Last Updated: June 17, 2023 by Flora Gibbins
You want to keep your Betta fish happy and healthy at all times. To do that correctly, you need to understand various treatments, including using an Epsom salt bath for Betta.
You can use Epsom salt to treat things like Dropsy or Swim Bladder Disease. Learning how to give a salt bath can save your fish. Epsom salt for Betta fish can also save you money versus other products.
What follows is a closer look at Betta fish Epsom salt treatment, which will treat either a quarantine tank or your entire aquarium.
- What Is Epsom Salt?
- How Does Salt Work In Your Aquarium?
- What Is the difference between Aquarium Salt Vs. Epsom Salt Vs. Sea Salt Vs. Table Salt?
- When to Use Sea Salt
- When to Avoid Salt
- What Does Epsom Salt Treat?
- How to Give Your Betta an Epsom Salt Bath
- Medicinal Baths Aren’t Just For You
What Is Epsom Salt?
It is a chemical compound referred to as Magnesium Sulfate or Magnesium Sulphate. The “salt” is water-soluble but will not dissolve in Ethanol.
We use it as a soil treatment, food preparation (beers and tofu), and cement for construction. You have probably heard of its medicinal uses for humans as well as fish.
Since the salt is water-soluble, an Epsom salt bath for Betta fish is an easy way to treat your sick pet.
You can use this type of aquarium salt to maintain Magnesium concentrations in saltwater tanks. This is great for marine aquariums that contain stony corals that slowly become depleted.
How Does Salt Work In Your Aquarium?
The Epsom salt is added directly to the water. You do not need large quantities to create a salt bath. Most dosages are one tablespoon of salt per gallon, or less. Always follow the instructions on the package.
One way aquarium salt works is by dehydration. It is absorbed by the bacteria, fungus, or parasite infesting your fish. Once absorbed, the aquarium salt leeches the water out of these organisms, causing them to die.
Epsom salt for Betta fish is used as a laxative as well. The treated water is absorbed by the fish and helps it to expel wastes.
Betta fish Epsom salt treatment can also be absorbed by the fish to help reduce bloating or swelling. The reduction of water allows your pet to return to normal size.
What Is the difference between Aquarium Salt Vs. Epsom Salt Vs. Sea Salt Vs. Table Salt?
Sodium chloride, or table salt (NaCl), is used as seasoning and preservative for foods. The product should not be used for a salt bath for your Betta fish, though.
Table salt has added compounds like iodine. It also has anti-caking agents mixed in to prevent it from clumping in the shaker. Those mixes can introduce harmful compounds like cyanide.
Sea salt contains sodium chloride along with salts or trace elements. Marine salt is another name for this salt, and it has many uses for saltwater aquariums.
Mixing sea salt in water allows you to create the ph, hardness, and salinity levels needed for saltwater animals. It has buffers harmful to freshwater fish, so you should not use it as an Epsom salt bath for a Betta fish.
Aquarium salt is made from sea salt but refined to remove many of the harmful buffers that are deadly to freshwater fish, including your pet Betta. The sodium chloride-heavy aquarium salt has a different effect on fish than magnesium sulfate does.
Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, differs from the other salts in their chemical makeup. Magnesium sulfate does not contain the elements found in sea salt that make it dangerous to freshwater fish. It is not as processed as table salt or aquarium salt is, making it less harsh in the water column.
- Table salt – Should not be used for anything related to your pet fish
- Sea salt – Critical for saltwater tanks but deadly for freshwater fish
- Aquarium salt – Treat certain parasites, aides with healing, improves the function of gills, promotes slime coat, and reduces nitrate uptake
- Epsom salt – Adjust freshwater hardness or ph, treats constipation, treats dropsy, and treats swim bladder disease
When to Use Sea Salt
Sea salt establishes a marine environment and is needed to care for saltwater species. You can add sea salt to tap water and water conditioners for a saltwater tank.
Sea salt creates a high salinity level, and it helps establish the correct water ph and hardness. The product is deadly to freshwater animals and plants, though. Do not substitute sea salt for Epsom salt for treating constipation, dropsy, or swim bladder disease.
You may find online sources suggesting using sea salt, but we believe they are either referring to aquarium salt or that the information presented is incorrect.
When to Avoid Salt
Tropical fish, including your pet Betta, live in freshwater conditions. These water columns do not have a high salinity rate. Some hobbyists recommend small doses of Epsom salt in the tank regularly, but there are times you need to consider when to avoid salt altogether.
Plants are a beautiful addition to some aquariums. They can also prove beneficial to water conditions and provide locations to hide or build bubble nests.
They do not tolerate water that contains salt. Plants will die quickly with slight changes in salinity in the water column.
Many Betta keepers establish community tanks with other species of fish. Corydoras are popular bottom feeders that help to keep your substrate clean. Species like Tetras add color and fun to the community setting.
These scaleless fish are sensitive to salt, however. The lack of scales means that it is absorbed more readily, and it can cause illness and death.
That is why most keepers prefer to use a quarantine tank for a salt bath. It allows you to use Epsom salt on Betta fish without causing problems for the entire fish tank.
What Does Epsom Salt Treat?
Three conditions are treatable with an Epsom salt bath for Betta. Constipation, dropsy, and swim bladder disease are eliminated by Epsom salt.
Overfeeding your Betta or giving it a diet low in fiber can result in constipation. The symptoms include a loss of appetite and bloating in the belly area. You can stop feeding your fish for 24 to 48 hours and see if the condition improves itself before you consider an Epsom salt bath for Betta.
A salt bath will relax the muscles, like a human. That can allow your Betta to expel wastes.
Treatments consist of one tablespoon of salt per gallon of water in the quarantine tank.
Epsom Salt Bath for Betta With Dropsy
When your Betta’s kidneys fail, it creates potentially fatal fluid retention. You will notice that the abdomen region is bloated as well as raised scales.
An Epsom salt bath for Betta with Dropsy is part of a recovery plan, along with other treatments. You do not want to use table salt, aquarium salt, or sea salt for treating dropsy in your pet, as it may worsen the condition.
Using Epsom salt relieves swelling in the abdomen region and allows the scales to return to a normal position.
Treatments consist of one Teaspoon of salt for every one gallon of water.
Swim Bladder Disease
Constipation, high nitrate levels in the water column, and intestinal parasites can compromise the swim bladder of your Betta fish. The swim bladder controls the buoyancy of your pet, allowing it to float upright and at desired depths without expending energy.
Swim bladders are full of air, and the disease affects the organ’s ability to maintain the gas within it. You will notice your Betta struggling to stay upright, with it swimming on its side or even upside down. The fish may also float to the top of the fish tank or down to the bottom substrate.
A salt bath can relieve symptoms and allow the bladder to function correctly. Stopping feeding for 24 to 48 hours is recommended first before performing an Epsom salt bath for Betta.
Treatments are the same as for dropsy, with one Teaspoon added for every one gallon of water in your quarantine tank.
How to Give Your Betta an Epsom Salt Bath
- Prepare quarantine tank/reviving station
- Gather materials
- Treat your Betta fish
- Transfer to revival tank
- Return pet to home tank
Prepare quarantine tank
You will want a container that is at least one gallon in size. You will not want anything more than five gallons. You can fill it with treated water that is at the same temperature as the aquarium water.
Add the appropriate amount of Epsom salt for the treatment you are doing. How much Epsom salt for the Betta will range from one Teaspoon to one tablespoon for each gallon of water. Mix the Epsom salt until it completely dissolves.
Prepare a second container (revival tank). It should contain 1/4 treated salt bath and 3/4 aquarium water. Your fish will be placed here later before returning it to the aquarium.
Get everything that you will need to prevent you from needing to stop and hunt down items later.
A thermometer will help you check the water temperatures in the treatment and revival tanks to verify they are within the parameters of your Betta’s home aquarium.
A net will allow you to quickly and safely transfer your pet from the aquarium to the treatment and revival areas.
Get a stopwatch or use your phone’s timer so that you do not go over or under the time needed for the treatment.
Measuring spoons are helpful to distribute the proper amount of Epson salt.
Treat your Betta fish
Gently remove your pet from its home and place it into the treatment tank. Watch the fish’s gills and body position. If the gills stop moving or it starts to lose balance, it is passing out and should be removed and placed into the revival tank.
The Epsom salt bath for Betta fish should be at least five minutes in length, and it should be no longer than eight minutes maximum. Keep a close eye on your pet to make sure it does not pass out or jump from the container.
Transfer to revival tank
Once treatment finishes, carefully transfer your pet to the revival tank. The revival tank is necessary, as it helps acclimate your Betta fish to less salty conditions before returning to the regular water column in the home aquarium.
Adding this step reduces stress and potential shock. You can use the revival tank to bring fish back from shock-induced pass-outs. If your pet struggled to stay conscious in the treatment tank, return it to the home aquarium and try the Epson salt bath for Betta another day.
Return pet to home tank
After five minutes in the revival tank, your pet Betta fish is ready to return home. Carefully move the fish from the revival container to the aquarium.
Observe your pet to make sure that it reacclimates properly. A few minutes of observation here can help you both avoid complications from the treatment you just gave.
Medicinal Baths Aren’t Just For You
If it is suffering, a salt bath in a quarantine tank can relieve symptoms of a disease and potentially save your betta fish’s life.
Do you have questions or comments? Please leave them below so that we can get you an answer or continue the discussion!