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Joan, Vet Technician
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 17307
Experience:  Vet Tech for 35+yrs. Small Animals and Fish
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After Alfie died I brought home 2 brackish puffers thinking

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After Alfie died I brought home 2 brackish puffers thinking my tank was cycled. Well it wasn't. They are now in a 29 gallon with two shark catfish to help the tank cycle. I would say we are in week 3 of the cycle. Everyone is doing wonderful except for the green spotted puffer from time to time. I am in the middle of a water change and my LFS is closed until Tuesday. I am confused on how much salt to add to the new water. We have been keeping their salinity at 1.004.


Thank-you for requesting me for this question and I will be happy to try and assist you.

I am so glad the tank is doing well, but we need to be very careful with the catfish since they do not tolerate the high salt content. This will be tough getting a good balance to accommodate the puffer fish as well as the catfish. I would mix 1-2 tablespoons of Aquarium Salt per gallon to the water that is being replaced. That should bring the Salinity to 1.015. As I said with the Cat fish I would go to the lower side of the salt to water mixture, since Catfish have a hard time dealing with too much salinity and we do not want to loose them. I have kept some salt water as well as brackish tanks due to keeping African Cichlids, but I am always cautious because loaches and catfish do not tolerate the salt the way other fish do. The Cory Cats do not tolerate much salt, so adding the salt gradually may make it easier for the catfish, but still allow the puffers to feel the comfort level. Joan


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The catfish are South American silver sharks (or Columbian sharks?). Which are also brackish? The salinity is now at 1.004 so should I still go the low route to keep from shocking them?


You since they are brackish water fish I would go with the 1 tablespoon per gallon of water mixed and then added. This should balance what you have. Salt does not leave the water unless it is changed, so the gradual addition of the salt would lessen any issues and undo stress, rather than hitting them hard. we do not want to jolt the salinity. We want to try and keep things close to what they were, but make the salinity more suitable for the Puffer fish. Joan

Hi Katie,
Just wanted to check in and see how the Puffers are doing. Hope all is going well with the tank.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Everyone is doing really well! I didn't have airstones (duh!) so I put those in there and got my salinity up to 1.005 and my problem puffer has been doing great since then. My nitrites are at 1ppm so I am hoping that means the cycling process is getting closer.


It sounds like we are almost there with the cycling and all the fish are doing well is great! I am so happy we were able to get this undercontrol. The cycling can take about 30 days, bu may take a little longe, with the brackish water, but definately on the right track and doing well with the fish. Please do not forget to rate my service if I have met my goal if 100% Excellent service. You can still come back on this issue for help at any time. Joan

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Well I actually do have a question quick. My ammonia has hovered around a 2 for weeks now. But my nitrites have started rise.. which confuses me. With a 29 gallon tank and only 4 fish, is it possible that there just aren't enough fish in there to cycle the tank completely?


There are plenty of fish, but the smaller the tank the harder to get it to cycle. I have seen some small tanks take almost 8-10 weeks to cycle, because the nitrifying bacteria has not taken complete hold. You may want to try some of the Fritzyme # XXXXX or Bio Spira, to help push the cycling along. Sometimes we just get ammonia spikes and have to deal with them with the water changes. That is why I tell people to have a good test kit available at all times. I still will get spikes if we over feed or if my catfish is not doing a good job. Joan

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