Aquarium salt is one of the most commonly used medications as it is very affordable and effective with treating a wide range of bacterial infections, wounds, and fungal issues. bettas can be quite sensitive to salt, so salt baths at this dosage should only be done if needed.
Aquarium salt works via a process called Osmosis, which is the net movement of solute molecules through a semi permeable membrane to a higher concentration of solvent molecules. Salt disrupts this net movement and increases the amount of solutes within the cell, causing them to shrivel and die. The idea of a salt bath is to shock the cells straight away which can have a more effective result than adding salt slowly directly to the tank. The fins often will go a little see-through during baths, however this is normal and colour should return within a few minutes of being removed. It also promotes cell regrowth, and will aid in fin growth. As salt does increase salinity, Siamese fighting fish may have trouble controlling the salinity levels within their bodies. This can result in fin loss, lethargic behaviour, and irritation such as 'flashing' through the water, and dropsy-like symptoms.
Salt baths should only be used in cases of chronic rot and severe parasitic infections on the fish, and it should be known previous whether the betta can tolerate 0.1% of salt. They should not be the first stage of treatment and can be a little harsh, so the diagnosis needs to be accurate as salt baths should only be done if they are absolutely needed. They are particularly good for people who cannot get access to a range of actual commercial medications used for treating serious ailments.
To do a salt bath, you will need these items:
- Aquarium salt
- Measuring spoons
- 4 liter bowl (1 US gallon), or a container that can carry no less than that amount
- water conditioner
- pH adjuster (if needed)
To set up a salt bath, a small bowl or tank should be set up containing clean, conditioned water. The pH and temperature must be matched before adding the fish. The salt solution for a salt bath is 0.1% (1tsp per 1 gallon) and the salt must be fully dissolved before adding. Undissolved salt will burn the fish if contact is made. Remember to add a lid, as Siamese fighting fish will try to jump out of the water.
For each bath, new water should be used, and the old water should be discarded down a drain. Salt will affect plants, so it is best not to pour it into the garden.
I personally choose to do one salt bath a day for 10 minutes at a time, however there are people who will do two a day with a minimum of 4 hours in between each bath. During that time, it is important to monitor your fish in case anything goes wrong and you need to move it back into the main tank. The whole treatment should not extend longer than 10 days, as bettas can develop sensitivity towards salt if treatment goes on for too long.
Usually if the baths have not worked within the 10 day period, and the ailment is still present, the treatment should not be started again and another treatment should be considered.