Aquarium Salt Overdose Symptoms [Effects And Solutions]

Salt is very commonly used to get rid of various kinds of parasites, bacterial and fungal infections, and other diseases of fish and plants in the aquarium. But sometimes you mistakenly or unknowingly put in more salt than it actually needs.

The overdose of salt harms the plants and animals in the tank that you do not want. In this article, you are going to know the effects and symptoms of salt overdose in your aquarium and its solution as well.

Salt overdose in aquariums results mainly in “Dehydration”. The fish lose appetite, get sick and plants start dying or changing color, fish are seen to dart around or hide behind rocks and other things.

What Are The Symptoms Of Salt Overdose In Aquariums

Aquarium Salt

1. Dehydration

Dehydration means a lack of water in the body of an organism. When a body somehow loses its necessary amount of water, it becomes unable to function in its internal activity. As a result, it becomes sick.

When an extra amount of salt is applied in an aquarium, the water in it starts sucking the water out from the fish and other animals in the tank. This process is called “Osmosis”.

In this process, water gets transferred from a solution of lower density to a solution of higher density. After adding an excess amount of salt to the tank, the density of tank water gets higher than the density of the water that is in a fish body. So gradually the tank water sucks out a significant amount of water from the body of the fish and the fish lack the necessary amount of water, which ultimately results in dehydration.

2. Sickness In Fish And Plants

Because of dehydration and lack of the necessary amount of water in their body, they become sick and sometimes they die as well.

The same thing happens with the plants in the tank. The tank water sucks out the water and some essential minerals from the plants and they can not conduct the essential internal activities including photosynthesis.

As a result, the plants start getting sick and changing color and can die in extreme cases.

3. Restlessness In Fish

The fish in the tank actually seek to escape the toxic environment of the tank. This is why they restlessly swim about from one corner of the tank to another.

But unfortunately, they can not find a way out of the tank and become exhausted which leaves a bad impact on their health. This is how they get themselves one step ahead of sickness. 

4. Fish Hide Themselves

After swimming about the whole tank they can not find a way out. They get tired and try to hide behind rocks and other things that are in the tank. They think this act can save them from the salty environment but they fail.

4. Gasping For Air Near The Surface

When an excessive amount of salt is put in a tank, in that salty environment the fish can not breathe properly.

So, the fish stay close to the surface and gather there to get fresh air as it is not available at the bottom of the tank.

6. Rubbing Against Rock Or Gravel

Because of the excessive amount of salt in the water, the salt sometimes settles on the skin of the fish and creates irritation for them. 

Just to get rid of this irritation, fish rub their bodies against a rock or gravel hoping to have clear and fresh skin.

It is a significant sign that is seen in the fish when an excessive amount of salt is applied. 

7. Loss Of Appetite 

This is also a prominent symptom that is commonly observed in fish.

If you see that the fish are not eating enough or they are eating less than they eat normally and a fair amount of leftover food is being gathered at the bottom of the tank, then it can be a sign that you have put in an excessive amount of salt that is not actually needed.

Because that excessive amount of salt in the water causes them dehydration (lack of water in their bodies). So, with this deficiency of water, they do not feel interested in the foods that you give them.

I know it hurts when you see that your favorite aquarium is not functioning well. But don’t worry. I have the solution to it. I have discussed the solution below that will help you to get rid of this problem.

How to fix Aquarium Salt Overdose

siphon water change system in aquarium

The only solution is “a large water change”.

When an excessive amount of salt gets mixed with the tank water, that salt creates its dominance in the tank and makes the environment imbalanced. All the fish, animals, and plants start getting affected by the salt and show symptoms. 

So, the toxic and imbalanced environment requires a reset. This reset is not possible with the presence of the salty water that already exists in the tank.

This is why you need “a large water change”. You have to pull out a significant amount of water and add the necessary amount of new fresh water to get a new environment in the tank.

You have to use a pump to get the water outside the tank. There are many kinds of pumps that are available. If you have a small tank and you do not want to spend much money on it, then you can buy a siphon pump that does not have any kind of motor in it and does not require electricity. (our pick: GasTapper Siphon Pump)

But if your tank is a huge one, then probably you need to buy a pump that has a motor in it and requires electricity to run. It will get your work done pretty much faster than the siphon pump. (our pick: Tetra Whisper Easy to Use Air Pump for Aquariums) 

Now, normally a question arises about how aquarium salt should be added to a tank and what are the things that you need to keep in your head when you are about to add salt to your tank.

This is why I have discussed the things that you need to know when you are about to execute the process.

How To Add Salt In A Freshwater Aquarium

add salt in aquarium

The first thing you need to remember in doing this is you must not directly add salt to the aquarium.

It is better to take aquarium water in a cup and get the necessary amount of salt dissolved in that water properly. Then you can put the salty water in the tank.

If you directly add the salt to the tank, the salt can directly fall on the fish and any other animal and it can cause them some severe problems. Especially if you have species like catfish, loaches, and snails, then you must not do it anyway. 

In the case of treating an illness, do not apply a huge amount of salt in the first step. Use 1 or 1.5 grams of salt per litter then wait for the result. You have to be patient in this case to observe the effect of this action. If this little dose does not help, then increase the dose and observe again.

You can use refined grain aquarium salt(our pick: API AQUARIUM SALT). Because it dissolves in the water more quickly than a coarser rock salt.

Read More- Aquarium Salt Vs Epsom Salt

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when salt is put in an aquarium?

Salt basically causes dehydration to the bacteria, fungus, or any other parasites that have infected the aquarium. Water is essential for the lives of bacteria, fungus, and parasites like all other animals. The salt sucks out all the water from these organisms and leaves them dehydrated. With the lack of necessary water, the organisms can not function in their internal mechanisms and eventually die. 

How much salt should be added to freshwater tanks?

To prevent various bacterial, and fungal infections, 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt per gallon is fairly enough. It will keep the aquarium environment safe without irritating the fish and animals in the tank.

Does salt affect the pH level in the tank?

No, salt has nothing to do with the pH level. It neither raises the level nor does it lower the level. 

Does salt help to lower nitrate levels?

Yes, 1 spoon per salt per gallon is enough for preventing methemoglobin toxicity by blocking the absorption of nitrate through the fish’s gills. 

Final Verdict

From the above discussion, you know all the pieces of information that you needed to know about the salt overdose symptoms that are seen in the aquarium.

Hopefully, these pieces of information will help you to understand whether you have really added an excessive amount of salt or not.

I have also discussed the solution that will help you to get rid of these overdose symptoms.

Moreover, you also know how to add salt to your aquarium without irritating the plants and animals in your tank.

I hope this article will have a significant contribution to maintaining your aquarium.

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