Aquarists use Epsom salt to adjust the pH level and hardness of aquarium water.
It’s also a natural remedy to treat dropsy, constipation, stress, and bacterial or parasitic infections in fish.
So, does Epsom salt help to treat swim bladder disease?
Swim Bladder Disease in Fish and Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is an effective way to treat fish with swim bladder disease because it reduces swelling, bloating, and inflammation. However, overexposure to Epsom salt treatment can be fatal. Moreover, Epsom salt treatment to cure swim bladder disease shouldn’t be used for scaleless fish.
How Does Epsom Salt Benefit Fish with Swim Bladder Disease?
Swim bladder problems are stressful to the fish as they aren’t able to stay upright and swim properly.
Fish suffering from swim bladder disorder lose their buoyancy.
They either float at the tank’s top, sink to the bottom, or swim upside down.
Swim bladder disease is mainly caused due to constipation, bacterial diseases, parasites, or high nitrate levels.
Epsom salt helps reduce swelling and relax the muscles of fish. It acts as a laxative for fish.
The treated water helps the fish to expel waste quickly from the digestive tract.
Epsom salt also helps in reducing bloating and allows the fish to return to its normal size.
6 Steps to Treat Swim Bladder Disease in Fish with Epsom Salt
Given below are the steps to follow while treating swim bladder disorder in fish with Epsom salt.
1. Gather the Required Items
The following items are required to treat swim bladder disease in fish with Epsom salt:
- A quarantine tank to separate and treat the sick fish.
- A revival tank to help the fish recover before adding it back to the main tank.
- A thermometer to ensure that the water temperature remains within the desired range.
- A timer app or stopwatch to accurately track the treatment time.
- A measuring spoon to add the required amount of Epsom salt to the tank water.
- A fish net to safely transfer the fish to the quarantine and revival tanks.
2. Prepare a Quarantine or Treatment Tank
Once you gather all the items, the next step is to prepare the quarantine tank.
Swim bladder disease isn’t contagious. However, it’s best to treat your fish in a separate tank so that you can observe it closely.
The quarantine tank can be small without any gravel or plants. You can use fresh, dechlorinated water while treating the fish.
The quarantine tank’s temperature should match that of your main tank.
Add the correct amount of Epsom salt as mentioned on the package. Mix the Epsom salt into the water until it dissolves completely.
The ideal ratio is one tablespoon of Epsom salt for every gallon of water.
3. Prepare a Revival Tank
A revival tank is necessary, along with the quarantine tank. This tank will help the fish recover.
A revival tank is also essential because you shouldn’t put your fish immediately into the main tank after treatment.
One-fourth of the revival tank should be filled with Epsom salt-infused water, and three-quarters should be water from your main fish tank.
Also, ensure that the water temperature in all the tanks is consistent to avoid temperature shock to the fish.
4. Transfer the Fish to The Treatment Tank
Once the quarantine and revival tanks are ready, you can start the treatment of your fish.
You shouldn’t feed the fish while treating it.
You need to gently scoop the fish with a net from the main tank and transfer it safely to the treatment tank.
Monitor the fish closely once you transfer it to the quarantine tank to ensure that it’s safe and healthy.
If you notice that your fish has lost its balance or the gills aren’t functioning properly, you must remove the fish immediately and place it in the revival tank until it recovers.
You can treat the fish for 5 to 10 minutes if it’s doing well.
5. Transfer the Fish to The Revival Tank
Once the treatment is complete, you can transfer the fish to the revival tank.
Placing the fish in a revival tank allows it to rest and recuperate.
It also allows the fish to acclimatize to the less salty conditions and prevent the stress and shock caused by sudden changes in salinity.
You can keep the fish in the revival tank for about 10 minutes to monitor its recovery.
6. Transfer the Fish to The Main Tank
Transfer the fish from the revival tank to the main tank once the treatment is over and your fish has recovered.
Monitor the fish closely to ensure that it’s healthy and happy. You must contact a veterinarian if you see any signs of illness.
Depending on the severity, you can use the Epsom salt bath or dip treatment once or twice a day.
However, remember not to overexpose your fish to Epsom salt as it can complicate the condition further.
Overexposure to Epsom salt can be fatal and should be avoided.
It’s always advisable to consult your vet for proper medication.
When to Avoid Adding Epsom Salt to Aquariums?
Epsom salt has several benefits in freshwater aquariums.
It can be used to treat various problems like swim bladder disease, stress, dropsy, etc.
However, Epsom salt isn’t always beneficial and should be avoided in the following two cases.
1. Planted Tanks
Epsom salt isn’t suitable for live aquarium plants. It contains magnesium that can turn the tank water acidic.
Aquarium plants perish quickly if the water becomes too saline.
Water quality can also get affected, which can damage the growth of plants.
2. Scaleless Fish
Scaleless fish are sensitive and vulnerable to Epsom salt. Salt gets absorbed faster in their bodies as these fish lack scales.
Adding Epsom salt to the tank water will draw fluid from their bodies, leading to dehydration.
Scaleless fish also develop dry skin due to Epsom salt, which adversely affects their digestive system.
How to Prevent Swim Bladder Problems in Fish?
Swim bladder disease can be fatal to fish if a fluid buildup causes it.
Gas disorders aren’t fatal unless they aren’t treated for a long time.
It’s always better to prevent swim bladder problems than treat them after they occur.
Here are some tips on how you can help your fish avoid swim bladder problems:
- Poor water conditions are the leading cause of bacterial infections in fish. Maintaining the tank and performing regular water changes helps prevent swim bladder problems.
- Good water quality is crucial as it enhances the immune system of fish, making them more resistant to infection and diseases.
- Regular feeding is necessary as it provides essential vitamins and minerals to fish. Feeding a well-balanced and nutritious diet will keep your fish healthy.
- The use of proper filtration methods is essential. A good filter removes harmful bacteria and other contaminants from the water.
- Keeping an eye on the water temperature is also important. Cold water causes fish to lose energy and become sluggish. Warm water helps in proper digestion and avoids constipation.
- Overfeeding leads to obesity and excessive weight gain. So it’s best not to overfeed your fish.