How to Fix A Bloated Pet Fish in Your Tank

By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise

How to Fix A Bloated Pet Fish in Your Tank

If your fish has a swollen abdomen, it could be one of several reasons, including obesity, constipation, eggs, worms, bacterial infection, and dropsy, but it could also be bloating.

Fortunately, bloating is not life-threatening to most tropical fish, but if left untreated, it can escalate into something serious.

Now, if your fish is unable to pass waste (constipated), causing its digestive system to become backed up with food (bloated), stop feeding them for three to seven days, then restart them on easy foods with lots of fiber, such as pre-boiled peas, frozen daphnia, and baby brine shrimp.

Aquarium salt bath or adding Epsom salt in your fish tank (a tablespoon for every 10 gallons) will also go a long way in helping bloated and constipated fish.

That said, you must investigate your fish’s condition closely because the bloating label is applied to different situations, some of which, such as dropsy, may be life-threatening if not correctly diagnosed.

Espom Salt Bath for Fish Bloating, Constipation

Espom salt (magnesium sulfate) is a laxative. It helps constipated and bloated fish pass pop a short while after application.

Use a tablespoon of water for every 10-gallons of water to treat your fish.

If You can choose to add it to your fish tank directly (as opposed to performing a salt birth), dissolve the Epsom salt in a cup of water and pour it into your aquarium.

Wait for 4 hours and re-dose if you do not see any change, and let your tank sit for 24 hours before doing a water change. A higher concentration (a tablespoon of salt for every 5 gallons of water) is recommended from the get-go if the bloating is severe.

To keep the concentration stable when treating your fish, add more salt whenever you perform a water change.

Let’s say you replace 10 gallons with fresh water. You will also need to add a solution with one tablespoon of salt in your fish tank.

In case you prefer an Epsom salt water bath (instead of adding it to your fish tank), pour several gallons of your tank in a clean, sizable container, add a tablespoon of salt and let the affected fish swim in the solution for 15 minutes or so.

Remove your fish and put it back in the main tank when he is relieved or if you realize him getting stressed.

How Often Can You Give Your Fish an Epsom Salt Bath

You can treat a bloated or constipated fish once or twice a day for up to three days, but only if the condition is as a result of dietary reasons.

Fora bulging stomach caused by other conditions such as dropsy or bacterial infection, you may need to treat your fish a while longer (sometimes for a week or two) since such situations are dire and take longer to resolve.

The concentration of your solution will remain pretty much the same (a tablespoon of salt for between 5 and 10 gallons). What varies is the length of the treatment period.

However, all tropical fish are not the same. Some like platies and mollies, handle salt better others, such as cories. So, if you realize your finny is struggling, avoid saline water baths.

Go with other remedies, such as starving your fish for three to seven days, then resume the feeding with easy food with plenty of fiber, such as peas and daphnia.

Can You Use Epsom and Aquarium Salt Together

You could use aquarium and Epsom salt together (for different reasons), but that would be overkill for most tropical species. The only fish that would benefit from these conditions are freshwater species that enjoy things on the saline side, such as Malawi cichlids, guppies, or platies.

For instance, you can give a peacock, mbuna, or Hap cichlid with Malawi bloat an Epsom salt birth, then put it back in an aquarium which would ordinarily have added aquarium salt to replicate the hard, alkaline water in their natural environment.

But doing this with tropical fish like cory catfish (scaleless fish) or tetras, which are highly sensitive to salt, is not feasible. It will only stress your fish or even kill them.

Corydoras catfish and other scaleless fish are sensitive to salt, as are tetras. Salt use in aquariums with these species should be no more than a tablespoon for every five gallons of water.

Another thing to note is you cannot use Epsom and aquarium salt for the same purpose at the same time.

As an example, if you want to treat a bloated fish in a tank that requires added salt (such as a Malawi cichlids tank), a saline bath in a separate container would make more sense instead of adding more salt in an already salty aquarium.

How Does Epsom Salt Help A Bloated Fish

Epsom salt is a laxative that helps constipated, bloated fish pass poop. The treated water is absorbed into the fish and helps it to expel excess waste.

In terms of composition, Epsom salt (Magnesium Sulfate) differs from other salts in its chemical makeup. It does not contain the elements found in sea salt that makes it safer for freshwater fish tank use.

Plus Epsom salt is not as processed as table salt or aquarium salt, making it less harsh in the water column: Betta Fish Care.

However, aquarium salt is more effective on gill function and will reduce fungus and bacteria at enough concentration better than Epsom salt.

Use 1 or 2 tablespoons for every 10 gallons of water, but dissolve the Epsom salt in a cup of water first before you pour it into the tank. It should work in 2 to 4 hours.

You can dose again after 4 hours if you are not impressed with the results, but if it still does not work in 24 hours, it probably won’t work at all, and you may need to look for a different remedy.

What Kind of Epsom Salt is Best for Use in Fish Tank

Epsom salt is pretty much that, no much variance between different brands. As such, the choice you make is pretty much your preference.

A brand you’ve used is most preferable, and even when you haven’t used it to treat fish before, you can get some in your local fish store. The attendant should be able to advise you on how to best apply the salt.

Thats all for this post.

If you are located in the USA (more so Florida) and are looking to buy tropical (freshwater ) mentioned in this or any other post (and more), check out Consolidated Fish Farms Inc.

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Happy fish keeping 🐠🐟.

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