Excess aquarium salt is not safe for bettas. However, if you use aquarium salt in moderation, it will not harm bettas in any way. Aquarium salt in the proper amount helps cure mild illnesses of bettas that are caused by bacteria and pathogens. This helps the bettas recover much faster.
Most varieties of bettas are freshwater fish. Hence, most of the bettas kept as household pets thrive in freshwater aquariums.
They do not need aquarium salt. Nonetheless, they tolerate small amounts of salinity.
Let us find out more about how much salt they can handle and when it is recommended.
How Does Aquarium Salt Help Betta Fish?
Aquarium salt helps with infections, ich, fin rot, minor fungal infections, velvet, and open wounds in betta fish.
Most of these diseases are caused by parasites that attack the external body of the fish.
These pathogens are much smaller than the betta fish.
Aquarium salt helps eliminate pathogens by the process of osmosis.
In osmosis, liquids move from a region of lower salt concentration to that of higher salt concentration through a permeable membrane.
In this case, the membrane is the skin of the parasite.
When the surrounding water is saltier than their insides, the fluid inside the cells is sucked out. They become dehydrated and die.
When the pathogen causing a disease perishes, the bettas recover faster.
Hence, the healing process speeds up, and the fish quickly bounces back to health.
How Much Salt Can A Betta Handle?
Most fish and plants tolerate aquarium salt at a dosage of 1 tablespoon per 5 to 7 gallons of water.
If you use aquarium salt at this concentration, your betta fish should be fine.
Nevertheless, look for any signs of distress for twenty-four hours.
If your betta looks fine, you can add the same amount for the next three days.
On the fourth day, change up to one-fourth of the tank water and replace it with fresh water.
How To Treat Betta Fin Rot With Aquarium Salt?
Fin rot is one of the most common bacterial diseases affecting betta fish.
Betta fish generally develop this condition when the aquarium water is not clean.
Dirty aquarium water has high levels of ammonia that burn the sensitive long fins and tail of betta fish.
When the tail and fins are injured, it becomes a target for harmful bacteria.
If your fish has a weak immune system, the fin rot can exacerbate.
Fin rot can spread to other parts of the fish body and make your pet betta very sick.
You can suspect fin rot if you observe the following symptoms in your betta fish:
- Tiny holes in the fins or tail.
- Edges of the fin become discolored and appear white, black, or red.
- The base of the fins looks slimy.
- The edges look frayed or prone to tears.
- The bright fin colors become pale and transparent.
Fortunately, you can treat fin rot with aquarium salt and prevent it from getting out of control.
To treat betta fin rot, you can add 1 tablespoon of salt per 5 to 7 gallons of aquarium water for 3 consecutive days. Change 25% of the aquarium water on the 4th day. Continue in this manner for up to 10 days.
If your betta has minor fin rot, you should see good improvement in its condition during this time.
But if it continues to be very ill, you will probably have to administer stronger medication for the condition.
The Advantages Of A Salt Dip For Betta Fish
In some situations, it is not advisable to add aquarium salt directly into the tank.
One such instance is when other fish or plants in the fish tank are sensitive to salt.
Adding aquarium salt adversely affects their well-being and lead to complications.
However, you can still treat your sick betta with salt by using a salt dip.
To prepare a salt dip, use 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon of water in a container.
Leave your betta fish in this container for five to eight minutes.
During this time, observe for any signs of distress. Never exceed eight minutes.
Prolonged exposure to salt burns the skin and harms the betta fish.
As soon as the time is over, put your betta fish in a salt bath with nominal salt concentration. It will help it acclimatize to the change.
Return it to its regular tank only after it has had enough time to gain the benefits of the salt.
Even if you treat the fish tank with aquarium salt, a salt dip will prove beneficial for betta fish that is unwell.
Factors To Consider Before Adding Aquarium Salt To Betta Fish Tank
Before adding aquarium salt to your betta fish tank, look for the following factors.
1. Presence of other fish in the tank.
Most aquarium fish tolerate small concentrations of aquarium salt.
However, it’s very harmful to certain types of fish, like scaleless fish.
The slime coat on these fish is highly vulnerable to salt. It dries out quickly.
Without the slime coat, the fish become prone to infections. Their immunity is also affected.
Hence, you should never add aquarium salt to a tank containing scaleless fish as they cannot tolerate even a small increase in salinity.
2. Plants in the tank.
Hardy aquarium plants like Java Moss, Java Fern, and Anubias tolerate aquarium salt.
They do not perish when you slightly increase the salinity of the water.
However, other fragile plants may not be able to handle the addition of salt.
If your betta fish live in a planted aquarium, check how tolerant the plants are to salt before using it in the tank.
3. Snails in the tank.
If you have snails in your betta tank, be very careful about using aquarium salt.
Although most aquarium snails tolerate small amounts of salt, an overdose is fatal.
Salt causes the slime covering of snails to become ineffective. They lose their internal fluids through osmosis and die a tragic death.
If your betta fish tank has snails, it is best to isolate the betta before treating it with aquarium salt.
Temporarily quarantine the fish in a bucket or tank. Treat it with aquarium salt for the desired duration.
Once it is better, you can put it back in the original tank.
Notably, you can also use aquarium salt and the quarantine method for a new betta fish that you bring home.
It will ensure that the new arrival is healthy and will not introduce any infection into the tank.
While aquarium salt is a valuable ingredient to improve the health of an ailing betta fish, use it carefully.
Never substitute it with marine salt or table salt. Use it only for a short time and look for signs of improvement.
Aquarium salt helps with fin rot, ich, fungal infections, and other minor external ailments.
If your betta does not get better, it may need stronger medication.