If you have freshwater fish, the thought of adding salt to your tank probably fills you with horror. However, many hobbyists rely on salt as a remedy to treat certain health problems in fish. There are several different types of salt, including Epsom salt, aquarium salt, sea salt, and table salt, and it’s important that you know which type to use.
So what is Epsom salt? And how does Epsom salt work in the treatment of fish? In this guide, we answer those questions and take a look at aquarium salt vs. Epsom salt, aquarium salt vs. sea salt, and aquarium salt vs. table salt.
aquarium salt vs. epsom salt vs. sea salt vs. Table Salt: Quick Overview
|aquarium salt||epsom salt||sea salt||salt table|
|Create saline water for marine tanks||Nope||Nope||Yes||Nope|
Treat certain parasites
|Safe to use with plants||Nope||Yes||Nope||Nope|
|Adjust water hardness and pH||Nope||Yes||Yes||Nope|
|Helps heal injuries||Yes||Nope||Yes||Nope|
|Helps treat constipation.||Nope||Yes||Nope||Nope|
|Helps in the treatment of dropsy||Nope||Yes||Nope||Nope|
|Helps treat swim bladder disease||Nope||Yes||Nope||Nope|
|Improves gill function||Yes||Nope||Nope||Nope|
|Reduces the absorption of nitrates.||Yes||Nope||Nope||Nope|
|Promotes a healthy slime coat||Yes||Nope||Nope||Nope|
What is salt?
Common salt (NaCl) is the seasoning found in most people’s kitchen cupboards, commonly labeled as table salt. But there is more to salt than just something used in cooking.
Salt is essentially the general term used to describe any substance produced through a neutralized reaction. That’s when an acid reacts with some kind of base material. All salts share the same fundamental characteristics:
- ionic bonds
- relatively high melting points
- electrical conductivity when in solution or molten
- crystal structure when solid
Salts of natural origin and those created artificially are extremely important. Did you know that salt has more than 14,000 uses? In addition to being an essential seasoning in the kitchen, salt is used to make thousands of items we use every day, including clothes, shoes, and even the computer you’re using to browse our site.
How does salt work in your aquarium?
For example, aquarium salt is a useful remedy for treating and preventing several common fish diseases. In addition, salt can help heal injuries, improve gill function, promote the formation of a healthy slime layer, kill certain parasites, and even reduce the absorption of harmful nitrates. You can also use salt to alter the water hardness and pH of your tank.
However, there are several types of salt and they have different applications in the aquarium.
Aquarium salt is basically pure, untreated sodium chloride. This form of salt is extremely versatile, has antibacterial properties, and is widely used in the hobby, where it has become an essential item in the aquarist ‘s armory.
In tropical freshwater fish, aquarium salt can be used:
- to create brackish water for certain species of fish, such as mollies
- to fight existing infections
- to prevent recurrence of infections
- to disrupt parasites, such as Ich and velvet
- to aid the wound healing process
- to relieve fin rot
- to reduce ammonia or nitrate toxicity when transporting fish
Unlike many over-the-counter fish medications, aquarium salt is very cheap and widely available, as well as being incredibly versatile.
When to use aquarium salt
Aquarium salt can be used to create a salt bath or bath.
Bathrooms VS. I’m asking
When using aquarium salt to treat parasites, use a bath. A bath involves putting the affected fish in a solution of non-chlorinated, salty tap water for up to 30 minutes before returning the fish to its main tank.
To make a saltwater bath, prepare a solution of one tablespoon of aquarium salt per gallon of water. Put the fish in the salt sauce for five to eight minutes, no more. Acclimate the fish for two to three minutes before placing it back in your main tank.
One bath means you are treating the entire tank. Salt baths are generally used to treat nitrite poisoning. , stress and some parasites and use a lower concentration of salt than a sauce. If necessary, a bath treatment can be maintained for up to three weeks.
Instead of using a salt bath, however, I recommend using anti-stress coating products, which can be just as effective and safe to use in a planted tank.
Aquarium Salt VS Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is not actually a salt, but rather a chemical compound called magnesium sulfate that contains magnesium, oxygen, and sulfur. The substance is named after the town of Epsom, England, where it was discovered.
Epsom salt is used to treat human ailments, including constipation, fibromyalgia, and insomnia. The substance is also useful in treating fish suffering from dropsy, swim bladder disease, and constipation.
As mentioned above, aquarium salt is not used to treat these conditions.
When to use epsom salt
Altering water conditions
You can use Epsom salt to increase water hardness in freshwater fish tanks. This is because hard water contains more dissolved calcium and magnesium than soft water. Some fish prefer soft water, while others need hard water.
Also, the degree of hardness of the water can have an impact on the pH levels. Hard water is alkaline, while soft water is more acidic. Therefore, you can use Epsom salts to change the chemistry of the water in your tank.
However, monitor changes carefully as abrupt changes in pH levels can be very stressful to fish and can even kill them. Basically, you should avoid pH changes greater than 0.3 in 24 hours.
Aquarium salt generally does not alter the pH or hardness of the water.
Treat constipation in fish
Many types of fish suffer from constipation, including bettas and goldfish. Constipation causes loss of appetite and a bloated belly and is usually caused by overeating or eating a diet that is too low in fiber.
You can treat constipation in fish by giving them an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt acts as a muscle relaxant, and soaking the fish in a solution of one tablespoon of Epsom salt to one gallon of water for about 15 minutes or more often works.
Treatment of dropsy
Dropsy is a serious disease that affects the kidneys of fish. If the kidneys fail, the fish will retain fluid in its abdomen, leading to a bloated belly and raised «pineapple» scales.
Epsom salt can be used as a supplemental element of dropsy treatment by adding 1/8 teaspoon per five gallons of water as a bath treating the entire tank. Along with antibiotics, Epsom salt can relieve swelling.
Do not use aquarium salt or any other type of salt to treat Dropsy as it can worsen the fish’s condition.
Treatment of swim bladder disease
Many species of fish can suffer from swim bladder disease and fancy goldfish are especially susceptible. Fish affected by swim bladder disease struggle to stay upright, as the swim bladder is compromised. The condition can be caused by infection, impacted eggs, constipation, and swallowing air from the surface of the water.
Slightly increase the water temperature to between 78o and 80o Fahrenheit and add 1/8 teaspoon of Epsom salt for every five gallons of water in your tank.
Aquarium salt VS sea salt
Sea salt is also known as sea salt and should never be confused with aquarium salt. Sea salt contains chemical buffers that will kill freshwater fish and should only be used to create saline water for marine tanks.
When to use sea salt
Marine fish, corals, sponges and the like live in an ocean environment where the water has a very high salt content. To create salinity in the tank and set the correct water hardness and pH, aquarists use a mixture of sea salt combined with tap water and a water conditioner.
Sea salt is not suitable for use as a medicine in freshwater tanks.
Aquarium salt VS table salt
Common table salt is basic sodium chloride and is used around the house for cooking, seasoning, cleaning, preserving, and a host of other random things.
However, there is a big difference between table salt and aquarium salt. Table salt is often treated with chemicals, such as iodine, and anti-caking agents, some of which contain low levels of toxins, including cyanide.
Table salt is potentially very harmful to fish, so never substitute table salt for aquarium salt.
When to avoid salt
Although salt can be extremely beneficial in the fish tank when used correctly, there are times when its use should be avoided.
Live plants do not tolerate salt very well, and even relatively low levels of salt can kill your plants. If you have a sick fish and want to use salt to treat it, move the fish to a quarantine tank, rather than dosing your main tank and risk killing your plants.
fish without scales
Some species of scaleless fish lack the barrier provided by scales and do not tolerate salt very well. Avoid using salt if you have Corydoras, tetras, or other scaleless catfish in your tank, as these species are intolerant to salt.
Salt can be used for many different purposes in the aquarium, depending on the type of salt you are using.
As a general rule, aquarium salt is the safest and most versatile option for treating injuries and certain infections and parasites. Sea salt should only be used to create salt water for a marine setting, and Epsom salt is useful for treating some digestive conditions. Table salt contains additives that could harm your fish, so we do not recommend using it in your aquarium.
We hope you have enjoyed this guide. If she did, share it with your friends and feel free to tell us what you think about using salt in your tank in the comment box below.