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Before you rush out and buy that expensive over-the-counter medication for your sick fish, try these simple non-chemical treatments. Harsh medications can not only damage the good bacteria in your aquarium's filtration system, but can make some of the inhabitants of your tanks even sicker! For many common aquarium ailments, the heat/salt treatment, along with frequent water changes, is highly successful.

First determine what disease the fish have. Are they covered with tiny white spots that resemble grains of salt? Are they scratching themselves against the rocks and ornaments in the tank? Then there's a good chance they have ick. Instead of rushing out to buy a medication, try the heat/salt treatment first.

High temperatures and salt will kill the ick parasite without stressing the fish. Some fish, such as clown loaches and a few types of catfish, are sensitive to salt so be sure to take this into consideration before trying this method of treatment.

Gradually bring the water temperature up to 85 degrees or so. (You will want to keep it at this temperature until the ick is gone.) Next add the salt. A safe amount for medication is one tablespoon per five gallons of water--you may wish to use a bit more salt, depending upon the severity of the disease. You will want to use kosher or sea salt. Table salt can also be used but first make sure it isn't treated with a non-clumping chemical, which can have an adverse affect on the fish. Carefully stir the salt until it is disolved in a bowl of tank water, then slowly add it to the aquarium. Be patient with this treatment; it may take up to two weeks for all the ick spots to disappear. You will want to be sure all the parasites are gone and the fish are spot-free before you return the water to its normal temperature.

During times of illness, the importance of regular water changes should never be overlooked. Sometimes all that is needed to make the fish feel better is a good water change, especially if the nitrate or ammonia levels are high.

The heat/salt treatment is also beneficial for cloudy eye or fungus, as well as for scrapes or other injuries. The addition of salt in the amounts specified will not harm the fish, and can be removed with water changes when the period of treatment is over. In many cases, common fish tank ailments can be successfully treated with salt and raised temps, along with regular water changes.