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Using Salt for Distressed Fish

Viewer Question: “When using salt for minnows or stressed fish do you recommend non iodized salt e.g. pickling salt or regular salt. I use Morton’s Kosher and it works well for keeping my minnows alive and firmer when fishing Erie on those hot summer days. Appreciate your comments . WW”

Well, it seems as though using salt for distressed fish is a hot topic. I have received many viewer questions & comments, so I thought it would be best to elaborate a bit on this topic. Hopefully this information will help you.

Non-Iodized Vs. Iodized

The jury is still out on using non-iodized vs. iodized salt. It was suggested for many years that only non-iodized salt be used, but this may not necessarily apply. They both seem to work just fine, but non-iodized salt is definitely more popular. Let’s consider some of these facts.

In general, fish do better with salt added to the water. Salt helps calm the fish and helps them cope with stress. This is perfect for fish in live wells, a-waiting for their tournament weigh in. Further, should you have low oxygen levels, (which are really what our viewer, WW, writes about); salt will quickly relieve this stress as well as the chances of mortality. It is also known to relieve their gills from excess water & stimulate the release of ammonia and nitrates from the blood.

Thus, if it’s bait you’re trying to keep alive, or fish you want to bring to the weigh scales, salt will definitely help.

How Much Salt to Use

Although I’ve always used a small handful of water softening salt in my (huge) live well, there have been so many questions in this area, I thought it best to do some research & advise accordingly. The best ratio to use would be 1 table-spoon of salt, for every 5 gallons of water. This will not harm the fish in any way, but will help your fish. Most Pet stores will even sell aquarium salt, which you can also use in your live wells or minnow buckets. Our ministry has also used salt in the past, when transporting walleye from one river to another. It’s an age-old practice which is very effective & in-expensive as well.

Types of Salt

Rock salt is basically just “raw salt”, as taken from salt mines or evaporated ponds. This will work for you, as it will take time to dissolve. So if you are constantly changing your water, this will continue to work.

Water softening salt is basically a purified form of salt. It’s typically found in a pellet form & it also will take time to dissolve. Keep their size in mind when calculating how much salt to add.

Then of course you have your table salt, which contains other additives, such as iodides & anti caking additives. Needless to say, my choice is still to use water softening salt – or aquarium salt. Either way, try adding some salt to your water and help out your fish!

Until next time, good fishin!

PS: have your question answered here: Ask a Question

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