If you have an aquarium, it means you probably love and take great pride in your fish.
You want them to be healthy and grow as well as possible, but raising fish outside of their natural habitat isn’t always easy, and many aquarium keepers will take anything they can get to get an advantage.
That’s why lots of them use aquarium salt, but there’s a question of how much is the best amount to use.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what aquarium salt is, how to use it, and how much of it to use to get the best out of your fish.
What Is Aquarium Salt?
Aquarium salt is a special kind of salt that’s sometimes added to aquariums to improve the health of the fish that live in it by preventing diseases and health issues more generally.
For instance, frequent changes of the water in the tank can mean that important electrolytes are lost – adding aquarium salt can fix this problem.
It can also be added in higher amounts to fix certain health issues that the fish may be experiencing.
Of course, just like with any medicine, the dose makes the poison – too much aquarium salt can be dangerous for your fish, so go easy on it and make sure you know how much you’re adding.
Another important thing to remember is that the amount that’s “too much” can vary quite a lot depending on what kind of fish you’re keeping.
Most livebearers – guppies, for example – can withstand a lot more salt than most other kinds of fish.
At the other end of the spectrum, scaleless fish like catfish can withstand less.
Making sure you’re aware of how much salinity your fish can stand before you add them to an aquarium or add salt to their water is the key to making sure they stay healthy.
What Are The Benefits Of Aquarium Salt?
We mentioned before that it can add electrolytes to the water.
Why do fish need these electrolytes?
Well, because it improves the function of their gills, which is how they get oxygen from the water.
If their electrolyte levels fall too low, then they’ll be in real trouble.
It also prevents algae from growing, and has anti-pathogenic properties, meaning that it prevents pathogens (like bacteria and fungi) from growing by dehydrating them.
They will be affected long before the fish are by the heightened salinity levels, meaning there is a level that is safe for your fish but not for the pathogens.
How Much Aquarium Salt Should I Add To My Aquarium?
Even if we take into account that different fish can tolerate different levels of salinity, there are still some guidelines we can use to get the right amount of salt.
To start with, try adding one tablespoon of aquarium salt for every three gallons of water in your aquarium.
This is a relatively low amount of salt and should be safe for almost all fish (though be careful if you have scaleless fish).
This should be enough to deal with mild cases of bacterial and fungal infection, and has the added bonus of slightly irritating the fish to cause it to produce more mucus.
This is a good thing because it will provide extra protection against pathogens.
Leave this for 4 to 5 days to see how effective it is.
If that doesn’t work, then you can step things up a little by adding one tablespoon of salt for every two gallons of water in the tank.
This is useful for treating all kinds of conditions, most prominently ich.
Ich is a common parasitic infection in fish that causes white spots on the fins, and can reliably be treated by salting the water like this, though raising the temperature of the tank can also help if your fish can take it.
If you’re still not getting the results you need after leaving this for up to a week, you can take it up a notch again.
To really flex the salt, add one tablespoon for every gallon of water in the tank.
This is quite a heavy dose, so please make sure that your fish are able to handle it before you try this.
If you do, however, you’ll find that it can take care of even severe infections of all kinds.
An important note on adding salt: unlike other medicines, salt will not break down over time or otherwise go anywhere, except when you change the water.
For this reason, you should only add salt when you’re changing the water.
For example, imagine if you want to add 25 tablespoons of salt to a 50-gallon tank.
You can add the initial 25 tablespoons with the 50 gallons.
But if you change 10 gallons of that water, and you want to keep the salt at the same level, you’ll need to add 5 more tablespoons of salt along with the new 10 gallons.
Make sure you keep track of how much you’ve added and when, or you might find that you’ve over-salted your tank, with disastrous consequences.
When the fish look healthy and you’d like to get the salt out of the aquarium, do it through water changes, just like when you added it.
Remove roughly 30% of the water per change, without adding any more salt, and observe the fish.
If the problem doesn’t return, repeat the process until you’re back to having 100% freshwater.
Can I Use Table Salt Instead Of Aquarium Salt?
You might be able to use table salt instead of aquarium salt, but be very careful.
Today, many table salts have additives in them.
Most often, these will include iodine and some kind of anti-caking agent to stop the salt from clumping together.
If you want to put table salt in your aquarium water, make sure that the brand you buy does not include either of these, since both of them might be dangerous for the fish.
Aquarium salt can be a very useful way of keeping your fish vibrant and healthy, and now you know exactly how much of it you should use.
Remember that it’s vital for you to know what kind of fish you’re dealing with and how much salt they can take before you start this, but as long as you’re careful, you’ll have found a cheap, simple way to look after your fish.