Salt is necessary for the survival of certain fish, but it can harm other fish. You might wonder, does your African cichlid need salt?
No, African cichlids do not need salt in order to live. However, adding a little salt to your African cichlid tank will not harm them and actually has many benefits. There is a specific type of salt, called African cichlid salt, that you can add to your tank in order to help them.
Why Salt Helps African Cichlids?
African cichlids are a freshwater fish – their natural habitat is lakes. Lakes obviously have vastly different water parameters than the water you get from a tap. And adding salt to a fish tank can actually make it have similar water parameters as the lakes where African cichlids originate.
Anyway, here are some of the ways that salt can help your African cichlids.
Ensures Hard Water
Cichlids like hard water in their fish tanks. In fact, they like harder water than most other fish, which can make them a little difficult to have with other fish.
Salt makes maintaining water hardness much easier because Cichlid salt contains calcium carbonate (that’s what water hardness measures). Cichlid salt will also contain other minerals that should replicate the lakes that these fish originate from, which makes them a lot happier.
Salt Kills Bacteria, Parasites, and Fungus
African cichlids are one of those fish that get a lot of diseases when placed in freshwater. This is likely because they are used to living in such hard water that they have relatively weak immune systems.
Salt, as you may know, kills many bacteria, parasites, and fungus.
So, if your African cichlids are looking a little sick, then it might be time to add some Cichlid salt to their tank. It should greatly improve their health as the nasty creatures causing their illness cannot live in in a fish tank that has salt in it.
Raises the pH
Salt actually raises the pH level in your aquarium. This is perfect for cichlids because they require a higher pH level than a lot of other fish you might be more familiar with. For reference, African cichlids like a pH in the 7 to 8 range.
It’s vital to keep the pH range at this level because it will ensure the cichlids are in optimal health. Failure to keep the pH in this range can result in some weird health problems for your fish.
Where to Buy Salt for African Cichlids?
I recommend picking up some salt made specifically for African cichlids at your local pet store. Every pet store I have been to sells cichlid salt. This is salt that has the extra minerals that cichlids need and that will harden the water.
Definitely don’t just add table salt to your fish tank. That’s a recipe for disaster.
How Much Salt Should I Put In My Cichlid Tank?
The general recommendation is to 1 tbsp. of African cichlid salt for every 5 gallons of water in the tank. However, I like to put a little less because the salt never actually leaves the tank. It just accumulates over time.
Also, you should read the instructions on your cichlid salt before adding it to your tank. The salt may have a higher concentration of minerals in it, so you definitely don’t want to add to much to your tank in that case.
Finally, make sure to do a water test before adding cichlid salt to your tank. You may find that you already have enough calcium in your tank or the pH may be high enough already. Again, adding salt to the tank will cause problems and you should definitely avoid it.
How to Add Salt to a Fish Tank?
Adding salt to a fish tank is not as easy as just dumping the salt into it.
No, that would lead to concentrations of salt in certain areas, which your fish will definitely not like.
The ideal way to add salt to your fish tank is to take out a cup of water from your tank, add salt to that, and then slowly pour that salty water into your tank. Make sure to spread it around so that it disperses throughout your tank.
It’s easy, but something that many new fish tank owners fail to do.
To summarize, African cichlids are a beautiful fish that do not require salt. Salt can definitely help your cichlids and it makes it a whole lot easier to maintain proper water parameters, so it’s highly recommended that you do add salt to your tank if you are not doing so already.
Just make sure to test the water parameters before adding salt in the tank.