Aquarium Salt: When and How to Use It Properly
Is it safe to use freshwater salt in aquarium salt? 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. We love it because it’s cheap, readily available in all countries, never expires, and can be easily used in low to high concentrations.
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. Finally, it’s easy to accidentally overdose salt, which may kill everything (not just the bacteria) in your freshwater aquarium. 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. Salt causes death by dehydration. This is done by increasing the salinity in the aquarium water. Because the fish have more water and mass, these microorganisms are more likely to die than their hosts. However, some microorganisms can withstand higher salinity, which is why salt is not a 100% bulletproof solution.
Aquarium salt can eliminate parasites and pathogens through the power of osmosis.
Do I need to use salt all the time?
As a preventative measure, or as a health booster, sodium chloride salt should never be taken on a daily basis. It’s like someone taking antibiotics daily to avoid infection. Then, a superbug will emerge and you may have limited treatment options. The same goes for fish diseases that get past the “salt barrier”. They will need a much higher level of salt to cure them. 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. The measurements listed below are in the United States (US), customary units and not the British imperial system. If the symptoms persist, we start with the lowest salt level and increase as needed.
Salt can come in many sizes, so ensure you use aquarium salt to adhere to our treatment protocol.
Level 1 Treatment
1 Tbsp Salt per 3 Gallons of Water
Add 1 tablespoon (3 Tbsp) salt to 3 gallons water. Salt can be added directly to the aquarium or hospital tank. Others prefer to dissolve the salt in small amounts of water. 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. Plus, it gently irritates the fish’s slime coat, causing the fish to make more beneficial mucus that can block some parasites and microorganisms from reaching its body.
Our fish store has sold thousands of fish and kept them safe. The salt solution should be kept in the fish for at least 4 to 5 days. If there is no improvement, increase the concentration.
Level 2 Treatment
1 Tbsp Salt for 2 Gallons of water
For the next level of treatment, use 1 Tbsp salt per 2 Gallons of water. Level 2 is capable of treating a wider variety 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. However, if the symptoms are only getting worse after 5 days, try increasing the concentration again.
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. Raise the concentration to 1 Tbsp of salt per gallon of water, and this potent solution will knock out nearly everything. Level 3 is extremely difficult on sensitive species and scaleless fish. Please do your research before you start. Rasboras are salt-tolerant, as well as tetras and silver dollars, ranios, tetras and livebearers. Neocaridina cherries shrimp and Caridina crystals shrimp are both salt-tolerant.
Aquarium salt doesn’t evaporate or get filtered. The salt is retained by water as it evaporates. Therefore, only add salt (in the proportionate amount) when doing water changes. 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. It’s possible to overdose on salt, unlike other medications.
Salt does not evaporate or disappear unless you physically remove the water it’s dissolved in, so be careful to not overdose your aquarium.
How long should salt treatment last?
Leave the salt in the aquarium until the fish looks healthy and then remove the salt by doing water changes.
– 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 returns, dose back to the original salt concentration and add a little more salt to increase the solution strength. It is possible that the original salt concentration wasn’t sufficient to eradicate the disease. Or, the fish didn’t spend enough time in the salt solution dehydrating all pathogens.
Can I Use Salt for Fish in Quarantine?
You can treat fish with the low-sodium level 1 for up to 2 weeks. The solution should eliminate approximately 60% of possible illnesses. You can also use this technique for healing any fish that got beat up and needs some solitary recovery time in a hospital tank.
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. Aquarium salt could be your best friend in the future when it comes treating sick fish.