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Salting Your Koi (Page 2 of 2)

by Elmer Epistola

Posted: September 1, 2004



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If salt is this good, then why would some people advise against it?  Well, koi are freshwater fish, so excessive use of salt can kill them.  Note that excessive salting reverses the osmotic pressure, making the koi release water faster than it should until it dies of dehydration.  Salt also reacts negatively with certain pond treatments such as Malachite green.  Salt is also harmful, and can be fatal to plants in the pond. Salt is also corrosive, so you might be inadvertently promoting corrosion in some metallic features around your pond with its use.  Furthermore, according to koi experts, using salt with zeolite will produce reactions that dump ammonia back into the pond.  Lastly, controlling salt concentration is very difficult to achieve without a hydrometer.

So there - the pros and cons of using salt on your koi.   In summary, it seems that nobody is contesting the notion that salting would be a good short-term treatment for any koi that doesn't look good, as long as the concentration is correct.  Thus, it seems advisable to: 1) put salt in quarantine or hospital tanks while the sick koi is recovering and/or 2)  immerse the sick koi in a salt bath of higher concentration but for a much shorter duration. 

Where, then, do koi experts differ as far as salting is concerned? Some koi hobbyists permanently maintain a certain level of salt concentration in their main ponds to relieve osmotic stress.  This works well for a lot of people, so we probably can't argue with people who have had success with it.  However, some koi experts think that this is 'unnatural' for koi, being freshwater fish.  Besides, putting salt in the main pond makes it difficult to subject to other treatments when the need arises or to maintain plants in the pond, as mentioned above.  This, therefore, is where some koi experts do not meet.

In the end, every koi hobbyist will really have to decide for himself how to take advantage of the beneficial uses of salt in koi keeping.  Let us know at www.koiandponds.com if you have some interesting experiences regarding salting your koi.

Table 1 below shows the various concentrations used for salt treatments. Note that only pure rock salt with no additives must be used.  Please visit our Salt Concentration Tables for your quick reference in conducting salt treatments.

Table 1. Salt Treatments for Koi





Salt Bath

as immediate treatment to parasitic infestation and bacterial infection

2.5% - 3%

- about 1 to 1.2 pounds of salt per 5 gallons of water

2-5 minutes, depending on koi health; remove koi at once if it loses balance 

Salt Therapy

as a long-term treatment to help sick koi defend against parasites and recover in the pond

0.3% - 0.5%

- about 2.4 to 4 pounds of salt per 100 gallons of water

2 -4 weeks

Pond Salting

to maintain a stable salt concentration level in the pond


- about 1.6 to 3.2 pounds of salt per 100 gallons of water



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see also Salt Concentration Tables





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