Aquarium salt (sodium chloride (NaCl)) can help bettas with several health problems including ich, fin rot, parasites, fungus, and bacterial infections. Overdosing of aquarium salt can be harmful, but it is safe when the correct amounts are used.
There are dozens of medications that can be bought for sick fish these days, which treat everything from parasites to fungal infections, but mixing and matching these medications can be difficult.
Luckily, simple aquarium salt can treat a number of betta illness issues, and unlike other medications, it is simple to find and dose. Aquarium salt is perfect for treating bettas, but we have to be careful to treat them carefully.
In this article we’ll discuss betta fish and whether aquarium salt can help them!
Does Aquarium Salt Help Bettas?
Yes, sodium chloride (NaCl), also known as aquarium salt, can help bettas overcome certain illnesses.
As much as we love our solitary bettas and all their attitude, this popular freshwater fish can be prone to certain illnesses. Because they are bred so prolifically, some problems can go unnoticed until the betta grows to its full size.
While they are prized for their flowing, colorful fins, they can suffer from fin rot. Ich, a parasitic infection, fungal infections, and bacterial infections are also all too common in bettas.
The prevalence of betta health problems makes it imperative to have medication on hand so treatment can begin right away. That’s where aquarium salt comes in!
While aquarium salt might have the same chemical composition as table salt, it is much purer and safer for fish. This allows aquarium salt to be added directly to the tank when problems arise, or if there are more sensitive life forms like shrimp and plants in your tank, aquarium salt can be used to make a perfect hospital tank for your sick fish.
What Does Aquarium Salt Do for Bettas?
Aquarium salt helps bettas by killing parasites, fungus, and bacteria. This occurs because aquarium salt causes dehydration, which can decimate small organisms like these long before it becomes harmful to your betta.
Aquarium salt kills these harmful organisms through dehydration. Just like how we have used salt for centuries as a preservative to suck the moisture from food during storage, it also sucks the moisture from these bothersome organisms, destroying them completely.
How to Treat Betta With Aquarium Salt?
Since aquarium salt is only helpful when dosed correctly, it’s important to know how exactly to go about treating your betta with aquarium salt. While effective, too much aquarium salt can be a shock to your betta’s system, and shock is just as dangerous as any disease you may try to treat with the aquarium salt.
There are 2 principal ways to use aquarium salt to treat betta illness:
- Adding salt to the betta’s tank for a long-term treatment
- A more concentrated salt dip that will last only a few minutes
Both methods can be effective, but there will be determining factors on which will be best.
Adding Aquarium Salt to the Tank
The first method of treatment involves adding aquarium salt to the tank your betta is currently in, or into a hospital tank where they will live until treatment is finished. A hospital tank can be smaller than their regular tank, but still needs to have filtration and heat so your betta can be healthy and comfortable while recovering.
There are 3 levels of treatment when adding aquarium salt to a tank as opposed to a salt dip:
- Level 1- 1 tablespoon salt per 3 gallons of water
- Level 2- 1 tablespoon salt per 2 gallons of water
- Level 3- 1 tablespoon salt per 1 gallon of water
Which intensity of treatment you use will depend on how far the disease you’re trying to treat has progressed. The higher the amount of salt in the tank, the higher the chances of it affecting your betta negatively. Keep a close eye on them during treatment, especially when you are using higher dosages.
The steps to adding aquarium salt to the tank for treatment are:
- Choose the level of salt you want to add: For example, minor scrapes would only require level 1 treatment, but ich may require level 2, or even 3, treatment.
- Dissolve the salt in a cup of water before adding it to the tank
- Monitor your betta’s illness: Treatment, on average, will last around 2 weeks. If they seem well before that, you can start the process of removing the salt from the tank.
- Begin removing the salt: Once treatment is complete, perform a 30% water change and monitor for a week. If the illness doesn’t return, do another 30% water change. If the illness does return, restart the dosing process.
Adding salt to the betta’s normal home tank should be avoided if you have live plants or tank mates such as shrimp or other fish since other tank livestock can have different salt tolerances than your betta.
That being said, adding salt directly to the home tank will keep your betta the calmest and most comfortable, and will avoid having to remove the fish from the water.
Salt Dipping Your Betta
If adding salt to the tank isn’t an option, and you don’t have a hospital tank available, a salt dip can help cure your betta. Salt dips will last mere minutes, but since there isn’t constant exposure to the salt, the dips will need to be repeated
For a salt dip we will use the level 3 amount of salt, so 1 tablespoon of salt for 1 gallon of water. Make sure your dip water is either water taken from the tank or clean, treated water at the same temperature as the tank water.
To perform a salt dip for your betta:
- Have 2 containers: One with the treatment salinity of 1 tablespoon per 1 gallon of water, this will be the treatment dip, and the other with 1/4th tablespoon per one gallon of water, this will be the recovery dip.
- Place your betta in the treatment dip: This dip will last 5 to 8 minutes, with a maximum time of 15 minutes. Never go beyond 20 minutes in this dip. Monitor closely during this time, and if breathing seems labored, or the fish seems in distress, move them to the recovery dip right away.
- Move betta to the recovery dip: Leave them in this dip for the same amount of time they were in the previous dip. This will be a halfway point between the treatment dip and their tank so they can adjust more gradually.
- Return betta to the tank
Aquarium salt is an inexpensive, readily available, and effective treatment for a lot of betta fish health problems. As long as you are careful with the dosage and monitor your betta, aquarium salt can be the perfect treatment for several ailments.