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Using Epsom Salt to Treat Sick Betta Fish

Using Epsom Salt to Treat Sick Betta Fish

You may be surprised to learn that salt can treat and prevent many common ailments of betta fish. Using salt for sick betta fish in the early stages of illness may save your betta.

What Can Aquarium Salt Do for Bettas?

  1. Help treat and control many parasites and pathogens in bettas
  2. Aid betta’s ability to produce a healthy slime coat
  3. Eliminates the intake of high nitrates
  4. Helps gill function and reduces kidney stress
  5. Adds electrolytes to the water which benefits osmoregulation

Sick Betta Symptoms 

When your betta is sick you may notice that he or she is lethargic, rubs against tank decor, isn’t eating, and/or lies on the bottom of the tank. Your betta may also have difficulty swimming, labored breathing, and/or horizontal stress stripes.

Betta Diseases That Can Be Prevented with Aquarium Salt 

  • Fungal infections
  • White spot (Ich)
  • Velvet (Oodinium)
  • Internal parasites
  • Columnaris (Flexibacter columnaris)
  • Popeye

Betta Diseases That Can Be Treated with Aquarium Salt

  • Internal parasites
  • Bacterial infections like Columnaris and Popeye (Do not treat Dropsy with aquarium or sea salt.)

How to Use Salt for Sick Bettas

For the more mild betta conditions, use 100% aquarium salt at a solution of 1 tablespoon per 5 to 7 gallons of water. Mix the salt with conditioned tap water or some of the tank water before adding it to your betta’s aquarium. For more issues like ick/ich and mild fin rot use a solution of 1 tablespoon salt to 1 gallon of water along with any recommended medications. For Velvet use 1 tablespoon salt to 2.5 gallons of water in addition to medications like Malachite Green or copper sulfate. These more heavy duty treatments should be limited to 10 days and used in conjugation with daily water changes. 

Salt dips or baths can be used as a deep treatment for more severe conditions as well as to treat parasites. 

For a salt bath make a solution that is 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt mixed with 1 gallon of dechlorinated tap water or the existing tank water. Keep your betta in the bath for 5 to 8 minutes. Move your betta to the next salt solution which is a ratio of ¼ tbsp aquarium salt to 1 gallon water for 5 minutes before returning it to its original tank. Using the fish’s usual tank water for the solution will help to avoid shock. 

When using a salt dip to treat external parasites, mix 4 teaspoons of aquatic salt to 1 gallon aquarium water. Treat for 5 to 15 minutes observing your betta fish closely for stress. 

Treating Disease in Bettas with Epsom Salt

Espom salt can help treat Swim Bladder Disease and, in combination with antibiotics, Dropsy. If your betta’s aquarium water isn’t heated, now is the time to purchase a heater. Add 1 teaspoon of epsom salt per 5 gallons of water. It is best to have your fish fast for at least 24 hours and up to 72 hours if you suspect Swim Bladder Disease. It is important to note that Dropsy is almost always fatal in betta fish. 

Considerations for Using Salt for Sick Betta Fish

  • Never use table salt to treat your betta fish. 
  • Aquatic plants are often sensitive to salt. If you have plants in your aquarium, treat your fish in a different container. 
  • Always be sure to maintain the ideal temperature of 76 to 81 for betta fish and preferably on the higher end of this recommendation for sick betta fish. 
  • Salt for bettas can be a great tool, but seek a veterinarian and use salt in combination with any necessary medications.
  • Almost all betta health problems stem from or are worsened by a dirty aquarium. So start with a water change and keep the tank extremely clean while your betta fish is sick.
  • Tannins for bettas, like Indian Almond Leaves are also extremely beneficial for sick and stressed betta fish. Read more here

Now you know all about using salt for sick betta fish. Salt is an incredibly useful tool to have in your betta arsenal. Sometimes it can be difficult to know what is wrong with your fish. Dissolved aquarium salt can be a quick and easy measure to try to help your fish. Or course, if you can, it is always best to speak to a veterinarian to help diagnose fish before starting any type of treatment.

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