Many fishkeepers use aquarium salt for betta fish to help treat certain illnesses and diseases, but if you’ve never used this product before, you may have some hesitations or even wonder whether regular salt will do the trick.
Aquarium salt for bettas is pure sodium chloride that doesn’t contain additives or iodine that most table salts do. It can help fight off mild bacterial and fungal infections, as well as boost gill function, slime coat production, and heal wounds.
If you’re thinking of adding aquarium salt to your betta tank, our handy guide will help you understand the benefits, correct dosage, and the type of health conditions it’s used for.
What Is Aquarium Salt?
Aquarium salt is untreated sodium chloride. It is commonly used in freshwater tanks to treat a vast number of ailments and promote good health in fish.
Although table salt shares the same chemical formula as aquarium salt, it should not be used for aquarium fish as it usually contains additives and iodine. Iodized table salt or cooking salt will kill your fish if you add it to their tank water.
Aquarium salt for betta fish, on the other hand, comes straight from the ocean and is simply evaporated sea water.
In addition, marine salt for marine fish is unsuitable for a freshwater aquarium as it has pH buffering capabilities and consists of trace minerals/elements.
You can use rock salt and Kosher salt as a substitute for aquarium salt as they do not contain iodine or anti-caking additives.
Alternatively, if you can find non-iodized common table salt with no additives in it, then it can also be used for fish diseases.
This video does a good job explaining the benefits, uses, and risks of aquarium salt:
Is Aquarium Salt Safe For Betta Fish? Can It Harm Them?
Aquarium salt is safe for betta fish as long as you don’t overdose it and use it in moderation. Although helpful for treating certain illnesses and diseases, bettas don’t need aquarium salt if they are not sick.
In fact, if you add aquarium salt to a healthy betta tank, it could do more harm than good. Regular exposure to aquarium salt can burn your betta’s skin or even kill them in high dosages. It should never be used for more than 10 days at a time.
If you have other fish in your betta’s tank, especially aquatic snails and scaleless fish, refrain from adding salt to your entire fish tank as it can be harmful to them. Scaleless fish like corydoras catfish lack the added protection scales offer, so they cannot tolerate large dosages of salt in their tank water.
Additionally, live fragile plants can be easily damaged by high aquarium salt levels.
Benefits Of Using Aquarium Salt In A Betta Fish Tank
There are many benefits of using aquarium salt in a betta’s tank. These include the following:
- Improves kidney and gill function
- Helps kills certain parasites, fungus and bacteria
- Reduces stress
- Provides essential electrolytes
- Helps protect against nitrite poisoning
- Assists with slime coat production
- Speeds up healing process of wounds
Improves Kidney And Gill Function
Aquarium salt helps improve both kidney and gill function in betta fish as it decreases the workload of the kidneys. This is because the amount of water absorbed in your betta’s blood via their gills is reduced.
Helps Kill Certain Parasites, Fungus, And Bacteria
One of the biggest benefits of aquarium salt in a betta fish tank is its ability to kill certain parasites, fungus, and bacteria. It is effective at treating a range of parasitical, fungal, and bacterial infections as it essentially results in death via dehydration.
Adding aquarium salt to a fish tank raises the salinity of the tank water, which leads to water being drawn out of parasites, fungus, or bacteria as osmosis attempts to balance out the original salt concentration on both sides of the microorganism’s skin or membranes.
The microorganisms dry out much quicker than fish do, so they typically die off before their hosts (the fish).
However, some pathogens can tolerate a higher salinity, so aquarium non-iodized salt isn’t always an effective treatment method.
Decreases Stress Levels
If you add aquarium salt to your freshwater fish tank, it can help reduce stress levels as it decreases the amount of work your betta’s body needs to do to function, such as the kidneys and gills. This is particularly useful in sick fish that need a little extra help to get back on the mend.
Provides Essential Electrolytes
Another benefit of aquarium salt treatment is it provides your betta fish with essential electrolytes they need for optimal coloration and health. Each time you perform a water change, some of your fish’s natural electrolytes can be lost, so aquarium salt helps to replenish them.
Reduces Toxicity Of Nitrite Poisoning
High nitrite levels in your aquarium water can be lethal to your betta (even small quantities can be harmful), so it’s important to address the matter quickly. Aquarium salt has been a common remedy for reducing nitrite poisoning in fish as it can prevent methemoglobinemia.
It does this by releasing chlorine into the aquarium water, which helps decrease methemoglobinemia and the toxicity of the nitrite in your betta’s blood.
Increases Slime Coat Production
By adding salt to your betta tank, it slightly irritates your fish’s slime coat. While this might initially seem like a negative, it is actually another one of aquarium salt benefits!
The irritation causes your betta to produce more mucus, which helps protect them against certain fish diseases, including parasitical and bacterial infections.
Promotes The Healing Process Of Wounds
A salt dip or adding aquarium salt to your betta tank can speed up the healing process of sores and open wounds, such as fin rot or an injury sustained by another fish.
Best Aquarium Salt For Betta Fish
Adding aquarium salt to your betta tank can be beneficial provided it is used correctly. It can be used to treat an array of common freshwater fish illnesses and diseases, so it’s always a great idea to have a box in your cupboard.
However, not all aquarium salts are created equal, so that’s why we’ve looked at some of the most popular products on the market and chosen our favorites – your betta fish deserves only the best after all!
API Aquarium Salt
Most fishkeeepers will agree that API’s products are a staple in the aquarium hobby. API Aquarium Salt is hands down the best aquarium salt for your betta fish as it’s produced by a trustworthy, reliable company.
The product is affordably priced and effectively promotes fish disease recovery by providing electrolytes. It can help reduce stress and improve gill function, especially in new fish and those suffering from an illness or disease.
Even if your betta fish is healthy, API Aquarium Salt is worth having on hand for if they become sick or need a little extra TLC.
Fritz Aquatics A+ Aquarium Salt
If API Aquarium Salt doesn’t seem like the right choice for your sick betta, Fritz Aquatics A+ Aquarium Salt is another great option. It comes in a larger size than API’s salt, so it’s ideal if you need to treat fish disease in multiple aquariums.
Like any good aquarium salt, this one provides electrolytes needed to keep your fish at peak coloration and performance.
What Illnesses Does Aquarium Salt Treat In Bettas?
Aquarium salt (not regular table salt!) is effective at treating a number of common illnesses and diseases in betta fish, including betta fin rot, dropsy, popeye, columnaris, and ich.
If your betta is suffering from mild to moderate fin rot, you can add salt to their aquarium water to help restore their fins to their former glory. Most cases of betta fin rot are caused by bacteria, but fungus can also be the culprit.
To treat betta fin rot with aquarium salt, you should move your betta to a hospital tank, especially if there are scaleless fish, live plants, or other aquatic life in your main tank.
For minor fin rot, you can use 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon of water. More severe cases may require 2 to 2.5 tablespoons of salt per gallon of water to be effective. Dissolve the salt in a jug of dechlorinated water beforehand, then slowly add it to the quarantine aquarium over the course of an hour.
After 24 hours, change all of the water in the quarantine tank with clean, dechlorinated water and add the same amount of salt as before. Continue to do this for up to 10 days, at which point you should see some noticeable improvement in your betta’s fins.
Acclimate your betta to the main tank and monitor their fins. You can also treat fin rot by using an antibacterial fish medication and making sure you have good water quality in your aquarium.
Dropsy is considered a symptom rather than a disease as it is usually tied to an underlying health issue, such as liver dysfunction, bacterial infections, and fungal infections. It results in severe swelling due to the buildup of fluid in your fish’s body cavities or tissues, leading to a “pinecone” appearance.
The condition is notoriously hard to treat unless you resolve the underlying problem, but aquarium salt can help draw out some of the water and fluid in your betta’s body to increase their chance of survival.
Popeye in betta fish is a disease that produces pressure behind your fish’s eyes, causing swelling and the eyes to bulge out of their sockets. If your betta lives in a community tank, popeye is almost always due to a bacterial or fungal infection.
It’s best to use aquarium salt to treat popeye (an Epsom salt bath is also effective) to reduce the swelling and help remove the infection.
Move your betta to a tub with dissolved aquarium salt and leave them to bathe for 10 minutes. You can give your betta regular salt baths a few times a week until their condition has improved.
Columnaris, also known as cotton wool disease, is an internal or external bacterial infection that causes cottony, white growths on your fish’s body. It is often caused by poor water quality in freshwater aquariums, alongside poor diet, stress, and a high water temperature.
You can use aquarium salt to treat cotton wool disease as it can help fight off the infection and reduce osmotic stress.
Antibiotics and medications that contain copper sulfate, Furan, and Acriflavine are also effective against columnaris.
One of the most common ailments that can affect betta fish is ich, also known as white spot disease. It is caused by the Ichthyophthirius multifiliis protozoan and appears as small white spots on your fish’s body.
But can aquarium salt work to combat ich? Although adding salt to aquarium water with an ich infestation can work to control the issue, it largely depends on its severity. A tablespoon of salt per 2 gallons of water for 10 days (replace all of the water every day and add new salt) should be enough.
Moderate to extreme cases may need additional treatment, such as increasing the temperature of the tank or medications containing malachite green or formaldehyde.
What Common Betta Fish Illnesses Does Aquarium Salt Not Treat?
Aquarium salt might seem like a cure for all ills in betta fish, but there are some health issues that it does not treat, including notoriously tricky parasitical infections like flukes.
Flukes are parasites that live in your betta’s gills or on their skin. They eat your fish’s skin cells and mucus, leading to symptoms such as flashing behavior, lethargy, missing scales, excess mucus, and red spots.
A salt dip may remove some of the protozoans, but not if they are deeply embedded in your fish’s gills. Most cases of fluke require much stronger treatment than aquarium salt to fully disappear, including a higher water temperature to increase the parasite’s life cycle and medications containing Praziquantel.
How To Treat A Betta Fish With Aquarium Salt
If you want to use only aquarium salt to treat your betta fish, you can either add aquarium salt directly to the tank (provided there are no other fish or live plants in there), dissolve it first, or give your fish a salt bath. For popeye, dropsy, swim bladder problems, and some other fish diseases, salt baths work best.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure the right method to give your betta salt bath or how much salt to use – we’ll be going over that below!
Step 1: Fill A Container With Clean, Dechlorinated Water
Pour clean, dechlorinated water into a bucket or container that is at least a gallon in size. Add a tablespoon of salt per 3 gallons of water, especially if your fish has never been subjected to aquarium salt before.
After around a week of using salt, you can slowly increase the dosage to no more than a tablespoon per gallon of water.
Step 2: Make Sure The Water Is Heated To Around 78°F
Before you add your betta to the aquarium salt treatment, make sure the temperature of the water is the optimal temperature for a betta (around 78°F/25.5°C) or as close to the warmth of your main tank as possible.
Step 3: Gently Add Your Betta To The Salt Bath
Using a cup or net, scoop up your betta fish and gently transfer them to the salt solution. For lower concentrations of salt, you can leave your betta for around 10 minutes. Higher concentrations should only last a couple of minutes at most.
Monitor your betta closely during this time. If you spot any abnormal symptoms like erratic swimming, loss of movement, or rapid breathing, remove them from the bath immediately.
How Much Aquarium Salt Should You Add Per Gallon For Betta Fish?
|Tank Size||Dosage Of Salt Per Gallon|
|2.5 Gallons||1 Tablespoon|
|5 Gallons||2 Tablespoons|
|10 Gallons||4 Tablespoons|
|15 Gallons||6 Tablespoons|
|20 Gallons||8 Tablespoons|
|25 Gallons||10 Tablespoons|
|30 Gallons||12 Tablespoons|
The recommended dosage for aquarium salt to treat fish diseases (except for ich and severe fin rot) is one tablespoon per 3 gallons of water, at least to start off with. Remember, only use aquarium salt, rock, or Kosher salt. Table salt and marine salt used for marine tanks is unsuitable for bettas.
Does Aquarium Salt Change Water Parameters In A Betta Fish Tank?
Freshwater aquarium salt will not change the water parameters in a betta fish tank other than raise the salinity of the water. Bear in mind that salt does not evaporate or get filtered out by your fish tank filter.
The only way to remove aquarium salt from your betta tank is through water changes.
Aquarium salt can work wonders for betta fish that are suffering from certain illnesses like fin rot and popeye, as well as provide useful benefits such as electrolytes to keep them healthy.
However, it’s important not to give your fish overly frequent salt baths or add salt in overly high concentrations to your tank as it can be harmful. Aquarium salt is best saved for when your betta is sick, especially if you’re having trouble figuring out what is wrong with them.
Hopefully, our guide helped you realize the benefits of aquarium salt for betta fish, as well as the best (and worst!) times to use it.
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