I've been adding baking soda, epsom salt and kosher salt at water change time, in more or less equal proportions to keep the tank at PH 8.0 (tapwater is 7.4). Is there any benefit to the Kosher salt or should I skip it?
I just though a simple review of salts might be helpful.
Sodium Chloride (normal table salt): In low levels it can be added to a tank to help prevent parasites. It is not necessary for African cichlids and not found in the Rift Lakes naturally in any quantity.
Calcium Carbonate: The primary salt in African Rift Lakes. Raises pH, raises total hardness, raises carbonate hardness. It is the most important salt in an African tank. A crushed coral substrate or larger coral based rocks will help to maintain this. Additionally various cichlid additives and buffers contain this.
Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking soda; not baking powder please): This is a very good buffer that not only raises the pH, but also increases carbonate hardness.
Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt): I am not sure the exact benefits of this for an African aquarium. Seems from the others comments that it does not hurt. There is magnesium in the rift lakes, although calcium is the major cation. I will do a search on this though. If anyone knows more about the benefits of MgSO4 I would appreciate their input.
I use a coral substrate and a 8.2 pH buffer and do very well. If I add new fish or some seem out of sorts, I add in a little sea salt. I have never had any issues with my pH, hardness, or carbonate hardness doing this and the fish seem to do very well. I have only kept a few tropheus in the past though, so details may be slightly different for them.