Aquarium Salt

December 29, 2012 - 9:12am

Have you ever salted your freshwater aquarium? It’s a measure you should consider if you like your fish to be healthy. Aquarium salt is what we’re talking about. It does not contain iodine like ordinary table salt. It does not contain trace minerals like that of sea salt. Using aquarium salt in your freshwater tank can have a number of positive influences. At best, it is an inexpensive health care preventative, and one that does not harm the beneficial bacteria in your tank.

Adding aquarium salt can:

 Destroy many parasites, including ich, when added to the aquarium at levels up to .3 percent (2½ teaspoons of aquarium salt per gallon of water).

 Enhance your fish’s ability to produce a protective slime coat. This is especially helpful if your fish are recovering from a bacterial infection or an injury such as a torn fin.

 Prevent intake of lethal nitrites during the nitrogen cycle when starting a new tank.

 Lessen stress by aiding gill function. Fish kidneys are designed to excrete the water absorbed through the fish’s skin and gills. This is a big job and a constant one necessary for your fish’s survival. By adding the aquarium salt to the water, the fish’s kidneys do less work because the amount of water absorbed into the blood by way of the gills is reduced.

Most aquarium salt manufacturers give usage instructions on their aquarium salt packages. The concentration of aquarium salt used is based on intent. Some hobbyists use aquarium salt only as a general tonic or preventative. Others use it in higher concentrations to treat for existing parasites. It can even be used to hatch brine shrimp eggs.

Although the benefits of aquarium salt are many, there are some drawbacks that freshwater hobbyists need to consider before adding it to their tanks. One is that live plants, especially Elodea, can be killed by treatment concentrations of aquarium salt. Spawning can also be affected by the addition of salt. Breeders often refrain from using aquarium salt because it can dehydrate eggs and kill the sperm emitted by male species. Some fish, especially scale-less bottom feeders like Chinese algae eaters and Corydoras catfish, are sensitive to aquarium salt and may die if concentrations are too high.

Therefore, hobbyists should avoid dumping all the salt into the tank at one time if you host delicate species. The desired concentration of salt should then be added over several days.

One final warning: many people think salt is salt. It isn’t, and comes in many forms. Iodized table salt, if added to an aquarium, has been known to cause ammonia levels to rise and then nitrites. It could severely upset an established aquarium’s biological filtration bed. Sea salt is more expensive. The trace marine minerals in it probably won’t hurt your fish nor will they benefit your finned freshwater friends. Ask your Petland pet counselor for advice if you are considering using salt in you tank!

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