What Does Salt Do For Aquarium Fish?

tum0r

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I've heard of people suggesting either adding salt to an aquarium (unless you have plants?) or making a salt bath and allowing the fish to swim in the salt bath for a half hour or so. What does salt actually do when added to a freshwater aquarium? Is it harmful to plants? Does it actually help cure anything? Is it acceptable to do this as a general kind of quarantine before adding fish to aquariums? What amount of salt to what amount of water is recommended when doing a salt bath or adding to the aquarium itself? (I apologize if there is a better placement for this thread)
 

david1978

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Adding salt directly to the tank at a concentration safe for freshwater water is about useless since the concentration is very low. Salt baths or dips have some use since the concentration is higher but still the uses are very limited. Olded hobbyist used salt since it was about all we had but now there are better alternatives.
 

Frozen One

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I think it generally depends on what you’re trying to accomplish, certain salts are used for different purposes. Aquarium salt is used by some as a way to “disinfect” the water just in case the place you got the water from has aquarium diseases. Epsom salt, just as it is used for humans, is used to help your fish poop faster lol. Those are the 2 salts I’m aware of. Some people think aquarium salt is useless, some it helps a lot. The ratio depends on how much water you have in a tank.
 

Bettafishies126

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I've read a lot on aquarium salt and some people claim in does a lot of good things like improve gill function and prevent columnaris from setting in, but other people say it's stressful for fish and should be avoided. So there's a lot of confusion about aquarium salt.
 

Demeter

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Salt at a certain concentration acts as a disinfectant. You can use salt baths/dips for fish with external parasites and supposedly add some to the tank to help prevent infection/kill external bacteria/fungus. I do not agree with adding salt to the main tank unless it is proven useful for whatever ailment the fish has (ich is one such example). I see no reason to put freshwater fish in slightly salty water for "electrolytes and slime coat" as many aquarium salt packages suggest.

Epsom salt has far more uses than non iodized salt. You can use it for constipated and bloated fish, fish suffering from dropsy and popeye (reduces swelling) and to make soft water a bit harder. It's made of magnesium sulfate, two things commonly found in hard water. I've heard of people using it to buffer their African cichlids tank. I've added to my tank a couple of times but only to help an egg bound female that refused to be caught.

If we are comparing to the types of salt, sodium chloride is a disinfectant but also an irritant to freshwater fish. I've preformed dips/baths with both types of salt (not together of course) and I can safely say that epsom salt baths are far less stressful on the fish.
 
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tum0r

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Adding salt directly to the tank at a concentration safe for freshwater water is about useless since the concentration is very low. Salt baths or dips have some use since the concentration is higher but still the uses are very limited. Olded hobbyist used salt since it was about all we had but now there are better alternatives.
I think it generally depends on what you’re trying to accomplish, certain salts are used for different purposes. Aquarium salt is used by some as a way to “disinfect” the water just in case the place you got the water from has aquarium diseases. Epsom salt, just as it is used for humans, is used to help your fish poop faster lol. Those are the 2 salts I’m aware of. Some people think aquarium salt is useless, some it helps a lot. The ratio depends on how much water you have in a tank.
I've read a lot on aquarium salt and some people claim in does a lot of good things like improve gill function and prevent columnaris from setting in, but other people say it's stressful for fish and should be avoided. So there's a lot of confusion about aquarium salt.
Salt at a certain concentration acts as a disinfectant. You can use salt baths/dips for fish with external parasites and supposedly add some to the tank to help prevent infection/kill external bacteria/fungus. I do not agree with adding salt to the main tank unless it is proven useful for whatever ailment the fish has (ich is one such example). I see no reason to put freshwater fish in slightly salty water for "electrolytes and slime coat" as many aquarium salt packages suggest.

Epsom salt has far more uses than non iodized salt. You can use it for constipated and bloated fish, fish suffering from dropsy and popeye (reduces swelling) and to make soft water a bit harder. It's made of magnesium sulfate, two things commonly found in hard water. I've heard of people using it to buffer their African cichlids tank. I've added to my tank a couple of times but only to help an egg bound female that refused to be caught.

If we are comparing to the types of salt, sodium chloride is a disinfectant but also an irritant to freshwater fish. I've preformed dips/baths with both types of salt (not together of course) and I can safely say that epsom salt baths are far less stressful on the fish.
Thank you guys so much for the responses, I really appreciate it! From what I can tell, epsom salt is the better option and should be used only for known ailments that it has been proven to help cure. Is there any method you know of for making a DIY general ailment bath or dip of some sort? I had heard from others that a salt dip MIGHT help with ich or external parasites. I have not noticed any signs of these, but my platies have been shaking or "shivering" sometimes and occasionally will rub themselves on the substrate or hardscape so I am looking for a general cure since I am not certain what it wrong with them. Otherwise they seem perfectly healthy, is it worth it to try a salt bath for them?
 

chromedome52

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NaCl does NOT irritate freshwater fish. Some people think this is why it increases slime, but that is not how it works. What it does is relieve the osmotic pressure on the cells, allowing them to produce more slime. This easing of osmotic pressure also allows medications to be taken in more readily. However, a constant level of salt in an aquarium causes their bodies to adapt to such a level, and the effect is lost in the event of disease. This is why one should not use salt as a prophylactic treatment, but only in the case of illness.

Given that Epsom salts should have essentially the same effect on osmotic balance, the added effects of the minerals in it might produce needed relief in other ways, such as a laxative effect.

The level of salt required for osmotic balance is much less than most would expect, but I do not recall the exact amount. I've been looking for my notes from a lecture on the subject of fish disease and treatment by someone with degrees in chemistry and aquaculture, as well as decades of experience in the latter field. I am doubtful that I will find them, they may have already been tossed out.

One more note: I"m going to scream the next time I see someone say that we used salt in the "old days" because it was all we had; it's usually someone who wasn't even born that far back. The fact is that, in the "prehistoric times" of aquaristry, we had most of the same medications that are used now, and a few more that are now banned from production. Some of these were extremely effective, but used ingredients that were banned from human medicine because they were "proven" to cause cancer. So they were also banned from veterinary medicines, mostly for fear of them being used with food animals. What we also had was a tendency to rely on fewer chemicals to get where we wanted. Medications were used only when desperate measures were called for. We know now that overuse of antibiotics has produced resistant disease organisms, so it is still smarter to avoid overuse of chemicals when they are not necessary.
 

Ellaphant

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I believe AQ salt is the natural way of treating any kind of diseases/infection when it's early on. I think I heard if you put salt regularly in your tank, it won't respond as well to the AQ salt treatment
 
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