Rift Lake Salts?
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Controversy continues to rage (or at least we rage on our Aqualand lunch hours) concerning the need for special additives in African cichlid tanks.
Paul and LA continually debate the plusses and minuses of the salts. Paul maintains the 90-gallon African cichlid show tank as you come in the front door. His fish look better than LAs 55s in the fish room. (Because theyre older, says LA.)
Background I. African cichlids swimming in the Rift Lakes of Africa live in water with high levels of dissolved solids and a high pH. Commercial Rift Lake additives enable us to duplicate this water.
Background II. African cichlids we sell come from Florida, Indonesia, and Iowa -- not necessarily in that order. Theyre bred and reared in a variety of water hardness levels and pHs.
Background III. We keep our young African cichlids in salt-free tanks with no additives. These tanks receive 50% water changes weekly -- same temp straight out of the hose with a squirt of NovAqua.
The Controversy. Do African cichlids need the various additives that promise better colors and increased breeding activity. May we have the envelope please. The answer is a resounding Yes and No.
NO to Additives. Fish adapt themselves to their environments or die. Obviously cichlids raised for generations in water quality close to ours can live and breed in it just fine. Watch them swim and eat like little piggies -- very much alive. They also breed just fine. Adding Rift Lake salts would accomplish nothing concrete, would add to the cost of water changes, and destroy the plants in their tanks.
YES to Additives. We sell mostly young African cichlids. They look and act only a little bit like their parents. Rift Lake salts increase the color of the juvies somewhat, but really help color up the adults. When you see the dramatic difference in the adults -- especially the Haps and the Peacocks, you instantly see the need for the salts.
NO to Additives. Additives increase spawning behavior (another word for fights). We really dont need to give African cichlids something that makes them meaner.
YES to Additives. Most people that keep African cichlids keep them in larger tanks and want them to breed. Additives not only increase spawning activity, they increase success rates and spawn size (in numbers). Your breeders spawn more often and have larger spawns.
NO to Additives. Adding Rift Lake salts dramatically increases the pH level of your aquarium. All traces of ammonia become deadly at pH levels 8.0 and higher. New tank syndrome could kill most newly set up African cichlid tanks.
YES to Additives. Forget adding the salts to brand new tanks. Let them cycle two months then add the salts. Or you can always jump start your filters nitrogen cycle with dirty water from an established cichlid tank. Why wait forever? Lets get into the 20th or whatever century.
NO to Additives. Rift Lake additives contain chemicals that will kill most plants. Plants make the tank look better, remove some of the fishes waste products, and provide a valuable food source for the cichlids.
YES to Additives. African cichlids sport raspy lips that kill plants anyway. No way can you keep plants with adult African cichlids. Their filters process their waste products 24/7 unlike plants that take the night off. Adult African cichlids need a full-time filter system. Add plastic plants. They look better (no chew marks), and they never die.
NO to Additives. We cant add Rift Lake salts to our Aqualand tanks. Most customers put them in regular Des Moines water -- not Rift Lake water. Additives would cause an extra stress -- first when we added them, and second when they went into regular water.
YES to Additives. Educate our customers. Let them know the advantages and disadvantages of adding the Rift Lake salts or not. Let them make their own decisions.
Decide for yourself. Just like in the cook books -- add salt to
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