A passionate fish keeper wants to keep their fish happy and healthy. Betta fish are one of the most colorful and entertaining types of fish and are extremely popular, found in many aquariums. Like most fish, bettas are prone to diseases like fin rot and swim bladder disease.
If you see your betta fish looking a little unhealthy, don’t panic. You can use a household item like Epsom salt to treat certain fish conditions.
Of course, you can’t just toss a handful of salt in your aquarium and hope for the best. In this article, we’ll discuss what Epsom salt can treat, how to use it, and how much to use.
Why Use Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt is a water-soluble compound that can be used for medicinal purposes, both for animals and humans. Using an Epsom salt bath for betta fish is a handy treatment since it will easily dissolve in an aquarium or quarantine tank.
While using Epsom salt is perfectly safe for aquarium fish, you should never use something like regular table salt. Adding salt to a freshwater tank can be fatal to your fish, and includes iodine and anti-caking agents that are harmful to fish. Even if you have a saltwater tank, only use sea salt, not table salt.
While you can use aquarium salt in your fish tank, it’s worth noting that aquarium salt and Epsom salt are different products and will have different effects on your fish. We’ll discuss the differences between aquarium salt and Epsom salt later in this article.
When to Use Epsom Salt for Betta Fish
Sooner or later, every new fish keeper will have the worrying experience of noticing that one of their pet bettas looks ill and lethargic. The first step is to try and establish the cause of your betta’s symptoms, then you can move on to the treatment. Epsom salts can be used to treat a variety of illnesses.
A low fiber diet or overfeeding can give your betta fish constipation. It can be very easy to overfeed fish, as they tend to be greedy and can convince their keepers that they’re hungry. You’ll notice bloating and a lack of appetite in your bettas.
Stop feeding your fish for up to 48 hours to see if that helps. If not, try Epsom salts. The salt bath helps to relax the fish’s muscles, which can ease the symptoms of constipation.
- Swim Bladder Disease
A swim bladder controls a fish’s buoyancy, helping it to stay upright in the water. A fish with a swim bladder problem may rise, sink erratically, or start floating upside down in the water, unable to right themselves.
You can use Epsom salt for swim bladder disease to ease buoyancy problems. This helps the organ to hold the gas that keeps the fish buoyant. Stop feeding your fish for up to 48 hours before you administer the Epsom salt.
Left untreated, dropsy can be fatal. Like in humans, dropsy is an accumulation of fluid. In your fish, you’ll notice a bloated abdomen and raised scales.
While an Epsom salt bath may not treat the underlying cause of dropsy – for example, kidney failure – it should ease the symptoms of dropsy.
- Fin Rot and Mouth Rot
Fin and mouth rot can be caused by chilly water, stress, and parasites. Most fungal infections, like fin rot, can be treated with Epsom salts. Try and identify the cause of the fin rot. For example, are your bettas stressed because of sickness or bullying? Is the water too cold? If possible, fix these problems too.
Epsom Salt Bath Fish Dosage and Treatment
Dosage is very important when it comes to Epsom salts. If you use too much, water parameters could be changed, which will affect the fish’s health. Too little will be ineffective.
For conditions like dropsy and swim bladder, add one teaspoon of Epsom salts for every gallon of water. For conditions like fin rot and constipation, add one tablespoon for every gallon of water.
If you suspect your fish has a condition like fin rot – which can be contagious – you should treat the entire tank, whether you think your other fish are ill or not. Otherwise, you might want to remove the sick fish into a quarantine tank. The quarantine tank should be at least one gallon in size, but no more than five gallons.
Quarantining a sick fish means that you won’t have to use too much Epsom salt, and this can also help to remove the fish from any other stressors, like bullying or overfeeding.
Aquarium Salt vs Epsom Salt
New and inexperienced fishkeepers might think that aquarium salt and Epsom salts can be used interchangeably, but that’s not quite true. Aquarium salt doesn’t harm fish, unlike table salt, and it does have its uses. However, aquarium salt has a different effect.
Here are some uses of aquarium salt:
- Reduces nitrates uptake
- Boosts gill function
- Boosts slime coat health and production
- Treats some parasites
- Aids the healing process
Here are some uses of Epsom salt:
- Treats constipation
- Treats the symptoms of dropsy
- Helps with swim bladder conditions
- Can be used to treat fin and mouth rot, along with some other fungal infections
- Will soften and adjust water conditions
As you can see, whether you use Epsom salt or aquarium salt will depend on what you need to achieve. If you’re not sure about the best treatment for your betta fish, talk to a vet or another experienced fishkeeper. You can find a discussion about this topic on Fishlore.com
The Bottom Line
Epsom salts are an easy and fairly reliable treatment for your betta fish. If possible, it’s good to have a quarantine tank lined up and ready to go. Especially with conditions like dropsy, you may have a very small window of time for treatment after your fish starts to show symptoms.
In short, Epsom salts are a staple that just about every fishkeeper should have on hand. We recommend this article on using salt to treat diseases in aquariums too (It has some useful pointers)
However, the best way to keep your fish healthy is to keep their environment clean and balanced. This means keeping an eye on the water temperature and pH balance, cleaning out the tank regularly, performing regular water changes, and not overfeeding your fish.
If you enjoyed this article please consider checking out more of our fish-related content!