As a fish-keeping enthusiast, you always want to ensure your pet Betta fish is receiving the utmost care so they can thrive in the environment you’ve lovingly provided.
While Bettas are not high-maintenance freshwater fish, you still need to keep their health in check, for they can fall prey to various diseases, and an Epsom salt bath is just the way to do that.
Today you will learn everything about doing the Epsom salt bath for Betta fish care and how it can keep your precious pals healthy and strong.
What Is Epsom Salt?
Before diving into the details, you must understand Epsom salt and how it works in the aquarium.
Epsom salt is a highly water-soluble chemical compound known as Magnesium Sulphate/Sulfate.
It is generally used in food preparation or soil treatment and is a core part of the construction of cement creation.
However, its medicinal properties for betta fish and humans make it all the more special.
Epsom salt baths are an excellent choice for your Betta fish because they help treat them when sick.
How Does Epsom Salt Work?
Epsom salt works on the principle of dehydration.
When introduced in your aquarium, the bacteria, parasites, or fungus ailing your fish absorb it well.
Then, this salt sucks out all the moisture from these pesky organisms, eliminating them.
It can also be a laxative as your Betta fish takes in more water to compensate for the dehydration caused by Epsom salt, and then expels all its waste.
Furthermore, Epsom salts help treat bloating and swelling since the water reduction enables the fish to return to their regular size.
Epsom Salt vs Aquarium Salt: What Differentiates the two?
When discussing salt treatments for your beloved Betta, you will encounter debates about using Epsom salt or aquarium salt but fret not; I’ll explain the difference between them.
Aquarium salt, a refined version of marine salt, is used to remove harmful buffers, which can be deadly for freshwater fish, including your precious pal Betta.
Moreover, aquarium salt comes with a heavy sodium chloride composition and carries a different impact than the magnesium sulfate on the Bettas.
However, Epsom salt differs in its chemical makeup, for the magnesium sulfate has no harsh elements like marine salt or table salt, so it is very safe for the fish.
Simply put, it is much milder than an aquarium salt bath.
What Does Epsom Salt Treat?
Let’s come to an important topic and discuss all the diseases Epsom salt can treat in Bettas.
Below we have a list of some issues that can ail your Betta, but an Epsom salt bath will have them feeling better in no time.
Yep, you read that right. Like us, fish can get constipated too, and different things can cause this problem.
The main one, however, is overfeeding your Betta fish.
While they may always appear hungry, you could overfeed them badly if you fall for their cuteness (I know I do).
Other causes could be you limiting your fish’s diet and only opting for dried foods that can be constipating, or your betta lack live, meaty, and thawed frozen food in the diet.
While your fish cannot tell you what’s making them sick, you can look for symptoms like no appetite, unusual lethargy, and a bloated stomach.
Such symptoms will make your Betta uncomfortable, so they should be resolved ASAP.
Thankfully the Epsom salt bath will be the best course of action as it will help your fish expel all the waste quickly while reducing bloating.
Swim Bladder Disease
The swim bladder is a gas-filled internal organ that works to maintain buoyancy.
This organ is essential for bony and thin fish, so you must quickly act when it malfunctions due to bacterial issues or a parasite.
Since the swim bladder controls buoyancy, the symptoms are easy to spot.
If you find your fish constantly sinking to the bottom or trying very hard to stay afloat as it lays on its head at the tank’s bottom, it’s probably suffering from swim bladder disease.
Moreover, floating to the water’s surface, having a curved back, or a change in appetite are other noticeable symptoms.
The Epsom salt bath for Betta fish can be an excellent treatment for curing swim bladder disease, for it helps keep the Betta fish buoyant.
However, you must be careful not to feed your Betta anything for approximately 24-48 hours before the salt bath if its swim bladder is affected.
This is a severe condition requiring instant attention.
Dropsy can occur if excessive fluid gathers in the scaleless fish; while it is dangerous, it can even be fatal since it signals a kidney or gill function problem.
To detect Dropsy, you need to look for signs like a swollen belly or rectum area, extraordinarily pale or protruding gills, high respiratory rate, red fins or skin, and eye bulge.
Generally, Dropsy is all about swelling, and Epsom salt baths can treat that well.
Just watch for the warning signs, and don’t let them fester.
As the name implies, this disease causes protruding or cloudy eyes in Bettas; this happens when pressure accumulates behind their eyes.
While it may sound or seem like a minor or superficial affliction, popeye can be fatal for your Betta when left ignored or untreated.
Therefore, you must take quick action before things take a worse turn.
Identifying the cause is the key to treating popeye.
If your Betta has a sole bulging eye, this means physical injury, particularly if other fish in the aquarium don’t seem to have the issue.
Injuries can happen in the fish tank; your Betta could have bumped into a glass wall a few times or had a scuffle with a fellow fish resulting in physical harm.
But if your Betta has both eyes protruding, this implies bacterial infections.
So when your fish is afflicted with Popeye, you can also look for other general illness symptoms like lack of appetite, isolation, and restlessness.
While this disease isn’t contagious, it stems from bad fish tank conditions causing infections; therefore, other fish may catch it too, and it’s only a matter of time.
Hence you need to act quickly.
A Betta Epsom salt bath can help ease your Betta’s discomfort significantly.
While fin rot may sound daunting, don’t worry, it is a common condition among betta fish.
It happens due to bacteria and bad living conditions, such as unclean tank water, stress, etc.
However, fin rot needs to be treated quickly, or it can worsen, causing long-lasting damage to your Betta.
This disease is easily identifiable, for your Betta will not have its usual lustrous and vibrant colour due to decayed tissue.
Their fins get transparent and milky white/ yellow, but if the disease progresses, fin pieces can fall off, getting frayed and stringy.
Moreover, fluffy white fungus or mucus can appear.
It is important to treat your Betta quickly so their fins can grow back healthy.
The Epsom salt bath for Betta will soothe the ailment while gradually recovering all the fin damage owing to its antibacterial traits.
Here is another common affliction for the Betta: mouth rot.
It occurs because bacteria or fungus can surround your Betta’s mouth area.
The impacted mouth area develops this white, cottony substance that appears like mould.
Symptoms entail zero appetite or affected breathing if the infection reaches the gills; hence instant attention is vital.
Epsom salt dip can work wonders in fighting off the bacteria and getting your fish to feel better.
When to Avoid Using Epsom Salt
While there are many positives to using Epsom salt baths, there are situations where you need to be careful.
No Epsom salt in a planted tank, ever!
Plants dislike high salinity levels because it can kill them, so make sure you never use this salt with plants present.
Your Bettas adore these plants as they help oxygenate the water and give them hiding and resting places; therefore, do not harm them.
Other Species in the Tank
Hobbyists love keeping other species in the tank with Bettas like scaleless fish and Corydoras, which provide company to your Betta.
These freshwater species are extremely sensitive to salty conditions and fish medications; therefore, never use Epsom salt in their presence.
Safety First Always!
You love your fish and wish to cure their illnesses; however, you must ensure safety by following the precautions above.
You cannot care for one living being in your tank while risking the rest.
In such situations, use a hospital quarantine tank for treatment instead.
How Do You Give Bettas an Epsom Salt Bath?
Now we come to the main event: how to give your Betta an Epsom salt bath.
Prepare a Betta Quarantine Tank
Get at least a four-litre (one-gallon) container and fill it with your aquarium water.
Add one tablespoon of Epsom salt (or follow the manufacturer’s instructions) to this treatment tank and mix well until it all dissolves.
Prepare the Revival Tank
Next, you have to get the revival tank ready.
This needs to have 1/4 of the Epsom salt water with 3/4 of your fish’s aquarium water.
This is the tank where you will put your fish before returning them to their home tank after the bath.
This helps reduce the shock they face after being treated in the salt bath tank.
Gather All Your Materials
You must gather all materials in one place or risk running around for them while giving your Betta an Epsom salt bath.
This process requires complete attention and quick action, so ensure you don’t have anything that could distract you.
Get the thermometer to ensure the water temperature of your quarantine tank and aquarium water match.
The temperature has to be similar because you don’t want to shock your already sick fish.
Another thing is a net that will help you transfer your Betta safely and quickly from its home to the quarantine tank and then the revival area.
Grab a stopwatch; you can use your mobile phone’s timer, so you don’t mess up the times and go under or over the treatment limit.
You will also need measuring spoons to help you distribute the exact Epsom salt amount.
Treating Your Betta
Very gently and carefully remove your Betta from its home aquarium, then place it in your treatment tank.
You must watch the fish’s body position and gills; if the latter stops moving and the former loses balance, your pet may pass out.
In such a situation, quickly remove it and put it in your revival tank.
You can try again on another day by watching your Betta’s condition.
An Epsom bath for your Betta fish needs to be at least five minutes but don’t let it surpass eight minutes.
Always stay alert and closely look at your fish to ensure it isn’t passing out or has a stress reaction.
Move Your Fish to the Revival Tank
With the bath done, gently transfer the pet to the revival tank. This tank is critical as it allows your Betta to acclimate to less salty conditions before returning to its home tank.
This step works efficiently and reduces the stress or potential temperature shock which could distress your Betta.
Return Your Pet to Their Home
Let your pet soak in the soothing revival tank for five to eight minutes, and then they are ready for home.
Gently take it out and place it back in the aquarium.
However, you must observe your little fish and ensure it is reacclimating without any problems.
Just a few observatory minutes will suffice and help ensure your fish has no complications after the Epsom salt treatment.
There you have it! Everything you needed to know about using Epsom salt for Bettas.
I hope this article helps answer all your questions and educates you on how Epsom salt can be great for your Betta’s well-being.
Many aquarists swear by the wonders of Epsom salt baths; however, ensure that you follow the steps correctly and heed caution in certain situations mentioned above.
This way, you can ensure the most optimal treatment for your fish and keep them thriving.