Aquarium Salt for Betta Fish: Your Ultimate Guide

Aquarium salt for bettas
Table of Contents

Aquarists love utilising aquarium salt for their beloved freshwater fish like bettas; it helps treat most diseases and illnesses.

You could say that aquarium salt is popular in the fishkeeping hobby and used frequently by betta fish keepers.

red blue male betta splendens

Hold up if you are new to this concept but want to use aquarium salt for bettas. You need to educate yourself on a few important things, and I’m here to help!

Aquarium salt, also known as tonic salt is essentially pure sodium chloride which carries zero iodine or additives, unlike table salt. It can significantly aid your betta fish in fighting off mild fungal and bacterial infections while improving their health.

So if you are contemplating adding aquarium salt to a freshwater fish tank, this detailed guide will be all you need to understand how everything works, the benefits, how much aquarium salt dosage is right and how it can treat diseases in betta fish.

When utilised properly, adding aquarium salt can be a terrific medicine. So let’s dive in, shall we?

What Is Aquarium Salt?

First things first, let’s talk about what aquarium salt is.

While it carries similar chemical composition as table salt with a 1:1 sodium chloride ratio, aquarium salt comes free of additives that originates from the evaporated seawater.

This means there are no additional chemicals such as iodine that are harmful to your fish and plants.

That’s why it is such a good choice for treating bettas.

Take note that you shouldn’t confuse aquarium salt with table salt, sea salt, Epsom salt, or marine salt. Those are different salts for different purposes, which I will cover in the future.

aquarium salt, evaporated sea water

How Does Aquarium Salt Works?

Aquarium salt causes death by dehydration – a little bit extreme but true. It amplifies the salinity of your aquarium water, which renders it brackish to draw out all moisture from any fungus, bacteria, or parasites.

Then osmosis balances the salt concentration of your freshwater fish tanks.

Can You Add Aquarium Salt to Your Betta Tank?

Yes, you can put freshwater aquarium salt in your betta tank to treat most diseases they might face; however, there are some situations where you need to be careful.

While this salt is effective for freshwater aquariums, it can be detrimental to the health of other aquatic beings. You need to avoid putting aquarium salt in your tank if it has the following:

Presence of other fish species in the tank.

Never use aquarium salt in the betta tank if your tank contains scaleless fish species such as loaches – native to the betta’s natural habitat.

This is because the salt will effectively dry out their slime coat, which is bad, as their coat is what helps shield them from extrinsic skin issues.

If such fish loses their slime coats, not only are you exposing them to serious external infections, their immune systems will weaken severely too.

While you aim to treat your bettas’ health, you cannot risk your other fish’s skin in the aquarium. If you have any other livestock in your aquarium, consider using a hospital tank instead.

Plants in the Freshwater Tank

Another big no with aquarium salt is the presence of live plants. Most freshwater aquarium plants are extremely sensitive and require diligent maintenance for their upkeep, so exposing them to salinity will kill them.

Are there any plants that can survive in water with aquarium salt?

Yes, some live plants are more forgiving and can tolerate salts such as Anubias, Anacharis, Java Moss, and Java Fern.

However, it is better to practice caution and avoid salt treatment with any plants present. If you wish to medicate your betta fish, have a quarantine tank.

Snails in the tank

Got any snails? Don’t add salt in.

While most snails will tolerate freshwater aquarium salt, they can only do so in extremely small doses.

So if you love your snails, don’t add aquarium salt directly into the tank.

Excessive salt may cause osmotic action, which will suck out all the water from their bodies and kill them. Therefore it is better to take them out before adding salt.

What Are the Benefits of Aquarium Salt?

Many experts share about the many advantages of having your freshwater tank lightly salted for your bettas’ health.

Even the International Betta Congress recommends dosing your fish’s freshwater aquarium with salt, so if you are still wondering if aquarium salt is good for your bettas, read on.

Below are the reasons why aquarium salt can be very beneficial.

It Renders Water Uninhabitable for Many Parasites

A world of parasites living in a freshwater aquarium can get your betta ill; however, if there is one thing these pesky creatures cannot survive, it is salty conditions.

Regularly dosing your freshwater fish tank with this salt can make it tough for parasites to reproduce or even infect the betta.

Decreased Amounts Of Nitrates and Nitrites In Your Tank

Precious aquarium salts can also work splendidly in reducing the nitrite and nitrate toxicity levels in freshwater tanks.

When you add in the salt, it fends off methemoglobinemia and prevents nitrite poisoning.

It Helps Improve the Bettas’ Slime Coat

A fish’s slime coat is an extremely critical aspect of its existence and it works actively to keep them healthy.

Aquarium salt renders it impossible for the external parasites, bacteria, or fungus to latch onto your bettas, ergo, stopping fungal infections.

A strong and healthy slime coat is crucial if a betta gets injured. Without this coat, their vulnerable torn fins can rapidly catch an infection, which makes your freshwater fish suffer badly.

Enables Better Kidney and Gill Function

Another advantage aquarium salt offers to bettas is how it efficiently aids in improving gill and kidney function.

Among the central tasks of a betta’s kidney is removing water from its body.

When aquarium salt is introduced to the freshwater aquarium, water absorbed by betta is reduced, putting less pressure on its kidneys and gills.

Provides Essential Electrolytes

This salt works wonders in replenishing the essential electrolytes in the aquarium water, and they are extremely important for the betta’s oxygen intake and expelling CO2 through the gills.

Promotes the Healing Process Of Wounds

As aquarium salt wards off bacteria and fungus in freshwater tanks, if your betta has sustained injuries – maybe perhaps after biting its tail – salt can help speed up the healing process so no other harmful organisms penetrate the wounds.

What Are Some Diseases Aquarium Salt Can Cure?

This salt is also great for curing some of the most common and mild freshwater fish diseases. If you have a betta suffering from any of the conditions below, then you should add salt to its tank:

This is not a conclusive list, so make sure you know when to use salt treatment.

How Often Should You Dose Your Tank with Aquarium Salt?

Before you dose your betta tank with aquarium salt, you must understand a few things.

Many other hobbyists like to dose aquarium salt every time they do water changes.

However, I don’t really like dosing it in my aquarium as I have to keep track of how much aquarium salt I’ve added in total.

For example, you dose 1 tablespoon of salt.

When you change half the water, the salt concentration decrease by half.

Thus when you add salt to the new water, you need to adjust it accordingly depending on the tank’s salinity.

Say you changed half, adding another 1 tablespoon of salt will increase the concentration.

This takes too much effort to keep track which I rather not do.

Plus I like to keep plants that are sensitive to salt too.

How to Dose your Tank Water with Aquarium Salt?

If your packet of aquarium salt contains manufacturer instructions, you should follow them. Otherwise, put 1 tablespoon of salt for every 3 gallons (11.35L) of water.

You should dissolve the salt measurements into a small tank of water separately and then pour them into your hospital tank.

How to Treat Your Bettas with a Salt Bath?

If you want something stronger to treat your betta than adding it to your main tank, salt baths have been known to do the job.

They are a good alternative to adding salt directly to your fish’s home.

betta in salt bath, salt dip, betta brackish water

How To Do It

Get a gallon of pretreated water and put one tablespoon of salt (follow the manufacturer’s instructions if available).

Make sure all that it is completely dissolved and matches your tank’s temperature.

Once done, release your betta in the water-salt solution and let it soak for 15 minutes.

Make sure the temperature is the same, otherwise it will cause a shock to your betta.

It is recommended to give your fish a salt bath twice a day if it is sick and once a day if mildly sick or recovering.

How to Treat your Bettas with a Salt Dip?

Another option is the salt dip, and many fishkeeping buffs prefer it. This method allows you to add your betta into a more concentrated dose for a much shorter time.

How To Do It

To perform the salt dip, you must prepare everything beforehand because time is key here.

Fill up one gallon fully with clean water and ensure via thermometer this water has the same temperature as the fish’s tank to prevent shock.

Add 2 tablespoons of aquarium salt per gallon of water, then stir until it dissolves fully. Grab a second container with 1/4 salted water like the 1-gallon tank and the remaining 3/4 with the tank water; this will act as the reviving station.

Be very gentle and remove your betta from the aquarium, carefully placing it into the brackish water solution. The most optimal duration is to let the fish sit for no more than 5 to 6 minutes.

If your fish appears to be boding well and does not pass out the fish may jump because of stress or discomfort.

Either way, you will need to be super attentive during the recommended dip duration.

When the time is up, place your betta into the reviving station for a little while (30-60 minutes) to adjust back nicely to the normal water parameters.

Lastly, place the fish back in its home.

Be Careful

You need to ensure your betta does not pass out. If it looks conked, or you feel it is not breathing (check the eyes and gills), or if it is lying on the side and appears very still, then it may have gone into shock due to the shift in salinity.

However, do not worry because this is why you have a reviving station.

Take your betta out and carefully place it into the reviving solution, then place it back into its aquarium, and you can try dipping another time.

What’s the difference between a dip and a bath?

A salt bath is not as strong as the dip but is done for longer, while the dip is shorter and more potent.

If your fish’s health issues are not severe, a bath is better because less salt is necessary.

Aquarium Salt Treatment Duration

If you utilise aquarium salt in your main tank to treat your sick fish, let the betta sit in the brackish water until it seems healthy and active again.

Then remove this salt by doing partial water changes.

You can replace around 30% water and keep observing your betta for a week; no need to add salt to this freshly changed water.

If the betta seems to be doing well, repeat the 30% water-changing process without adding salt.

Can You Use Regular Table Salt?

You are not alone; many people wonder if they can use table salt, which is a big no. Never use table salt to treat your fish because it is filled with additives and is not pure.

It can be lethal to the bettas.

Can Marine Salt Be Used as an Alternative?

Another alternative discussion revolves around marine salt or sea salt, and that is another big no. Sea salt contains flavours, colours, and additives that are extremely harmful to aquarium fish.

This salt entails chemical buffers, which can kill any freshwater fish.

Marine salt also increases pH and kH levels, which is not something you would want in a betta tank.

Therefore, you should solely use sea salt for marine fish tanks. Only stick to aquarium salt or epsom salt for bettas – which I will cover in a future article.

Will Aquarium Salt Raise the pH of Your Tank?

Adding anything new to the tank mandates careful consideration because you don’t want to mess up your water parameters.

However, you will be glad to know aquarium salt poses no threat as it doesn’t raise pH and kH levels.

This implies that adding aquarium salt does not alter the oxygen and hydrogen molecules making up the tank. Since there will be no reaction, nothing is impacting the pH.

Is Aquarium Salt Safe for Bettas?

So long as you don’t overdose your tank and follow the necessary cautions and recommended doses, aquarium salt is safe for the bettas. It has more to do with how well you utilise it.

blue yellow betta splendens

While many people choose salt to treat mild illnesses as bettas tolerate salt well, some even opt for it as a general preventative measure for their betta tank.

So this is completely up to you.


With all said and done, aquarium salt can be a great medication for your bettas and promote their well-being. So many fishkeeping experts keep it as a staple for their bettas’ first aid kit.

Especially if you’re trying to breed your bettas or keep them with aggressive fishes, you’re likely to need aquarium salt in case of tail nipping occurs.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi. What a lovely article. It was very detailed. Enjoyed reading it. What is your recommended dose if I want to dose salt into my betta tank as a general preventive measure?

    1. Hey Faizal, thanks for the kind comment – happy you enjoyed it! I don’t like to dose salt to my betta tanks as mentioned in the post, but if you’d like to do it as a preventive measure, do follow the manufacturer’s instructions! Make sure to adjust the dosage every time you make water changes!

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