All too often, someone will ask me what to about this fish disease or that water problem and when I say “put some salt in the water” I always get this blank reaction followed by a “Are you crazy?” I can’t say I’ve ever seen a psychologist, but I do feel pretty sane and no one has told me otherwise so I assume the best. Salt in a fish tank, especially a fresh water tank, provides numerous benefits including but not limited to fish disease, chemical balances, pests from tap water, algae, etc.
Salt can clean wounds and fight infections
In ancient times salt was used on people to clean wounds and fight infections. For those of you who are christian, you will find in nearly every book of the bible, salt is mentioned as a cure for one thing or another. In fact, if you did a google search on salt medicine you will find 2,310,000 results. Aside from the fragility, Fish immune systems are rely not much different then people. Most of their diseases are also not much different from what people can get either.
The most common problem with that is pretty much unavoidable is fungus. At some point or another your fish will get little white puffy stuff growing on them. You can get this stuff called fungus guard which is about $5-$10 for a little thing of it. If you look on the label under ingredients, you will find it is made mostly of salt. In my experience, I have also found that tanks that have salt in them tend to have the most relaxed fish. You can literally move the tank around, shake up the water a bit, move things around, or virtually anything that causes fish to stress out and die, and yet the fish will have a greater likelihood of living. This is because the fish immune system controls everything in the fish itself. So the tougher the immune system, the tougher the fish. This of course does not mean you should put your fish in a bag filled with salt water and shake it up consistently for an hour, but it does mean your fish will be able to tolerate a lot more.
Salt balances things in liquids
Moving on to chemical balances, salt naturally balances things in liquids. If you ever read a cook book there are very few recipes that don’t call for salt for this very reason. In food salt releases more flavor in herbs and meats, then it naturally mixes the flavors around thus giving whatever your cooking an even and consistent mix of flavor. (This way you don’t eat one side of the cake and taste chocolate and then eat the other side and taste flour.) The same concept goes for your fish tank; one part of the tank will have as much oxygen and carbon as the other side. This consistency allows bacteria to be plentiful, fish are less likely to receive any toxins, and plants can grow there roots where ever they want becoming fuller and larger. In addition to the over all well being of the life in your tank, I have found that when salt is added the tank virtually stays clean for long periods of time. (I haven’t cleaned my 20 gallon in 10 months). I believe this is a result of healthy bacteria that are much better at breaking down gunk.
Algae hates salt
Another nifty advantage of salt is Algae absolutely hates it. Fresh water algae simply dies on impact of salt. additionally the pests that make there way into your tank from the tap hate as well. While salt water tanks have there own types of algae and pests do keep in mind your not gonna add so much salt for those things to live in your tank either. So now the question is how much salt and what kind to get?
Salt in the aquarium
There are more types of salt in the world then I rightly think any one person knows about. However, with your fresh water tank there are two types that are best; Table salt and Marine salt. The advantage of table salt is you can get a lot of it from pretty much anywhere for 50 cents. Marine salt is also good, although your not gonna get it for 50 cents, it does have extra minerals and nutrients in it that are that much better for fish. Ultimately, I have found the difference between the two is very little. The fish don’t care if you spent 50 cents or 30 bucks on them, so why should you? But, whichever you decide to get, I advise that you add 1/2 to 1 cup per gallon. Any time you change the water, add the same amount for every gallon you changed. Sometimes you might notice some salt build up on the light or around the filter. Simply wipe it off and put it back in the tank. Also, the salt will never evaporate. So, if you have to add water simply because it evaporated, you do not need to add any more salt. I have noticed that if you pour the salt in over a plant, the plant will get too much of it at a time and will die, so either put it in the filter or over the top of a rock.
There are many other advantages of salt in a fresh water tank such as the water will hold heat longer, carbon from carbon systems stays longer, the color of fish and plants get more vibrant, breeding gets easier, snail control… I can literally go on and on. This so called “Blasphemy”, just like so many other things called blasphemies, (ex: the world is like a ball not a disk, Woman speaking their minds, My neighbor is a witch because her crop is better than mine) Makes it a dumb idea not worth paying attention to.