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 (NaCl), is one of the most effective, all-encompassing “medications” available. It’s effective against bacteria and fungus as well as external parasites. It’s inexpensive, easily available in all countries, doesn’t expire, and can be used in low- to high doses.
We recommend the trio of medications to beginner fisherman because different species of fish have different tolerances to salt. This can make it difficult to determine and remember the proper 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. Nevertheless, with accurate measurements and careful usage, both new and experienced fish keepers can benefit from this highly effective remedy.
How Does Aquarium Salt Work?
Salt causes death through 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. These tiny microorganisms dehydrate faster than the fish (because the fish has more mass and stored water), and therefore the pathogens end up dying before their hosts do. Some microorganisms are capable of surviving higher levels of salt, so salt is not an all-purpose bulletproof solution.
Aquarium salt can eliminate parasites and pathogens through the power of osmosis.
Should I 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. In the same way, any fish disease that gets past your protective “salt barrier” will be quite resilient and require a much higher salt concentration to cure, which may be detrimental to the fish. Instead, if you use salt sparingly only when necessary, it becomes a powerful tool to add to your arsenal.
How to use salt as a medication
There are many types of salt. Salt can come in different sizes, purity levels and chemical compositions. However, for this article we will be using regular aquarium salt or NaClrock salt. We won’t use table salt, marine salt or Epsom salt. (Also, the measurement listed below refer to United States (US) customary units, not the UK imperial system.) Our method of treatment starts with the lowest level of salt and gradually increases if the symptoms persist.
Salt comes in many sizes and forms, so make sure to use aquarium salt to follow our treatment regimen.
Level 1 Treatment
1 Tbsp salt per 3 Gallons Water
Add 1 tablespoon (Tbsp) of salt per 3 gallons of water. 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 is used to treat mild cases of fungal and 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’ve kept and sold thousands of fish at our fish store, and this level of salt is safe for virtually all fish – 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. This recipe can be used to treat ich, also known as white spot syndrome, for 10 days. If the symptoms don’t improve after 5 days, you can increase your concentration.
Level 3 Treatment
1 Tbsp Salt for 1 Gallon of water
If medications and lower salt levels don’t work, it’s time for the big guns. The potent solution will kill almost all things if you raise the salt level to 1 Tbsp for every gallon of water. Level 3 treatment can be very difficult for scaleless fish and sensitive species. Make sure you do your research. Rasboras are salt-tolerant, as well as tetras and silver dollars, ranios, tetras and livebearers. Neocaridina cherry Shrimp are salt-tolerant, as is Caridina crystal shrimp. However, we have not yet tested this.
Salt in aquariums does not evaporate. When water evaporates, salt is left behind. When changing water, add salt only in the appropriate amount. 50 Tbsp salt is required to treat 100 gallons at level 2 for ich. If you have to perform a 20% water alteration (or change out 20 galallons of water), then add back 20% of the salt or 10 Tbsp salt to the new water. This will maintain the same concentration. Be careful when measuring the salt because it’s easy to overdose the amount, and unlike most medications, salt does not breakdown over time.
Salt will not evaporate or disappear unless it is physically removed from the water in which it was dissolved.
How Long Does Salt Treatment Last?
Keep the salt in the aquarium till the fish is healthy. Then, do water changes to remove the salt.
After treatment is complete, perform a 30% water change with no salt addition. Then wait for a week to observe. – If the disease doesn’t come back, do another 30% water change without replacing the salt and wait another week. – If the disease returns, dose back to the original salt concentration and add a little more salt to increase the solution strength. 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 for 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 technique can be used to heal any fish that has been injured and requires some time in a hospital tank.
It may seem simple to grab some fish medication. But salt is extraordinary because it can treat difficult-to-diagnose diseases. Certain countries have started to restrict the sale and distribution of antibiotics to pets in order to reduce the risk to humans and the environment. In the future, aquarium salt may become your next best friend when it comes to treating sick fish.