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AFRICAN CICHLIDS CYCLE OF LIFE

African Cichlids cycle of life

 

 

 

 

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Maintaining a health aquarium environment starts with an understanding of a process that takes place in nature, and

in your aquarium, that effects the health of your African Cichlids. It is sometimes known as , “nature’s waste

management system”, that provides biological filtration in your aquarium, and is known to aquarists  as the, “nitrogen

cycle” It is vitally important to keep your aquarium water parameters at zero for the nitrogen cycle to stay in balance.

The balance of this article will refer to this process as your “African Cichlids cycle of life”.  It’s kind of like keeping the

filters for your heating and air conditioners in your home clean so your systems can operate efficiently, and you can

breathe clean, fresh air!

 

So what is this African Cichlids cycle of life!  It is a 4 step process where bacteria break down toxic waste into less

harmful components.

STEP #1 OF THE AFRICAN CICHLIDS CYCLE OF LIFE  

involves the decay of fish waste and any uneaten food.  As these materials decay, ammonia is produced,

which, at even low levels, will burn the gills of your African Cichlids and choke off their oxygen supply.

 

STEP #2 OF THE AFRICAN CICHLIDS CYCLE OF LIFE

bacteria known as, nitrosomonas, consume the ammonia and create nitrite in the process.  This is toxic

as well, but your African Cichlids can tolerate twice as much nitrite as they can ammonia.

 

STEP #3 OF THE AFRICAN CICHLIDS CYCLE OF LIFE

nitrobacter consume the nitrite and release a less toxic chemical known as nitrate.

 

STEP #4 OF THE AFRICAN CICHLIDS CYCLE OF LIFE

nitrate levfels are reduced in your aquarium by changing 1/3 of the water monthly as a part of your scheduled

maintenance program.

 

New African Cichlids set ups lack the colonies of bacteria needed to have this cycle present.  Therefore, biological

filtration needs to be established in your aquarium water.  To start this process, a couple of  cichlids can be added

to your water which will produce ammonia.  No nitrosomonas are present to consume this ammonia so this level

rises and spikes until these nitrosomona bacterial colony population catches up in size and can consume the

ammonia.  Levels of ammonia start declining when the bacteria is breaking down the ammonia faster than it can be

produced.  The by-product of this process is nitrite.

 

Nitrite levels rise until the nitrobacter begins booming from the abundance of nitrite.  This level will continue to rise

until the bacteria is removing it faster than it is being produced.

 

That’s alot to take in, and those long scientific words makes it a little more challenging!  In reality, it is a simple

process that pretty much take care of itself except for the couple of thing mentioned that you need to do.

 

So, how long does it take for this African Cichlids cycle of life take!  Average length of time is usually between 2-6

weeks.  The actual length depends on the amount of ammonia being produced, the efficiency of the biological filter,

and whether you, “boost” bacterial growth with an additive or not.  I use “cycle” to jump-start the whole process and

DO NOT add any fish.  I let the additive do its job.  In about 3-4 weeks, your aquarium water should be ready for the

addition of a couple of African  Cichlid fish to “test” the water to see if it is safe for additional occupants.

 

African Cichlids cycle of life

 

Purchase a test kit, and take reading before you add your cichlids “test fish”  If  all levels are zero, go ahead, add the

fish!

 

African Cichlids cylcle of life                        African Cichlids cycle of life                          African Cichlids cylcle of life

 

That’s it for your African Cichlids cycle of life.  Have fun , and enjoy your tank!

 

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AFRICAN CICHLIDS AQUARIUM ALGAE

african cichlids aquarium algae

 

 

 

 

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That unwanted, persistent, annoying , unwelcome guest in your aquarium water, ALGAE!  If I forgot a word to describe

this stuff, please forgive me. If the cause of its presence isn’t properly identified, your attempts of getting it to leave will

probably be unsuccessful.  African Cichlids aquarium algae is usually a result of underlying water quality issues.

 

Algae are prolific opportunistic organisms that enter your cichlids aquarium water because something in there is out

of balance.  Excess nutrients, poor water circulation, and insufficient oxygenation or your aquarium water can be some

of the issues opening the door for it to pay a visit to your aquarium and make it their home.  These water qualities may

seem minor, but it is the combination of them that creates a water imbalance and opens up that door.  Therefore, a

multifaceted approach focusing on each water quality issue is an effective avenue to shutting the door, and locking it

on African Cichlids aquarium growth.

 

AFRICAN CICHLIDS AQUARIUM ALGAE AND

EXCESSIVE NUTRIENTS

Begin your algae control by taking note of how much food you are feeding your African Cichlids.  Feed them the

amount of food that the will consume in one minute.  Any food after the period of time will end up on the

bottom of your aquarium as excess nutrients., which affects your water quality as the food breaks down releasing

these nutrients. Your African Cichlids are large fish and produce more organic waste, increasing the food supply

for algae growth.  Several other common nutrient sources may be right in your water source from your faucet.

Regular, scheduled water chances must be apart of your maintenance schedule. ( 1/3 water change monthly),

will help to remove or dilute nutrient concentration in your aquarium water.

 

AFRICAN CICHLIDS AQUARIUM ALGAE AND WATER MOVEMENT

If your aquarium water was any areas where water movement is poor, that may be a location where African Cichlids

aquarium algae may form because waste material will settle and accumulate in that area and create a foundation for

algae growth.  Simply directing water flow to those areas will reduce that buildup of waste materials, eliminating a

food source to algae, and allows your filter system to work more efficiently my removing it from your aquarium water!

With that thought in mind, it is essential to clean your mechanical filtration on a regular basis to keep in operating as

effectively as possible. If this is not done, your media will become saturated and eventually release this waste material

right back into your aquarium water.

 

AFRICAN CICHLIDS AQUARIUM ALGAE AND AERATION

Aeration allows gas exchange wher carbon dioxide is released from your aquarium water, and fresh air and oxygen is

introduced.  Algae requires carbon dioxide to thrive.  Introducing a ‘bubble wall” during your system set-up usually

eliminates aeration as being a factor in African CIchlids aquarium algae growth.

 

AFRICAN CICHLIDS AQUARIUM ALGAE AND MAINTENANCE

There is no substitute for regular, routine maintenance.  It is a “must do” . Cleaning the inside of your aquarium

glass should be done weekly.  Additional algae control may be required if you are experiencing free-floating oxygen

in your aquarium water.  The use of a UV sterilizer will help it from multiplying.

 

Using a phosphate based chemical can enhance water quality and reduce algae growth.

 

A natural approach to algae management is the best option to controlling algae.  This can be achieved by regular

water changes, filter maintenance, and phosphate  media, if needed.

 

When reaching for chemicals to assist in algae control, read the instructions carefully. These can compromise your

biological filtration if not followed to a tee!

 

Be comfortable with the fact that some algae growth is a natural and beneficial aspect in a water environment.  Algae

consumes excess nutrients and oxygen.  No one wins the challenge of completely geting rid of all algae in an

aquarium.  It is a closed ecosystem and a little green fine!  Success is finding that natural balance for your African

CIchlids aquarium algae management!

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CICHLIDS BIOLOGICAL FILTRATION

 CICHLIDS BIOLOGICAL FILTRATION

 

 

 

 

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CICHLIDS BIOLOGICAL FILTRATION

Is your biological filtration in your African Cichlids aquarium system at peak performance.  Established colonies of

beneficial bacteria are the “work horses” of your African Cichlids biological filtration.  In an established filter system,

these colones are hardy and thriving.  Multiple factors can affect your benefical bacteria population in your African

Cichlids biological filtration:

 

CHLORINE AND CHLORAMINE

These tap water disinfectants damage your biological bacteria colony.  Use tap water conditioner to neutralize them

with EACH ADDITION OF WATER TO YOUR AQUARIUM WATER.

 

cichlids biological filtration

 

 

FOOD/ FISH

Overfeeding your African Cichlids and/ or having to many of them in your aquarium can put a huge demand on

your cichlids biological filter system and cause it to “overload”.  To many African Cichlids results in an increase

in organic waste, which can trigger an ammonia spike as the bacteria in your filter process this excess waste.

 

OXYGEN

The beneficial, or nitrifying , bacteria are aerobic, requiring oxygen to process nitrogen compounds.  To ensure

proper water oxygenation is taking place in your aquarium water, a bubble wall needs to be in place.  It also looks

cool by adding a visual flair as the air bubbles rise to the water surface!

cichlids biolgical filtration

 

MEDICATION

Incorporating Melafix of Pimafix, onnce your African Cichlids illness has been properly identified should cure

most ailments your fish may encounter.  Many broad spectrum fish medications targeting bacteria-based

diseases can also kill the beneficial bacteria in your African Cichlds biological filtration.  DO A PARTIAL

WATER CHANGE WHEN SYMPTOMS CLEAR UP.

 

Your filter’s  beneficial bacteria depends on a constant food source of ammonia ( from food, fish waste, or

nitrite), oxygen, and a water temperature above 75°F in your African Cichlids biological filtration system.

 

Do yourself and your African Cichlids a favor by practicing routine, scheduled maintenance

of your filter system, water changes, and testing!  Your African Cichlids will reward you with brilliant

coloration and abundant activity.  As a final thought on this topic, this discussion can mean less maintenance

for you.

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AFRICAN CICHLIDS AQUARIUM FILTER

african cichlids aquarium filter

 

 

 

 

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AFRICAN CICHLIDS AQUARIUM FILTER

The focus of this article will be discussing the carbon of your African Cichlids aquarium filter.  It not only is a popular

filter media, it is also a beneficial bacterial one, as well!  It is commonly referred to as, “activated” because it has gone

through a process that creates millions of tiny holes, making it extremely porous, and conducive to bacterial growth for

better chemical reaction.  The most common form is coal-based, resembling small pebbles or rocks, and comes in

two varieties. Bituminous, which is usually used in African Cichlids aquarium filter, and Lignite.

 

In nature, the oceans and lakes are large enough to recycle organic waste on their own.  Your African Cichlids

aquarium water needs help to do keep itself clean and healthy. This is where activated carbon comes into play!

 

HOW ACTIVATED CARBON WORKS.

It relies on three chemical principles. Adsorption, absorption, and chemisorption.  When the carbon is placed in your

aquarium water, in relies on Vander Walls, which is a Law of Physics to draw or absorb pollutants and organics,

(adsorbent) into your activated carbon.  Two things then take place.  Bacteria begins to colonize on the carbon surface

and consume the adsorbents, and a chemical reaction takes place to detoxify the pollutants.  The third process is

chemisorption, which keeps those pollutants trapped in your activated carbon.  THIS MEDIA NEEDS TO BE

REPLACED MONTHLY as a part of your scheduled monthly maintenance, and RINSED IN AQUUARIUM WATER

BI-WEEKLY.

 

Activated carbon removes a variety of pollutants from your African Cicclids aquarium water, including, copper, chlorine,

dissolved proteins, and other organic and inorganic compounds that can make your water yellow.  It can also remove

any medications  you have used. So, BE SURE TO REMOVE THE CARBON MEDIA FROM YOUR TANK IF

TREATING FOR A DISEASE. 

 

The one challenge with activated carbon and your African Cichlids aquarium filter is that it leaches phosphate, which

is a prime ingredient for algae growth, and we don’t need that stuff!  To combat this, use a high-quality activated carbon.

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AFRICAN CICHLIDS AQUARIUM AERATION

african cichlids aquarium aeration

 

 

 

 

 

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AFRICAN CICHLIDS AQUARIUM AERATION

Your filter system not only cleans your aquarium water, it also provides water movement,

contributing to your African Cichlids aquarium aeration.  So, do I need to do anything else for proper water

movement and aeration to maintain a aquarium healthy environment?  Your filter system is not designed to

specifically aerate your aquarium water.  That is where an air pump and bubble wall provide proper African

Cichlids aquarium water aeration.

african cichlids aquarium aeration

Your bubble wall promotes gas exchange by producing air bubbles that rice up through your aquarium breaking

the water surface.  These bubbles are oxygen-rich air that enters your tank, while expelling gases.

 

Is your African Cichlids aquarium aeration adequate for your system?  To make things more interesting, the

amount of oxygen available to your African Cichlids varies under different conditions.  Your water temperature,

number of fish, and organic waste materials all affect the dissolved oxygen content available, and can lead to oxygen

-deficient water.  Each of these water parameters will be visited.

 

WATER TEMPERATURE

Simply put, as your aquarium water temperature increases, your oxygen level decreases.  The warmer your aquarium

water is, the less oxygen it can hold, and creates the need for proper African Cichlids aquarium aeration.

 

NUMBER OF FISH

The more African Cichlids in your aquarium, the greater the need for a steady supply of oxygen. The same holds true

for larger fish, like your cichlids.

 

ORGANIC WASTE

Oxygen naturally breaks down organic waste.  An aquarium with a large amount of organic waste, such as your African

Cichlids, requires additional oxygen to break this waste down and maintain efficient biological filtration.

 

Finally, an air pump is a key piece of equipment to your African Cichlids  aquarium system and needs to be a part of

the set-up.  Your air pump provides the force behind your bubble wall providing your cichlids with a healthy, oxygen-rich

environment, you with peace of mind, knowing that you have proper African Cichlids aquarium aeration!

 

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AFRICAN CICHLIDS FILTRATION

 

african cichlids filtration

 

 

 

 

 

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African Cichlids  filtration  is a process to create and maintain an environment that can support life.  Your filter system

requires three processes  in order to achieve this and remove toxic compounds that accumulate quickly without the  natural

processes present to remove them efficiently.  These basics to African Cichlids  filtration will be addressed to give you an

insight as to how they create a life- sustaining environment for your African Cichlids.

 

BIOLOGICAL → This is a series of natural processes where toxic ammonia is broken down by beneficial bacteria into less

toxic elements. The bacteria requires a large surface area with good water flow through it to thrive.

 

CHEMICAL →   Is the removal of water impurities from your aquarium water.  Consists of  a black  carbon bag.

                               NEEDS TO BE CLEANED IN YOUR 4 GALLON CONTAINER FILLED WITH AQUARIUM

                               WATER BIWEEKLY, AND REPLACED MONTHLY.  After that period of time, the chemical benefits

                                 will have been exhausted and start collecting bacteria which could be harmful to your biological filtration.

                               THIS COULD RESULT IN AN AMMONIA SPIKE IN YOUR AQUARIUM WATER AND RISE IN

                               NITRITES, causing stress and possible fatalities of your African Cichlids.  So, clean the carbon media

biweekly and replace monthly.  You should be fine!

 

 

MECHANICAL →  removes suspended debris from your tank water.  It gives your water a cleaner, clearer  appearance,

acting like a strainer as the water flows through it.  IF IT GETS SATURATED WITH TO MUCH DEBRIS, IT  CLOGS, 

AND DIVERTS THE WATER FLOW BACK INTO YOUR AQUARIUM, RELEASING THE DEBRIS WHERE

TOXIC AMMONIA COULD FORM.  NOT A GOOD SITUATION.

                                                   This part of your African Cichlids filtration system should be inspected WEEKLY and

                                                   CLEANED OUT  BIWEEKLY  as part of your maintenance  program.  Should be cleaned in

                                                   the 4 gallon container filled with aquarium water. The purpose of using this is that it houses

                                                   the beneficial bacteria and preserves your sponge.  The media should give you many, many

                                                   years of service before it needs replacing. A sign that this needs to be done is  when it

                                                   doesn’t “spring” back to its original shape after being squeezed.  Following this process

                                                   should ensure you that this media won’t become clogged, and provide years of hassle-free

                                                   service for your African Cichlids filtration.

Your African Cichlids filtration system incorporates this triple filtration process by different methods.  I have used these

power filters for over 2o years when setting up African Cichlids aquarium systems, and they are still in use today!

Specifically, I use the Hagen AquaClear units.  They are extremely reliable and super easy to maintain.  Installation is a very

simple as well!

 

african cichlids filtration                        african cichlids filtration

 

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AQUARIUM SET-UP, AFRICAN CICHLIDS

aquarium set-up

 

 

 

 

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The key to successfully setting up your African Cichlids aquarium set-up is preparation. It all begins with  a

thorough cleaning  of your tank with warm tap water only. no soap.

 

AFRICAN CICHLIDS, AQUARIUM SET-UP

1. Wash out your tank thoroughly with warm tap water. Then fill with cold tap water and let sit overnight to

     see if there are any leaks anywhere.   I know you are probably excited to get your aquarium set-up, but this is a

     must to avoid  yourself future frustration after its up and running.

2. Wash all of your rock until the water runs clear through it. Next day, tank has no leaks, place your aquarium on 

     your stand,  which should already be level, and arrange your substrate and other rock work .

3. Install your air curtain on your gravel,  behind your taller rock work to hide hide it. Attach your air tubing to the

    air curtain and to your air pump.

4. Locate your heater, set at 77ºF, filter, and thermometer in your aquarium.

5. Fill your tank with cold tap water. Add Tap Water Conditioner and Cycle to the water as directed.

6. Hook up your electricity. This completes your initial aquarium set-up, for now!

7. This step is one of the most difficult. Patience. This will be your friend in the long run.

    Your aquarium water will probably turn cloudy as it cycles and balances itself out.  This is a normal process

     indicating  that bacterial growth is taking place. Your water will clear up as this bacteria settles into your

     substrate and filter media.

    This process will take between 2 – 4 weeks. Do nothing here. Here is where your patience will reward

    you with years of  pleasure, relaxation, and enjoyment with the time and efforts you have put forth. 

8. Make sure that everything  with your African Cichlids aquarium set-up is functioning properly.  Temperature is   

     77ºF,  your air curtain has a solid, even line of bubbles rising to the water surface. Replace any evaporated water

     with cold tap water.

9. Purchase nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia test kits for fresh water aquariums.  After at least 4 weeks ,

     test your aquarium water as directed. Oh, get a large fish net as well!  All levels  should read “0”. 

10. This is an exciting day!  Everything is in working order that we have addressed, and no problems. Go to a 

               reputable fish store and your first pair of African Cichlids! 

               Acclimate your cichlids by placing the bag directly into your aquarium water and let it float for 30 

               minutes.  This  allows you  fish to adjust to your aquarium water.  After the recommended time, net your

               fish from the plastic bag and  introduce them to their  new home by letting them swim from  the net on

               their own power. 

11. Patience is again critical.  Your African Cichlids aquarium water needs time to adjust to its new inhabitants.

      During this  time,  decide what color of cichlids you want to have in your aquarium set-up.

12. Next, decide the proper number of fish that can safely occupy your aquarium. 

GUIDELINE:  EVERY INCH OF FISH REQUIRES ONE GALLON OF AQUARIUM WATER.

                   A 100  gallon aquarium will have about 90 gallons of water available for your cichlids.  The rock in your

                   tank displaces about 10gallons of water.

                  On average, adult African Cichlids are between 4- 6 inches in length. We will make it easy and use 5 inches

                  to determine the number of fish!

                                                                    90 gallons/water divided by 5″/fish = 18 fish

                                                   Purchase your cichlids in trios — 1 male and 2 females.

13.  Follow the same procedure in step # 1o for adding each additional trio  to your tank.  Allow 2- 3 weeks between

       purchases to allow your aquarium water to adjust.

14.  Enjoy your African Cichlids aquarium set-up!

 

Follow these steps and your  African Cichlids aquarium set-up  will look like this!

aquarium set-up     aquarium set-up    aquarium set-up

 

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AFRICAN CICHLIDS TANK MAINTENANCE

african cichlids tank maintenance

 

 

 

 

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AFRICAN CICHLIDS TANK MAINTENANCE

I think it is safe to say that we all want to keep our African Cichlids aquarium water, substrate, and rock work as clean

as the  day we set up our aquarium system by following good African Cichlids tank maintenance.  Easier said then

done, right!  Well, in reality, that isn’t possible because your substrate, and rock work are porous materials where

bacteria is going to settle into crevices and cavities and allow that unwanted guest to visit your aquarium and start to 

challenge your African Cichlids tank maintenance.  Yes, I am talking about that green stuff algae !  This process happens

naturally in any aquarium environment, and is an ongoing cycle from day one after setting up your system.

 

Kind of a disheartening thing to think about after all of your hard work and time setting up your system!  The focus of

this tip is to let you know the things that need to be done to manage this process in your African Cichlids tank

maintenance program.

 

It’s quite simple, doesn’t take much time, and needs to be done faithfully as part of your regular, scheduled

maintenance on a weekly basis!  One, is to replace evaporated water.  When doing this, add the required

amount of algaefix to the water you are going to add to your tank before pouring it into your tank.  Secondly,

incorporate carbon media into your filter system.  Third, as part of your African Cichlids tank maintenance, rinse your

mechanical filter media in your separate container of aquarium water by simply squeezing it until all of the debris has

been removed.  That is it!   Practicing this tip as part of your weekly African Cichlids tank maintenance and you will see

results.   Just be patient!

 

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YOUR AFRICAN CICHLIDS WATER QUALITY

 

African Cichlids water quality

 

 

 

 

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AFRICAN CICHLIDS WATER QUALITY

It is important to keep tabs on your African Cichlids water quality by monitoring vital water parameters, and keeping

them stable and at proper levels in your aquarium water to prevent unnecessary stress to your Afrtican Cichlids. 

Fluctuation in their water conditions is one of the main causes of cichlids  illness and  death.  Regular testing of your

African Cichlids water quality can prevent serious problems from happening.  It is vital to do regular, scheduled

aquarium water testing of certain parameters in your aquarium water.  Following is a discussion of those water

parameters :

 

TEMPERATURE→  African Cichlids are very sensitive to temperature change in their environment.  Sudden fluctuation in

                               their aquarium  water temperature can wreak havoc on them.  Keeping your African Cichlids water

                               quality at a temperature of 77ºF is ideal.

pH                         →  maintaining a specific level of alkalinity or acidity of your aquarium water is also vital to your African

                                   Cichlids water quality.  African Cichlids require a high level of pH  between  8.0-8.2.

AMMONIA        →   Ammonia is extremely toxic and can cause problems ranging from gill disease to being fatal. 

                               Monitoring your African Cichlids  water quality is a must and corrected immediately if present in your

                               aquarium. 

NITRITE            →  An elevation of nitrite in your African Cichlids water quality could be an indication of a problem with

                               your biological filtration.  This needs to be addressed immediately because even low levels of nitrite

                               suppress your  cichlids immune systems.

                               This can quickly become fatal if the level in their environment is elevated.

NITRATE         →   Nitrate levels in your African Cichlids water quality are not as toxic as the previous parameters

                                     discussed.  It also needs to be monitored on a regular, scheduled basis,  like the other two,

                                     to avoid stress on your African Cichlids.  An elevated level of this  in your aquarium water can

                                    welcome an unwanted guest, algae!

 

In closing, ammonia, nitrate, and  nitrite levels in your aquarium water need to remain at a constant,

undetectable zero level to maintain  healthy African Cichlids water quality.

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AFRICAN CICHLIDS WATER. SALT IN IT !

African Cichlids water

 

 

 

 

 

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 Salt in your African Cichlids water has several beneficial factors when added to their freshwater environment,

and can add to their overali well-being!  Yep! You read the title of the article correctly!

                                                                              STRESS

When your cichlids are diseased, their gills may not be be functioning efficiently.  Their ability to bring in oxygen

and release carbon dioxide could be impaired.  Adding salt to your African Cichlids water introduces electrolytes

into their freshwater environment that may have been lost while your cichlids are diseased, aiding them in there

ability to breathe and recover faster.

 

                                                                        PARASITE

Salt in your African Cichlids water can be used as a short-term remedy for your cichlids when they have external

parasites such as ich.  To treat this, add 1/5 cup of salt to every to 10 gallons of aquarium water in a

separate container.  Place your infected cichlids into this container for 5- 10 minutes and remove them

from the container and place them back into your aquarium.  Repeat in 24 hours, if necessary.

 

                                                                         NITRATE

Salt can temporarily block the  toxic effects of high nitrate levels and stress on your cichlids   and protect them until

 the water quality improves in your African Cichlids water . 

 

Following these steps of adding salt to your African Cichlids water can help to reduce stress, get rid of ich, aid in high

nitrate levels , and increase their over all well-being!

 

Feel free to take in the following article after enjoying “African Cichlids water.  Salt in it!”.

 

Feel free to leave a comment with your experience on this topic.  As a courtesy to your fellow African Cichlids

enthusiasts, please comment  on the subject at hand.

 

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