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Pond Health Tip: Using Salt

Pond Health Tip: Using Salt

One of the easiest things that you can do to help promote the health of the fish in your pond is using Salt. Whether you have a small pool of Goldfish, or a large Koi Pond, using salt as part of your maintenance regiment is a simple, safe and inexpensive product that can greatly benefit your fish’s health.

During times of stress, whether from parasites, pathogenic bacteria, or poor water quality, fish can struggle to maintain proper electrolyte balance in their bodies. Fish use special cells in their gills, called chloride cells, to absorb electrolytes from the surrounding water. The absorbed electrolytes play an important role in a fish’s ability to intake oxygen, and release Carbon Dioxide and Ammonium through their gill membranes. When a fish’s natural ability to maintain its electrolyte balance is reduced, they can suffer from a condition known as “Osmotic Shock”. Fish suffering from osmotic shock have trouble absorbing oxygen, and in poor water conditions are at high risk of perishing from nitrite toxicity. Keeping a therapeutic level of salt in your pond will help maintain your fish’s electrolyte balance, and help prevent Osmotic shock, and reduce the stress of elevated nitrites in new ponds, or poor conditions. Another benefit of using salt is that salt will also promote a heavy slime coat on your fish. Your fishes slime coat is its first line of defense of attack from parasites and disease. Proper gill function and slime coat are key to a fishes over all immune system and health.

Salt can be used for several purposes in maintaining your fish’s health. As I have already discussed, you can use salt at a low maintenance level for an indefinite period of time, how much salt can safely be used depends upon your pond. You need to be careful with the amount of salt that you use in your pond, especially when using salt in ponds with live plants. At Higher concentrations, salt can have negative affects on plant life. You need to be sure of your pond volume; this will allow you to accurately calculate your salt dosage requirement. For ponds that have live plants you should keep a maintenance level of salt between .05% – .1%. For ponds with fish only, you can maintain a maintenance level between .1% -.2%, these concentrations are safe to use all the time.

Salt is also a highly effective treatment against common parasites found in ponds, as well as nitrite toxicity. If you do not have plants in your pond, you can use an elevated therapeutic level of .2%-.4% for 2 to 4 weeks, this will reduce the stress of parasitic attack on the fish, limit the parasites ability to reproduce, and even kill many of the parasites. If you want to use a therapeutic level of salt, but you have plants, you can remove your plants temporarily into a kiddy pool, and then treat your pond. After conditions have improved simply perform a water change to get the salt concentration back below .1% and then reintroduce the plants.
Salt can also be used as a short term bath when severe parasite infestation or bacterial infection has reached advanced stages. You can catch your fish, and place them into a high concentration of salt to rapidly kill and remove parasites from the fish. Bath concentrations of salt should be 2%; the fish can be dipped for up to 15 minutes, depending upon the behavior of the fish, and its reaction to the salt bath. If the fish is not handling the salt bath well, or is having trouble breathing, remove immediately.

What kind of salt do you use? Non Iodized table salt (sodium chloride) can be used, but a better choice is a salt that is made from evaporated sea salt, or a synthetic equivalent. While sodium chloride is the major componet in seawater, there are a number of other minerals in seawater that fish can use to maintain electrolyte levels, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. Brand name salts such as Aquarium Pharmacueticals Pond Salt, and
Pondmaster Pond Salt
by Supreme, are evaporated sea salts.

One last thing to remember when using salt in your pond is that salt does not evaporate, so it never leaves the pond. Do not add more salt when you add water to your pond that has evaporated. The only time you need to add more salt is when you have physically removed water from your pond, like from a water change, or a severe rainstorm that caused the pond to overflow. You should always test your salt level before making any adjustments.

I hope that this has helped answer some questions about using salt in your pond

Until next blog,


New Product: Reefer’s Digi-Microscope

New to our product lineup is the Reefer’s Digi-Microscope, an affordable and versatile entry level digital microscope. Capable of viewing both hard objects and prepared slides, this microscope will allow you to view a wide range of objects. Used with the included digital camera eyepiece, you can view and capture images to your PC, and share images of what you have found.

One of the most troublesome aspects of fish and reef keeping is properly identifying the the cause of disease, and then choosing the correct medications to use. Public aquariums, veterinarians, aquaculture facilities, all use microscopes to identify parasites and choose treatment options. With the use of the Reefer’s Digi-Microscope the average hobbyist can now use this powerful tool. View large, easy to see images right on your computer. Identify the parasites on your koi, coral, goldfish and more. Choose the best medication based upon real information, no more guessing what you can not see!

This new product is as fun as it is educational. I have found this product to be an excellent teaching tool, allowing easy viewing of microscopic parasites with the camera feature.

Happy fishkeeping,


Quarantine: Protect Your Display Aquarium

A quarantine tank is simply a small aquarium that is set up for the purpose isolating a fish, or fishes, from your display aquarium. Quarantine tanks are inexpensive and easy to set up, and are an investment in protection for your display aquarium.

Parasites, injury, and infectious disease are an unfortunate, and unavoidable, aspect of the aquarium hobby. One of the main purposes of a quarantine tank is to hold new fish purchases in an isolated tank that allows for easy observation. If the fish should show signs of parasites or other infections you can medicate with no risk of infecting the fish in your main tank. If you have invertibrates, or live plants in your display, you are severely limited in your choices of effective medications, not introducing pathogens is your best defense. A quarantine tank also gives new fish an opportunity to get used to processed food without having to compete with your established fishes that most likely are aggressive eaters. Another benefit of a quarantine tank is that it also gives you somewhere to put injured or aggressive fish that you may need to remove from your display.

For most fish an aquarium of 10- 20 gallons will be fine, obviously larger fish or large numbers of fish will need a lager aquarium. You do not need to get fancy with your quarantine tank, a basic set-up is all that is required. A small power filter or air powered sponge filter, a heater, and standard aquarium light is all you need. A bare bottom aquarium works best, however something for the fish to hide in is important. A small cave constructed with rocks, some artificial plants, or a length of PVC tubing is recommended.

Quarantine of new fish should last for at least 21 days, this allows for extended observation, and for any parasites that may be present to complete their life cycles. If after 21 days there has been no sign of parasites or disease it is safe to acclimate and introduce your new fish to its permanent home with minimal risk of introducing any pathogens into your display. If at any point during quarantine you suspect there may be a problem with your fish, and you decide to medicate, your quarantine “clock” must be reset and you should start the 21 day period over again. Many parasites have multiple life stages, most medications are only effective against specific stages. For this reason, only an extended exposure to medication is truly effective against many parasites. This is also why some parasitical problems seem to come and go, the parasite may only become visibly apparent at certain life stages, although they were there “hiding” all along.

Controlled feeding is another important function of a quarantine tank. Wild caught fish can be very slow to acclimate to prepared foods, and may be very timid towards accepting new types of foods. Without competition new fish get a chance to adjust at their own pace, allowing them to compete once they are ready for the display aquarium. Use of appetite enhancers, like garlic, can also aid in training finicky fish to accept new foods.

There a few things that you can do to make setting up your quarantine tank fast and easy. You do not need to keep your quarantine tank running when not needed if you are limited on space. When needed, fill your quarantine tank with water from your display, this accomplishes a water change in your display, as well as gets you started with conditioned water in your quarantine tank. Another good trick is to keep your sponge filter, or cartriges from your power filter in your display tank. this keeps them colonized with bacteria and you will not have to worry about cycling your quarantine tank if you need it in a hurry. This is very easy to do if you use a wet dry filter on your display, simply hide them in the sump untill they are needed. You can set up an instant established quarantine system in just a few minutes if you plan for it (wouldn’t it be nice if your display was that easy)

Protect your display, you have put too much time, effort, and expense into your aquarium to put it at risk. A little patience and prevention will save you a lot of stress and disappointment.