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How to Use Aquarium Salt for Betta Fish?

You will harm your betta fish if you use aquarium salt - unless you know how to use it properly removes

Learning how to use aquarium salt is vital because it helps to remove harmful parasites and improve gill function. Unfortunately, use an ounce over what is required, and it could be lethal for your fish. Also, if you use an ounce less than what is required, it might be ineffective.

We know - it's pretty annoying!

Thankfully, you're on the right page. In this article, you'll learn everything there is to know about using aquarium salt for betta fish, including steps, quantity, treatment length, benefits, and what it is used for.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have enough aquarium salt knowledge to use the substance for your betta fish and get great results.

What is Aquarium Salt? 

Aquarium salt is pure salt with the same chemical formula as regular salt (NaCl). It has the same 1:1 ratio of sodium and chloride. The main difference it has with regular salt is that there are no additives or colors. It's simply pure salt from evaporated seawater.

Is Aquarium Salt Safe? 

The safety of aquarium salt in your tank will depend on what you have there. We are going to examine how safe it is for betta fish, scaleless fish, and live plants.

Betta Fish

Aquarium salt will not cause any harm to betta fishes in your tank as long as it’s in the correct dose. Some people add it to treat mild illnesses their betta fish is struggling with, and others use it as a preventative measure. Betta fish, however, don't need aquarium salt for their growth or development and will also be fine without it.

Scaleless Fish

Stay away from aquarium salt if you have scaleless fish in your tank. Salt dries out the slime coating on scaleless fish, which could expose them to external infections. Scaleless fishes without their slime coat also have a weaker immune system, which could be dangerous.

Live Plants

Some live plants are fragile, and they cannot handle the salinity of aquarium salts, so avoid using them. If you have plants like Java Moss, Anubias, Java Fern, and Anacharis, it might not cause damage. However, confirm first before using it, and don't use it if you're not sure.

How Does it Work? 

Aquarium salt works by inducing dehydration that will lead to the death of some microorganisms. Increasing the salinity of aquarium water will cause water to be sucked out of the fungus, parasite, or bacteria. All these happen simultaneously as osmosis tries to balance out the salt concentration on both sides of its skin or membrane.

Tiny microorganisms dehydrated faster than fish because of their far lower mass and stored water, so they end up dying before their hosts. Some microorganisms can withstand high salinity levels; hence, this isn't a 100% foolproof solution. 

How Often Can You Use Aquarium Salt?

Ideally, aquarium salt shouldn't be used every day as a health booster or preventative measure. Doing that would be similar to a healthy person using antibiotic pills every day to reduce infections.

Often, it could lead to a bug growing that is resistant to the antibiotics. The same thing can happen to fishes.

If you overuse aquarium salt for your fishes, any disease that can develop a resistance to it will become stronger. You will need a higher salt concentration to cure it, and this might harm the fish too.

So, use aquarium salt occasionally to maintain its potency when you need it.

Recommended Doses for General Purposes

If you don’t have professional advice, a safe bet to go with is one tablespoon of aquarium salt in 5-7 gallons of water. This amount will be enough to kill the microorganisms without harming your fishes and other species in your aquarium.

For safe application, follow the steps below:

  • Don't directly expose the tank water to salt. Mix it in a separate tank of water before pouring it into the tank with the bettas.

  • Leave the tank for 24 hours and keep checking the fish for any movement or change in functions.

  • Continue treating the tank water for three days and replace the water by 25% after the fifth day.

Benefits of Aquarium Salt 

The International Betta Congress (IBC) recommends consistently dosing your tank with aquarium salt. Although there are mixed opinions about it, some evidence shows that aquarium salts give some benefits with include:

Reduces the Nitrates and Nitrites

High nitrate levels are harmful to betta fish. Overfeeding, many members in the tank, dirty filters, and decaying materials are some of the causes of high nitrates in your tank. Aquarium salt prevents methemoglobinemia and stops your fish from absorbing these harmful nitrates.

Prevents Parasites and Pathogen Growth

Not keeping to a proper cleaning schedule of your aquarium or overfeeding your betta fishes can make your tank a breeding place for pathogens, worms, and parasites. All of these can cause inconveniences to the fishes like velvet, itches, and others. Aquarium salt will help you take care of these issues and make it unhabitable for these parasites to survive.

Improves Kidney and Gill Function

Aquarium salt helps your betta fish with their gill and kidney functions. Kidneys function to remove the water from your betta fishes. When you add aquarium salt into your tank, it puts less strain on the kidneys and gills by reducing the amount of water it needs to absorb.

It also refills the electrolytes your betta fish needs to make sure there is enough oxygen intake and carbon dioxide release from the gills. This reduces the work of the gills, thereby alleviating some stress off your betta fishes.

Better Slime Coating

Betta fish has a slime coat made of protein and carbohydrates. Like other fish species, the slime coat serves as the first line of protection against a lot of intruders, including foreign objects and bacteria. It also helps the essential fluids and electrolytes in your betta fish to glide properly despite the surface resistance of water.

Temperature changes, low oxygen, high toxin levels, and other factors may lead to a reduction of the slime coat as time passes. If you apply aquarium salt in the right quantities, can speed up the production of slime coat. Aquarium salt also helps with open wounds and bacterial infections.

Steps in Using Aquarium Salt for Betta Fish 

The steps for applying aquarium salt will depend on what you’re trying to treat in your betta fish. We’re going to examine the steps for treating mild fungal infections, fin rot, velvet, and ick/ich.

Treating Mild Fungal Infections

Symptoms of a fungal infection include blotchy patches on its head and body as well as the fish making efforts to rub objects. Clamped fins, lethargy, loss of appetite, and color are other symptoms.

  1. Keep the infected betta aside and keep the temperature of the tank steady between 75oF and 77oF.

  2. Put 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt to 1 gallon of water.

  3. Change the water by 80% every day for a maximum of 10 days.

Treating Mild Fin Rot

Symptoms of mild fin rot are ragged fin edges with colored tones, thin fins, inflamed fin bases, and fins falling to pieces.

  1. Maintain a temperature of 75OF to stop the bacteria from growing.

  2. Put 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt in 1 gallon of water.

  3. Change the water by 90% daily for the length of the treatment which should not exceed 10 days.

Treating Velvet

Velvet has similar symptoms to fungal infections and the main difference is a film that has a yellowish or gold hue that encases your betta.

  1. Put the fish in a bigger aquarium if the present one is less than 15 liters. If the tank is large enough, change the water by 80%.

  2. Take carbon and other chemicals out of the filter and stop carbon filtration.

  3. Keep the water at a consistent temperature of 85oF

  4. Shield the aquarium and prevent light from entering throughout the treatment.

  5. Add 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt in 2.5 gallons of water.

  6. Use the recommended dosage on the Malachite Green or copper sulfate label. Continue the medication for a maximum of 10 days.

Treating Ick/Ich

Ick has similar symptoms of velvet except for the fish having white specks on its head and body instead of a gold/yellow film.

Follow the same steps 1-4 for treating velvet above then continue with the following:

Step 5:Put ½ - 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt in 1 gallon of water depending on how visible the specs are.

Step 6:Add a solution that has malachite green or methylene blue as the main ingredient.

How Long Should the Treatment Last?

Generally, you should leave the salt in the tank until your fish looks healthy, after which you remove the salt by changing the water.

After the treatment, do a 30% water change but don't add any salt. Simply observe for a week.

If there is no sign of the disease, do another 30% water change without changing the salt and observe for another week.

If the disease returns, use the original salt concentration dosage and put a little extra salt to increase the strength. There is a chance the first concentration was not strong enough to cure the sickness or the fish did not stay in the saltwater long enough.

What’s the bottom line?

No treatment should exceed 10 days. If the symptoms are still present look for other options such as specific medications for the infection.

Betta Salt Bath 

Betta salt bath is another method of using aquarium salt and will take a fraction of the time. You will use higher concentrations of aquarium salt for your betta and keep them in the solution for a short time to produce quicker results. Salt dips also produce great results in treating external parasites.

  1. Assemble two water pots. Put ¼ tablespoon of aquarium salt per gallon in one and 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt per gallon in the other.

  2. Pour pretreated/aquarium water in both containers slowly and turn as your pour.

  3. Make the temperature of both containers between 76oF and 80oF.

  4. Put the infected betta fish in a plastic bag.

  5. Float the bag in the container with 1 tablespoon of salt for 15 minutes.

  6. Release the fish into the salted water for 5-8 minutes.

  7. Put the betta fish in the container with ¼ tablespoon of salt for a maximum of 5 minutes.

  8. Place the fish in the plastic bag and float it on the aquarium surface for 5 minutes.

  9. Release the fish from the plastic bag back into the aquarium.


What Are the Diseases Aquarium Salt Can Cure?

Aquarium salt can cure many of the mild diseases in betta fish. Some of the notable ones you should be able to take care of include velvet, fin rot, and ich. Using aquarium salt for more complicated illnesses such as bloating and swim bladder disorder may further complicate it rather than curing it.

Does Aquarium Salt Increase the pH of My Tank?

No, aquarium salt does not have any effect on the pH level of your tank. The two separate components of the salt sodium and chlorine will become soluble in the water. There is going to be no reaction with the hydrogen and oxygen molecules that make up water so your pH stays the same.

Can I Use Table Salt Instead?

No, table salt cannot be used as an alternative to aquarium salt. Table salt as well as marine salt has flavorings, color properties, and additives that are possibly dangerous for bettas. Even though they have the same chemical composition as aquarium salt, they will not be ideal for your betta fish. Table salt is only good when it is non-iodized without any additives.


Using the right dose of aquarium salt for your betta fish could be the difference between curing it and killing it. Make sure you follow the laid down instructions carefully when you use aquarium salt for your fishes. 

Follow the step-by-step guide for using it for the listed diseases or if you want something quicker, you can use the betta salt bath. If you notice the treatment isn't working, stop it after 10 days and get extra help.

Above all, keeping your aquarium water clean with regular checkups and maintenance is the surest way to keep your fishes healthy and safe from any diseases. The use of aquarium salt should be a last resort option.

About the author 


My name is Eric. I'm the owner of snugaquarium.net and a writer with a passion for aquariums and fish-keeping. I love to watch the three different species of freshwater fish floating around in my homemade aquarium in my spare time.

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