Salt baths vs salt dips vs salt tank treatment?

HI all, I'd like to know your opinion on a thing!

In researching treatments for my poor betta buddy (currently struggling with both SBD and fin rot), I came across numerous suggestions for treatment with aquarium salt or epsom salt. While pretty much all the sources agreed on what symptoms each salt was good for (AQ for disease/infection/healing, epsom for bloating/constipation), they all had different ideas on the dose and time involved.

For example, one site I came across recommended 2-3 tsps/gallon of aquarium salt as a tank treatment to combat aggressive fin rot, with daily 100% water changes and salt re-dosing until conditions improved, which meant leaving the betta in the solution all day. Another site I found described a 3 tsp/gal AQ solution as a dip that a betta should not under any circumstances be left in for more than 5-8 minutes, then acclimatized out of in a halfway solution before being returned to a pure tank.

One owner recommended an epsom salt tank treatment of 1 tsp/gallon with daily 100% water changes and redosing (again leaving the fish in it all day), while another insisted that 1 tsp/gal was a salt bath solution and that a betta shouldn't be left in it for more than a couple of hours.

That's a lot of wild contradiction! So how about you, fellow fishlorers? What do you think should constitute a salt dip, a salt bath, or a salt tank treatment?
 

Claire Bear

Well Known
HI and welcome.
I have kept multiple bettas in the past. I used an almond leaf in each tank and did regular water changes of about 50% weekly.
However, if you are dealing with a fin issue, I would increase the changes to at least two a week.
Clean water is really the best medication and it will slow to recover. However, if it gets worse-even with the extra water change then you may need to medicate.
Good luck.
 

Dave125g

Fishlore Legend
40 years ago salt was the only medication we had for our little wet pets. Today there's plenty of medication available. No need to put a freshwater fish in salt water to treat any illness. Meds work.
 
Lots of clean water wasn't enough in my betta's case, unfortunately. A short epsom treatment did relieve some of his bloating (so I wouldn't write it off completely, Dave75g!), but that's all so far. I'm onto tetracycline for this buddy in particular, but I think it's handy to have an idea of just what salt can do for future bettas. Surely there's some solid research out there?
 

Bithimala

Fishlore VIP
Flowingfins Aquaphobia

Calling betta experts!
 

Aquaphobia

Fishlore Legend
This article is pretty good and lists out what the different salts are and are not good for: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/SaltUseFWArtNeale.htm
 
Thanks for the tagging, Bithimala, and for the article, Aquaphobia! I like that it looked into the history behind salt dosages. Interesting note about aquarium salt not affecting fin rot or bacteria.

I'm still looking for official scientific studies but they're surprisingly hard to find.
 
And another study specifically addressing bettas, although it doesn't appear to be peer reviewed and doesn't have a particularly large sample base. (It does refute the previous article's claim that iodine is only potentially toxic after longtime build up.)

Some interesting notes observed here:

Oxytetracycline and related antibiotics are considered broad-spectrum antibiotics (effective against a wide variety of bacteria), and they work well when mixed with food. However, bath treatments may not be as effective for all species. One study (Nusbaum and Shotts, 1981) demonstrated that channel catfish absorbed approximately 15-17% of the oxytetracycline added to water with hardness of 20 mg/L and pH of 6.7. However, at least two freshwater fish species (yellow perch and hybrid tilapia) did not have the expected levels of this antibiotic in their blood when exposed experimentally to oxytetracycline as a bath treatment for up to 8 hours (K. Hughes, unpublished data; S.A. Smith, Virginia Tech, pers. comm. 2002; and R.P.E. Yanong, University of Florida, unpublished data). In addition, calcium and magnesium bind to tetracycline and oxytetracycline rendering them inactive. This means that with increasing water hardness (i.e., increases in calcium and magnesium levels), it is necessary to increase the dosages of these drugs in bath treatments. Tetracyclines are ineffective when used as a bath treatment for saltwater fish.

Tetracyclines are light sensitive, and they turn brown when decomposing. This contributes to poor water quality and may be harmful to the fish. Water should be changed immediately after the bath treatment period is concluded. Due to years of misuse, several bacteria in many different facilities are now resistant to tetracyclines. Oxytetracycline still works adequately against most cases of Flavobacterium columnare (columnaris disease).
 

Aquaphobia

Fishlore Legend
Nice find! I read the other two quickly but when I'm next on my computer I'll have a closer look. This tiny screen makes reading difficult
 

Dave125g

Fishlore Legend
Wow that shows how computer illiterate I am. Lol. O didn't understand a word of that.
 

fissh

Well Known
How old is the betta ? Maybe it's just his time. If you want to medicate use Nitrofurazone powder. Good luck, Harry
 
How old is the betta ? Maybe it's just his time. If you want to medicate use Nitrofurazone powder. Good luck, Harry

A bit over a year, so I'm fairly certain it isn't that. I hadn't heard of nitrofurazone powder; I'll look into it, thanks!
 
—hey wait all of our posts about the third reference site were removed. Does anyone know an admin?
 

Bithimala

Fishlore VIP
Interestingly, this site will block websites if there's some issue with them, which is why the posts were removed. I think you may not have enough posts for the mods to PM you, otherwise you would have gotten a PM about them being removed and why. Something new to me too

To re-answer Dave75g it basically meant that the main location was missing, so using this forum for an example, it would be like but missing the fishlore.com part of it. So akin to sending a letter to 123 Main St. and not including the city, state, or ZIP code.

How's your boy today and have you started any work on the salt treatments?
 
I'd already done some treatments without much improvement, so I have him solely on tetracycline right now. He's not looking good. The fin rot seems to have disappeared but he's barely moving and he has some redness appearing in his belly on one side (the side he's usually laying on). It doesn't look like an open wound so I'm suspecting either haemorrhage or parasite.
 

Bithimala

Fishlore VIP
Ooh, I'm sorry to hear that. At least the fin rot has disappeared. I wish I knew more to be of more help on it.
 

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