Aquarium Salt vs. Epsom Salt: Comparison and Uses

Aquariums are a beautiful addition to any home, and one of the critical pieces of equipment you will need is salt. Salt is essential for keeping your fish healthy and lively, and it also helps clean the water. In this article, we’ll explore the role of salts in aquariums and explain why they are so important. We’ll also provide a list of the most common types of salt and what each one is best for.

Aquarium salt and Epsom Salt are bath salts, but they have different properties that affect the aquarium environment. Aquarium salt contains potassium, magnesium, and other minerals to help regulate water chemistry. Aquarium salt can be a primary or supplemental additive to freshwater aquaria. 

On the other hand, Epsom salt can be used as a general-purpose salinity adjuster in freshwater and marine tanks. Epsom salt increases the water’s potassium level to help control pH levels and promote healthy aquatic plants and animals. Mildly irritating to skin and eyes but not harmful if ingested.

How Does Salt Work in Your Aquarium?

Salt works in your aquarium by depressing the pH level. This is important because having a low pH can lead to problems such as stony coral growth and other toxic buildups. Salt will raise the KH level (potassium) in freshwater tanks and lower the GH (general hardness). This change in water parameters is generally tiny but cumulative over time. For marine tanks, adding salt raises both the GH and KH levels so that the water becomes more alkaline.

When to Use Aquarium Salt?

Aquarium salt is a mineral-rich additive that can be used as either a primary or supplemental additive in freshwater aquaria, helping to regulate water chemistry and promote healthy aquatic plants and animals. In addition, aquaria salt contains potassium, magnesium, and other minerals which contribute to water quality regulation. This is why it is also essential for reef tanks (which have robust mineral uptake) to add or replace aquatics plants, decorations, or animals during a full-blown tank cycle.

Benefits of Aquarium Salt

Water Parameters

Aquarium salt can adjust water parameters; however, adding it in the early stages of a fish’s life may help reduce stress and ensure healthy development. Aquarium salt is a mineral additive that can help to improve the water quality adaptability of your aquarium. Aquarium salt also wards off parasitic organisms and provides beneficial minerals such as magnesium and potassium. In addition, aquarium salt does not stain the gravel and can dissipate quickly in an aquarium’s water.

Fin Rot

Adding aquarium salt to your tank can help reduce the number of fin rot spores that make their way into the water. Add one teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon of fresh water and change it every two weeks.

White Spot Disease (Ich)

Aquarium salt can also help reduce the number of Ich spores that make their way into your tank. Just add one teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon of fresh water. In addition, you can mix aquarium salt with a diluted bleach/water solution to create an Ich treatment.

How to Add Aquarium Salt?

In freshwater aquaria, add aquarium salt by pouring it directly into the tank or using a makeshift dosing system made from an ice cube tray and empty food jar. In marine tanks, dissolve a couple of ounces of aquarium salt in cold water and add it to the tank once a month or whenever the pH level fluctuations.

When to Use Epsom Salt?

Epsom salt can also adjust water parameters in freshwater aquaria, but it is less effective than aquarium salt at depressing the pH level. Epsom salts are most commonly used as a mineral supplement for fish because they provide magnesium, potassium, and calcium. When adding Epsom salt to a tank, dissolve it into freshwater before adding it to the tank.

Benefits of Epsom Salt

Water Quality

Epsom salts can help control water parameters and promote healthy fish populations. However, too much salt can adversely affect the delicate balance of minerals in an aquarium and lead to the death of any living things that rely on those nutrients. When adding Epsom salts to freshwater aquariums, dissolve them into freshwater before adding them to the tank. This way, you’ll ensure that the salt doesn’t create unfavorable water chemistry and harm your fish.

Water Hardness

Adding Epsom salt to freshwater aquariums can increase water hardness. The magnesium, potassium, and calcium in the salts will combine with other minerals in the water to create a hardening agent. Depending on your desired hardness level, You can adjust hardness levels by adding more or less salt. When using Epsom salts to adjust water parameters, it’s essential to remember that they are less effective than aquarium salt at depressing the pH level.

Swim Bladder Disorder in Goldfish

Goldfish are among the most popular freshwater fish available in pet stores. However, goldfish can develop swim bladder disorder if their water becomes too hard. Epsom salts can help to soften your aquarium’s water and relieve this problem.

For Betta With Dropsy

Bettas can develop dropsy, a condition in which the fish accumulates excess fluid in its body cavity. Epsom salt baths may help relieve this condition and make your Betta more active.

Can Too Much Epsom Salt Kill Fish?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on various factors, including the specific fish and how much Epsom salt they consume. However, excessive intake of Epsom salt may cause water chemistry problems and even harm your fish.

When to Avoid Aquarium and Epsom Salt?

Avoid adding salt to freshwater tanks to keep the water chemistry low and promote healthy aquatic plants and animals. Adding too much salt can upset the delicate balance of minerals in an aquarium, killing any living things that rely on those nutrients.

Live Plants

Adding salt to a tank with live plants can stunt their growth and cause them to develop chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves). In addition, salt can accumulate above the leaf surface, dehydrating live plants.

Scaleless Fish

Adding salt to a tank with scaleless fish will cause them to develop dry skin and scales. Salt can also irritate their delicate digestive system. So, be careful to avoid over-dosing while applying it.