Any experienced freshwater aquarium hobbyist knows the value of using saltwater as a treatment for a variety of freshwater aquarium fish diseases. For example, a salt bath can work wonders in eradicating fungus, bacteria and parasites. But is the opposite true? In some cases, fresh water can be effective as a treatment for certain saltwater ailments including parasites.
How Does it Work?
The way freshwater works as a treatment for parasite infections is very simple – exposing the parasites to a significantly different salinity level causes a fatal reaction. By exposing the parasite to water of differing salinity, you will be changing the osmotic gradient that the parasite is used to. As a result, water begins to diffuse into the parasite’s body, causing it to expand and burst. This treatment doesn’t work on all types of parasites, especially if they have become embedded in the fish’s skin, gills or mucus. This treatment is also ineffective against systemic infections.
Using Fresh Water to Treat Parasites
The key to ensuring that your fish make a full recovery from any illness is to quarantine the fish as soon as you notice the symptoms of illness. Not only will this prevent the disease from spreading, but it also places your fish in a clean environment where you can easily administer treatment so your fish can heal. As part of the treatment process for certain types of parasites, you may want to consider a freshwater bath. To perform this treatment, simply place your fish in a bucket of dechlorinated freshwater for between 2 and 8 minutes. Keep a close eye on the fish and if it appears to become stressed before the 8 minutes is up, return it to the hospital tank immediately.
When preparing a freshwater bath for your fish, be sure to use water that is the same temperature and pH level as the water in your tank. Be aware that certain species of fish are more sensitive to changes in salinity than others, so look for signs of stress which may include swimming erratically, laying on its side, or jumping out of the bucket. When it comes time to remove your fish, use a soft net to transfer it back into the tank so you do not pour any of the contaminated water into the hospital tank.
Tips for Preventing Parasites
Like many pathogens, parasites can be opportunistic – they may live in your saltwater aquarium in small numbers but won’t bother your fish until they become stressed. In most cases, poor hygiene in the aquarium is the factor that triggers the explosion of parasites in your tank. The best way to prevent parasites, then, is to keep your tank water clean and clear. In addition to avoiding overfeeding your fish and using a high-quality filtration system, you should also consider installing an EcoBio-Stone in your tank. EcoBio-Stones are made from natural volcanic rock and cement infused with beneficial bacteria and the nutrients they need to thrive. As soon as you place your EcoBio-Stone in the tank the beneficial bacteria will begin to multiply, establishing and maintaining the nitrogen cycle which is the key to keeping your tank water clear. The cleaner your tank water is, the less stressed your fish will be and the less susceptible they are to parasites.
Keeping your tank clean will help to prevent parasites from becoming a problem in your saltwater tank. In the event that a parasite outbreak does occur, however, you may be able to use fresh water as a treatment option.