How To Use Aquarium Salt For Sick Fish

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Last Updated on 2023-08-08

It is possible that owners of freshwater aquariums would be surprised to learn that aquarium salt is actually beneficial to their tanks. If you keep a freshwater aquarium, it is imperative that you have a solid understanding of why and when aquarium salt should be utilized. This is something that should be common knowledge among those who raise fish.

Utilizing aquarium salts is one of the many methods by which the health of your fish may be improved. The proper management of your aquarium, including the dosing of aquarium salts on occasion, is required to ensure the happiness and health of your freshwater fish. Sadly, the majority of people who keep fish do not know very much, if anything, about aquarium salt or how to make optimal use of it.

Read on to find out the answers to all your questions and everything else you need to know about using salt to treat sick fish.

What is Aquarium Salt?

Aquarium salt is 100% pure salt (Sodium Chloride) extracted from evaporated seawater. Because it does not contain any additional components such as iodine, calcium silicate, or anti-clumping agents, it is suitable for use in freshwater aquariums. The addition of aquarium salt to a fish tank can be beneficial for the fish’s gill health, wound healing, the elimination of pathogens, and the maintenance of electrolyte balance.

Electrolytes play an important role in many physiological processes, including the excretion of waste products like ammonia and carbon dioxide and the intake of oxygen. Your fish could develop severe health problems if they don’t get enough electrolytes. It is also effective in treating some ailments, such as fin rot and ich, among others. However, aquarium salt is not going to be a cure-all for all of your health problems.

How Does Aquarium Salt Help Sick Fish?

The increased salinity of aquarium saltwater causes dangerous microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, to dehydrate and die. This is how aquarium saltwater maintains its cleanliness. Your fish are less likely to come into contact with pathogens as a result of this measure.

Although pathogens may be harmed before fish, the former are more likely to succumb to high salinity levels. This is because of the massive disparity between their respective mass-to-surface area ratios. As a result, the viruses will become dehydrated and eventually die before they can do any harm to the fish. This is why salt treatments work so well.

The use of aquarium salt is an easy-to-maintain and low-cost method for ensuring the health of your fish. Your fish won’t mind the slight shift in water salinity as long as you add the appropriate amount of aquarium salt, and in fact, they may even benefit from it. As long as you follow the instructions, your fish will be OK. 

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What Does Aquarium Salt Do For Fish Tanks?

It is recommended by many aquarists that you use aquarium salt to lightly salt the water in your freshwater aquarium in order to keep the water properly balanced and to ensure that your fish remain healthy. It can be used to treat a wide variety of fish illnesses, making it an essential component of any fish first aid kit. The usage of aquarium salt as a preventative measure against some parasitic illnesses and disorders is another potential benefit of this product.

Aquarium salt has the extra benefit of enhancing the function of the gills while also providing essential electrolytes. In addition to assisting in maintaining the steady parameters of the water, salt can also assist in lowering your pet’s levels of tension and improving their general health.

What Salt to Use for Sick Aquarium Fish

Common table salt (sodium chloride, or NaCl) is undoubtedly the most effective pharmaceutical for curing aquarium fish diseases. Several fish ailments are caused by bacteria, fungus, and external parasites; this treatment is highly efficient against all three. In addition to these benefits, sodium chloride is very inexpensive, widely available, and does not spoil. It’s convenient for making solutions in a wide variety of concentrations. 

Keep in mind that most store-bought table salt is iodized and bundled with extra additives like anti-caking agents. These contaminants can disrupt the aquarium’s water chemistry and endanger your fish. When possible, use aquarium salt, but if you don’t have any, pure, non-iodized table salt will work in a pinch.

Types of Aquarium Salts

Keep your freshwater aquarium mildly salted with aquarium salt, as this is recommended by many hobbyists. This cure comes in helpful for the treatment of a number of common fish ailments and accidents. There are a number of parasite infections and disorders that can be prevented with aquarium salt. Below are the acceptable salts for your freshwater aquarium below.

Tonic salt, or livebearer salt

 It is what you need for your freshwater aquarium. Some products only use sodium chloride, while others add in other mineral salts to act as a buffer. Salt for freshwater aquariums is made from seawater that has evaporated. There are no iodine or calcium silicate additives because it is formulated for use in freshwater aquariums.

Kosher and rock salt

Both of these salts are 100% sodium chloride. There are no additives in them. Therefore, they are favored by aquarists who prefer to sprinkle a little salt in their freshwater tanks.

How To Use Aquarium Salt To Treat Sick Fish

Hobbyists agree that a modest sprinkle of aquarium salt in your freshwater tank benefits your fish. This treatment comes in helpful for the management of a variety of common fish ailments and injuries. Aquarium salt can also be used as a preventative strategy against some parasitic infections and disorders.


A dip treatment is a brief exposure to medication that is helpful in the elimination of parasites. This type of treatment is called “dipping.” The high level of salt that is present in the water will force the fish to shed their parasites, which will rid them of their condition. Freshwater fish can be prepared for dipping by placing them in an aerated container of salted water containing up to three percent salinity (10 level Tablespoons, or 5 ounces, per gallon of water) for up to thirty minutes, or until they lay on the bottom or roll over onto their side, whichever comes first.


Bath treatments are beneficial for the treatment of stress, nitrite poisoning, and some parasites. Baths are used to treat the entire quarantine tank while administering medication for these conditions. Bath salt concentrations are often lower, at half a percent or less (1–5 teaspoons per gallon of water = 0.1–0.5% salinity), and can be kept for up to three weeks.

In addition to helping to keep water parameters stable, salt can help reduce stress and improve your pet’s health in plenty of other ways.


There is a natural tendency for freshwater fish to have a higher salt content than the water they inhabit. They are able to absorb tank water because their skin is semi-permeable. This is what osmoregulation means. A lot of salt and electrolytes are excreted in your fish’s urine; in fact, some freshwater fish can excrete as much as a third of their body weight in pee every four days. 

When their internal salt and electrolyte concentrations are too high, they have to reabsorb salt from the tank. Increasing the salt content in the aquarium slightly reduces the workload on the fish cells.

Balancing the Chemistry of Water

The nitrate levels in your aquarium can be lowered with aquarium salt, protecting your fish from nitrate poisoning. The nitrates in your aquarium are a byproduct of your fish’s waste. If there aren’t enough helpful bacteria in your tank, the nitrate levels might rise to dangerous levels if your tank is new or if your filter suddenly stops operating. 

You could fix this problem by adding aquarium salt at a rate of 30 times the amount of nitrate in the water. Chloride ions will then form a natural barrier to block the nitrates from reaching your fish, protecting them from any illness.

Elimination of Parasites and Fungi

Some external parasites on fish can be easily and quickly eradicated by giving them a salt bath produced with aquarium salt. Aquarium salt disrupts the ionic equilibrium of hazardous creatures like parasites, bacteria, and fungus that live on the skin, gills, and fins of your fish. Thereby killing off the microscopic organisms by dehydrating them.

Common aquarium fish illnesses can be treated with aquarium salt. If you want your fish to have a longer lifespan, you should consider giving them this as a supplement to their diet because it is beneficial to their health. When working with salt in freshwater aquariums, however, one must exercise caution because a very high concentration of the substance might potentially cause more harm than good.

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How Long Should Salt Treatment Last?

Wait until the fish appear healthy before conducting any water changes to get rid of the salt. After finishing treatment, perform a 30% water change without adding salt and observe for a week. Wait a week and perform another 30% water change without replacing the salt if the sickness does not return.

Dosing should be restored to the previous salt concentration, and additional salt may be added to boost the solution strength if the sickness reappears. Some of the fish may not have been immersed long enough in the salt solution for all the pathogens to be dehydrated, or the original salt content may have been insufficient to totally overcome the illness.

What’s The Maximum Amount Of Time You Can Use Aquarium Salt?

A good rule of thumb is to begin with one tablespoon of salt for every five gallons of water in the aquarium. This is an appropriate dosage for all aquatic organisms and plant life. Keep an eye on the aquarium for a full day. If there is no sign of improvement, the same amount of salt may be taken for a maximum of four more days. On the fifth day, you should change out 25 percent of the water. The water should be changed out once a week for the next four weeks.


Can You Use Aquarium Salt For Fish In Quarantine?

Yes, it is possible to treat new fish with the level 1 low salt dosage for a period of two weeks. This approach should eliminate approximately sixty percent of the possible infections. This method can also be used to heal fish that have been injured and require some alone time in a hospital tank to recover from their injuries. Although it might be more convenient to reach for a bottle of fish medicine, salt is unusual since it can be used to treat disorders whose causes are unknown.

Can You Add Aquarium Salt Directly To Your Tank?

You should never put aquarium salt straight into a freshwater tank when you are stocking it with fish or other aquatic life. It is highly recommended that you first dissolve the salt on its own in a cup before adding it to the tank. By dissolving the salt in the water, you protect your fish from the harmful effects of the salt in the event that it accidentally falls on them.Also, if the fish consume the salt, you can run into much more serious complications.

How Much Salt Should You Put In A Freshwater Tank?

Keep in mind that for freshwater fish, a salt concentration of 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon of water is considered to be a very high concentration of salt. Begin with a concentration that is lower than or equal to 1 tablespoon of salt per 3 gallons of water. After becoming used to a low level of salt exposure, the next step is to gradually increase the salt content over the course of a week. 

How Long Does Aquarium Salt Last?

Because aquarium salt is composed of sodium chloride in its purest form, it does not deteriorate or lose its effectiveness over time. Natural salt, on the other hand, has a tendency to cluster together over time once it has absorbed moisture from its environment. Even though moisture does not directly cause deterioration, it can attract dirt and microorganisms, both of which can eventually compromise the salt’s quality.

Can You Use Sea Salt Instead Of Aquarium Salt?

It is imperative that aquarium salt not be mistaken with sea salt, which is also referred to as marine salt. Sea salt must never be used to make saline water for freshwater tanks because it includes chemical buffers that are toxic to freshwater fish. Sea salt can only be used to make saline water for marine tanks.

Is Epsom Salt The Same As Aquarium Salt?

Both aquarium salt and Epsom Salt are bath salts, but they have different properties that affect how the aquarium environment works. Aquarium salt has minerals like potassium, magnesium, and others that help balance the chemistry of the water. Aquarium salt can be the main thing added to freshwater aquariums, or it can be used as a supplement.

On the other hand, Epsom salt raises the level of potassium in the water to help control the pH and keep aquatic plants and animals healthy. Mildly irritating to the eyes and skin, but safe to eat.

Can You Use Iodized Salt For An Aquarium?

Fish were given a salt bath or salt dip in either iodized or non-iodized salt and then monitored for iodine toxicity symptoms or mortality. One fish of each species was given 24 hours of exposure to varying iodine concentrations. The mortality rate of fish exposed to iodized salt was not significantly different from that of fish exposed to non-iodized salt. Iodized salt baths and dips don’t seem to pose any health risks.

How Much Aquarium Salt For A Fish With Fin Damage?

One treatment method for fin rot that is quite successful is salt. In order to treat moderate cases of fin rot, combine two and a half teaspoons of aquarium salt with the water contained in a glass. Add merely a single teaspoon of salt to a cup of water if the problem is mild.

How Much Aquarium Salt Per Gallon?

The function of the aquarium will determine how much aquarium salt to use. You’d need about 2 teaspoons of salt for every 10 gallons if you wanted to use it for its most common application and prevent sickness.


If something isn’t broken, there’s no need to fix it, as the old saying goes. To put it another way, if you see that your aquarium is thriving without the addition of salt, you should keep up with its regular cleaning plan. On the other hand, if you see that your fish are showing signs of illness, you might want to consider adding salt to the medication that you are already providing in the tank. However, make sure you are aware of whether or not all of your species can withstand salt. Fish with salt intolerance should be kept in a different tank from fish that need salt and medicine, thus you may need to build up a hospital tank.

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