Is Aquarium Salt The Same As Sea Salt? [Main Differences]

Fish tank with aquarium salt

Aquarium salt is not the same as sea salt. Aquarium salt doesn’t contain trace minerals and elements like sea salt. Aquarium salt is typically used in freshwater aquariums, whereas sea salt is used in marine tanks to increase the salinity of the water for keeping marine species, sponges, and corals.

Although aquarium salt and sea salt are different, both help reduce stress and treat bacterial infections of aquarium fish.

What Is Aquarium Salt?

Aquarium salt is untreated sodium chloride, signified by the symbol “NaCl.”

It’s incredibly versatile, has anti-bacterial properties, and is widely used by aquarium hobbyists.

Aquarium salt doesn’t contain sugar, artificial color, or additives.

You can use it to reload natural electrolytes, and it doesn’t alter the pH level of the tank water.

Aquarium salt is used in tropical freshwater aquariums to prevent fish diseases.

It also helps to reduce stress and clean the aquarium. If used correctly, aquarium salt is beneficial in fish-keeping.

During water changes, essential electrolytes are lost.

So adding a small salt dosage at regular maintenance intervals helps maintain the beneficial electrolytes in freshwater aquariums.

Aquarium salt is used in freshwater aquariums to:

  • Improve gill function and make breathing easier for fish.
  • Replenish electrolytes that are vital for fish health and survival.
  • Treat existing infections and prevent any reoccurrence.
  • Destroy parasites, like ich and velvet, that weaken the immune system and cause skin damage in fish.
  • Create brackish water for specific fish species, like guppies, cichlids, mollies, etc.
  • Reduce stress and speed up the healing process of wounds.
  • Reduce the effects of ammonia nitrate from the water.
  • Hinder algae growth in the water.
  • Facilitate osmoregulation.
  • Prevent unwanted pathogens and organisms in the tank water.

You can add high doses of aquarium salt for short periods to treat any aquarium fish’s infection or illness.

It’s the cheapest and most affordable form of medication available in the market.

However, an overdose of salt in a freshwater tank is dangerous as different fish species have varying levels of salt tolerance.

For example, livebearing fish like guppies have a greater salt tolerance than others.

What Is Sea Salt?

Sea salt is also called Marine Salt and shouldn’t be confused with aquarium salt.

Sea salt creates the salinity required by marine tanks to maintain marine fish species.

Sea salt contains chemical buffers that create an ocean-like environment for marine fish, sponges, and corals.

However, using sea salt in a freshwater aquarium is fatal for the fish.

Sea salt is complex and includes numerous components. The principal component is sodium chloride.

However, it also contains sulfate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, bromide, bicarbonate, borate, strontium, etc.

Sea salt is used for treating infections, problems with the mucous membrane, damage to the veil, and as prophylaxis in bacterial infections.

Sea salt is used in marine aquariums to:

  • Create a saline environment for the marine fish species.
  • Work as a fungicidal and antiseptic agent.
  • Prevent bacterial infections.
  • Reduce stress for the proper functioning of the nervous system of fish.
  • Support hormonal balance in the fish body.
  • Preserve the immune system of the fish.
  • Assist in the process of hematopoiesis.
  • Slow down the development of cancer cells in the fish body.
  • Reload electrolytes that are essential for fish health and survival.

Sea salt helps keep the fish healthy by keeping their water at an optimal salinity level.

It also clears fungal and bacterial infections and helps maintain fish health.

Aquarium Salt vs. Sea Salt

Aquarium salt is untreated sodium chloride (NaCl). It doesn’t contain other trace minerals or elements like sea salt.

It’s used for freshwater aquariums to prevent bacterial infection and maintain fish health.

On the other hand, sea salt or marine salt contains trace minerals and elements.

So it’s used in marine aquariums to mimic the natural conditions of the oceans.

The main difference between these two salts is that sea salt has a higher concentration of sodium chloride than aquarium salt.

While your freshwater fish may benefit from aquarium salt, they may not like the trace minerals and elements of the sea salt.

Sea salt also proves dangerous to freshwater fish.

Aquarium salt doesn’t alter the pH of the water, whereas sea salt drastically affects the water’s pH.

So you should use aquarium salt for freshwater fish.

 The table below describes the main differences between aquarium salt and sea salt.

Aquarium Salt vs. Sea Salt
Aquarium Salt vs. Sea Salt

Both aquarium salt and sea salt help to reduce stress, disrupt bacterial infections, and prevent unwanted pathogens and organisms in your aquarium.

However, you must use aquarium salt for freshwater aquariums.

It reloads beneficial electrolytes required for fish coloration and health.

It also helps to create the brackish water required for fish species like cichlids, guppies, and mollies.

On the other hand, sea salt helps increase the water’s salinity to replicate an ocean-like environment.

So it helps to create the habitat required by corals, sponges, and marine fish.

You must avoid sea salt in freshwater aquariums.

It will change the water’s pH level, and the chemical buffers present in it are dangerous for freshwater fish.

Both aquarium salt and sea salt are great choices depending on the fish species you want to keep in your aquarium.


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