Aquarium Salt: When and How to Use It Properly
Can aquarium salt be used in freshwater tank? Some people recommend dosing it all the time to provide fish with essential electrolytes, while others say it’s mostly used for treating diseases. After years of testing with hundreds of fish, we’ve witnessed the true power of salt. NaCl (Sodium Chloride) is an all-purpose “medication” that works against bacteria, yeast, and parasites. It’s inexpensive, easily available in all countries, doesn’t expire, and can be used in low- to high doses.
Our trio of medications is recommended to beginners because different types of fish have different salt tolerance levels. It can be difficult to remember and figure out the right dosage for each species. Salt can’t be used with most living plants and snails. Salt can also be accidentally overdosed, which could cause your freshwater aquarium to die. This highly effective remedy can be used by both novice and expert fish keepers.
How does Aquarium Salt work?
Salt essentially causes death by dehydration. By raising the salinity of the aquarium water, water is sucked out of the bacteria, fungus, or parasite as osmosis seeks to balance the salt concentration on each side of its membrane or skin. Because the fish have more water and mass, these microorganisms are more likely to die than their hosts. Some microorganisms are capable of surviving higher levels of salt, so salt is not an all-purpose bulletproof solution.
Through the power of osmosis, aquarium salt is able to eliminate many pathogens and parasites on fish.
Do I have to Use Salt All The Time?
The sodium chloride should not be taken as a preventative or health booster. This would be similar to a healthy person taking antibiotics every day in an effort to reduce the risk of infection. Eventually, a superbug could emerge that is resistant to antibiotics and your options for treatment are severely limited. The same goes for fish diseases that get past the “salt barrier”. They will need a much higher level of salt to cure them. It is better to use salt sparingly, only when it is absolutely necessary, to make salt a valuable tool in your arsenal.
How to use salt as a medication
Salt comes in many sizes and chemical compositions. For this article, however, we are using NaCl rock salt or aquarium salt. This is not table salt, sea salt, or Epsom sodium. (Also, the measurement listed below refer to United States (US) customary units, not the UK imperial system.) If the symptoms persist, we start with the lowest salt level and increase as needed.
Salt is available in many sizes and shapes, so be sure to use aquarium salt for our treatment.
Level 1 Treatment
1 Tbsp Salt per 3 Gallons of Water
For every 3 gallons of water, add 1 tablespoon (Tbsp). You can pour the salt directly into the aquarium or hospital tank, but some people like to dissolve the salt in a small cup of water first. This amount of salt is comparable to Neosporin topical oil for small cuts. It can be used to combat mild cases of fungal or bacterial infection. It also gently irritates fish’s slime, causing them to make more beneficial mucus. This can help prevent parasites and other microorganisms getting into their bodies.
We have sold thousands upon thousands of fish from our fish shop. This level of salt is safe to eat , except anchor catfish. If the fish doesn’t improve, keep them in the salt solution for four to five days.
Level 2 Treatment
1 Tbsp Salt for 2 Gallons of water
Use a concentration of 1 Tbsp of salt per 2 gallons of water for the next level of treatment. Level 2 treatment is capable of combating a wider range of illnesses. For example, you can use this recipe to treat ich (a common ailment also known as white spot disease) for a period of 10 days. If the symptoms don’t improve after 5 days, you can increase your concentration.
Level 3 Treatment
1 Tbsp salt per 1 Gallon water
If medications and lower salt levels don’t work, it’s time for the big guns. This powerful solution will eliminate almost everything if the salt concentration is increased to 1 Tbsp per gallon. Level 3 treatment can be very difficult for scaleless fish and sensitive species. Make sure you do your research. We personally have found rasboras, danios, tetras, silver dollars, livebearers, and most cichlids (as well as their fry) to be fairly salt tolerant. Even Neocaridina cherry shrimp are quite hardy in salt, but we haven’t done much testing on Caridina crystal shrimp yet.
Aquarium salt doesn’t evaporate or get filtered. The salt is retained by water as it evaporates. When performing water changes, make sure to only add salt in the correct proportion. For instance, if you’re treating 100 gallons of water at level 2 for ich, you need 50 Tbsp of salt initially. Then, if you have to do a 20% water change (or change out 20 gallons of water), add back in 20% of the salt (or 10 Tbsp of salt) to the new water to maintain the same concentration. You should be careful about measuring salt as it is easy to overdose and salt doesn’t break down over time, unlike many medications.
Salt will not evaporate or disappear unless it is physically removed from the water in which it was dissolved.
How long should salt treatment last?
Keep the salt in the aquarium till the fish is healthy. Then, do water changes to remove the salt.
– After the treatment has ended, you can do a 30% water alter without salt. Wait a week before you start to monitor. – Wait another week to see if the disease hasn’t returned. Perform a 30% water change, but don’t replace the salt. – If the disease recurs, increase the salt concentration to get the solution to a higher level. Either the original salt concentration was not strong enough to overcome the illness or the fish didn’t spend enough time in salt solution to fully dehydrate the pathogens.
Can I use salt in place of fish in Quarantine
Yes, you can treat new fish using the level 1 low salt dosage for 2 weeks. The solution should eliminate approximately 60% of possible illnesses. This method can also be used to treat fish who have been hurt and need some time alone in a hospital.
While grabbing a box of fish medication may seem like the easiest answer, salt is remarkable because of its ability to treat mystery diseases that are hard to diagnose. To reduce risk to the environment and human health, some countries have begun to ban the sale of antibiotics in the pet trade. In the future aquarium salt could become your best friend for treating sick fish.