. My questions are: Aquarium salt are not? <The Oscar is a cichlid which is a secondary fish that evolved from salt water damsels. They can handle some salt. A teaspoon per 10 gallons increases the slim coat on the skin and gills and may prevent some parasites from penetrating the skin.> Why the nostril erosion? < It could be a start of Hole-In-The-Head disease. It is often associated with poor water quality and poor nutrition. That that you have improved the tanks conditions it should stop but may take awhile to heal.> And what do I need to have in my 6 compartment Fluval to continue to maintain Sampson's tank? (I'm new to a canister). < Go with the manufacturers' recommendations for now and see how it works.> Will white vinegar get the salt spray or lime build up off my exterior of the tank ? <Usually the calcium will slowly come off if you use the vinegar to soak the area over a few treatments with a saturated paper towel.> I want the best for my Sampson! I just Love Him! And you guys keep up the great work! < Thanks again,-Chuck>

Epsom salt vs. aquarium salt  10/2/07 I have read many articles on salt addition to the tank. I would like to know what is the best to use and why, Epson or aquarium salt Thank You Karen <Hi Karen. There are several reasons why salt is added to aquaria, but let me make this 100% clear at the outset: routinely adding aquarium "tonic" salt to your fish tank is completely unnecessary. Salt used to be added to tanks in the days before proper filtration and regular water changes because sodium chloride reduces the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate. Consequently the fish stayed healthier than otherwise. In the modern age of efficient filters and 50% weekly water changes, adding salt is redundant. People who recommend it are "stuck in the Dark Ages" in terms of aquarium care. At best, it's a waste of money. Having made this point, it is also fair to say that salt and Epsom salt do have certain therapeutic uses. Regular salt can be used (coupled with high temperature) to cure Whitespot/Ick on fishes that react negatively to the standard copper- and formalin-based medications. Salt can also be used to keep external wounds clean and to remove things like Fish Lice. Saltwater baths can be used to treat certain diseases including Slime Disease and Flukes. Marine salt mix (a mixture of regular salt with various other mineral salts) is used to make brackish water for things like Scats and Mollies, and obviously for making up the saltwater used in marine aquaria. Epsom salt is specifically a muscle relaxant, and gets used primarily to help with constipation, where, coupled with high-fibre foods, it will provide relief for constipated fishes. But beyond these specific treatments, there's no reason to add salt to your freshwater aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>

Aquarium Questions, FW lvstk. comp., salt use  -- 10/28/07 hello, I might start a 55 gallon tank soon and I was wondering if my conditions were right for the fish I want to include below. Also, if they can all get along and if its a good amount for the tank. Please also recommend some tetras for me that get along well with angels and if Cory cats or upside down cats are better. <Mmm, Hyphessobrycons in a group are some faves... And I would go with Corydoras over the Synodontis here>  The tank will have 1 tablespoon of salt per 5 gallons, can they deal with it? <I would not add the salt... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm> Thank You! Tank Conditions: Size: 55 gallons Temp: 74-82 F PH.5.8-6.5 Current Inhabitants in my 10 gallon: 3 platys (might soon be 5 if babies live), 2 balloon belly mollies Salinity Level: 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt for every 5 gallons <Okay here, but not for Tetras, Angels...> Fish I want to add: Tetras-8 Platy-3 or 1 if the 2 babies live Balloon mollies-3 <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm> Angelfish- 5 Upside-down catfish-6 'or' Cory cats-6 Blue/gold gourami-2 Fish in total: 8 tetras 6 platys 5 balloon mollies 5 angelfish 6 upside down cats or Cory cats 2 blue/gold gouramis <Bob Fenner>
Re: Aquarium Questions... salt  10/29/07
thank you for all your help! <Welcome> I was going to add salt because I thought that it would prevent Ich. I guess its only good for treating it. <And only with certain livestock/species and settings. BobF>
Re: re: Aquarium Questions... reading, comprehension  10/29/07
So basically mollies wont do good and get diseases in the 55 gallon because I wont add salt? Thanks. <Something like this. Welcome. RMF>
Re: Aquarium Questions... still not reading re Mollies... salt... fixing English...   10/29/07
im sorry if I am bothering you guys a lot but im still pretty much a beginner so I need to know different things so there might be more questions later. Well, I still want to put my mollies in the tank. Do you think 1 tablespoon of salt per 10 gallons is okay for the fish and help prevent disease? I don't want my mollies getting sick so easily since they thrive with a little salt in the water. this is the number of the fish I plan on having in the tank: 8 tetras 6 platys 5 balloon mollies 5 angelfish 6 Cory cats 2 blue/gold Gouramis can u recommend some tetras for me that wont get eaten by the angels and wont nip fins? Thank you again! <Please understand this: Mollies are not good community fish. At the very least, they require hard (18+ degrees dH) water with high carbonate hardness (10+ degrees KH). Such water will have a very high pH (at least 7.5, and likely 8.0 upwards). Mollies also want water that has zero ammonia, zero nitrite, and as close to zero nitrate as is practical. The addition of salt isn't 100% essential, but it is something (in my experience/opinion, based on MANY years of keeping fish and discussing with other hobbyists) that makes keeping Mollies substantially easier. What the marine salt mix (not tonic salt) does is raise the hardness and pH and also reduces the toxicity of the nitrate. This latter effect is probably the critical one. By all means keep Mollies with salt-tolerant fish: Guppies, Swordtails, Hoplosternum littorale, Hypostomus plecostomus, Horseface loaches, Kribensis, Bumblebee gobies, Knight gobies, glassfish etc. Add marine salt mix at around 3-6 grammes per litre to the tank and your Mollies and your salt-tolerant fish will all thrive. Mollies under such conditions are robust and more colourful than otherwise. But don't both trying to keep Mollies in a generic community tank. Read over the Molly FAQs here at WWM, or really any other fish keeping forum -- you will see dozens and dozens of messages from people with Mollies plagued with Finrot, fungus, Mouth Fungus and "the Shimmies". Adding salt for the benefit of your Mollies will only stress all the other fish, so you're taking from Peter to give to Paul -- there's no net benefit! Choosing tetras to keep with Angels generally isn't difficult. Good choices including Bleeding Heart tetras, Lemon tetras, Emperor tetras, X-ray tetras, Head-and-tail light Tetras and Diamond Tetras. African tetras can be good, too; things like Congo Tetras. Avoid the small, reddish ones (Serpae tetras, Flame tetras, etc.) and the bite-size ones like Neons, Cardinals and Glowlights. Black Widow tetras (also known as Petticoat Tetras) are fin-nippers too. Avoid. Cheers, Neale>

Aquarium Salt 10/25/07 Hi Crew, <Hi Alan, Pufferpunk here> Can I add aquarium salt (according to instructions) to my aging water meant for water change? <There is no reason to add salt to a freshwater tank, unless treating for Ich.> By doing so, will it affect the beneficial bacteria that is already established in my tank? <It would require a great deal of salt to harm your beneficial bacteria.> Kindly advise and thanks in advance. <See: http://www.aquariumboard.com/forums/articles/4770.htm ~PP> Regards, Alan

Mollies & Salt 10/16/07 Hello! I have a 29g established freshwater tank with a variety of Mollies - Balloon Belly, Sailfin, etc. I currently keep 1 tablespoon of salt per 5g in the tank. I would like to add a Bristlenose Pleco to the tank but from what I've read they don't really like the salt. Would removing the salt - by not replacing during water changes - adversely affect the Mollies? -Chip <Hello Chip. This is a tricky question to answer. In theory, you don't need salty water to keep Mollies. So long as the carbonate hardness is high (10 degrees KH upwards); the general hardness is very high (20 degrees dH upwards); the pH is around 8.0; zero ammonia and nitrite; and nitrate less than 10 mg/l, you should have the water chemistry Mollies enjoy. An Ancistrus sp. catfish would also do well under such conditions. However, if you take you eye off the ball and any of those environmental parameters slips, for example the nitrates rise above 10 mg/l, then your Mollies will become significantly more likely to become sick. What salt does is reduce the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate, and this is one of the reasons it helps in Molly tanks. Marine salt mix also raises the carbonate hardness and general hardness providing much more stable water chemistry, which Mollies also need. Finally, marine salt mix or regular aquarium salt mix both increase salinity, and since Mollies are, at least in part, brackish water fish, this helps their overall healthfulness. The bottom line is this: Mollies are very hardy in brackish/marine aquaria, but rather delicate in freshwater aquaria. So what would I recommend? Keep the salt in the Molly aquarium. I'd actually skip the idea of Ancistrus anyway. Ancistrus eat algae, as do Mollies. Much better let the Mollies eat the algae, since it's an important part of a balanced diet. If you want a catfish, opt for one of the salt-tolerant species, such as Hoplosternum littorale. There are also some brackish water loaches, and for your tank, the Horseface Loach (Acantopsis choirorhynchos) would be an excellent choice. It's a good scavenger and basically peaceful. Both these suggestions would be very happy at SG 1.003 if acclimated carefully. Hope this helps, Neale>

Rift lake salts, GH & KH 10/3/07 Hi WWM crew, I used to have a community setup and used KH salts to buffer the system and maintain a neutral pH. I now have a community tank with a number of cichlids (calvus, dickfeldi, Kribensis) so I am using rift lake salts. I was advised to use only the rift lake salts and not the KH salts as well. I've just had a major shift in pH (to acid) and the cichlids are all sick as a result. My question is: should I be maintaining the KH buffer salts as well as the rift salts or should the rift salts have the same effect? Thanks in advance!! Lachlan <Rift Valley cichlid salts should maintain KH and pH all by themselves. Essentially, Rift Valley salts are packaged salts for raising the GH, KH, and pH of regular water so that it matches that found in either Lake Malawi or Tanganyika. That said, if you're keeping Rift Valley cichlids, you should also have some built-in carbonate hardness reserve in the aquarium. I would strongly recommend the use of either crushed coral inside a canister filter or an undergravel filter built with a coral sand/crushed coral mix. Sticking lumps of Tufa rock in the tank won't work, because for the calcium carbonate to have any value as a buffer, water must be flowing past a vast surface area of the stuff. If you have a pH crash below 7.0, then clearly you weren't adding enough Rift Valley salt given the ambient softness of your local water supply and/or the stocking level of your aquarium and/or the use of acidifying materials in the tank such as bogwood. Cheers, Neale>

Betta Popeye Not Responding to Epsom Salt  9/20/07 A week ago I noticed my male Betta, Chip had Popeye in his left eye. We have had him for 18 months. He lives in a 3 gallon Marineland Explorer tank with a filter and BioWheel. (We had gone away for a week and he got overfed - the nitrates were high, over 50.) I checked WWM and put in Epsom salt as required and I have been doing a 50% water change everyday, replacing the Epsom salt. He has been resting a lot, but comes to see me when I am near. He seems tired and the whole thing looks painful and it has not improved. When I have tried to feed him brine shrimp or bloodworms, he can't see them and they sink to the bottom. I have been giving him flake food instead and tuning off the filter so he can grab it more easily. The only things in the tank are a small decorative treasure chest, the filter tube and a silk plant for him to rest on. Any other suggestions? I am concerned about adding antibiotic to such a small tank, but I am also reluctant to let this drag on without him getting better. Asa in DC <Greetings. Pop-eye tends to be caused by two distinct things: mechanical damage (e.g., rough handling) or poor water quality. There are other things that can cause it, but not all that often. So, you need to zero out those two most likely issues. Is there anything in the aquarium that it could scratch itself on? Some people stick things like fake corals and plastic plants in tanks, and these can be fine, but in very small tanks it is so easy for a Betta to throw itself against one of these objects when alarmed. That's why I tend to prefer small tanks be decorated only with silk or real plants, and only very smooth rocks, such as water-worn pebbles. Second thing, check the water. A Betta needs water with moderate hardness, a pH around neutral, zero ammonia, and zero nitrite (with an "I"). The nitrate (with an "a") isn't such a big deal and I wouldn't worry about it. Temperature is a factor, but it isn't something I'd expect to cause pop-eye; pop-eye is really a reaction of the sensitive tissues of the eye to irritating water. Think of it as a bit like conjunctivitis on a human. Adding an appropriate antibacterial or antibiotic to the water may help to soothe the infection, and is certainly worth using. I hope this helps, Neale>

Grr....pet store people! ... salt use/FW... cycling prod.s... Using WWM    9/12/07 Good evening to you all! I hope this finds you well. Thanks again for all of your help. I've searched your site for the last few days, reading everything that even remotely applied to my tank/fish in hopes that I can learn new things to watch for so I can head off any problems. I've even read things that didn't apply sometimes because it was just plain interesting. Since our last email, I've added 1 more ADF. The original one spent a lot of time hiding and now comes out to play. I guess he/she was lonely. (I also feel like I should name them.) <Go ahead> I know I'm pushing the limits on what is "too much", but they all seem healthy/happy with no trouble maintaining proper levels. I have been doing a 25-30% water changes with gravel vacuuming twice a week. I'm wondering if I'm doing too much? <Mmm, no, not likely> Also, PetSmart suggested that I add conditioning salt <No...> to my tank because their breeders use it so the fish are accustomed to it. <...> Well, everything I bought from them died. I've asked the nice people at SuperPet and they said that it wouldn't hurt, but they don't use salts. I also use Jungle "Start Right" when doing water changes to treat for chlorine/Chloramine. It has Allantoin added to it to "promote slime coat". Isn't that a bit redundant? <Can be> Should I continue with the salt and find another treatment for the chlorine/Chloramine? <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm> Or stop with the salt? Can I just stop using it? Or should I slowly taper the level off? AGH! I promise you (and my fish) that I will never visit PetSmart again! One more thing... Though my water looks clear from a distance, when you get right up on the tank, you can see a hazy kind of something floating all around in the water. I have no idea what this is and can't find any mention of it anywhere on your site. I know this is kind of vague, but any ideas? <Likely a matter of microbial population, lack of established biofiltration... best to not feed... overfeed...> OK, so this is the last thing...lol. Another pet store recommended using Cycle (which I can only assume is comparable to what you all call Bio-Spira <Ah, no... this Hagen product is inferior> (I can't find it anywhere here). It says to use when setting up new aquarium to establish beneficial bacteria, during water changes, and when introducing new fish. Is this a product that you are familiar with and is it needed since I did cycle my tank in the beginning? <Please learn to/use the search tool on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm> Again, thank you so much for all your time and effort. I am so thankful that I stumbled upon your site (and found it interesting enough to spend the last few days here). You all are a blessing. By the way, I referred to the nice people at SuperPet to your site when I asked them a question that they couldn't answer (but at least they TOLD me they didn't know instead of guessing!). Brandi <Happy to share... Bob Fenner>

Fish and salt   7/11/07 Hello, <Ave!> After haunting my LFS for several weeks, doing research, and asking questions I started adding fish to my tank. <Very good. Welcome to the hobby!> I have a 20 gallon tall with undergravel filter, a hanging filter with Bio-Wheel, and a bubble stick. The temp is 79 degrees, PH 7.5, no ammo or nitrites, correct amount of aquarium salt as per directions (I know I will get Marine Salt in the morning), and several live plants. I do 25% water changes weekly. I think I'm taking good care of them? <Just for reference next time: a 20 gallon 'long' tank is better value -- more surface area for oxygen exchange at the top and surface area for an undergravel filter at the bottom. Otherwise all sounds fine. Salt is questionable though, and depends on the fish being kept. As you have Mollies, it makes sense, but otherwise shouldn't be used in a freshwater tank contrary to popular myth.> In the tank are 2 Platies, 1 Molly, Molly fry, 1 Corydoras (LFS said I only needed one), 1 Kuhli Loach, and 2 Mystery Snails. According to my research and LFS a good combination. <A fair rather than good combination. Mixing livebearers is safe, because they are all salt-tolerant. So even though Platies don't *need* salt, they will tolerate small amounts just fine. Corydoras are not especially salt-tolerant and some species are definitely soft water fish that don't like salt at all. They are also *schooling* fish, and should at least be kept in trios, and ideally sixes or more. Apple snails/Mystery snails are questionable in any aquarium. Fish peck at them, and they also get stressed by high temperatures. Then they die and pollute the tank. Few Apple snails last long in aquaria because they are subtropical animals that need a "resting period" each year. Most Apple snails seem to die within a year, whereas they last for many years kept properly.> I was planning on adding a few more Mollies and Platies before the babies arrived. All the fish except for the Cory seem healthy and happy. The Cory mainly just sits on the bottom and now I know why. After reading through you site I realize my fish are not living as well as they could and are not a good combination. Help, who should go and who should stay? I know for the Mollies to thrive I need much more brackish water but which of the other fish can survive this change? <I like your attitude here. You've correctly established that the combo here isn't the best, and are prepared to make changes. I wish more people thought like this. Anyway, you're probably safe with the Mollies and Platies. Adding around 4-6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water will give you a specific gravity of about 1.002 to 1.003, which is ideal for Mollies. The Platies will be fine here. The Corydoras and Kuhlii loaches are more tricky. Corydoras do not naturally come from brackish waters and many species do not even like hard, alkaline conditions. But noted catfish expert David Sands makes the point in his "Corydoras Catfish" book that 'small amounts of salt will not harm catfishes'. So assuming you have a hardy species (like bronze or peppered catfish) gradually raising the SG to 1.002 should do no harm at all. I'm less certain about the Kuhli loach. Adding salt doesn't kill fish and they aren't allergic to it. What salt does is alter their osmotic balance, their ability to control the amount of salt and water in their tissues. All fishes can, to some degree, adjust this. What differentiates freshwater fish from brackish water fish is that brackish water fish (like mollies) can make these adjustments quickly and across a very wide range. So go slowly, observe, and ensure that the other life signs, like activity and feeding, are normal. Apple snails, by the way, are salt-intolerant, but *may* adapt to very low levels. If you have the option, changing the catfish are loach and snail for hard water or salt-tolerant species might be a good idea. Bumblebee gobies, guppies, glassfish, halfbeaks, x-ray tetras, Kribensis, etc. would all be good options.> Also I rarely see the Kuhli Loach. He seems to live under the undergravel filter and only comes out at night. I must admit to doing no research on him and just taking the recommendation of the fish store. Is this normal behavior for this fish? <Totally normal. They're a waste of money in most instances because they are resolutely nocturnal animals. They are also schooling fish, so when kept singly are very VERY shy anyway.> Thanks for all of your help and the great site, Melissa <Hope this helps, Neale>

Salt in FW tank 7/9/07 I just had a question about salt in freshwater aquariums. I was wondering if gouramis will do ok with salt in the aquarium. I'd like to keep my fish healthy with some FW salt. Thanks for all the help. <This is a simple one to answer. No. Do not add salt. The labyrinth fish group is a classic "primary freshwater fish" group, that is, one that has evolved in freshwater and has a low tolerance for salt. One a very few species naturally occur in brackish waters (the two I know of are Anabas testudineus and Osphronemus goramy). All the others require freshwater conditions, and mostly soft/acid conditions at that. Adding salt will be more or less stressful to the majority of gouramis. Now here's some more advice. There is no reason, none, to add salt as a matter of course to a freshwater aquarium. Tonic/aquarium salt doesn't raise the hardness or pH, so it doesn't help livebearers or African cichlids. Salt was used historically to compensate for poor water quality, because sodium chloride reduces the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate. But unless you have a really badly maintained aquarium, this shouldn't be an issue. Tonic salt is simply repackaged cooking salt sold at an inflated price to gullible and inexperienced aquarists. Even if you need salt to treat disease, as with Whitespot or fungus say, you could simply use non-iodised cooking salt for the same effect. And even then, you'd be using the salt as a short term treatment, not a permanent part of your maintenance routine. Unless you are keeping brackish or marine fishes, you shouldn't need to add salt to the tank, and in those situations you'd be using marine salt mix, not tonic salt. Cheers, Neale>

Salt in Freshwater -- 06/07/07 Hey crew, thanks again for all your hard work! <Hello, and you're welcome.> I was in one the chain pet stores the other day and noticed they had bowls of salt in almost every tank. Just small bowls full of undissolved salt. I was told it was a preventative measure, they were not treating anything specific. <Utterly inexplicable.> Since I'm currently treating a small case of Ich using salt and increased temps, I know the uses of salt in freshwater, how to mix, etc (plenty of great information out there on the subject). <Much information, but little value. Salt, that is, NaCl or plain old cooking salt, has no real value in freshwater fishkeeping any more. I cannot express in words strongly enough on a family web site like this how annoyed I get by the widespread use of salt in freshwater aquaria. It's a hangover from the past, when people didn't have access to medications and didn't understand the value of water chemistry. But that time has passed... frequent water changes make the value of salt as a nitrite/nitrate de-toxifier unimportant, and as a therapy for Whitespot and fungus it's less effective than proper medications and likely to stress soft water fish as well as fish adapted to Malawi/Tanganyika conditions. I shudder to think how many fish have died from Whitespot and fungus because people used a "teaspoon per gallon" salt instead of proper medication of some type.> But after hours of searching, I cannot find a reference to this practice of placing a small container into the tank. Everything I have found is very clear that you should dissolve the salt and slowly add it to the tank over a couple of days when treating a health issue. <Correct. Dumping salt in the tank "as is" sounds insane, to me.> What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of simply leaving a cup of salt sitting in the corner of the tank? It just seems like a bad idea. <There are no pros at all. Lots of cons. It's so obviously crazy I can't think why anyone would do this. For one thing, you end up with a bizarre salinity gradient from the freshwater parts of the tank to the hypersaline corner where the salt mound is. While a few brackish water fish might find this kind of funky, I dread to think what Neons and angelfish would make of it. If fish eat mouthfuls of salt for some reason, they're going to go into osmotic shock. To me, this is sort of like dumping a block of uranium in the bedroom and saying its preventative chemotherapy.> Thanks again, Billy <Cheers, Neale>

Salt for Livebearers  12/30/06 Hey there, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I was wondering what kind of salt I should use for a platy and guppy tank? (1 tablespoon of table salt or kosher salt, per 5 gallons should keep them happy.  Don't forget to replace what you remove after  your weekly water change.  Place into the filter, not directly into the tank, so it doesn't land on the fish & burn them.  ~PP><<RMF suggests unwashed sea-salt... in small quantities available as "Aquarium Salt" by various companies... Aquarium Pharmaceuticals is what we used to carry>>

Epsom salt vs. rock salt - not the same thing!  11/16/06 I see. About the Epsom Salt treatment: can we use rock salt instead?  We can't find a Epsom Salt in our area.  By the way, if rock salt would do, is the ratio  just the same 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons of water? And how long will my FH be on salt treatment? Sorry for all my queries, I'm just worried about my little fellah. Kathy <Hi Kathy - you've got Jorie this time. Rock salt is not at all the same thing as Epsom salt - the latter is actually magnesium chloride.  Check out your local pharmacies for the Epsom salt - I'd be shocked if they don't have it.  It is used as a digestive aid in humans, as well as a soaking remedy for sprains, strains, bruises, etc.  With regard to how long to continue the Epsom salt treatment for, I can't give you an exact timeframe, start off with a goal of 3-4 days, then change the water.  See if there's improvement.  Can always repeat the treatment, but do remember that the Epsom salt won't evaporate, so you don't want to overdose.  Best of luck to you and your little fishy friend, Jorie>
Re: Epsom salt vs. rock salt - not the same thing!
 -- 11/19/06 Hi Jorie, Thanks for explaining the difference.  I found Epsom Salt and would do the treatment right away.  However, I have observed that his stomach is bulging and his waste is yellowish and he is not eating anything.  What medication should I apply for this? Please help me on what more I can do to save my fish. Kathy <Kathy, I believe Bob originally answered this query below...the Epsom salt was his initial suggestion, combined with good husbandry and time.  To quote, "only time will tell...".  Medication cannot solve absolutely everything, and sometimes can do more damage than good.  I'd listen to Bob - he's truly the "expert"! Jorie>
Re: Epsom salt vs. rock salt - not the same thing!   1/20/07
Dear WWM, Sorry for the delay. Me and my fish would like to express our sincerest thank you to all those who responded on my email as well as on the chatroom.  My Flowerhorn fish is ok now and seems not to show any sign of his previous ailment.  He's back to his old self...the Epsom salt treatment really helped him recover. Thank you and God bless you all! To Bob and Jorie my special thanks to you both. Kathy <Ah, congratulations on your success here. Bob Fenner>

Salt Is Salt  <Rock and Aquarium...> 11/21/06 I used aquarium salt, is that just as effective and/or the same thing as rock salt? Thanks < I think if you look at the list of ingredients on the box of aquarium salt it may say rock salt. Either will be fine except you will pay more for the aquarium salt.-Chuck>

Salt As A Medication  - 10/22/06 Dear Chuck: Thank you so much for all your help with my two goldfish with Finrot and Septicemia.  They are so much better now.  The water quality is  great!  I have learned so much in the past seven months. I love your forum and visit it frequently.  However, I have some  questions about aquarium salt and freshwater tanks.  The information I'm  getting from the forum is confusing. The standard answer for everything seems to  be "do a 50% water change and put in 5tsp of salt." 1) What diseases does aquarium salt cure? < Salt increases the slime coat on the exterior of the fish making it more difficult for parasites to actually get to the fish itself. Too much salt impairs the fishes ability to absorb oxygen out of the water because the slime covers the gills too.> 2) Should salt be the first thing I add to my tank when my fish is sick no matter what the symptoms are? < Adding salt may be beneficial to some fish but stressful to others. I would attempt a diagnoses instead of just adding salt.> 3) Does aquarium salt cure inner bacterial infections or  septicemia? < Salt may be beneficial but I would not call it a cure.> 4) Does aquarium salt raise or lower the pH, or make no difference at  all? < Salt is sodium and chloride so it does not effect the hydrogen concentration of the water.> 5) Isn't salt already an additive to most tap water? < No. Some waters have naturally soft acidic waters that can be corrosive to pipes. Water companies add minerals to these waters like calcium to increase the pH and make the water less acidic.> Trying to find answers to this question on the web as been fruitless. I would really appreciate your expert opinion. Thank so much! Sincerely, Marcella < Go to Marineland.com and check out Dr. Tim's Library for lots of interesting articles on water chemistry.-Chuck>

Salt Treatment For Ich - 10/22/2006 Hi there. I have a few questions regarding the use of aquarium salt as treatment for Ich. My first question involves my husbands Goldfish tank. My husband has a 10 gallon tank containing 3 Fancy Tail Goldfish, 2 Royal Plecos, 1 Rubber Pleco and a yellow Apple Snail. I know the tank is overstocked, the 10 gallon was meant as only temporary quarters. The PH is 7.0, Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0 and Nitrate is 20. Temperature is maintained at 76F. A much larger tank is on its way. My husband just purchased the 2 Royal Plecos approx. two days ago. Both appeared fine when he got them and he did not quarantine. I just did a 25% water change on the tank and happened to notice that both Royal Plecos are now lightly dusted with white spots. Dreaded Ich! None of the other fish are showing signs at present so I'm more than fairly certain that the Royals were already infected when they were introduced to the tank. I have successfully treated Ich, using a salt/heat combo, in two of my tanks (Severum/Channel Cat tank and a Livebearer tank) in the past and would like to use salt as my medication of choice. Can the Goldfish, Plecos and Snail all handle the level of salt and heat needed for treatment? I use normal Aquarium Salt. 2 Tablespoons per 5 gallons, raise the temperature to 80F and allow to remain for 10 days. Would this be okay for my husbands tank? I'm most worried about the safety with the snail. Would it be best to move him/her to a covered container (my quarantine tank is occupied so I can't place it there), like an old butter dish with holes poked in the lid, while the salt/heat treatment is happening in the main tank? <IMO salt is the way to go. But the snail gets thirty days in QT without fish, or salt. He can not be infected but he can carry it in and on his shell. A month without a fish host will starve out the parasite.> My second question involves my Angelfish community tank. I have a False Juli Leopard Cory Cat, 3 Peppered Cory Cats, 2 Panda Cory Cats and approx. 20 pea to nickel sized Angelfish in this tank. PH is 7.0, Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0 and Nitrate is 25. Temperature is 78F. Yesterday, one of my husband's Goldfish uprooted a plastic plant in their tank so I removed it and placed it into my Angelfish tank. The plant was still wet when I placed it into the Angel tank. I'm afraid that I may have infected my tank via the plant. Is this possible? Nobody in the Angel tank has been acting ill. No flashing or other signs of Ich. Would I be wise to go ahead and use salt/heat in this tank as well? I have several rare varieties of Angels in this tank and don't wish to lose any. I've heard that Corys and Angels don't tolerate salt well but others have said they do fine. Which is true? Would my 2 Tablespoons per 5 gallon be safe and tolerable for both species? Is there a lower concentration I could use that would be just as effective against Ich? Should I wait and see if anyone develops Ich before adding salt to this tank or do you feel I'd do well to head it off before it hits by treating as I would if they were actively showing signs of infection? Thanks for your prompt help. Heather <You are correct to be worried. I would salt the tank now. I salted my Corys while they were in QT without a problem. But this does go against "common knowledge". Something I seem to do a lot. If they seem stressed do a small, salt free, water change to lower the concentration. Another method would be to use heat alone. But you would need to get the temp up to about 90 and add extra airstones. Don>

Salt in FW systems, feeding FHs, worms that are larval coleopterans   9/15/06 Hi, it's me. Again. <<Well, hello again, Cecille.>> Thanks for the fast response. And, yeah that will surely help. <<Glad to hear it.>> But, I just have another question. I've been browsing quite a lot in the net about aquarium maintenance and such and some suggests to use salt. I have this 15 gallon tank. How much salt should I put in it? And, what good would that give, actually? <<Good question, Cecille. What you've read probably suggests one tablespoon of salt per five gallons of water. In your case, I would suggest a total solution of 2 1/2 tablespoons per volume of tank water. If, for example, you remove three gallons of water for a water change, dissolve 2 1/2 tablespoons of salt in the new water to achieve the 'recommended' solution rate. Obviously, you'll have to do some calculations for subsequent water changes to maintain this ratio properly. To be safe, err on the side of adding less salt than more during your water changes. (Remember that salt will not evaporate with water, which means that any evaporation that takes place effectively increases the amount of salt per unit volume.) As to the 'good' of adding salt, you'll find this debated among reliable sources. Most freshwater pathogens don't tolerate salt well and salt helps to keep these under control. It doesn't eradicate them but provides them with less than desirable breeding conditions which keeps them at levels that the fish's own immune system can deal with. (Costia is an example.) Salt has also been cited as increasing a fish's ability to uptake oxygen from the water. This is true, particularly in the presence of nitrites in the water. Nitrites deprive the hemoglobin in the blood of oxygen and the sodium ions in salt (NaCl) combine with nitrite to become sodium nitrite which increases blood flow and provides oxygen to the oxygen-depleted areas of the body. Finally, salt increases the specific gravity of the water. In the event of physical trauma (injury) or, the like, swelling is caused by fluid build-up in the affected area. This fluid (low specific gravity) in injured area is released, via osmosis, to the surrounding water (higher specific gravity) relieving the swelling and increasing beneficial blood flow to the injury promoting healing. Now, is all of this enough to convince you to add salt to your tank? Possibly. Live plants are adversely affected by salt but, since Cichlids typically don't have these in their tanks, you might be inclined to give it a try.>> Okay, I have just another one more: I've been feeding my FH pellets for a few months now and a few brine shrimps whenever I could find them. But, the shrimps are really quite rare and a bit pricey, too. <<Your Flowerhorn definitely needs a varied diet. Good for you for adding the Brine Shrimp to its diet but I understand about price and availability. Just keep in mind that too monotonous of a diet can lead to problems no matter how high quality the food might be.>> A few days ago, my friend gave me a couple of worms. <<I tried that with my wife but she insisted on jewelry. :)>> Super worms, he said. Are those good food? <<They're beetle larvae, as you probably know. The exoskeletons of the 'Super Worm' (Zophobas morio) are reportedly more easily digested than typical mealworms and they grow larger. Beyond this, I have no specific knowledge of the food value involved.>> I haven't tried  feeding those to my fishes. He said it will enhance the "characters" in the fish's body. Is that true? <<I find that a debatable issue, Cecille. In my opinion, it sounds like "hype" though, again, I couldn't verify this for you, one way or the other.>> And, what do I do with them once they turn into beetles? <<If you plan on breeding them for more "worms", hang on to them. I've run across several sites that describe how to breed these. A simple 'Google' search will lead you in the right direction.>> Thanks in advance again. Cecille, <<Any time, Cecille. Glad to help. Tom>>  

Salt In A FW Tank   9/11/06 You folks are wonderful!!!!!! I'm using ro/di water and adding aquarium salt (1 tbsp/ 5 gal of water) with each water change. My pH is so low from the lack of buffers that it won't measure(<6.0). I'm now adding Kent's' R/O right to add some buffers and  including 1 gal of tap water with 4 gals of RO water during water changes on my 55 gal. I've also added some marble chips to add some carbonate to the mix. The question is, Do I still need to add aquarium salt with to the water with the changes? Thanks Bill < Salt aids in building a slime coat on your fish which will inhibit some diseases. If your fish are well established and disease free then I don't think the salt is needed.-Chuck>

Unwanted Salt In a FW Tank  8/29/06 Hello there. I just started a 55 gal freshwater tank.  Before starting the cycling process, I added some aquarium salt (1 tablespoon per every 5 gal).  I just added my first 5 platies to start the cycle going. However, I discovered that the fish I wish to add later on (zebra Danios, various tetras, and Cory cats) do not do well in tanks with aquarium salt. I'm debating doing a 100% water change to get rid of the salt since the tank is not yet established hoping that the new platies would survive. Is there a better way to remove the aquarium salt? Thanks, Aaron < When the tank is cycled you will have already done a couple of water changes and reduced the salt content of the water. Your fish will be fine.-Chuck>

Salting a FW Tank  8/14/06 Hi Folks, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have been reading articles and FAQ's for about 3 hrs. and am stumped. Re. 100 gal. FW aquarium and salinity levels. I have found hundreds of FAQ's on marine and reef but not much on FW. When I first set up this aquarium about 5 mos. ago, I added aquarium salt @ 1 tbls. per 5 gal. After doing many, many water changes I have lost track of salt content. I bought a salinity meter and can't find ppt for my tank. It currently houses 10 blue gouramis and 10 albino Cory cats. No live plants...yet. What would be a good target salinity? Also, regarding phosphates in a 75 gal. planted. Tap water is 1.0 ppm. Should I try to lower this before adding to tank. Thanks again for your help.....DR <FW fish do not need any salt at all & plants even less!   See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/water/salt.html   ~PP>

Re: Goldfish salt exposure  - 06/02/2006 Hello, Tom. <<Hi, Alfredo.>> Sorry to bother you; just a quick question about goldfish and salinity. I added a tablespoon of Epsom to my tank about 4 days ago and I was wondering if this is too long a period to expose the fish to the salt. <<Alfredo, Epsom salt isn't a "salt" in the conventional sense that we think of. We think of "salt", in aquaria use, as either calcium chloride (CaCl) or sodium chloride (NaCl). Actually, Epsom salt is Magnesium Sulfate (MgSO4). It's the Chloride (in this context) that's beneficial to our fish, to a limited extent. Epsom salts don't have this element. Personally, I wouldn't expose a fish to any "introduced" chemical for longer than four or five days but, not to worry.>> Thank you for your time, Alfredo Echeverria <<Alfredo, we're on a "first-name only" basis. :) Tom>>

Salt tolerance of Cory Cats   5/28/06 Hello Crew! <<Hi, Jasmine. Tom here.>> I understand that the salt tolerance of catfish in general is very poor. <<It's true that Catfish don't have a tolerance for salt at levels that other fish can tolerate quite well.>> I have some Otos, Bronze Corys and Panda Corys. <<I love these guys, Jasmine. The Pandas tend to be a little less "robust" than other Corydoras varieties but they're sure cute. :)>> For future reference when the situation eventuates, how much aquarium salt would you recommend for these fish for a) prevention of nitrite poisoning and b) disease treatment. <<Regarding (a), don't let this situation "eventuate". In a cycled tank, with proper maintenance, it simply shouldn't occur. As to (b), this isn't, unfortunately, an option because of the dosages necessary to be effective. The "cure" would be as bad as the disease, in a manner of speaking. Even with all of the benefits to be derived from the addition of aquarium salt, in your case, I'm reluctant to advise this. Neither of the instances you cite would lead me to recommend its use given that there are alternatives should the occasion arise. I hope it never does, though. ;)>> Thanks for your help! Jasmine <<Happy to, Jasmine. Tom>>

Dropsy? Epsom salt and mystery snails?   4/9/06 Hi, <Ki> I have been reading your website on a fairly regular basis for about three months now (from the time we discussed purchasing an aquarium & since then--especially before purchasing any new species). Currently we have a 10 gallon tank with 4 platies, 4 Cory catfish, 3 snails (gold mystery, black mystery, and blue mystery), and 2 glass shrimp. The platies have been with us about 6 weeks. The Cory cats about 2 weeks. The golden snail-6 weeks, the black one-4 weeks, the blue one-about 2 weeks. The ph is 7, the ammonia is 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 20. <Take care to keep those nitrates no higher> We do not plan to increase the community, though I am aware that the platies might make that decision for us, in which case we will get another tank. First, while this did not seem overcrowded to me based upon what I have read, I am starting to have doubts. Namely, do we have too many snails? <Not yet... and these are not "bisexual" species listed... so, easier to monitor...> Also, until tonight we had 5 platies, but I found one of them dead this evening. She ate fine in the morning, but then died at some point in the afternoon/early evening. Her abdomen looked somewhat swollen, but not at all "pinecone-like." Her scales were still flat against the body and only the underside of the abdomen was swollen. Still, because of the swelling, I am wondering if it is some form of dropsy. If so, are the other fish in danger? <Not likely> I have read that many dropsy conditions are not contagious, but I am still worried. Now I am paranoid that the other platies look swollen, though my husband says I am imagining it. Also, would it be safe to do a treatment with Epsom salt to be sure? And would the Epsom salt kill the snails & shrimp? <Too likely so> I have seen a reference to the safety of Epsom salt with invertebrates, but the ones listed in that person's question were all saltwater creatures, not freshwater ones. I just want to be sure before I do anything. I apologize if these questions are all answered in obvious places on the website that I missed. Thanks, Ki <No worries. I would be conservative here re adding anything... Likely the system, fish being "very new" and this being a "first batch" of young, some have died more easily. Bob Fenner>

FW Compatibility Dilemma... Scats    4/4/06 Hi.  I have looked all over your site, Google, etc, and haven't found the answer to my questions, so hopefully they won't be too redundant.  I have a 30 gallon Freshwater tank with 10 Corydoras catfish (5 Trilineatus, 2 Paleatus, & 3 Bronze Aeneas) and 3 Dwarf Gourami (Colisa Lalia - 1 standard, 1 blue, and 1 sunset).  In addition I have 4 other tanks.  One is a 5 gallon with a spoiled rotten Betta (Splendens). <Heee!> A 20 gallon long sectioned into 7 spaces, containing 4 Male Bettas, 1 female Betta (also all Splendens), 1 Dwarf Gourami (Colisa Lalia neon blue), and 1 Honey Dwarf Gourami (Colisa chuna).  A 10 gallon sectioned into 3 spaces with, you guessed it, 3 male Bettas.  Finally, a 5 gallon corner tank with 4-6 Guppies in it.  Two of the Guppies are in sick tanks right now, so 4 is definite.  The other two, if they recover, will go back in as well.  They were in the 30 gallon, but the Dwarf Gouramis kept taking chunks off of their fins.  They also seem to really need the aquarium salt, which my Corys don't do well with. <Agreed to all> I had been using 1 teaspoon/5 gallons, but it wasn't enough for the Guppies.  The Corys were okay with it, but I wasn't willing to risk them on a higher dose. <You are wise here> The 30 is now salt-free, as are all the others, except the Guppy tank.  I consider the 5 gallon tanks full (stocking capacity).  I think 6 Guppies are max for the capacity of the BioWheel in the corner 5. <Agreed> The Betta in the other 5 gallon will not take any tankmates.  The last time I tried, he sulked himself into a lovely case of Velvet.  Long story short, he lives alone now.  The 20 long is full as well.  By water surface to air ratio I have space left, as well as by the inch/gallon rule.  However, with the extra filtration and dividers taking up space, I'm not comfortable with adding more fish into it.  The 10 is also considered full by both stocking ratios.  All the tanks are cycled.  I maintain the Bettas only tanks at 76/77 degrees.  The 20L and 30 are kept at 77/78 degrees.  My numbers are Nitrites 0ppm and Nitrates 0ppm (except the 5 gallon with the single Betta, which is 0 - 5ppm).  All the tanks are at 8.0 for Ph (stable), GH is 3 max, and KH is 9-11.  Ammonia is 0 in all but the 10 and 30 gallon tanks.  The 10 and 30 sometimes get a .25ppm reading, usually coinciding with my over feeding the little beggars (I'm working on that). <Ah yes> Water changes are 25 percent weekly in all but the 5 gallon tanks.  The 5 gallons get 50 percent changes weekly.  If I get an ammonia reading, I do an extra change and clean up the extra food.  Okay, by now I'm sure that you're wondering where-in lies the questions.  So here goes.....I wanted to get a couple fish to replace the Guppies in the 30 gallon, so I now have 2 Scat in quarantine. <Mmm, no... too aggressive, gets too large... needs brackish to full marine conditions> I made the HUGE mistake of not researching prior to buying, followed by the 'fish guy answered all the trick questions, so lets trust him' MAJOR screw-up.  Since bringing the Scat home, I have discovered that they are brackish fish, and I have no idea where to put them! <Another tank... or... back to the shop?> I think they are Scatophagus Multifasciatus.  They are silver with black vertical strips that run into/become spots on their sides.  They also have a bit of tannish color on the sides of their heads above and around the gills.  Their dorsal fins are similar to the Dwarf Gouramis, in that they (the fins) lay down and stand up depending on the situation.  Their dorsal fins are also black trimmed and pointed.   There were no Latin names on the tank they came from, just "Scat".  I'm praying I have the 5 inch fish and not the 15-18 inch fish.  Is there any way to tell for sure what they are?   <Mmm, are easily discerned... see WWM: http://wetwebmedia.com/Scatart.htm or fishbase.org> Is it true that they have venomous dorsal fins? <Yes> If so, is it enough to kill a Guppy, etc? <Mmm, yes>   My husband wants me to put them with the Guppies (...already a brackish tank, problem solved.....).  Can I do that?   <No... too different temperaments> They're less than 2 inches right now.  They're smaller than my littlest C. Lalia, but bigger than the C. Chuna.  How fast do they grow? <Slow if not fed well...> We're talking about setting up a 55 gallon tank, but not for at least a year.  Can they be kept in a smaller tank that long? <No... will suffer, likely die from renal problems...> Are they even safe to have with our other fish? <See WWM re... yes, with other brackish to marine animals of similar temperament...> My quarantine/sick tanks are only 2 to 2.25 gallons each, so I need to figure out what to do with them when their 2 weeks are up.  Returning them is not a possibility.  They were purchased out of town (mistake #3).  I like them and would like to keep them.  They are quite personable already, and it doesn't take me long to get attached.  Any thoughts, words of wisdom, suggestions, or ideas would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you, in advance, for any help you can send my way! <Great family of fishes... good with Monos, Datnoides, brackish to marine puffers, much more... all covered on... WWM. Bob Fenner>

Salt, Creep in a FW Tank - 3/5/2006 Hi, <<Hi John>> I have a 29-gallon freshwater tank and I have always kept a light concentration of salt (about a teaspoon of aquarium rock salt when I do a 1/4 tank change). <<Why, do your fish require this? Be careful not to add salt unless it benefits the species you keep.>> I always get a crusty formation of salt on the aquarium (filter cover, tank lid, etc.) Is there any way to remove and/or prevent this formation? The formation has proven nearly impossible to strip. <<There are commercially available products available for this. "Salt Creep Eliminator" by Coralife is a popular one.>> Thanks! John <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Adding Salt To A FW Tank  - 02/20/06 Hello Folks. Its been a while. How've ya been? I recently switched from a salt reef to a 60 gallon fresh water aquarium, with a decent amount of real plants.  I have been reading conflicting reports on whether to add, or not add aquarium salt (not sea salt).   The plant varieties are: Anubias, Cabomba, Java Ferns, Fox Tails, Cardamine, Dwarf Sagittaria, and a few other plant names that elude me right now,  (one is a short grass, one is red, and 1 has pink under the leaves). The tank is on its way to being an "aqua garden with a few fish in it". The Bio load is relatively light, with 8 or 9 Gourami's...Yes. They nibble on everything. I know aquarium salt is good for the fish, but I hear conflicting stories on how well/if at all; the plants tolerate it.  Also, I've read everything from 1 teaspoon, to 1 ounce of salt per gallon.  1 ounce seems like brackish to me. Any Experience or advice on whether to add salt for the fish benefit? Thanks John M. < When you add salt it usually increases the slime coat on a fish. Plants simply utilize the sodium and chloride ions as nutrients. Salt is not needed in a FW tank.-Chuck>

Epsom Salt Use ... on Plecos, Goldfish - 02/16/2006 I have an 3 year old Redcap Oranda who has been having difficulty staying right side up.  For the last week, he has begun to spend all time floating upside down at the top of the tank, except for eating time.   He will right himself to swim around to eat, but then will resume floating.  I have changed the water and the airstone.  I tried not feeding for two days.  Then, I fed frozen, defrosted peas.  He is in a 40 gallon tank with another Gold Oranda and a Plecos.  They have been together for two years without any problems.  Now this!  I want to try the Epsom salt, but I don't know if this is okay for the Plecos in the tank.  Will Epsom salt hurt him?  Thank you for any help. <Is okay with this group of fishes (South American, though some are Central, Sucker-mouth catfishes) up to an extent (still useful). You can search this under Loricariid Systems on WWM... About a level teaspoon per ten gallons should suit all here. Replace with water changes correspondingly. Bob Fenner>

Table salt is bad for the fish, right? I have a friend who puts it in his 10 gallon tank.  Should he use a different salt?  - 2/15/2006 He has tropical fish, but I'm not sure what they are. <<Please read on WWM, and use proper English/grammar when writing.>> Steve <<Lisa.>>

Question Regarding Epsom Salt  1/16/06 Hi WWM,    <Robert>   I recently added about a 1/4 tsp of Epsom salt to my Betta's (Fernando) 1 gallon tank to relieve what appeared to be constipation.  Within a day or two, the Epsom salt worked its wonders, and now the swelling in Fernando's belly has almost completely disappeared.  My question is: Should I change the water now [My last water change was about 2 days before the swelling occurred (in total about 4 days ago)], or is it ok to keep him in there with the Epsom salt for a few weeks, until it's time to change his water according to my regular water changing schedule?      <Is okay to leave in... though not continuously... that is, a week or so is all-right, but not adding every time>   I hope this question has not already been addressed on the site.  I looked around for a while and although I found a great deal regarding Epsom salts, and Epsom salt baths, I was under the impression that this small amount of salt did not constitute a bath; so I decided I better be safe, and ask.  Thank you for your time and help with this matter.  Take care.      Sincerely,   Robbie Ellis <Am sure others will benefit from your asking re. Bob Fenner>

Will the Epsom salt treatment mean we have to remove our Pleco?    - 1/6/06 <No.> We have a severely swollen Oscar and assume it is a blockage of sorts.  We thought the swelling was eggs, but are following your suggestions for others who have Oscars with what appears to be the same problem.   Thanks!!  Sharon <The Plec can remain in the tank during treatment with Epsom salt.  All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Adding Salt To a FW Tank  12/24/05 Hi, I would like to add some salt to my tank water to help my gravid female guppy, but I don't know if my other fish can tolerate the salt.  I have 4 zebra Danios and 1 mini Pleco (about 2 inches long) besides 3 guppies.  Will the Danios and Pleco be harmed by the salt? Thank you, and great site! < The Pleco will not like the salt but it can probably tolerate a little. The others should be fine.-Chuck>

Salt... and older goldfish  12/20/2005 When you refer to salt as in " Bacterial and fungal infections of goldfish are almost always indirect or secondarily caused by other factors, principally environmental or subsequent to parasitic attack. These are best "treated" with use of regular salt at the one teaspoon per five gallon rate and careful attention to aspects of husbandry (e.g. water quality). "...you are still referring to non-iodized, correct? Always? Judith <Best if this is synthetic salt mix, as in artificial marine aquarium mixes, not just sodium chloride... with iodide or no. Bob Fenner>
Older Goldfish, salt, blindness  12/20/2005
Thank you for the info on the salt. I bought some aquarium salt from the fish store and the salesman told me it was the same as the non iodized from the grocery store. <Some are, yes> I put it in the tank. Now I wonder if I shouldn't have. I am starting to think the fish with the tumor is blind. He doesn't seem to see food, nor my hand. I wanted to hand feed him. Usually he'd dart away. Is there something I could give him in a hospital tank for his eyes? Judith <Not as far as I'm aware. Blindness in fishes has several etiologies... pathogenic, nutritional, water quality... Bob Fenner>

Will my live plant die? <Salt, Betta Treatment> 9/8/05 Hi Bob (or whoever), <Jeff> I have a 3 gallon freshwater tank setup with one red male Betta that I just bought about two weeks ago. It's equipped with a 25-watt Visi-therm heater and a 15-watt incandescent light bulb (no filter). <Does need one> Inside is a substrate of 1/2" to 1" in depth (it varies), one plastic plant and one potted live plant. There's also a thermometer hanging in the tank.  Just a few days ago, I noticed that my Betta was acting rather odd, swimming erratically and scratching himself against the plants, the in-tank thermometer, and the marbles.  Then about 3 days ago, I saw small white dots all over his fins. <Oh oh> I researched this in your website and concluded that he was infected with Ich, and that a simply treatment is to add some (uniodized) salt and raise the temperature to mid-eighties. <One approach... I would remove the live plant...> So after I did my regular 50% water change, I added 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt (the carton recommended 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons) and then over the course of about 12 hours raised the temperature from 79 F to 86 F.  I read some more articles and FAQ's to learn more, and to my horror I discovered that salt treatments are deleterious to live plants. NO!  I don't want to lose my beautiful live plant.  It's been in the salt treatment for about 20 hours now, as I write this e-mail.  Can I still save it by changing the water to reduce the salt concentration? Or will it die? <I would place this plant in a "jar", container large enough... outside the tank during treatment> (I don't know the plant's name, sorry, so let me just describe it to you the best I can.  It's a rooted plant about 8 inches tall; its leaves are each about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide (at its widest part) and have an interesting pattern: in the middle of the leaves right from the root to the tip runs a wide, bright green stripe, which is about 1/3 of the width of the leaf. There are sharp dividing lines between the outer, darker green edges and inner, brighter green stripe, so that there is NO gradual transition from bright green to dark green edges.  Do you have any idea what plant this is?) <Perhaps a type of Echinodorus... Swordplant> Thank you for your help. T. J. Rexton <Please do add a purposeful filter... and read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm Bob Fenner>

How Often to Salt FW Fish 8/4/05 Hi Chuck, Question about salt dips? How many times can I salt dip a sick swollen fish and what kind of frequency ..... daily, every other day, weekly.......... thanks again for your reply to my looong email on Popeye and dropsy and silver dollars. I love your web site. Thanks, Janet < Only when needed. Salt stresses many fish, so while it does have some medicinal properties, it does affect the fish too.-Chuck>

Residual salt in FW 7/28/05 Using advice from various sources I added salt, 1 level tsp per 5 gal, to my 29 gal FW aquarium. My question is after 6 months how do I check the level and do I ever add more? <Mmm, can use a hydrometer... there are other methods... Please see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/spg_salinity.htm> I do 10-15% water changes twice a month but after reading some of the data in your FAQ's I intend to try using the nitrate level as an indicator of when it should be done. Forgot: Tank contains only livebearers. Thank You Clark <I would not (necessarily) add more salt/s purposely to an otherwise healthy freshwater system. I would routinely change, vacuum out part of the water and replace it. Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm Bob Fenner>

Quick question on salt in mixed fish tank?? Hi Mr. Fenner <Oz> Thank you for taking time to read this and other questions sent before. <Welcome> I was just wondering if it was safe to add salt to a tank with 4 white mountain minnows, two sucking loaches and a couple of light glow tetra in? <Not the last> I have in the same tank (2 ft long x 1 and half ft deep x 1 ft wide ) 6 guppies and a female black molly, hence the salt question. Also I have a small fry trap with 3 molly fry and 5 guppy fry in (not staying in the tank once large enough to move, would the tank overload if I kept a couple??..) <Likely not> Also if it is safe how much salt do I add? <Not with South American Tetras, Characoids> I have another tank so I could move the minnows and light glow to that. <I would> It's a 1 and half ft long tank x half foot deep x half foot wide, Containing a lion head Ranchu, Betta, small algae eating cat fish (very cute little fella!) and two small zebra, I do feel there is enough in that tank  though. I do not want to cause any ill health by keeping to many in too small a tank. <... the Goldfish should not be kept with these tropicals> I also have a spare 6 litre tank with filter for the loach if needs be. Obviously both tanks are well planted with good filtration, large tank has undergravel. The smaller has a good internal filter. Both have aeration blocks  also. Many many thanks Mr. Fenner Take care Oz <Time for another tank... Bob Fenner> 

Frogs with Salt Hello, you're website has been a great help to me in many regards. I have one question that I haven't found an answer for yet. I have 2 African dwarf frogs in a 29 gallon tank along with some mollies, guppies, platies and some neon tetras. My water levels are all good. I have read that ADF's can handle some aquarium salt in the water but not much, but can't seem to find any specifics on exactly how much salt per gallon they can tolerate. Would you happen to know how much salt per gallon is acceptable for ADF's? Thanks. <Frogs really don't like any salt at all in their water. Frogs breath through their skin. There is a point in which salt will actually outright kill your frog and then there is a little amount that will weaken your frog and he will die from a disease before the salt actually kills him. I would try to limit the salt. I know your livebearers love it but the Neons and frog really doesn't. Start at a teaspoon per 10 gallons and what the reaction from your fish and frog. While the livebearers may thrive the others may come down with other problems down the road.-Chuck>

Ragged Goldfish Would that be just ordinary salt that we have in the kitchen for cooking or do we need sea salt? Thanks Karen <Always use salt sold for freshwater aquariums. Don>
Fresh Water Salt 3.16.05
Would that be just ordinary salt that we have in the kitchen for cooking or do we need sea salt? Thanks Karen <Hi Karen, non-iodized salt is what you will want to use, if you have kosher/cooking salt that is the stuff. I usually use "Aquarium Salt" from the local fish store, so far the goldfish have not noticed the difference. The salt will stimulate your fish's natural slime coat and help heal the damaged fins. Best Regards -Gage>

Salted Fish Hi, First of all, I wanted to let you know that your website has been very helpful in learning how to care for, and diagnosing problems with my fish. About a week ago I bought an Oranda, who resides by himself in a 10 gallon aquarium. Before purchasing him, I had the tank set up with the filter running for about 3 weeks. My fish seemed fine for the first few days in the aquarium (I did partial water changes almost daily to make sure that toxic levels would be low using Nutrafin Aqua Plus and having the water sit overnight, and I've been using Nutrafin Cycle), but then I found him sitting at the bottom of the tank, not moving, with his fins clamped. He would start swimming around feeding time, still having his usual appetite, but would flash and try to scratch his sides along the bottom of the tank when not resting. I did a water change, and tested the tank water, and everything seemed fine. Finally, a few days later, I managed to spot the Ich (he's a calico so it was hard to see at first against the white of his tail). I immediately started salting the tank at 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon every 12 hours (3 doses). The last dose was yesterday, and he has been swimming around the tank looking much happier than he's been over the past few days, though still has a lot of Ich, especially on his tail, and the dorsal fin is still down. Is there anything else I should be doing? Also, this morning I noticed a red mark/hole on the top of his head (it looks like blood), possibly from him trying to scratch at the Ich (there was some on his head). Should I be putting something on it? Do you know what it could be? As of this morning, the ammonia measured just under 1.0 mg with PH being 7.7, and Nitrites about  0.15mg. I will have to do a water change soon, and when I do, should I put 3 teaspoons of salt into the aquarium right away (per gallon of water I remove during the water change), or do I do it in 12 hour installments again? How long should I keep the salt in the tank for? Thank you for your time, any help is appreciated! Lisa <Hi Lisa, Don here. You are on the right course using salt to kill the Ich. But I'm not a big fan of dosing at these high levels when measuring by volume. You really should weigh it or use a refractor. The size of the salt crystals make a big difference in how much salt you are really adding when you measure this way. The proper amount of salt for a 10 gallon tank is 76 grams. With fine grain salt this is around a 1/8 of a cup. With course aquarium salt it is over a quarter cup. Big difference. Please read the two links below. The first is a great article on Ich. Please take note of the lifecycle and continue treatment for at least 2 weeks after the last spot drops. Always do water changes from the bottom using a gravel vac. Mix the same concentration of salt into the replacement water before adding it to the tank. You want the salt high, but steady. If during treatment the fish suddenly looses a large number of spots do a water change. The Ich is not dead. It has dropped off and is alive in the gravel preparing to reproduce. The second link is on freshwater cycling. It was great to allow the tank to run for three weeks before stocking, and even greater that you are testing. But unless you added an ammonia source to feed the bacteria a cycle did not start. Even if you did establish the bacteria the salt will stress or kill them. But the solution for all your problems, even the scrape on his head, is the same. Water changes with salt for the Ich. Do as many water changes as it takes to keep both ammonia and nitrite near zero. 50% daily is not out of line, even twice a day is OK if you see the spots drop. Good luck.>   http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm  

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