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Newcomers to the art of keeping Betta fish have a lot to learn, even before buying equipment. This includes food, filtration, decorations, plants and water parameters. Since their natural habitat in the Amazon River is so close to the ocean, some people wonder if they can put a betta fish in saltwater.
So, can betta fish live in saltwater? Technically, no, betta fish cannot live in saltwater. These are freshwater fish and must have a pristine, brackish-free environment. However, the exception to this is when setting up a quarantine tank to treat Ich or fin rot.
But, this would be a very small amount and only for the purposes of healing some disease or parasite. Other than that, you do not want to put a betta in saltwater, it will cause them to suffer and eventually die.
Why Do Betta Fish Prefer Freshwater?
Betta fish are tropical creatures from the Amazon River in South America. This is not a salty, brackish environment. It’s a warm, clean and freshwater place with specific water parameters. These conditions must be the same in a home aquarium or it could potentially kill a betta fish.
Can Betta Fish Acclimate to Living in Saltwater?
If you look at several online forums, there are people who claim they have been able to get their betta fish to live happily in a saltwater aquarium. However, there are no scientific studies to prove such a thing. But, it is definitely something people try. It’s just that you’ll be taking a gamble if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Even if this were possible, the ratio of salt would have to be extremely low in relationship to the water, which must be far greater. Therefore, the other fish in the tank would have to be able to withstand this low salt amount too. However, bettas don’t need saltwater so you should avoid adding it if you can.
Can You Add Some Aquarium Salt Where Betta Fish Reside?
Having said all that, you can add some aquarium salt to a betta tank but only in those instances they are suffering from some kind of illness. Even with doing this, you have to ensure you don’t overdose the tank. Too much aquarium salt will kill a betta fish.
If all your tank’s inhabitants are freshwater lovers, put the betta in a separate quarantine tank. The amount of salt you add will depend on the severity of infection and the size of the hospital tank.
However, if all your fish have a parasite or disease, then adding aquarium salt to the main tank will be ideal. But there are some exceptions. For instance, plants and tank mates without scales will not be able to handle any amount of salt. In this case, you will have to setup a quarantine tank for the betta.
What Is the Difference between Aquarium and Regular Table Salt?
While aquarium salt has the same chemical composition as regular table salt, aquarium salt doesn’t have any treatments or additives. Aquarium salt is pure salt taken straight from evaporated ocean or seawater. It has a 1:1 ratio of chloride and sodium.
Regular table salt will be damaging to any freshwater fish, especially bettas. This is because it goes through processing, which includes things like whitening agents, flavorings, colorings and other additives.
What’s more, regular table salt has the ability to shift the water quality along with electrolytes and the pH levels to a severe degree. Bettas cannot handle and do not like any changes. Even if the salt doesn’t kill them, the water parameter alterations can cause them stress, which could turn fatal.
Will Bettas Be Safe in an Aquarium with Saltwater?
Aquarium salt is safe for bettas but you cannot overdose the tank it’s in. While Bettas are hardy little guys, they do not need salt. Truly, the only time you should use it is to heal them from illness or to keep down the potential for disease to take hold.
Other than that, you should not put them in the same tank with fish that require brackish conditions. If you want both freshwater and saltwater fish, you should have two separate tanks.
Is There Any Benefit of Aquarium Salt for Betta Fish?
While saltwater can pose a great danger to betta fish, it can also provide a lot of benefit when done correctly. Some of the most poignant ones are:
- Uninhabitable Environment for Parasites: Freshwater parasites cannot stand salty water. Regular dosing of about a teaspoon of aquarium salt definitely keeps these down.
- Nitrate and Nitrite Reduction in the Tank: If you have tank mates living with your betta that raise nitrates and nitrites in the tank, adding a little aquarium salt helps control these levels.
- Betta Slime Coat Improvement: To keep betta fish healthy, you must attend to the betta’s slime coat. A dash of aquarium salt helps keep this in balance to prevent infections and parasites from taking hold.
- Improves Kidney and Gill Function: Adding a touch of aquarium salt to a betta tank will help improve kidney and gill function. These organs are essential in the fish’s ability to dispel water from the body.
When You Do Use Aquarium Salt, What’s the Dosage Frequency?
If you absolutely must add aquarium salt to a betta fish tank, you must be careful. First, ask a professional or an aquatic vet their expert opinion. But, there are a few guidelines to consider.
You should never use more than a tablespoon of aquarium salt per five gallons of water. Anything more than this will create an uninhabitable environment for a betta that will cause them to struggle and die.
Always Dilute First
Another important factor to note here is that you should NEVER add salt directly to the tank, main or quarantine. Take some of the water within the tank, put it into a container and then add the salt. Stir it until it fully dissolves and finally add it to the tank.
Once you’ve added the salt, you have to monitor your fish and the tank for 24 hours. Observe everything for improvements or signs of struggle. If all is okay, continue dosing your tank in the same way about every four days or so. Also, make sure you do a 25% partial water change to keep salt levels low.
But, take care when doing this since betta fish do not like continual changes and shifts in their water parameters. This means making sure the new water you put in has the exact same temperature as the tank along with using conditioners and treatments the betta fish prefers.
After two weeks, you must stop this treatment. You should already see improvement in your betta’s demeanor and behavior by this time. However, if their health is still deteriorating, you will have to employ something stronger than salt.
How Do You Setup a Saltwater Bath for Betta Fish?
Giving your betta a temporary dip in a separate tank with a high concentration of aquarium salt is ideal, also known as a saltwater bath. You won’t keep them there as you would a quarantine tank. Instead, let them swim around for a few minutes and then return them to the main aquarium.
This operation will require two containers. The first one will have a full tablespoon in one gallon of water. The second tank will have ¼ tablespoon of salt to one gallon of water. This second one will serve as a reviving station to reduce shock once the betta returns to the main tank.
Saltwater Bath Steps
Before following the steps below, understand this is a mere guide. You should consult a veterinarian prior to attempting this to ensure you do everything as they prescribe. The idea is to reduce shock as much as you can. However, the general operation will go something like this:
- Use aquarium water for both containers and then dissolve the appropriate amount of aquarium salt in each.
- Once dissolved, warm both tanks to as close to 78°F as you can. It shouldn’t be less than 76°F but no more than 82°F. Keeping the temperature the same as the main tank is best.
- Remove the betta from its main environment in a plastic bag with its tank water. Allow this bag to sit in the tank with a milder salt solution for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then release it into the tank.
- After five to eight minutes, use another plastic bag to put the betta into the tank with the stronger salt solution. Once again, allow it to acclimate in the bag for about 10 minutes and release it into the tank.
- Let the fish swim around here for about five minutes and use a net to take it back out and put it into the tank with the lowered salt solution.
- Allow the betta to rest only for a minute or two and then put it back into the main tank.