Can aquarium salt irritate goldfish? Question 

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goldiegirl

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Hi, there. I have fantail goldfish, and I have a simple question. I use aquarium salt because I heard it could promote gill function and be good for the fish. Recently, I've had two interesting problems crop up 1) My fish have started "yawning" to stretch their gills 2) one of my fish has black healing burn spots.

Okay, so first of all I'll address what I've ruled out... the yawning is not due to poor parameters (ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 10 at the highest), and there is quite a big of oxygen in the tank (2 large filters with output above water level and a big air pump). Also, I don't believe it's gill flukes, because the tank has already been treated for parasites, and they seem otherwise healthy and not lethargic or anything.

The black spots are not black spot bacteria or "funguses" such as columnaris, because I've already treated with Jungle Anti-Bacterial food. The black spots also are not ammonia, nitrite or chemical burns of any kind, because ammonia is 0, nitrite is 0 and I have used no chemical medications in the tank for months (the only one I ever used was Jungle Parasite Clear Tank Buddies, and if there were any burns they would have healed by now).

So.... the conclusion I've come to is, is it possible that my aquarium salt is irritating their gills, causing the yawning? Is it also possible that the aquarium salt is burning them? I'm not trying to be rude at all, I just wanted to make it clear that I've ruled out pretty much everything else I can think of, and my question at this point is specifically about salt. I use less than is recommended, actually. I don't use a full tablespoon for 5 gallons, I use about half a tablespoon. Please let me know your experiences with salt and goldfish. Thanks you so much for taking the time to read this long question : )
 

jetajockey

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I would remove the salt, it definitely can be an irritant. the best thing for good fish health is regular water changes and a balanced diet.

From what I understand, the basic idea behind salt is that it irritates the fish into making more of a slime coat which in turn helps keep them healthy.
 

Prince Powder

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Salt is a highly debated topic in this hobby, some swear by it and others swear off it. I personally don't recommend salt for any freshwater fish. Salt in the tank will lead to your fish developing more of a slime coat, but a healthy fish will develop all the slime coat it needs naturally. Salt can have some healing benefits (it is said) and it is not uncommon to see salt suggested for treatment of ICH and other ailments. I've read of several recommendations for salt baths as treatments for this or that. However, when the the fish is exposed to salt all the time, both the fish as well as any parasite that is infecting it would have developed some level of tolerance to the salt thereby reducing the effectiveness of salt as a treatment. Another problem with salt comes with dosing. Salt does not evaporate, nor is it removed by activated carbon. The only way to reduce the level of salt in a tank is to do it manually via water changes. Say for example, you have a 10 gallon tank and the carton of salt recommends 2 tablespoons of salt for that tank. You add the salt, then later do a 50% water change. When you change the water you add another 2 tablespoons of salt for the 10 gallon tank. Rather than keeping the salt level, you have just increased it by 50% because you only removed half the salt water, but redosed for the entire tank. For some people they will realize this in the beginning and only do a half dose or only dose for the amount of water they are adding back in, but some people will continue dosing for the full 10 gallons not realizing that they are quickly overdosing their tank. Another thing to keep in mind is topping off the tank. If you have some evaporation and you add another gallon of water and dose that water for even just the one gallon, you are overdosing the tank because even though the gallon of water evaporated from the tank, the salt you originally added did not. Salt will probably always be a matter of debate and opinion, but for me, the cons outweigh the pros so I skip it altogether.
 
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goldiegirl

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Wow, thank you so much to both of you! I never knew the reason why salt produced more of a slime coat. I will definitely be done with it now unless I need it to treat something specific. The advice about topping off was such a good point.... I have probably accidentally added salt when I topped off before without realizing it. I knew it didn't evaporate and I only add it with water changes, and only the amount I'm changing, but I've gotten into the habit of putting it into every bucket of water, and I'm so glad you brought that to my attention!
 

gremlin

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My sister adds salt to her pond but I do not. I think some of it depends on your water source too. I do like to use salt as a treatment for ich, dropsy, and especially for parasites such as anchor worm. That is part of the reason I do not use it in my pond. I don't want the bad stuff to have an immunity to the salt baths. Yes, the salt irritates the fish into producing more of a slime coat. Personally, I don't think it is required for every tank and definitely not full strength. My sister's pond is quite large (somewhere between 500 and 700 gallons) and she only tosses in about 1/4 cup of aquarium salt when she does a full clean out (changing 90% of her water). That is the only time she adds the salt.
 

LauraMillar

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Im doing a "fish diploma" at the moment and in my text books it says that gold fish have a very high tolerant of salt (more so than tropical fish), it is added to reduce stress and disease without risk of adverse effects (when used correctly). The reccommended salinity for gold fish is 2ppt max. The salt levels in a freshwater aquarium should be tested with a salt level test kit as the levels are too low to test with a hydrometer, also the readings on hydrometers are effected by water tempreture. there are a lot worse things than salt that can effect your fish just remember about topping up with clean fresh water when replacing evaporation as stated before.
 
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goldiegirl

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Thank you, Laura. Now I'm puzzled. I don't have a salt level test kit, but maybe I will invest in one. I know I so rudely explained that I had ruled everything else out, but if you don't think it's the salt that's irritating them, do you have any other possible explanations? Because I'm stumped.
 

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goldiegirl

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Thank you, aquarist! Someone suggested to me that maybe my pH was too high and is what's causing the problem. Is this possible? If so, how do I lower it?
 

LauraMillar

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sorry for the conridicting info i don't want to confuse you that's just what i know. If your concerned about the salt it won't hurt them to take it out but it shouldnt be what's causing the issues, just do some regular water changes to remove it. When it comes to PH goldfish prefer a PH of 7.4 also the hardness of your water will also effect your PH id suggest testing for general and chemical hardness. ill consult my books about the best way to lower PH.

Good luck
 

Shawnie

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goldiegirl said:
Thank you, aquarist! Someone suggested to me that maybe my pH was too high and is what's causing the problem. Is this possible? If so, how do I lower it?
your ph is probably high from the use of salt(which will increase the ph )....test your tap water to compare
 
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goldiegirl

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Thank you. I edited my info just now. My pH is about 8, and my water is hard.
 

Shawnie

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take a glass of water and leave it on the counter over night..then test the ph tomorrow nite...that will give you the true ph and compare to the tank....as most of the others said, its probably the salt and not the ph....salt is more of an old school way of treating things and now there are much more fish friendly ways....to lower ph , add a nice piece of driftwood or add some organic peat moss into your filter
 

Kunsthure

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You know what's kinda odd about the salt recommendation? I've noticed a trend that those who recommend it tend to be from the UK and Australia, and some from Canada, but those who advise against it tend to be from the US.

-Lisa
 

LauraMillar

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Im from New Zealand so i don't count he he he
 

gremlin

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LauraMillar said:
Im from New Zealand so i don't count he he he
If you don't count, how do you keep track of how many fish you have?
 

LauraMillar

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i don't come from aussie or the UK and i have 16 fish
 

gremlin

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LauraMillar said:
i don't come from aussie or the UK and i have 16 fish
See, so you DO count. Doesn't matter where you are from - ya still count!
 
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goldiegirl

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Just wanted to let everyone know that I found an answer to my question about the burns, and it ended up having nothing to do with salt, but I ended up getting a great education from you all about salt through this thread : ) I posted a thread in the disease category.
 
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