Aquarium salt has been recommended as a general tonic in for freshwater aquariums for decades. Aquarium salt and not sea salt or table salt can be used for this purpose. Salt dips or bathes can treat internal and external parasites, such as velvet disease, ich (ick), and gill flukes, and fungal infections.
Why Use Aquarium Salt as a Fish Medication?
Aquarium salt doesn’t have additional chemicals such as iodine and potassium added and it’s easily obtained. Aquarium salt is available at most fish stores and is less expensive than other fish medications.
Concerns About Using Aquarium Salt as Medication
There are several reasons not to use aquarium salt as a common tonic in the main aquarium. Instead this is a treatment best used in a hospital aquarium.
Constant exposure salt can make the angelfish immune to it as a treatment. Using too much salt can cause the kidneys to shut down according to National Fish Pharmaceuticals.
Smooth skinned fish such as Corydoras, plecos, and loaches are sensitive to salt and shouldn’t be kept in tanks where aquarium salt is used as a tonic. Angelfish are more salt tolerant, but it is preferable not to expose them to a tonic tank for extended periods of time.
Salt doesn’t evaporate and the concentration will increase as the water evaporates. Remove more water than usual if using salt as a tonic.
Other than being bad for some fish, salt in an aquarium makes it difficult for live plants to grow.
How to Use Salt Treatments for Freshwater Angelfish Diseases
A salt dip in a separate hospital aquarium is the best way to use salt to treat freshwater angelfish diseases.
Mix 5 gallons of conditioned water with 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt and heat to about 82 degrees.
Put the fish in the tank. If it rises to the top and lies on its side, that’s common. If it shows severe distress, return it to its tank immediately.
Treat the angelfish in the dip for a maximum of five minutes.
Like many things about aquariums, there is a lot of dissension and whether salt is the best treatment for fish diseases is open to debate. Some aquarists swear by using salt including the authors of Freshwater Aquariums for Dummies, while others take the opposite stand.
Any medication, including a salt bath, is stressful for angelfish. The best remedy is prevention. Keep the water quality good by doing frequent water changes. With good water quality, using salt as a tonic isn’t necessary. As with all medications, don’t overuse or over medicate.
Freshwater Aquariums for Dummies, by Maddy and Mic Hargrove, 2006
The Guide to Owning Angelfish: Diseases, Varieties, Care, Species, Breeding (Aquatic) by Braz Walker and Herbert R. Axelrod, 1998
Angelfish (Barron’s), by Robert J. Goldstein PhD, 2001