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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey,

I was curious, how long is it safe to use a low dosage (1/2 teaspoon per gallon) of Epsom Salt in tanks? I know that its not as harmful as AQ Salt but I was wondering if a low dosage would be harmful after a certain amount of time.

Back story, my girl has a lot of SBD problems from being overfed flakes at petco. She's very tiny, one of the smallest females I've come across. I treated her will Epsom Salt and fasting when I first got her (about 10 months ago) and her SBD problems went away for a while. However about 2 months she started "floating" again. I treated her with Epsom salt and again the problems went away. However, if I completely remove epsom salt from her water then she because bloated all over again. She eats normally and her poop is a normal color. I currently feed her crushed OO pellets and occasionally frozen brine shrimp (maybe once every 2 weeks or so?). Besides the bloating she is totally healthy and happy.

Thanks!
 

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I was told it was, but I have since heard that it is not safe health wise in the long run. My male has chronic SBD as well, and at this point, nothing I do helps it any more, it may be a genetic issue with him. He doesn't get bloated, just has trouble staying afloat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I wonder how traumatic alternating would be... like a week on week off sorta thing.
hmmm... well that concerns me only because literally if there isn't epsom salt in her water then she is basically on her side. I only feed her every other day because otherwise she also get bloated.
 

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Ooohh, I am concerned for you and your betta but i have NO idea! tough question! How about posting in the betta diseases area and asking for expert advice?
 

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I've used ES for months before. In my experience it is gentle and safe, but others have said it can be dangerous. Although, I've never read anyone post about negative effects after using it. It is magnesium sulfate as opposed to sodium chloride.
 

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And no offense meant to anyone else posting here...it just seems like a tough question! I read HYHYTY's answer to another post in the diseases area suggesting specific feeding schedules and liked that idea very much!
 

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NM - I've heard it can cause dehydration, but I have no idea if it's harmful or not, long term.
I heard that too from someone on here once, and I did research on it and I can't find anything from scholarly sources or actual experiences to back up those claims. In fact, I can't really find anything on fish becoming dehydrated. It seems unlikely to me, since they live in water, for that to occur under normal circumstances. Maybe, if you used an overload of AQ salt, but I would think the shock would kill them first.
 

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Ok cool... I wish someone ELSE would do a little experiment with like feeder fish, see how long they do well with ES and AQS and stuff... I'm too much of a bleeding heart.
 

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Ok cool... I wish someone ELSE would do a little experiment with like feeder fish, see how long they do well with ES and AQS and stuff... I'm too much of a bleeding heart.
We already know that long term exposure to AQ salt is dangerous and unhealthy. It encourages the retention of fluids in the body, it burns the flesh, and can cause organ damage. There is some research that suggests that AQ salt may not be as dangerous as previous thought in low doses over a long period of time, but no matter what it's still uncomfortable for the fish.

As for ES, I believe many people have used it for long periods of time without problem. As mentioned I've used it at max dosage for about a month, and at small dosages for several months, but that was only when dealing with serious fluid retention. I've never used it long term (consistently) with with that are having buoyancy problems. I have used it on and off though, and I never experienced a problem. In fact, I can't think of a single fish I've ever had die with ES in their tank.
 

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The first thread where I saw mention of dehydration due to Epsom salt was posted by Sakura8. (I wish she was still around!)

Epsom salt is a laxative. If you give too much to a person, it can cause severe diarrhea, leading to dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. An overdose of Epsom salt can be fatal.(1)

Sakura's theory was that since this occurs in people, it may cause the same problem with fish. However, I wasn't able to find any research backing up this theory. (In fact, I've read an article in which researchers used a high concentration of Epsom salt to expel parasites. No mention was made about a detrimental effect on the fish.)

IMO, adding a small amount of Epsom salt to a tank for treatment probably won't harm the fish. (Epsom salt is used as a fertilizer, so a planted tank would likely benefit from its addition.) However, I would try to use the minimum effect dosage needed. This is especially true if you're going to try using it for an extended period of time. I would start with the amount you're using now (1/2 teaspoon per gallon). Cut back slowly on the dosage, until you determine the minimum amount needed to prevent SBD symptoms. Then, just use that dosage.

Aquarium salt is another controversial topic on this forum. Both magnesium and sodium ions are electrolytes, and are required for good health. So you do want some of each in the water. (This is why we use drinking water in tanks, and not distilled water.) However, too much sodium (via Aquarium salt) can result in bloating and fluid retention. Also, excess sodium is eliminated from the body via the kidneys, so the addition of too much sodium puts a lot of stress on them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you all so much for the input!

After doing some research, I don't think that using a very lose dosage will harm her in the long run. Yes I do feed her high quality food -- I said this in my original post that I feed her crushed OO pellets (she really is tiny) and occasionally frozen brine shrimp (maybe once every two weeks or so but I haven't given her any in about 2 months).

Let's put it this way -- its been her in tank for maybe 2 months now and she is completely healthy beyond the bloating.
 

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The first thread where I saw mention of dehydration due to Epsom salt was posted by Sakura8. (I wish she was still around!)

Epsom salt is a laxative. If you give too much to a person, it can cause severe diarrhea, leading to dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. An overdose of Epsom salt can be fatal.(1)

Sakura's theory was that since this occurs in people, it may cause the same problem with fish. However, I wasn't able to find any research backing up this theory. (In fact, I've read an article in which researchers used a high concentration of Epsom salt to expel parasites. No mention was made about a detrimental effect on the fish.)

IMO, adding a small amount of Epsom salt to a tank for treatment probably won't harm the fish. (Epsom salt is used as a fertilizer, so a planted tank would likely benefit from its addition.) However, I would try to use the minimum effect dosage needed. This is especially true if you're going to try using it for an extended period of time. I would start with the amount you're using now (1/2 teaspoon per gallon). Cut back slowly on the dosage, until you determine the minimum amount needed to prevent SBD symptoms. Then, just use that dosage.

Aquarium salt is another controversial topic on this forum. Both magnesium and sodium ions are electrolytes, and are required for good health. So you do want some of each in the water. (This is why we use drinking water in tanks, and not distilled water.) However, too much sodium (via Aquarium salt) can result in bloating and fluid retention. Also, excess sodium is eliminated from the body via the kidneys, so the addition of too much sodium puts a lot of stress on them.
I miss Sakura8 too.

I see the theory she had behind it, but I just don't think it would be possible under most normal circumstances using ES (even at max level) to cause dehydration. I would think that the only possible way to do that would be to mess up your water so bad, the fish would likely die of stress or shock or something else before dehydration. I tried really hard too to find something on dehydration, and I couldn't find anything.

Could you PM the authors of the article you found on high dosages of ES. I've not found a lot on ES usage and I'd love to read it.
 

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Two articles are below:

PREVALENCE AND INTENSITY OF HEXAMITA SALMONIS IN RAINBOW TROUT FARMS IN THE SOUTHEASTERN BLACK SEA AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS
Hamdi Ogut* and Abdurrezzak Akyol
Faculty of Marine Sciences, Karadeniz Technical University, Surmene, Trabzon 61530, Turkey
The Israeli Journal of Aquaculture – Bamidgeh 57(2), 2005, 97-104.

http://siamb.org.il/uploads/57_2_Ogut.pdf

"In early June 2004, a treatment of magnesium sulfate (3% of feed for three days) lowered the parasite load to almost undetectable levels. A respected brand of magnesium sulfate should be used for treatment; otherwise, results may vary."

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SPIRONUCLEUS VORTENS OF THE FRESHWATER ANGELFISH (PTEROPHYLLUM SCALARE): GROWTH REQUIREMENTS, CHEMOTHERAPEUTANTS, PATHOGENESIS AND IMMUNITY
Somboon Sangmaneedet
Dissertation submitted to the faculty of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy In Veterinary Medical Sciences

http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-120399-140825/unrestricted/ANGEL.PDF

"Reducing the number of burden organisms by saline purges is an alternative method in the treatment of parasitic infestation, especially from luminal parasites. Saline purges all act in a similar mechanism by which the anions and cations are slowly absorbed from the digestive tract. Magnesium salts frequently used as saline purgatives are Magnesium Sulfate, (Epsom salts), Magnesium Hydroxide, Magnesium Oxide, (milk of magnesia), and Magnesium Citrate, (Jenkins, 1988). They retain or attract water into the intestinal lumen mainly by osmosis, which distends the gut and increases peristalsis, thus producing defecation. Another mode of action of magnesium salts is causing the release of cholecystokinin, which increases peristaltic activity of the intestine (Jenkins, 1988); intraluminal parasites then will be expelled from host. The concentration of saline purgatives should be isotonic such as 6% solution of Epsom salt to get a quick purgative action (Alexander, 1985)."
 

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+1 LittleBlueFishlets!

They retain or attract water into the intestinal lumen mainly by osmosis, which distends the gut and increases peristalsis, thus producing defecation.

Makes me wonder if there are two actions going on here..."distends gut and increases peristalsis"....the swim bladder may be compensating for or off-setting distended gut, meaning that once we have a poo, we may still have a distended gut because there is actually water in there still (?) and the swim bladder might be compensating or over-powered? Hmmm. Hmmm. Anyone? Maybe the distended gut disappears after a poo and doesn't then have effect on the swim bladder.


 

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I heard that too from someone on here once, and I did research on it and I can't find anything from scholarly sources or actual experiences to back up those claims. In fact, I can't really find anything on fish becoming dehydrated. It seems unlikely to me, since they live in water, for that to occur under normal circumstances. Maybe, if you used an overload of AQ salt, but I would think the shock would kill them first.
that's a good bit of news to hear. my VT has the SBD from eating and SBD in general. ive gone with him on 2tspes/1g long term. I also heard it could dehydrate but im not so sure that hold water. I was reducing the ES content in his water and his constipation wasn't improving and his belly only got worse ever since I started to gradually reduce it to 1tsp/1g since 16/5/14. this is what I just found less than an hour ago. ive went right back to 2tsp/1g, his gills are imflamed BC I waited too long to do a 100 wc. i'll see how fast he recovers if all goes well. id had rather not find this out the hard way though.
 

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