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FAQs on Using Salts for Betta Diseases/Health

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FAQs on Betta Medicines: Salt for Treating Bloat,
Betta Medicines period, Antibiotics/AntibacterialsAnti-Protozoals (Metronidazole, eSHa...), Copper, Formalin, Malachite Green, Anthelminthics, Organophosphates, All Other Betta Med.s (Mela-non-fix, Quinines...) 

DO read here:

Salts (Marine, Table/NaCl, Epsom): Use in Freshwater Aquariums & Ponds by Neale Monks,
FAQs on: Using Salts in Freshwater 1, FW Salt Use 2,
FAQs on: Salt Use for Treating Ich, Salt for Treating PopEye, Salt for Treating Bloat, by type of salt: Table/NaCl/"Aquarium", Epsom/MgSO4, Seawater, Rift Valley Salt Mix,

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Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Salt Dip/Bath for Fungus on Betta?       2/19/20
Hello my WWM friends!
I have a freshwater fish question, because being a reef aquarist who hasn't had a FW tank for 15-20 years has left me stupid. This fish has an obvious fungus on its fins, but I don't know its history to know exactly how to treat it (previous injury, precursor bacterial infection). I hate fish medications, so I've been thinking of trying to use salt water dip and/or bath, but I don't feel confident in doing it. I was hoping one of you folks could give me some very specific directions, measurements of salt in teaspoons instead of ounces, etcetera. If people would just have good water and stock conscientiously, their fish wouldn't get things like fungus.
The reason I don't know the history of the fish, is that I got it from a newly homeless guy at Starbucks several days ago. He just gave it to the first person who would take it. I was certain it was dead. It was just floating and I saw no gill movement at all. The thermometer growing on the end of my hand, combined with knowing the weather forecast, estimated that the water couldn't have been warmer than 45F. The guy insisted that the fish wasn't dead, so I touched the fish. The fish twitched slightly, then
finally looked like it was breathing (but still floating and looking almost dead), so I agreed to take it. I couldn't leave Starbucks because I was with a client, so I got a tall cup with a little hot water in the bottom, then sat the container in the top of the cup for the steam to act as a heater. The fish started looking like it was alive as it got warmer, mostly still floating but occasionally in a normal position. I took it home, set up a little pico tank from my tank junk room, using mostly RODI (I needed FW bacteria, so I used some brown water from a 50g that has been housing just a leeching out 3 ft piece of FW driftwood, and a philodendron vine that has attached its roots to the wood... maybe I should put the plant in the Betta tank to eat nitrate).
Now the fish is swimming around, is eating, and looks excited when it sees me approaching the tank. The guy must have had it for a while before becoming homeless, because it's much bigger than the Bettas in the pet stores, and the canister of food he gave me is nearly empty. I don't want to keep the fish, but no one is going to take it while it is sick. I just hope I don't accidentally kill it.
Thank you in advance for the salt dip/bath treatment advice, other treatment advise, any other random advice, or advice about how to have a conversation without making it about reef stuff.
Forrest M.
<Okay; in terms of a saline lavage, bath, you could use a level teaspoon of salt (table or marine aquarium) in a gallon of water, leave the Betta there for ten minutes. IF you have a refractometer that goes down to a low reading, this fish can easily tolerate at spg. of 1.003. For much more re their husbandry, please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BettaInfectDisF4.htm
and as much of the above-linked files (in blue) that you deem useful. Bob Fenner>
Re: Salt Dip/Bath for Fungus on Betta?      2/20/20

Thank you, Bob. The info about the refractometer is extremely helpful!
Sincerely, Forrest
<Cheers mate. I do hope your Betta rallies. BobF>

Bettas and Epson salts      9/23/18
Is it ok to put a little Epson
<Epsom, Magnesium Sulfate>
Salts in a 10 gallon tank (1-3 tsps/gallon) for a new Betta in case there is a problem, like the fish left the store with possible parasites due to the conditions they were in or is Epson Salts something that is kinda hard on them and should only be used if there is an obvious problem? thank you
<Tis fine. Please see Neale's pc. re MgSO4 use here:
Bob Fenner>

Betta sickness?  4/23/10
Hey there!
I have a male Siamese Fighter. He lives on a 30 liter, heated tank, together with an Albino Chinese Algae Eater
<Yikes, big mistake there! Gyrinocheilus aymonieri is a bad fish. It is neither from China nor a good algae eater. It grows very fast, and gets to 35 cm/14 inches in length. Within a year it will be half that size, at which point it will be psychotically aggressive. Under no circumstances can this fish be kept with a Betta, unless the two of the were both dead and preserved in formalin. I'm not messing about here. Get this fish out of there!>
and an Apple snail
<A dubious choice too, but we'll let that pass for now except to say that when it dies prematurely, which it will, a rotting snail carcass will greatly mess up water quality in a tank this small.>
and he is fed tropical fish flakes and every other day frozen bloodworms.
He has been very happy and lively for the past 9 months. But, 4 days ago, I noticed that his belly is bloated.
<Does happen with Bettas. Likely a mix of dietary issues, genetics, and lack of exercise (just like humans, without exercise, the guts can't as easily move food along and out.>
I did some research on the internet and came across 2 possible diagnosis.
The one is Dropsy, but his scales isn't raised and he is still acting normal, so I don't think it is Dropsy?
<Nor do I. Given good environmental conditions, Dropsy is actually very rare.>
The other possible answer is that he is constipated. One of the websites said that if a Betta is constipated, I shouldn't feed him, as this can occur from overfeeding, and that it should be better in 2 days. So I have
tried that, but after 4 days, he is still bloated.
<Indeed. Starving is part of the answer in the sense of not giving high-protein, low-fibre foods. But you also need to replace those foods with low-protein, high-fibre ones. Also, adding Epsom salt to the aquarium
helps relax the muscles, so that the laxative foods work better. Do read:
In short, 1-3 teaspoons of Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) per 5 US gallons plus the use of cooked peas and live daphnia/brine shrimp should do the trick. Don't use any flake, frozen or dried foods.>
Can you please give me advice, since I don't want to lose my Betta?
<There's a good chance he'll recover just fine.>
Thank you very much,
<Good luck! Neale.>

Very Sick Betta   6/23/09
I have a year and a half old Betta. He has been a very happy little man until 3 months ago. He started getting a white patch on his back.
<I see this...>
I treated him for Ick
<... not Ich>
per the pet store. (he was a gift so I only knew to go to the pet store)
That did not work so I started adding Aquarium Salt.
<Also a poor idea>
Then Water treatments ( that almost killed him) Now the lump / mass is so large he cant even keep himself upright. He swims sideways. 2 days ago he stopped eating and is just laying on the bottom of the tank. It is so sad.
He used to swim so crazy around the take when I tapped on it with my finger nails. Now he just jerks on the bottom. As to say to me I just feel to bad today. I'm attaching a photo. I hope you can help. But at this point I fear its to late for my little friend. But maybe I will prevent this next go around.
<This appears to be some sort of granulomatous tumour... Viral in origin, prompted by... genetics, environment, nutrition...
Not treatable per se... Perhaps time will show improvement with the last two co-factors above maximized. Bob Fenner>

Betta Popeye Not Responding to Epsom Salt  9/20/07 A week ago I noticed my male Betta, Chip had Popeye in his left eye. We have had him for 18 months. He lives in a 3 gallon Marineland Explorer tank with a filter and BioWheel. (We had gone away for a week and he got overfed - the nitrates were high, over 50.) I checked WWM and put in Epsom salt as required and I have been doing a 50% water change everyday, replacing the Epsom salt. He has been resting a lot, but comes to see me when I am near. He seems tired and the whole thing looks painful and it has not improved. When I have tried to feed him brine shrimp or bloodworms, he can't see them and they sink to the bottom. I have been giving him flake food instead and tuning off the filter so he can grab it more easily. The only things in the tank are a small decorative treasure chest, the filter tube and a silk plant for him to rest on. Any other suggestions? I am concerned about adding antibiotic to such a small tank, but I am also reluctant to let this drag on without him getting better. Asa in DC <Greetings. Pop-eye tends to be caused by two distinct things: mechanical damage (e.g., rough handling) or poor water quality. There are other things that can cause it, but not all that often. So, you need to zero out those two most likely issues. Is there anything in the aquarium that it could scratch itself on? Some people stick things like fake corals and plastic plants in tanks, and these can be fine, but in very small tanks it is so easy for a Betta to throw itself against one of these objects when alarmed. That's why I tend to prefer small tanks be decorated only with silk or real plants, and only very smooth rocks, such as water-worn pebbles. Second thing, check the water. A Betta needs water with moderate hardness, a pH around neutral, zero ammonia, and zero nitrite (with an "I"). The nitrate (with an "a") isn't such a big deal and I wouldn't worry about it. Temperature is a factor, but it isn't something I'd expect to cause pop-eye; pop-eye is really a reaction of the sensitive tissues of the eye to irritating water. Think of it as a bit like conjunctivitis on a human. Adding an appropriate antibacterial or antibiotic to the water may help to soothe the infection, and is certainly worth using. I hope this helps, Neale>

Betta with dropsy :(   8/20/06 Dear WWM Crew, <Erin> I have a 1 year old Betta named Kuzco.  Up until a couple of days ago, he was a perfectly happy, healthy and energetic little fish.    Yesterday I'm afraid he began to bloat rather suddenly (it happened over the space of a couple of hours), <Yikes... was there a change in this fish's environment?> and now it seems he has come down with the dreaded Dropsy. <From what cause?> I know his prognosis is very grim, but I want to do the best I can for him. He is in a 5.5 gallon tank by himself with an Aquaclear filter and a heater set at 80-81 degrees.  I use Prime water conditioner and generally change 15-20% of his water every week. <All good...> I feed him 4 Hikari Betta Bio-Gold pellets per day alternated with freeze-dried Bloodworms twice a week.  I'm afraid this was brought on by lack of variety in his diet or by the stress of moving to a new place with different water. <Maybe> I tried to make the transition as easy on him as possible by adding new, conditioned water a little at a time over the space of 2 hours, but perhaps it wasn't enough. <Mmmm> At first I thought the problem might be constipation because of the bloating.  I kept a close eye on him and as soon as his scales began to even hint at being raised (alas the pinecone effect), I took the carbon out of my filter and treated his tank with Maracyn Plus. <Good>   I also gave him a 15-20 minute salt bath in Epsom Salt to try to relieve the fluid buildup. <Also good> This seemed to help a little with the bloating and he is slightly more energetic, but he is still so pitiful to look at.  He is lethargic much of the time, either sitting in a plant next to the heater or hiding in his fake log until he swims up for air.  He also appears unusually weak and unbalanced when he swims through the current created by the filter, even at its lowest possible setting. Please let me know if there is anything more I can do for him to make him more comfortable.  I want him to suffer as little as possible, and I want to give him the best chance of beating this that I can. Thanks so much, Erin <I would add the Epsom directly to the tank as well... a level teaspoon or so... and hope here. It may be that Betta is "getting old" alone... Bob Fenner>
Re: Betta with dropsy :(   8/21/06
Thanks for the advice, Bob.  Kuzco seems to be feeling a little better today.  He is eating quite readily, and "attacking" his food the way he usually does. <Ah, good> Most sites seem to agree that dropsy fish have little or no appetite, but he must be an exception? <Possibly... do understand that "dropsical conditions" are a subjective evaluation of appearances... that is, that there are a few distinctive inputs/causes that result in this form of apparent edema... If this is due internal bacteria for the most part for instance, usually there is a loss of appetite> Since yesterday I've been feeding him small pieces of Hikari Tropical Food Sticks, which a local pet store recommended because they "eliminate bacterial and parasite problems" and "promote healthy form and disease resistance".  It was the closest I could get to medicated food. <I see> He is much more energetic today, more responsive to stimuli, less sitting around on the bottom (except to rest himself), but he seems to wear himself out easily.  He seems weak and has a hard time navigating through the current put out by the filter without getting pushed over on his side.  Could this be a swim bladder problem caused by the bloating or is he just weak from being ill? <Perhaps n/either> As far as symptoms, his scales have not gotten worse and are only very slightly raised around the bloated area.  I'm not sure if they've gotten better, but he certainly doesn't look anywhere near as bad as the pictures of dropsy-afflicted fish I've found on the internet. Do you think there is hope for his survival since I seem to have caught it in its early stages, or is his outlook entirely grim? <There is always hope my friend. Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Erin

Question Regarding Epsom Salt  1/16/06 Hi WWM,    <Robert>   I recently added about a 1/4 tsp of Epsom salt to my Betta's (Fernando) 1 gallon tank to relieve what appeared to be constipation.  Within a day or two, the Epsom salt worked its wonders, and now the swelling in Fernando's belly has almost completely disappeared.  My question is: Should I change the water now [My last water change was about 2 days before the swelling occurred (in total about 4 days ago)], or is it ok to keep him in there with the Epsom salt for a few weeks, until it's time to change his water according to my regular water changing schedule?      <Is okay to leave in... though not continuously... that is, a week or so is all-right, but not adding every time>   I hope this question has not already been addressed on the site.  I looked around for a while and although I found a great deal regarding Epsom salts, and Epsom salt baths, I was under the impression that this small amount of salt did not constitute a bath; so I decided I better be safe, and ask.  Thank you for your time and help with this matter.  Take care.      Sincerely,   Robbie Ellis <Am sure others will benefit from your asking re. Bob Fenner>

Will my live plant die? <Salt, Betta Treatment> 9/8/05 Hi Bob (or whoever), <Jeff> I have a 3 gallon freshwater tank setup with one red male Betta that I just bought about two weeks ago. It's equipped with a 25-watt Visi-therm heater and a 15-watt incandescent light bulb (no filter). <Does need one> Inside is a substrate of 1/2" to 1" in depth (it varies), one plastic plant and one potted live plant. There's also a thermometer hanging in the tank.  Just a few days ago, I noticed that my Betta was acting rather odd, swimming erratically and scratching himself against the plants, the in-tank thermometer, and the marbles.  Then about 3 days ago, I saw small white dots all over his fins. <Oh oh> I researched this in your website and concluded that he was infected with Ich, and that a simply treatment is to add some (uniodized) salt and raise the temperature to mid-eighties. <One approach... I would remove the live plant...> So after I did my regular 50% water change, I added 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt (the carton recommended 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons) and then over the course of about 12 hours raised the temperature from 79 F to 86 F.  I read some more articles and FAQ's to learn more, and to my horror I discovered that salt treatments are deleterious to live plants. NO!  I don't want to lose my beautiful live plant.  It's been in the salt treatment for about 20 hours now, as I write this e-mail.  Can I still save it by changing the water to reduce the salt concentration? Or will it die? <I would place this plant in a "jar", container large enough... outside the tank during treatment> (I don't know the plant's name, sorry, so let me just describe it to you the best I can.  It's a rooted plant about 8 inches tall; its leaves are each about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide (at its widest part) and have an interesting pattern: in the middle of the leaves right from the root to the tip runs a wide, bright green stripe, which is about 1/3 of the width of the leaf. There are sharp dividing lines between the outer, darker green edges and inner, brighter green stripe, so that there is NO gradual transition from bright green to dark green edges.  Do you have any idea what plant this is?) <Perhaps a type of Echinodorus... Swordplant> Thank you for your help. T. J. Rexton <Please do add a purposeful filter... and read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm Bob Fenner>

Bloaty Betta - 04/07/2004 I have looked through your archives and found an article regarding the treatment of a constipated Beta.  My Beta, Thor, was quite happy and healthy for the first 1 1/2 months (he lives at work, so fasts on the weekends).   <What, and how much, do you feed him?> This past Monday, he did not greet me as he normally does and was quite listless.  Thinking that he had a bacterial infection (based on the lack of eating, listlessness, and small red spot - which I now think is just his coloring), I began treatment with Maracyn Two.  After observing him more, and reading your article, I now realize that he is most likely constipated.  (Today he has a trail of fishie-poo) <Poo's a good sign!> He is more active than he had been, but not interested in food.   <If he's still bloaty/constipated, that may be a good thing.  Offer him foods high in roughage content for a while.> Now, for the actual question:  In the post that I read, Epsom Salt is recommended as treatment.   <Yesindeedy.> I have aquarium salt.  What is the difference, <Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, as opposed to sodium chloride.> where can I get Epsom Salt if that is preferable, <At the grocery store, near milk of magnesia and that sort o' stuff, in the medicine aisle.  Or ask a drugstore.  It's really quite common stuff, don't fret.> how soon must it go in the water, <Soon as it can, if the fella's still constipated.> and should I change to water (due to the Maracyn treatment) prior to salting? <Not necessary - but if you are certain there is no bacterial illness involved, you can cease the medication.  If you're still in doubt, I would complete the treatment - halting it would make any bacterial nasties quite resistant to the meds (Minocycline, in Maracyn-II).> Please help me help Thor.  :-) <I do hope your Thor comes around soon.> Thank you,  Shelley Massingill (Thor's Human) <Wishing you and Thor well,  -Sabrina>
Bloaty Betta - II - 04/09/2004 
Sabrina (et. al.),  Thank you so much for your reply!  <Any time! This is why we're here.>  You all are great!!  <Thanks, you too!>  To answer your question, I feed Thor Betta Bites - about 6 or so pieces....he gobbles them up very fast! I added the Epsom salt yesterday, as it seemed like a fairly urgent matter. (He must have been quite uncomfortable!)  <I know I get uncomfortable when constipated; it stands to reason that he should, too.>  This morning he is doing much better!  <Delightful!>  I offered him brine shrimp, but he wasn't interested, so I tried a Betta bite. (I didn't actually try it...I gave it to him.) He gobbled it up when he thought I wasn't looking! :-)  <Heh! I would definitely cut back on feeding, he can go with about half of what you've been feeding him. I feed my Betta girl about every other day, at about half of what you've been giving Thor in one feeding - and she's STILL a fattie. I think she's sneaking snails behind my back. Anyhow, my point is, he can do just fine on less food, and it should help him be less prone to getting constipated. Or, perhaps alternate feeding him the Betta bites with something higher in roughage content, like daphnia (since he doesn't take the brine shrimp).>  Thank you so much! It looks like he's well on his way to a full recovery!  <SO glad to hear that!>  Last question. How soon should I change the water after having added the salt?  <In two or three days from the first dose, you can do a 50% water change and dose again, should you deem it necessary. A few days after that, and I'd do a few big water changes. The Epsom really can't do anything to hurt him, as I understand it.>  Thanks again, Shelley  <Thanks for writing in, Shelley. Wishing you and Thor well, -Sabrina>

Epsom Salts in Betta Tank Well she does have egg's and her tube is there but she is swollen everywhere.  She and the male have already done their thing and the eggs actually hatched but no luck they all died.  I will put my tank divider back in and keep an eye on her.  Seems all I've done for the past week is stay glued to the fish tank.  She is indeed probably overweight but the fact that she has the pine comb look makes me think it's more.  I'm hoping that's all it is.  She's hanging in there!  : ) thank you Sabrina, you've been most helpful!! < Sounds like your fish has come down with dropsy also called bloat. It is an internal infection caused  by anaerobic bacteria it the gut where a blockage has occurred. Recommend Metronidazole treatment as per the directions on the package. Your fish sounds like it is pretty far along. The key is to catch it early as soon as the fish stops eating.-Chuck>

Swollen.. um.. uh.. Hi. I have a question - my Betta, Pecker, is swollen if you see the pic attached.  I don't know when or how just one day I realized that he was hug like belly huge.  He doesn't have the fins sticking out as what other diseases as a pine cone.  I really don't know what to do. He's energetic and eating like crazy. He's as energetic as before.  I have two other Bettas around but I love all of them.  What can I do.  Pecker seems to be so okay and nice and totally not very sickly as I can see.   I believe it's constipation since there is maybe a feces that is trailing a bit from his bottom.  Aside from thawed pea-insides, what else can I give Pecker?  If I fast Pecker, for how long do I do it?  If I fast, that also means that I don't feed him the peas?   <Hi Cheryl, from the picture I would have to guess either constipation, or a tumor.  If it is tumor there is really no way to fix it, but they can still live a while.  If the other side is swollen as well I would say constipation, if one sided, possibly a tumor.  I would start by adding some Epsom salt to his water.  Mix up 1 gallon of water with your dechlorinator and 1/2teaspoon of Epsom salt.  Do partial water changes every couple days with this water.  Feed sparingly for a few days, maybe an adult brine shrimp or so a day. Feed some brine shrimp for a few days, they are not very nutritious, but good for cleaning out the pipes.  You can offer some bits of thawed peas if he will take them.  Some frozen bloodworms will be good when you are done with the brine, the other Bettas will appreciate them too, basically you want to avoid dry food for a while.  Let us know how it goes, Gage> Cheryl

Betta with pop-eye I think my Betta has Popeye in one eye. It is protruding and cloudy. <Sure sounds like pop-eye.> He lives in a 1.5 gallon hex tank and normally eats 5 pellets a day, 3 in the a.m. and 2 in the p.m. Last week he started staying on the bottom of the tank and not interested in eating. A few bays later I noticed what looks like Popeye in one eye. I treated the tank for 5 days with Maracyn 2 but his eye doesn't appear to be any better and he is still on the bottom of the tank and not eating. Last night I changed the water because the medication made the water very cloudy. I added some salt, complete Betta water treatment and 2 drops of Aquari-sol. Still no change. He will swim a little, come to the top but then he goes right back to the bottom. I don't know if I should try any more medication or what else to do. At the two local pet stores, one of the clerks said that Popeye is not treatable but at the other store the clerk told me to try penicillin since the Maracyn 2 didn't work. <My recommendation - first off, if you're not already, start testing your Betta's water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate - it's likely that one (or more) of these has led to his illness.  Next, keep that water pristine - use a good dechlorinator for your tapwater, and keep testing, and do water changes if any of the abovementioned values get out of whack.  In this case, for the pop-eye, I'd discontinue meds and instead, add Epsom salts to his tank at a rate of one tablespoon to five gallons.  In your 1.5g tank, that would be just a tiny bit less than one teaspoon.  Hopefully, you'll be seeing results soon.> I have had the Betta for 1 1/2 years. I hope you can help. <I hope so, too - good luck to you and your Betta.  -Sabrina> Thank you very much.  -Chris

Follow-up to: I THINK MY BETTA IS DYING... Hello Bob, <Hi Ron> I want to thank you again for your quick, kind, and good advice a couple of weeks ago (please see our previous communications below). I'd like to update you on my Betta's condition.  He is still alive, but not very energetic, until I drop some food in his tank, and then he goes right for it.  However, he spends most of his time lying on his side and floating, unable to submerge unless he swims really hard and jams himself under the leaf of a plant to keep from surfacing.  I have been feeding him bloodworms and Betta bites. I have changed his water and made sure to add salt and stress coat, and have tried to keep his water temperature in the low 80's. Also, at the suggestion of one of the people on your web forum, I treated his water with the anti-biotic Maracyn 2 for 5 days, and then changed his water.  He does not seem bloated, so I can't understand why he is so buoyant.    Is he just dying slowly and I have to just accept it, or is there perhaps something else I can do to restore his equilibrium/neutral buoyancy and/or his energy?  Again, thank you very much. <Let's try adding some Epsom Salt to your Betta's water. Just about as much as will cover a quarter per quart. This "cathartic" may help "move" your fish to health. Otherwise, all you list, the food improvements, elevated temperature, antibiotic use... is what I would have done. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Ron M.
Follow-up to: I THINK MY BETTA IS DYING...
Thanks Bob, The salt I have already put into the bowl is "Doc Wellfish's Aquarium Salt for freshwater fish".  Is this the same as Epsom salt? <No. This is sodium chloride, "rock salt". A good practical treatment, but not what you want to try now> If so, when I last changed his water (on New Year's Day) I added just about the amount you suggest (assuming that when you say enough to cover a quarter per quart, that you mean the coin).  He lives in about a gallon of spring water (non-aerated).  Should  I add more? A lot more? <About four times the coverage of a coin/quarter of Epsom> I assume this is a salinity/osmosis thing? <More... a muscle relaxant... laxative of sorts>   Do I need to reach a critical threshold or something? <Not really... this situation is more of a successive approximation> If Epsom Salt is different, then I'll go out and get some today, but will its effect be different because of the salt already in the tank? <No problems in mixing... it's sold in most all food, drug stores> Sorry for all the questions, but I want to make sure.  Thanks. <Welcome, Bob Fenner>

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Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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