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Aquarium Salt
Aquarium Salt as medication to cure sick tropical fish and goldfish.   Aquarium Salt is a very important part of the Recommended Treatment that we strongly recommend. This page explains how to use Aquarium Salt, and then goes on to explain why Aquarium Salt works.
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Several people have emailed and asked for an explanation of why ordinary salt is useful in treating fish with Signs of Stress and Disease. Here are a few more facts about adding Aquarium Salt to the water in aquariums.
We are talking here about Sodium Chloride with symbol NaCl, which is the main chemical in table salt. Table salt also usually contains small amounts iodine and calcium silicate. The iodine prevents goiter in humans that eat the table salt, and the calcium silicate prevents the table salt from caking.
Some people have added table salt to their aquarium water and had no problems. But other people have had trouble after putting table salt in their aquarium water. Therefore it is usually recommended that table salt NOT be added to aquarium water.
Aquarium Salt has no additives such as iodine or calcium silicate. Small one-pound boxes of Aquarium Salt, like the one shown at the top of this page, are sold in most places that sell freshwater fish. A one-pound box of Aquarium Salt is very inexpensive.
Salt, NaCl, does not change the pH of water. It also does not change the hardness.
A few fish do not tolerate aquarium salt. Corydoras catfish and many live aquatic plants do not do well with salt in their water.
In my aquariums both Corydoras and many plants will tolerate 1 Tablespoon of Aquarium Salt per each 5 gallons of aquarium water, and they do poorly with 2 Tablespoons of Aquarium Salt per 5 gallons.
Salt lessens the number of pathogens in the water. For example very few, perhaps only one or two groups, of freshwater bacteria tolerate aquarium salt well. My experience is that salt is slightly effective in preventing fish trouble in freshwater aquariums but only slightly.

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Just above, one of our favorite fish, a male Peacock Cichlid, came from Lake Malawi in very weak condition. We treated him with Aquarium Salt. He eventually recovered and matured into the beautiful fish in the picture.
Salt is most effective, when the concentration of salt changes. So I keep my freshwater fish in water with very little salt. If I see one or more of the Signs of Stress or Disease, such as clamped fins, I immediately do all six steps of the Recommended Treatment, which includes adding 1 Tablespoon of Aquarium Salt per each 5 gallons of aquarium water.
Click here to read more about the Signs of Stress and Disease, and click here to read about all six steps of the Recommended Treatment.
Marine Aquarists often give their marine fish a freshwater bath, and this is the same principle of changing the concentration of salt, but in this case by lowering rather than increasing the concentration of salt.
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Here's a plausible theory about how changing the concentration of salt in the water helps the fish. The pathogens, such as bacteria and protozoa, are simpler forms of life that have no internal organs to compensate for the change in salt concentration.
But fish have organs, such as kidneys, that enable them to adjust to a small change in the concentration of salt. So changing the concentration of salt weakens the pathogens without harming the fish, and this gives the fish a better chance to recover.
Before people had refrigerators and freezers, they used salt to preserve various foods especially meat. When meat was packed in salt, bacteria usually could not grow and cause the meat to spoil. Salt was very valuable to people. In fact in some areas of the world, salt was the most valuable substance.
I was in a Home Depot store yesterday and saw a 50 lb. bag of water-softener salt. I estimated the price per lb., and I couldn't find anything else in the store that was less expensive. Even the bags of manure cost more per lb. than the salt.
When I was very young and got a sore throat, my grandmother would put a teaspoon of salt in a big glass of warm water, give it a good stir, and then tell me to gargle with the salty water in my mouth. She believed that the salt would help cure my sore throat, and the salt may have killed many of the pathogens that were causing my sore throat.

Salt has been used by people for a long time to stop pathogens from growing in their foods and in their throats, and now we still use salt to stop pathogens from growing in our aquariums and on our fish.

Customer Comments

hi, i was reading the section about aquarium salt and i would like to point out one minor detail. the author pointed out his grandmother gave him/her water and salt to cure a sore throat b/c this killed the pathogens.
this is not true. the relief of a sore throat in this case is due to osmosis. when one gargles salt water, this called a hypertonic solution. meaning, the water has more solute (salt) than the sections in your throat that are inflamed (with water) and this causes soreness.
in a case like this, water inside the inflamed areas of the throat leave the tissue and "go" towards the salt water in order to form equilibrium and the sore throat subsides because there is no more inflamation.
jared r. 
Reply. Hello Jared and thank your for your interesting comments. You are right about the salt reducing swelling, and reducing the swelling reduces the pair of a sore throat.
But in our experience salt does more than reduce the inflammation and pain. In many cases aquarium salt is an essential part of the treatment.
Click here to go on to another page in this web site with Customer Comments and our Replies about the use of Aquarium Salt.
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 About our Fish ...
Almost all the photographs and videos, shown on this web site, were taken by us of our fish in our aquariums.
Compare the healthy, beautiful, energetic fish in our beautiful aquariums to the fish in our competitors pictures. Their fish often look thin with clamped fins and poor color.
We buy the highest quality fish, produced by the best fish farms or caught by the best collectors of wild fish, then we take incredibly good care of our fish in our beautiful aquariums.
If you compare the pictures on this site to our competitors pictures, you can instantly see, our fish and aquariums are better!  ;^ }
Will the fish you get from us look like the fish in our pictures? No! This is similar to buying kittens and puppies that will change as they grow to become cats and dogs.
We stock and ship fish that are the ideal size to sell. Not so small that they will not do well when shipped. Yet not so big that they have become much more expensive.
The fish in almost all of our pictures were young fish like the ones we have for sale that we raised up, and you can too! 
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This page was updated on August 26, 2014.