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FAQs on Seawater, Synthetic or Natural 5

Related Articles: Synthetic or Natural Seawater, Specific Gravity, Water Changes/ChangingpH, Alkalinity, Marine Alkalinity

Related FAQs: Seawater 1, Seawater 2, Seawater 3, Seawater 4, Seawater 6, & FAQs on Mixing, Supplementing, Storing, Moving, Physical/Chemical Troubleshooting/Fixing... By Make/Manufacturer: Natural SeawaterSynthetics: Aquarium Systems (Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals), Aquacraft (Marine Environments, BioSea...), Central Garden (Oceanic), Kent Marine (SeaSalt), Red Sea (Red Sea Salt, Coral Pro Salt), SeaChem Marine (Marine Salt, Reef Salt), Energy Savers (Coralife), Tropic Marin, Other Brands... About Buying Pre-mixed Seawater, About  Synthetics Manufacturers Advertising Claims...  Treating Tapwater For Marine Aquarium Use, Reverse Osmosis Filtration 

Creole Wrasse, Clepticus parrae

Salt Mixes    1/25/06 Good morning Bob, <James this morning.> I was wondering if you had a particular salt mix that you prefer. <I've been using Instant Ocean for 30 years.> The reason for the question is that I tend to add a lot of supplements to the mix that I am presently using.  I am using the Red Sea salt right now & I am always low in Mg, <I use SeaChem's Reef Advantage Calcium which contains both strontium and magnesium.> therefore I am always trying to work with the Alk & pH.  I have read about Marine Environment Salt but I wanted to ask the expert first. <There are several good mixes out there.  I'd feel comfortable with SeaChem, Kent, Marine Environment and Tropic Marin. Red Sea is OK, I just don't like the way it mixes up.  James (Salty Dog)> Cheers from Florida! <And no cheers from crappy Michigan.> Rick Waibel Jr.

Re:  Salt Mixes   1/31/06 Greetings again. <Hello Mark.> I had an interesting chat at my LFS. The fellow was trying to change my mix from Instant Ocean to Sea Crystals. I have never heard of this brand before. <Nor have I.> He also told me that IO uses some additive that makes it dissolve faster and that this would cause trace elements to become bound together and render them useless. He also said that the National Aquarium in Baltimore used Sea Crystal salt mix. I have been using IO reef crystals for as long as I can remember with no ill effects. <Myself included.> Just wanted to hear your opinion on this. <Mark, I've chatted with Bob Studt from Aquarium Systems and will post his reply below concerning this. <James (Salty Dog)> James, The "some additive" that the dealer was likely referring to is EDTA which is a chelator. Chelators bind metals in solution so they remain in solution instead of precipitating at the high pH of seawater. (they don't make sea salt dissolve any faster though?!?!)Some chelators bind the metals more strongly than others. It is possible that some chelators could bind the metals so strongly that they are indeed unavailable for the livestock to use in their biological processes. After all, if you or I went to the doctor after having ingested some type of toxic metal (mercury, cadmium, etc...) he may inject a strong chelator into our system to bind the metal and inhibit its ability to harm us. Instant Ocean has no chelator. Reef Crystals does use a small amount of weak chelator since there are higher levels of many trace metals in RC. I've never heard of Sea Crystals either. Both IO and RC have slightly elevated levels of iodide so if 10% weekly changes were carried out it should remain in sufficient supply. Bob

Re: Salt Mix follow up   2/7/06 Hello Crew. <Hello Mark.> Once again I must start by saying what an awesome amount of knowledge one gets by just reading the FAQs. <And do keep reading.> Just a great site.  My follow up is in regard to a question concerning salt mixes. As stated in the first e-mail I was approached by my LFS about changing salt mixes.  Seems my LFS was selling the virtues of Crystal Sea salt mix (I believe that I wrongly stated Sea Crystals). In your opinion is this a good mix? <I recently visited a friend of mine who does coral farming on a small scale and I asked him what salt mix he used in his propagation vats.  And low and behold it was Crystal Sea.  The product is manufactured by Marine Enterprises.  Must be a decent mix as I've never saw so many beautiful corals in one place just full of color.  He swears by it so take it from there.> I currently use IO reef crystals with good results. <A good mix which is what I use.> I believe that James answered the first one.  Also it was stated to me that the National Aquarium in Balt. MD. uses Crystal Sea mix. Any thoughts would be very welcome. Mark By the way I am in no hurry to change mixes at this time just rather curious. <If you are happy with what you have, stay with it.  James (Salty Dog)>

Red Tide... dangers of using natural seawater - 01/24/06 Gentlemen, <... and some ladies here> Thank you very much for your services.  Your site is always the first place I look for answers. I got a quick question about red tide. I collected natural sea water from a local spot yesterday (Captiva, FL). The water quality is usually excellent.  However, while collecting I noticed very dense particle matter in the water that made it look cloudy. <Yikes....> I figured it was just suspended sand, so I would let the water settle over night, siphon it out, filter it, and be good. <... real seawater should be thoroughly and religiously treated... for a couple of weeks... in the dark, possibly with bleach/chlorine, dechlorinator, decanted... See WWM re.> However, curiosity got to me and I looked at some of the water through a microscope. There was some really great stuff, and some not so great.  I was able to ID a couple K. Brevis cells.  I had checked on Floridamarine.org for red tide and it said: "Southwest Region: Samples collected this week from Mullet Key in southern Pinellas County and Anna Maria Island in northern Manatee County contained very low concentrations of Karenina brevis, the Florida red tide organism. All other alongshore samples collected between Pinellas and Collier counties contained no K. brevis. In the Florida Keys K. brevis concentrations ranged from not present to very low in three samples collected southwest of Sugarloaf Key and was not present in samples collected southwest of the Marquesas Keys. Offshore sampling from Sarasota to Lee County late last week detected K. brevis at medium concentration in 1 of 15 samples at a site 26 miles west of Englewood." What I wanted to know is if this low level of K. brevis could cause damage to my 60 gal reef? <Yes... if conditions permit, these algae will reproduce...> If so, is the damage only to fish, or will it affect corals as well? <All life, indirectly> Thank you very much for your help. Sincerely yours, David <Thank you for sharing. I have numerous experiences (most second-hand thank goodness) with wipe-outs from natural seawater use. Bob Fenner> Salt mix and dwarf lion diet  - 01/24/06 Hello WWM Crew, <Hi Brent> First let me start by saying that I strongly support what you are doing and that you are appreciated. <Thank you.> I have a question regarding synthetic salt mixes. I have read though many of the FAQ's to try and determine who ranks where in actually quality of synthetic mixes. Obviously all of them claim to be the best and that they are the closest to real seawater.  From what I have read on the site Tropic Marin Pro Reef Salt seems to be a hit. I am a fan of Seachem products and I am very curious about the salt mixes. Every time I try to Google an answer all I get is articles about other Seachem products.  Where would an amateur like my self be able to find a ranking of the top synthetic mixes? <Sometime ago a test was carried out among different brands of sea salt.  Here is a link to the results.   http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2005/11/aafeature1/view?searchterm=A list including the previous mentioned brands. <There are several good brands out there.  I use Instant Ocean Reef Crystals.  I feel it is a good salt mix for the price.  I also had a question about my dwarf lionfish. I have had him about 3 months now. I had no problems getting him to eat frozen krill. He even begs for it and eats it out of my hand. He is not really interested in chopped scallop, clam, etc..  I feel bad if I do not provide him with a varied diet. Will adding Zoe or Selcon to his krill suffice or do I need to provide other foods regardless of him not wanting it?  <I'd soak the krill in Selcon and offer other foods from time to time and see if he changes his mind.  I'm sure he will be fine with the krill/Selcon combo.  Do search our site, keyword "lionfish" for more info.> Sorry to hit you with two questions at once. I do appreciate your taking the time to help me. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you, Brent Problem of molting with Mantis Prawns and Lobsters   1/18/06  



 Magnesium Sulphate



 Calcium Chloride.



 Potassium Chloride



 Sodium Chloride



 Hardness CaCO3/L






 Sulfate SO2






 Salinity in PPT



Dear Sir/Mdm, The above is the lab test results of the artificial seawater that I am using in my cement pond tank that is about 20ft by 20ft. I am using the four chemicals above at the qty. in grams to the required Mg/L of RO/DI water. <!> The problem is when I have the Mantis prawns or lobsters or even prawns in the pond, their shell cannot harden after molting and all of them eventually die. Is there any other trace chemical that is missing from my seawater formula that is causing this problem or is there other cause for this. <... a few deficiencies here... like pH... and many more "things" that could account for this that are not detailed...> I have some sea cat fish and some other marine fish that don't have a problem with the water. Thank you, Best Regards. Nikson Cheah. <I would look into procuring more "sun-dried" sea salt, and buffering this with a mix of carbonate, bicarbonate... to a higher pH... Much to discuss here... Bob Fenner> Penang. Malaysia.

Should I put salt sludge in my reef tank? 01-13-06 Hi Crew, <Tim> Just a quick question - <I like those.> I am preparing synthetic salt (Tropic Marine) for my AquaMedic Phyto Light Reactor and letting it stand for a few days in 2 liter bottles before use. This is because the undissolved white stuff settles to the bottom - this allows me to top up my plankton reactor with 'cleaner' salt water without getting any clumps developing in it. The question is:  Can I or should I add this left over white creamy fluid to my main display tank - as I assume it contains all the good stuff my reef needs - or is this not a good idea... <No, No, No, Not a good idea. If it does not want to be in suspension, don't put it in your tank. Travis> Thanks in advance. Tim  

Heating The Make-up Water...How? - 01/11/06 Good Morning, <<Good evening>> First I would like to say thanks for your devotion to teaching people like myself. <<You're welcome...but not so much teaching as sharing...hoping to make a difference...>> I recently purchased an RO/DI system. (Got tired of hauling jugs back and forth from the LFS <<I would too.>> and wasn't so trusting with their RO water. <<Hmm...>> I purchased a 6 stage system.  (I know this may be overkill but I got a good deal on the net.) <<Tis fine>> My space is limited so I opted for a Rubbermaid 23 gallon rectangular (restaurant style) trash can as a reservoir.  I dumped the first batch and am now ready to start mixing my own water.  I will use a Rubbermaid 18 gallon tub to mix my salt in. (I apologize for making this a bit long, just wanted to paint a clear picture for you.) <<No worries mate, the "detail" is a good thing.>> From what I have read, I should aerate my water for 6 hours or so <<I prefer aeration for 24 hrs. prior to use to expel all carbon dioxide/allow pH to stabilize.>> and get it to 80 degrees before adding salt. <<Match the temperature in your tank.>> Is this correct? <<See above>> Here comes my dilemma.  Do you have an idea of how I could heat my water? <<Um, sure...use an aquarium heater.>> I considered adding a 200 watt heater to the mixing container, but am afraid the heater will burn a hole in the plastic. <<Small concern (if any at all).  I've been doing just this for decades...haven't burned a hole through any of my water containers yet <grin>.  As long as the heater stays submerged/there is water in the container it shouldn't get hot enough to melt through.>> Should I make a baffle type piece to mount the heater on? <<Can...is up to you.>> I am open for suggestions here. <<Of little/no concern really.  Just drop the heater in to the container or fashion a method to keep it off the bottom...your choice...whichever makes you feel better.  Do be sure to keep the heater submerged at all times.>> I have so many ideas running through my head now with other projects. (auto top off systems, sumps, etc...)  I guess I would just like to hear how someone else has accomplished this.  Thanks for taking the time to help another obsessed aquarium keeper. Steve <<No problem Steve.  regards, EricR>> Moving useful aquarium water in volume - 01/09/2006 Hey Bob, Hows it goin?  Hope all is well. <Yes, fine my friend. Returning today from Dizzyworld, the marathon here> I was wondering if you had any info on where to get large water transporting containers, like those big plastic 50gal drums. <Mmm, we used to buy these spiffy polyethylene drums from a soda pop syrup/distributor in San Diego... I would call/contact one of these "bottlers" in your area... likely to be cheap/er, easy to clean...>   I am picking up a 135gallon reef tank that some guy is tired of and want to move a lot of the old tank water too.  I am stressed about the move and have been reading over our tank moving FAQs, but a free system is too good to pass up.  here are some pics if you are curious. <Mmm, a few thicknesses of trashcan bags can/will do to line sturdy/dirty trash bins...> http://happyfishy.net/reef.html Thanks, Gage <Ahh, back into the fray! BobF> R/O storage trace nitrites  12/30/2005 Great work on the website! <Thank you> I have a new dedicated trashcan and Kent Marine R/O D/I Maximma 50GPD.  I am already finding trace amounts of nitrite in my brand new clean Rubbermaid trashcan. <Unusual... I would give this can/container a good scrubbing with coarse salt and a brush (new) followed by rinsing, soaking with freshwater> I have tested the R/O drip which is perfectly clean, but when my trashcan is full I am finding slightly detectable levels of nitrite after about 15 hours.  Any cleaning advice on the Rubbermaid or is the SUPER CLEAN D/I water causing it to grow bacteria so quickly I cannot stop it? Thanks!!!! Bryan <Am at a loss here. I would contact the folks at Rubbermaid for their input... and scrub the container as mentioned. Cheers, Bob Fenner> White Powdery Stuff In My Salt Mix - 12/23/05 Hello everyone! <<Howdy!>> I'm switching from natural sea water to synthetic sea water starting today using RO and Instant Ocean salt. <<Yea!>> Last Tuesday I started aerating my RO water overnight, the next day (Wed) I buffered it with Seachem's reef builder/buffer...Thursday, I added the salt in the morning and try to adjust the proper salinity as the day goes by until the end of the day, in short I have acquired the proper salinity that I wanted. <<ok>> I let it sit again overnight with a power head still running (always since day 1). <<Best to give it a couple days after adding the salt in my opinion.>> This morning (Fri) I check if everything is going smoothly, I notice that there is this white powdery stuff covering the power head and the heater, I check the water and looks like Alk is ok and PH is a little low( which I will just probably buffer it a little bit more).  But what really concern me is that white stuff and the cloudiness of the water, I mix about 14 gal of water.  Is this water still ok or just dump it and start all over again? <<Should be fine, a bit of precipitation is expected.  Especially if you possibly buffered a bit too much.>> I'm schedule to do my water change this morning (Fri) , If you could pls respond to me ASAP, I would really appreciate it as I am now getting a panic attack! (I think)...or should I just go back to my "Catalina ocean water"??? PLS ADVISE SOONEST. Thanks in advance. Nemo1 <<Synthetic seawater is always best...less chance of introducing pathogens/pollution, as well as better buffering capacity than natural seawater.  I use/have used Instant Ocean for decades and will stand behind its quality/suitability for hobby use.  You have nothing to worry about as long as you are adding the salt to the total water volume (i.e. - don't mix salt for 14 gallons in to a couple gallons of water, adding the rest of the water later) and letting it mature for 48 hours (longer the better).  Try backing off on the Seachem product a bit.  You may have over saturated the water before adding the salt mix.  Regards, EricR>>

Re: White Powdery Stuff In My Salt Mix - 12/25/05 Hello again! <<Hi there!>> Thanks for your quick response. <<Welcome>> I did my water change tonight as per your advise that this water is still ok.  It's a little bit cloudy for the first 20 min.s or so, but after 20 more min.s, everything is back to normal...thank you very very much!!!, as I was about to dump this water from frustration and go back to my natural sea water, <<Not a good choice>> I just don't know what to do with the 150 gal bucket of salt. <<???>> But anyway, the water is now crystal clear and I've notice that synthetic water is more clearer than the natural sea water (yellowish in color). <<Mmm...the presence of organics/chemical pollution maybe.>> I didn't notice this until today since I've been using natural sea water from day one (almost 9 mos-72G reef).     What if I add the salt first, test the water... then buffer it ??? <<Probably fine...depending on your source water, you may even discover you don't need the buffer.>> Will there be a big difference? <<Try it and see...>> This way I can figure out how much buffering the water needs, I think the salt itself has already a buffering compound in it (?). <<To some extent, yes.  Regards, EricR>> Nemo1

Half Past Time To Study - 12/06/2005 I am getting ready to do a water change in my 55gal reef. This is the first water change for the tank.  <How long has it been running?> I have about 15 gallons of distilled water. The drinking water at the stored was processed by reverse osmosis but I wasn't sure if this was the same RO that the LFS sells for outrageous price.  <Perhaps not the same quality, but the RO process is just that.> My question is how much water should I change and how do I replace the salt? <I think I see where this is going...> I have a bag of Instant Ocean salt (same kind that was used to start). I am not sure how to correctly mix the salt with the water. <You put the salt in the water and you mix 'em bo' dup, put the salt in the water and then you'll feel better.>  I couldn't find an FAQ on this.  <Here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/waterchg.htm .> How much salt per gallon of distilled water? <In general 1/2 cup per. Should have instructions on the bag.> ....Can I use distilled water? <Yes. Can also just use tap. Here's some info. on that http://www.wetwebmedia.com/trttaph20faq2.htm .> I heard that it is sometimes stored in copper containers (don't want to kill my inverts).  <<Wait a minute, you have a REEF tank, WITH inverts, and you don't know how to mix the change-water???  This does not bode well for the animals in this system.  MH>> Also I have a lot of what looks like brown algae (brown dust on tank walls and power head sponges). How do I get rid of it safely and prevent it from coming back. <Read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diatoms.htm and follow the links in blue.> Do I need better lighting. I am running the store provided daytime lighting (single 48 inch bulb) that came with the tank kit. It is fluorescent. There seems to be a massive amount of different lighting that I can use but I am not sure which is the best for my 55gal reef with 1 BTA, and a few damsels and crabs.  <You should not have bought the BTA without addressing this and the animals requirements first. Best to "waste time" on research rather than on slowly dieing livestock. Read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/bubbletipanemones.htm and be prepared to make the necessary changes, though I advise you to return this animal until you are ready for it.> I also have a skunk cleaner shrimp. All the fish seem to be perfect and the water is well within range according to my quick dip test. I wanted to buy a different test kit but like the lighting issue, I'm not sure which one would do best for me. If you could suggest any brands on the lighting as well as the test kits my fish and I would greatly appreciate it. Mike and Teresa Yates <<You two need to STOP buying animals and do what people here have been telling you: READ!!!  Marina>> <Check into the forums for this, specifically PC lights or stronger. Standard fluorescent won't cut it. Test kits involving reagents are better than dip strips. All depends on what you wish to keep, as well as how involved you wish to be. - Josh>

Salt Study Completed - Published Online  11/18/05 Hi Bob, I'm emailing you a link to the Inland Reef/Inland Aquatics salt study that has been being planned for.. years. It's finally finished, and I think is quite pertinent, and will of course be invaluable for many (especially those with particularly sensitive invertebrates, such as many seastars). We must thank Reefs.org and their online 'zine, Advanced Aquarist, as well as many individuals who donated time, money, and/or materials to see this study performed. Marina http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2005/11/aafeature1  <Good work... I look forward to the follow-up articles. RMF>

Synthetic salt/ph  10/20/05 Hi crew, <Mornin' Mohamed> I have been testing a South African manufactured salt. It has a ph reading of 8.8.<Wow> Is this to high for corals/fish? <Yes.> Thanks <Welcome. - Josh>     Mohamed. <<Likely just aerating and storing for a few days (a good practice for all mixes), will show the pH settling down. RMF>>

Goodness Gracious Great Blobs of Brown Stuff! Pre-mixed Water Getting Gunky 10/17/05 I have been in awe at the priceless information nestled into your website. <<Us, too.>> I have been implementing for a couple of weeks the pre-mix water that sits in a Rubbermaid tub with a Rio 400 and heater. While I thought it would be more trouble than good, I am quickly praising it to all of my cohorts! It makes weekly (or even biweekly!) water changes a snap! <<That's what I've been tryin' to tell ya!>> So I was doing my weekly water change and noticed in the tub little rolling blobs of brown "stuff". (Herein, shall we call it gravy?)  <<Wavy gravy, baby.>> I ruled out foul play.  <<And fowl play.>> The water gets mixed a week in advance and I add a little salt every few days to keep my measurements more accurate.  <<This doesn't make sense - the only way the salinity will shift is via evaporation, and that will move the salinity up - not desirable. Only water evaporates, none of the salts in the mix will do this. You are likely creating a super-satured pre-mix. If this is your intent, fine (though DO adjust, of course), but it's far better to simply mix it at the proper salinity, and cover, heat, and aerate until ready to use. Covering is important.>> I added the needed amount of Seachem buffer.  <<In order to...? The salt mix isn't buffering this water sufficiently? Or are you using RO/similar?>> I will admit to using a crappy brand of salt before (SeaLife), but not sure if that was the cause. Now using Instant Ocean.  <<It seems that the Instant Ocean brand has fallen off in quality from when I first got into marine fishes. Even then, I was mixing it with very hard, alkaline water and it would develop a good deal of precipitate. I would go with something like Tropic Marin (look on WWM for others' recommendations, too).>> So my question is, what is causing the brown blobs? (They feel 'fatty' when touched with finger but they go back to the blob shape.) <<I'm suspecting a sort of precipitate (do you test your water before mixing in the salt?), and if you're leaving the container open then I would also suspect watery dust-bunnies of sorts. You should siphon this stuff out before using. Remember also that there are indeed places where a "greasy" sort of dust accumulates (my folks' garage is one), that could explain the "fatty" feeling.>> Next question is how do you store your opened bags of salt? I understand keeping moisture out is critical, but do you just squeeze the air out of the bag or have some kind of container? <<I personally never even went to that much trouble. I would just tie the bags shut, rubber band or the like. Keeping the moisture out prevents certain chemical reactions. Take some salt mix and sprinkle a bit of water onto it - it will become *very* hot - this is one of the reasons for keeping it as dry as possible. If you live in a very humid climate, try our grandmothers' trick of putting some rice in some netting (a nylon stocking/knee-high) and put it in the bag of salt. Then tie it well with a rubber band or the like and it should keep nicely. Some folks like to dump the salt into tubs for ease of use, and they're easier to keep tightly shut - again, Rubbermaid bins would work very well for this.>> Finally, the AquaC Remora I ordered finally came. I also got the prefilter box but that part I am not impressed with. 2 plastic screws that snug up against the powerhead? Surely someone has a modification to improve the stability. <<Don't know about that - plastic is inert, won't corrode (as long as it's not exposed to sunlight/intense lighting) for the most part. I suggest searching WWM, or maybe posting this question on one of the reefing boards. Don't forget the beauty inherent in a zip-tie, either.>> Again, thank you in advance for the great resource! <<Welcome in advance, Bob's done a pretty neat thing here, hasn't he?>> Dana <<Hope this has helped answer your questions. Marina>> 

Collecting sand, water, flora and fauna from Carolina Coast 10/13/05 WWM team and friends, Good day and hope you are all well. I want to first state for all of us out here in apprentice/journeyman land, appreciation for your patience and expertise.  <Thanks for the kind words! We are truly happy to help and contribute!> Item 1: Unrelated to topic but have to state to Bob the last status on the SeaClone 100 skimmer (my pc crashed, lost all mail so thread is not intact). It has been up and running over a month now and contrary to most popular opinion, working rather well. I recommend it.  The new revisions seem to be fine-it could still be improved but can't everything? I am getting dry foam and about 1 1/2 cups a week of green/black stout from a 38 gallon tank with 27 gallons of actual water (yes, I was anal about ensuring I knew how much water for dosing, changes, etc.. :) ). So if you like, feel free to post this part with the other thread on the skimmer section. Only issue is that for the money, I should have gotten the 150.  Local P*TSm*rt stores here honor their online web price that is generally $30 less than their actual stores and other LFS in the area wanted $130 and up for this skimmer - not a good buy then :). Only question on skimmers in general is do ya have to use a prefilter sponge? When you take it out to clean it, half of the stuff it filtered leaks into the tank anyway so what's the point?  <I am glad to hear that your SeaClone is working. Your experience is truly and exception. Prefilters are not necessary.> Item 2: The meat of the questions. I have the opportunity to get a gently used 75g glass/stand/canopy with darn near everything including canister, lighting and Magnum HOT for CHEAP. I would like to use my knowledge acquired from YOUR brains to do a better job this time, however, I am still a cheapskate soon to being out of work. <It is nice to find good deals! I am not a fan of canister or HO filters for marine tanks (see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm). I would suggest selling these filters an applying the proceeds to live rock and a skimmer.> Since I live a couple hours from Wilmington, NC and my brother has a beach house one block from the sound, intracoastal AND TopSail beach that I have access to (he is the comfortable one in the family), I would like to know if it would be an okay mix to use sound/surf sand and water and perhaps plant life, yet, stock with the typical tropical flora and fauna like damsels, crabs, corals, etc..?  <There are many issues with this. Any temperate life (brought with sand or intentionally introduced) will not survive for long at tropical temperatures. Some tropical species make their way up into the Carolinas during summer months, but you have to really know your stuff!> The water tests well for sg and basic tests. The sand is fine, brown Atlantic sand, not aragonite. Not sure if it has silicates but have to imagine it is as good or better than the Home Depot sand so many people seem to rave about that looks like someone swept up sand blasting sand after use and put it in a bag for sale.... Additionally, I do find small rubble rock and would like to know if this is appropriate as well.  <This sand is surely high in silica, although I am don't believe that this is a significant problem. I would be more worried about pollutants (sewerage, fertilizers, pesticides, boat fuel, etc.) from sand collected on or near shore. "Live sand" is generally collected from areas around reefs in at least a couple of tens of feet of water. The same applies to the rubble. Using natural sea water for water changes has many benefits if you have access to it, but it can also introduce pollution or disease if you aren't careful.> I am not a naturalist and don't know the micro flora/fauna indigenous to my region but imagine that in using the sand/water I will likely find out and want to ensure that it is ok. I have refrained from using local saltwater to this point not for fear of contaminants or pollution (NC is actually highly stringent in enforcement since we are a shellfish producer) but for fear of it not being correct in some way from the normal environs of the stock.  If that is not an issue, I much would rather trek down to Wilmington for a weekend or two a month at the beach for free and stock up on water than continue to spend $$$$$ on RO and salt mix. And spend those dollars on caring for my marine dependents in other ways like a refugium and such.  I would imagine the local water has good bacteria strains as well that the mix does not. I would also imagine that cycling should be much more effective. Your thoughts? Sincere appreciation and regards, Bill  <While the use of NSW is inexpensive, the risks are also high. It may work well for a while, but it is a game of Russian roulette. Facilities that use NSW usually filter it aggressively as well as ozonize it to prevent introduction of pathogens and pollutants. This process is only cost effective on a large scale. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Mixing Salt for a New System 10/05/05 Ok. I was first told that I should have the pumps running for circulation as I mix the salt with the water in the tank. Is this necessary or can I just simply mix it to the right salinity? <<If you are setting up a brand new system, you can do whatever is convenient: circulate as you mix or circulate after you mix. Either, mix to the correct salinity.>> I am setting up a reef tank 72 gallon tank.<<Good for you.>> Thanks, Rich <<You're welcome. Next time, please use proper capitalization, etc. as the letters are published in our daily FAQ updates. Good luck - Ted>>

Real seawater question  9/27/05 Hi guys, <Chris> I've been looking at your site which is very interesting. I live in St Lucia in the Caribbean (island near Barbados) and the sea is full of Caribbean tangs and other things that I used to catch when I was a kid and I kept them quite successfully. <Have been to the Sandals Resort on this island, diving there... very nice> I used real seawater collected from the ocean, and never had a problem, except maybe more than usual regular cleaning. <This is... "about it"> It's been years since I've kept fish and I want to get started. I've been reading the articles on real vs. synthetic seawater and the consensus seems to be that real seawater is more hassle than it's worth. <Sometimes> My question is this: Since I live so close to an essentially unpolluted sea (five minutes walk!) would it not be better for me to go ahead and use the real stuff? I'm planning to set up a reef system with mainly ocellaris clowns - the anemones that I collected locally worked very well with the imported tomato clowns that I used to have. I'd not include any other fish except perhaps a Caribbean tang captured locally. I'd appreciate your thoughts! thanks, Chris <Just a bit more water changing... Bob Fenner> Question about mixing seawater  8/30/05 Hello Guys/Girls, <And you> I am new to the hobby of saltwater aquariums and thanks to the help of your site I was able to learn plenty before diving head first into a bunch of mistakes and as a result I have two happy damsels in my FO tank. My question for you today is when I am pre-mixing my saltwater I get a snowflake effect after adding the salt. <Happens> Here is the process I go through. I mix it up in a couple different gallon jugs. 1. Obtain 1 gallon of tapwater. 2. Treat tapwater with TetraAqua's AquaSafe tapwater treatment. 3. Aerate for 24 hours. 4. After 24 hours I add the appropriate measure of Kent's Marine Superbuffer DKh. <Ahh! Here's some of it> 5. After 12 more hours I add Instant Ocean marine salt. I find that 9 TBS of Instant Ocean per gallon brings me to a specific gravity of 1.022-1.023 which is desirable. 6. Give my gallon jug a good shake and let it sit another day for pH stabilization before use. I test temperature (77F), pH (8.2), and Salinity (1.022-1.023) before using and they all fall into a desirable range. My problem is that after going using this process I still manage to get a white precipitate (Calcium carbonate?) <Most, most likely> in the pre mixed sea water. I have read elsewhere that this is not harmful to the fish and that it will disappear eventually. <Yes> Yesterday when changing the filter I managed to release a bunch of what appeared to be the same precipitate back into the tank which was soon re-filtered back out with the addition of a new filter. This is telling me that the precipitate is not dissolving back into the tank. Am I losing key nutrients or just a little calcium that isn't totally critical to my tank? Thanks for your help! -Ryan Adamski <Mostly the latter... I would "decant" the supernatant liquid, leave the solids behind, as they may prove to be more of an irritant to the fishes respiration than help in balancing water quality... no worries. Bob Fenner> Water change - Top Off Strategy 8/25/05 Hi guys! Great site. You have helped in so many ways. <Ah, good> I have been browsing the FAQ's on Water Changes and top offs and wanted to go over what I am doing to ensure I have not misunderstood anything. <Okay> I currently have a 90 Gallon Tank and a 30 gallon refugium with live rock, Chaeto and a DSB. I have 2 soft corals and 3 tiny Tank Bred clownfish. (The tank is only 2 months old so I am going slowly) <This is best> I use RO/DI water for everything and this is my plan: 5% water changes 2 times per week. I make up the Salt water in a bin and add Kent Marine Super Buffer dKH. I then add Kalk as well and aerate for at least 24 hours. For my Makeup water I am going to add a pH buffer too bring the Levels to 8.3. Does this sound ok? Do I still need to add Kalk to the Main tank? <You will (unless you add a bunch more life, foods...) not have to do anything else to supplement, change water quality> Thanks so much for your time. Keith Andrews <Welcome. Bob Fenner> Wonder Water  08/08/2005 Bob, <Scott>     I know this is kind of a long shot. Do you have any  information on the original "Wonder Water" that was marketed years ago to  promote both fresh and saltwater fish in the same tank? <Heee! If dwindling memory serves, this was predominantly sucrose, table sugar... Maybe with a bit of anti-caking borate, perhaps sodium bicarbonate...> I have a little  information on it but would like to see documentation on how it was received by  the scientific community and private consumer. Thank you for any  help.                             Scott  Hootman <I would contact Dr. Bob Rofen (Kordon-Novalek Corp., in Hayward, CA) re... not only does he have the largest library re such and all aquarium matters, he will have knowledge of this product, its history. Cheers, Bob "Magic Ocean" Fenner> Calcium/Alkalinity Question... junk salt mix 7/16/05 After having about 90 lbs of live rock "curing" in my 46 gallon bow tank for about 2 months, I finally found a time window in which to cut it back to about 65 lbs, add aragonite substrate and, in the process, change out all of the water. Things seemed to be looking great... "Steve" the unidentified polyp that had developed during curing came out intact, the water is crystal clear, testing at 1.023-1.024 salinity, pH of about 8.3-8.4. New things that had not been showing themselves during that first two months seem to be popping out everywhere. <Neat!> I got to looking at different supplements and what not, but decided to leave the LFS with only calcium and alkalinity test kits before purchasing anything else. Well, the alkalinity came out to 5.5 meq/L (15.4 dKH according to their conversion table in the SeaTest kit) and 540 mg/L of calcium. These are considerably higher than what is recommended. Should I worry? Is it the Oceanic sea salt I am using? Could it be a result of the fresh aragonite? Bill <The crappy salt mix... I would switch brands. Bob Fenner>

Salt substitute 6/13/05 Hey guys, long time listener, first time caller.  I buy/sell about 200-400lbs of live rock a week. Because of this, I am always receiving about the same in uncured rock each week. Besides heavy protein skimming, ozone use, a large Caulerpa sump, and large wet/dry filter, we do many water changes during the curing process.  <This is quite commendable!  Most folks don't provide so much good care to their rock.  You are just the kind of business we would love to have as an advertiser!> Even at "wholesale" prices, the cost of salt for several water changes a week is killing me. <Ahh.. the premium price for providing a premium product!> Is there a chance that I could use plain water softener salt. I could buffer it with Sodium Bicarbonate, and use CaCl to bring up Alk and Calcium to NSW levels, or not.  I would just be using this to do daily water changes on live rock.  Thanks, Robert Hill, Rob's Reef <This is a very bad idea.  Water softener salt often has corrosion inhibitors and other additives, and is not even the cheapest source of NaCl.  Also, there are other things besides Calcium and Alkalinity that would have to be added, and at great expense.  Do check out www.aquaticecosystems.com or other aquaculture sources.  There are at least two companies that sell a salt "concentrate" which has everything but the NaCl in it.  These companies will also advise you on how to obtain a good grade of NaCl locally.  In addition to a much lower product cost, shipping costs are greatly reduced.  I wouldn't recommend this stuff for reef tanks (for many reasons, but mostly because you have to make several hundred gallons at a time!), but it is a great solution for a rock system.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Re Salt Substitute from Robert Hill (Robs Reef): Thanks for the reply.  The salt I am considering is Cargill Diamond Crystal Solar Salt.  It is an evaporated salt, contains no corrosion inhibitors, and it dissolves clearly in water.  It's $5.99 for 80lbs, about 1/8th of what IO salt costs me.  I'll be testing it in a 1:4 ratio, with 1 part IO, and 4 parts rock salt.  <I would strongly recommend against this!  The solar salt will not include carbonate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfate, etc.> BTW, I looked up the Prosalt Salt Concentrate.  At $42.76 for a 400 gallon mix, and ~$10 for NaCl, it's about $53 per 400 gallons.  IO bulk salt cost about $33 for 200 gallons, or $66 for 400, so the cost savings is not too much.  <I agree that this is not a huge savings, but it is something.> I'm going to do some testing on the rock salt. I'll let you know how it goes.  Thanks again, Robert <Below is a tip sent in by a friend of WWM.  I would suggest following up on it, mostly for the variety of formulas presented.  The author's proposed formula is a bit stripped down for my taste, but might work well for a rock system.  I did not initially suggest mixing your own because it is not generally a DIY project, but it is certainly possible.  You may have to shop hard to get good prices on some of the reagents, but you could realize significant cost savings.  Good luck!  AdamC.> <<"I don't know if it will be cheaper, but if you (or Robert Hill) do a search on "Kevin Carpenter" and "Zilla III" (his 5000 gallon tank), he mixes his own saltwater, and his formula is on his website. Might be worth looking into. Cheers! --Alf">>

Nutri-SeaWater HI !  My name is Peter and I have a question about Nutri-SeaWater. What is your opinion on it is it worth of try. Thank you .Peter! <Peter, never heard of the product and the only reference I could find was written in a foreign language.  James (Salty Dog)> <<James, Peter, try this: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-27,GGLD:en&q=Nutri%2DSeaWater RMF>>

Re: Nutri-SeaWater Hi James (Salty Dog) it's Peter again. About Nutri-SeaWater. www.naturesocean.com it is natural live ocean saltwater. It has all ``planktonic`` natural live marine bacteria. How do you think is it any good. Thank you for your time. <Peter, I guess I would weigh it with cost vs. product.  I'd have to believe 50 gallons of it would cost more than a 50 gallon mix of Reef Crystals.  Shipping cost would have to be a killer.  Let me know what it costs.  James (Salty Dog)> Peter.

- Marine Salt Mixes - Bob, I know I've read some of your expert opinions here on the different marine salts and I believe you were in favor of using Tropic Marin with Instant Ocean also as an acceptable synthetic salt. <Bob is out of town - JasonC here in his stead.> Do you have any feedback on the new Oceanic Systems natural sea salt mix? <I have no personal experience with it... I don't switch between brands unless I just can't get the one I need.> It boasts all these great things like some other sea mixes. Is it really any different or is it an acceptable or good sea salt in your opinion? <I'm sure it is quite acceptable. Have seen it all over the place - the parent company of Oceanic is huge and quite capable of pelting the market with all kinds of positive press.> I saw it advertised online and in TFH which I'm been subscribed to and I know you discussed this topic and are one of the editors there at that magazine. The latest TFH I know the advertisement says that they received the Editors Choice award by Pet Product News. <Not sure what that really means - is not quite the good housekeeping seal of approval, and even then, what does that mean?> Since it is new can you tell me anything about the product if it is revolutionary in some way? <I doubt it - revolutionary that is. I'm sure it's a fine salt but doubt they've latched onto something new that no one else has tried.> Oceanic claims patent pending technology but is this really a superior sea salt? <Pending being the operative word - they may never get that patent.> I normally would go with Instant Ocean because of the price but really the 160 gallon bucket they give you, you might as well pay a little higher price for another 200 gallon bucket of salt. I was hoping you could give me your take on Oceanic sea salt mix and if you believe it is a good or acceptable sea salt or would you consider it inferior to the likes of Tropic Marin or Instant Ocean. <I'm sure it's on par with Instant Ocean. Tropic Marin is hard to beat for quality, but recently due to valuation of the dollar, seems to have gone from expensive to extremely expensive. My LFS wants $115 a bucket for it - I switched to Instant Ocean which is still an excellent salt.> I can't find much information with an analysis or testing of the salt maybe because its too new. Thanks. Dennis Jacksonville, FL   <Cheers, J -- ><<Oceanic and TFH/Magazine are owned by the same co... Central Garden... RMF>>

- Marine Salt Mixes, Follow-up - I've looked up some articles on the website that reference Oceanic salt mix. Wasn't sure if this is the Oceanic mix I'm talking about. <I'm aware of only one Oceanic aquarium salt.> In the articles they reference Oceanic as if it were not such a great salt. <Is possible - is best to ask around - see if you can find people who've tried it.> If it is not that great then I will go with Tropic Marin for the 200 gallon pail price as it is really not that much more considering if the salt is superior to Instant Ocean and I'm getting more gallons to the bucket. <It's a bigger bucket.> There also doesn't seem to be that big a difference in the extra shipping and handling price for a 200 gallon mix over the 160. I guess all salt doesn't weigh the same. <Freight in those weights seems to be have a more level playing field.> Thanks. <Cheers, J -- >

- Marine Salt Mix, More Follow-up - I was able to obtain the Tropic Marin 200 gallon mix at Big Al's Online (not too fond of that particular mail order store) at their price of $43.99  plus $20.00 for the shipping. I stopped shopping there awhile ago because  of the bad customer service but I've seen no lower price online for the  Tropic Marin. ThatPetPlace had it for $47.99 and Drs. Foster & Smith $48.99. Anyway $64.00 is even cheaper than my LFS who wants $69.95 plus  tax for the less expensive pail of Instant Ocean. That's why I never use my LFS for aquatic supplies.  And $115.00 you say for a pail of Tropic Marin at your LFS is outrageous! <Is why I switched to Instant Ocean. Thanks for the info.> Dennis <Cheers, J -- >

Natural Sea Water- Worth The Effort? Dear Bob & Staff, <Scott F. here today!> I have a quick question about salt water. I was invited over to a friends house to take a look at his reef tank. It was probably one of the best looking tanks that I have ever seen. As we got to talking he told me his secrete was to use regular sea water on water changes (he has been doing this for over three years). He advised me to try it and get back to him in a month. He was convinced that I would see a big difference in the growth and overall appearance of my tank. I am really temped to try it but I fear I might add something bad to the tank. <A legitimate concern!> I live on long Island NY so getting water would be very easy. Do you believe there are things in natural sea water that would benefit my tank that a regular salt water mix would not?. Thanks in advance for your advice. <Why it may seem ludicrous to say that natural sea water is not as good for your system as synthetic, it can be problematic in some instances. Natural sea water is excellent, but a lot of it depends on the source. Water collected form near-shore sources is a potential source of undesirable contaminants. I have regular access to sea water, and have often entertained the idea of taking some home after a day of surfing. However, when you consider the work involved in preparing natural sea water for aquarium use, you may be better off with a good brand of synthetic salt mix and quality source water. On the other hand, if you are prepared to transport, filter, and store natural sea water, and collect it from a good off shore source, it may be excellent to use. In some areas, natural sea water is available from local fish stores. It's generally collected from clean sources far off shore. Do read up on the WWM site about use and preparation of natural sea water in closed systems. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Storing Saltwater <Evening> <Please as a side note, do not use html formatting on your emails.  It makes it very hard to read, and it is very time consuming to remove.  Thanks.> Hello again and thanks as always for the wealth of information you guys provide. <Will pass along to Bob.>  I've looked thru the archives and cannot seem to find an answer to my specific question.  I broke down my 95 gallon saltwater tank yesterday, preparing for a move next week.  I have all of the water (nothing but water) in 2 large trash cans, covered, on the back porch.  I live in Florida, so it gets pretty warm in the afternoons.  My question is this, being that the water is exposed to a 20-25 degree temperature change every day, is there anything that I can do to preserve the quality of the water, is this temp. fluctuation going to have a negative effect on the bacteria in the water?  Thanks a bunch for your help. Dean <Well Dean, Most of your bacteria will be in the rocks, substrate, and on the tank sides.  If you can, the best way to ease a move is to keep the bottom of the tank covered in an inch of water or so and use a bubbler and air pump to keep the bacteria going.  Put some fish flakes or some sort of ammonia in there to keep everything going at least once to ensure the best bacteria continuance to ease or eliminate cycling of the tank again.  Also if your substrate and LR are in separate buckets give them some sort of water movement, like a power head to facilitate O2 conversion. Please do keep the prus objects from the tank like sponges tank decorations and anything else in saltwater as well and you may be able to set everything right back up with very little hassles.  The water itself will be fine, I would check it the day you put it back in  the tank to make sure no large ammonia nitrite or carbon dioxide accumulations have occurred while it was in the bags.  Good luck> <Justin (Jager)>

Question re: Circulation vs. Aeration of new seawater Hi crew, <Good day> I have a bit of a silly question so bear with me. Currently this is my salt water preparation routine. I prepare water via my SpectraPure RO/DI 5 stage filter and then store it in a 30 gallon Rubbermaid barrel and keep it covered with 2 powerheads in it. I take the lid off of it only when I need fresh water for top offs and when I need to mix salt water for my weekly water changes. When I make saltwater I take out water from this barrel, heat it up and mix in the Instant Ocean salt with a powerhead. I keep this covered in a separate Rubbermaid covered container a minimum (usually a few days) prior to doing a water change. My question is that I read about how you need to properly aerate water before use. My water is always circulating with the powerheads but there is always a lid on it. Is there a difference between circulating my water with powerheads vs. aerating it to get rid of the CO2? Do I have to keep the containers uncovered to "aerate" the water a minimum of time before usage?  <It would be better to keep the containers uncovered when mixing the salt. The CO2 does need to escape. All you need to do is use the aeration feature on your power head. Water should be aerated this way for 24 hours, then add your salt. Adding salt to a CO2 rich water will just deplete the buffers in the new mix. James (Salty Dog)> 

How Much Salt?? Learn the Answer BEFORE Setting Up! Hello all, great site. I have a question. <<So do I.>> How much salt should I be adding to my water change? <<For future reference, please use proper capitalization, punctuation. I'm somewhat surprised that you're asking this question, but must presume that you've jumped in without much previous education on the subject of marine systems.>> It is a 75 gallon tank with 150 lbs of live rock and I change 15 gallons once a week but never know the exact amount of salt to add. <<Well, all salt manufacturers I know of actually have *instructions* on the packaging. That's a great place to start. Then, as the manufacturers probably also tell you (right there on the packaging), you really should have a GOOD quality hydrometer - doesn't need to be a refractometer, lab-grade float hydro is fine - so you can check your salinity once it's mixed so you can match it to the tank's salinity.  I am compelled to also offer the suggestion that you have a GREAT deal of reading up to do, as this is the THE most basic knowledge ANYONE who endeavors to keep saltwater specimens MUST know. Please start at the Marine section of our site, start with "Set-up", then move on from there. Depending on how fast you can read/absorb the material, in a couple of months you should have more of the knowledge you *should* have had before setting up your own tank.  After that, you should be reading books and magazines on the subject, we have a reading list on site. Otherwise, hire a good aquarium service. Marina>>

How Much Salt?? Is That the "Real" Question Here? Sorry. I think I asked the question wrong, and as far as my typing I'm not at all good at it. Anyway what I meant was I am little confused I read that it was like 1 tablespoon per gallon somewhere on the internet... <<That is when using as a treatment for certain diseases of certain freshwater fishes.>> ...but I have been adding like 4 cups of salt to my 15 gallon water change, which has never been a problem, but yesterday, after water change the reading was 1.019 which stuck me as odd. <<Me, too, because at this point I'm not really all that sure what it is you want to know. The amount of salt, as measured by VOLUME, tends to be variable for quite a few reasons. Local humidity may play some part, but also what mineral content is in the mix water (because specific gravity is not a measure only of salts), how diligent is the manufacturer in creating the mix, so on and so forth. This is why it's really imperative to use a starting point (your 4 Cups to 15 gallons, for instance), THEN use that quality hydrometer to measure actual salinity. Also, the salt needs to be completely dissolved, and the water should be the temperature the hydrometer was calibrated at (a reason to use something like a decent refractometer) as well.>> My next question is can you add salt right away or should I wait a little while to let things settle? <<Hhmm.. well, a great deal is posted on site re: mixing seawater, I still want you to go through our marine section and read on this information. I *think* you're asking how long after mixing can you use the saltwater, I hope I'm understanding this correctly. In any event, for reasons I cannot explain, aged water seems to be much better for the animals. 24 hours is standard practice, with aeration and heating/keeping to temp. You want the circulation to ensure good mixing, and whether with a powerhead or an airstone, you want surface turbulence to ensure best O2 saturation. I hope this answers the question.>> Sorry if it sound stupid but till this I never experience any problems with water. <<Mmm.. doesn't sound "stupid", but now I am unsure if I am giving you answers to what you really need to know. This is why I'm going to strongly recommend again reading through our marine section.. unless you've got freshwater or brackish fishes, then read in those sections. Marina>> 

High Alkalinity in Newly Mixed Water Dear crew, <Christopher> Thanks for the great site. I have been reading on WWM along with other resources for several months, and have recently started my first saltwater tank, which I intend to be a FOWLR tank initially. I'll probably bore you with all of the details of my set-up someday, but for now I have specific issue that's really bugging me. My question involves calcium/alkalinity. After preparing my first batch of water starting with an RO/DI unit, then aerating/heating x 24 hours, and then adding Instant Ocean, the readings were as follows: alkalinity dKH 16 (Salifert), calcium 520 (also Salifert) with pH 8.3, SG 1.023 and temp 80. Is this even possible? <Mmm, yes> I tested the RO/DI water prior to adding salt just to check, which had very low calcium and Alk (as expected I guess). <Yes, should be> This evening I prepared another garbage can full (clean Rubbermaid used just for this purpose), using the same protocol and same Instant Ocean batch, and ended up with these numbers: Alk 15, similar pH and salinity at same temp. Now I can't even get a calcium reading. The Salifert kit requires adding "Reagent #3" until the initial pink color turns blue. The problem is it turns blue prior to adding any "Reagent #3", making me think the calcium is very low (?).  <Shouldn't be> My 'pre-cured', but overnight-mailed live rock has been in the tank for 5 days and the tank is in need of a water change. For this reason I used 6 gallons (conservative) of this second batch to do so (matched salinity and temperature, but ? calcium concentration). The calcium in the tank (65 gallon with 10 gallons in sump) dropped from around 450 to about 250, checked 1 hour after this water change.  <Not surprising... this happens... part of my years back pitch to Walt Smith to make "Fiji Gold" products...> I observed no obvious precipitation. The alkalinity in the tank at this time was 14.7, with pH 8.3. I fear this was a bad move. <No... no problem> Do the kits sound obviously messed-up, or is it the owner of the kits? <Neither> My plan for tomorrow (Oh, look at the time, I mean later today), is to buy new synthetic seawater mix, take a sample of my tank's water and new mixed water to my LFS for analysis, and consider new test kits if there are discrepancies. I understand Salifert is a good brand, but I can't find an expiration date on the kits. Sorry for the circuitous explanation, but any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Chris <Instant Ocean of late has become something of an anomalous inconsistency... your readings for new water, use with/for live rock curing are fine. Bob Fenner> 

Aging synthetic saltwater and Calcium additions Hi, Crew! <Alfred> The internet is full of information and misinformation. I like browsing through several reef/marine sites, and opinions vary from "XXX is great" to "XXX is the worst thing for an aquarium"... When I want good information, it's WWM that I go to!!!  This place has the BEST information for things aquaria, and the BEST advice -- I'm not saying that to flatter you guys; just saying it matter-of-factly. <Heee! Am taking your affidavit with me to St. Peter... Wait, I'd miss all my friends> To my question: I mix my synthetic saltwater, and follow the "Water4MarUse".  But this is what I do:  Aerate FRESHwater for a couple of days... Add salt and mix/aerate for another couple of days. In my tank, I dose Kalkwasser via drip (to replace evaporation). But what if my new saltwater mix is lower in calcium levels, and I do a major water change (say close to 100%)? <I would not change out this much water unless there was a real emergency> I know that adding lots of calcium to a tank will raise the ph too high, but what about if I add calcium directly to the aerating mix? This may raise the ph too high, but there's nothing there anyway... <A good plan> If this is possible (adding, say, a teaspoon of calcium hydroxide to a 20 gallon mixing container), when should I add it? While aerating the freshwater mix, or after I've added the salt? <I would add it after... adding before will work, but can/will create precipitation problems> I figured (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that if I aerate it (I normally aerate it for 3-7 days), the ph would "normalize" anyway. Then my saltwater mix for water changes would have higher calcium. Thanks, crew! --Alfred <There are a few ways to augment calcium and pH... These and their rationale are covered, archived on WWM. I applaud your efforts at pre-mixing, storing water... a very good idea. Bob Fenner> 

Brown slime in make-up water 5/16/05 Dear Crew: I use a 20 gallon Rubbermaid covered pail for my make-up water. It's heated, circulated, and aerated. I'm getting brown slime in the pail. What to do? Thanks. Mitch <I have the same problem. Occasional bleaching and drying of the container seems to help, as does using all of the water within a couple of days. Also, although it is kind of gross, I have never had any problems because of it. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Preventing Salt from Caking Hi Team,  <Hello Lyndon> I usually buy the 8KG bag of IO salt, and I use it and then store it away in an airtight container and store it away in a cool dark place...however when its time for the next water change its always lumpy.  Is there any way to keep the moisture out to ensure it stays free flowing like when we open the pack ?  Alternatively does this caking cause any loss to the salts effectiveness ? <Sounds to me like you live in a humid zone. I've always put my salty in zip lock bags and never had any caking problems. Maybe your air tight container isn't so air tight. Shouldn't cause any loss of it's effectiveness though, unless it is going to be kept for long periods of time. James (Salty Dog)>  <<Editor's note: Lyndon and others may want to try the old "grandmother's/retauranteur's trick" of putting some uncooked rice into a piece of hosiery or netting and dropping it into the bag of salt mix.  The rice is both non-toxic and will help absorb some of that excess humidity.>>

My pH is Low Hello Crew, <Shaun> I have a question for you that none of my LFS seem to have an answer. My Ph and Alk. always seem to run low. Ph runs 7.8 to 8.1 (night to day) and my Alk. seems to always fall to 5 or 6 dKH. I bought Seachem Marine buffer 8.3 and added it to my water change bucket 1/4 teaspoon to 5 gallons and use Reef Crystals. I aerate the water for 2 days prior to adding the buffer and salt with a power head and keep aerating for about 5 days after. Also I use distilled water. <Mmm, why? Is your tap/source water "that bad?"... You are likely missing a good deal of needed mineral by going this expensive water route> The problem is that when I just mix the salt everything is fine but if I add the Marine buffer I end up with a brown film on the surface of the water and coating the bucket and powerhead. I tested this water and found elevated ammonia and nitrite levels. The bucket is an old Reef Crystals bucket so I wouldn't think this is the cause. Any ideas? <Strange... SeaChem and Aquarium Systems products should produce no such result...> Thanks, Shaun. <Don't know the root cause here, but I would try finding a source of reverse osmosis treated water (check with your fish stores... or buy, install, use your own... especially if there is real trouble with your tap)... and see if your water quality improves, you lose the mysterious brown scum. Bob Fenner>

Another Natural Seawater Question (with Ozone), 30 April 2005 I read the Water4MarUse, and the associated FAQs, as well as reading how you favor artificial salt mixes (consistency, ease of use, purity, etc) as opposed to natural seawater. I also have read Martin Moe's chlorinate-dechlorinate procedure. <Okay> Bob Fenner also says "store in dark for a couple of weeks, then bleach, dechlorinate, decant or diatom filter (and UV, aerate, ozonize if you want) in-between storage and actual use"  <This is one way to render NSW relatively "safe" for aquarium use> In my current reef tank (50 gallons), I use Tropic Marin with the "Water4MarUse" method (premix, store).  I'm planning a BIG tank (500 gallons), and at the current conversion rate, Tropic Marin costs me about US$50 for 150 gallons, whereas the natural saltwater (plenty of it around here) would cost me less than US$5 for 150 gallons -- so Tropic Marin is 10x the price (no other salt mixes are readily available -- no Instant Ocean here or the like -- I think SERA is also available, but not very common, and priced like Tropic Marin). <I see... well thought out, explained...> One also has to remember that the minimum wage in my 3rd World country (Philippines) is approximately US$5/day ($130/month, or $1,560/annum), so when someone says that maybe Tropic Marin is about the same price as in the USA, it SEEMS much more expensive for us (indeed, a luxury).  <Yes> My question is regarding ozonization of Natural Saltwater -- do I really have to chlorinate-dechlorinate, if I practically make the water sterile using ozone (say, using a 200 mg ozone generator non-stop in 25 gallons or so for a few days, then letting it rest in the dark with cover for another few days)? <This chlorination process is cheap compared with importing pests, parasites...> Would ozonization of this sort have any bad effect on the Natural Saltwater? And is this a BAD idea? <Not a bad idea, just not as complete a one as sterilization through chlorine use> I do want to work on my big tank, but the cost of salt/water changes is a deterrent. Yes, I know why WWM Crew in general prefers synthetic (and it's what I use on my smaller 50 gallon reef).  Actually, I don't mind the procedure set forth by Moe, and (y)our dear Bob F, but is the "couple of weeks" in the dark necessary, and would "super-ozonization" be anything useful? <The O3 use is of benefit, just not nearly as much as the Cl2> Thanks! <Do factor in the need for much more frequent, larger water changes with the use of the NSW... the lack of buffering, yellowing... Not as much as a bargain as it may seem... However natural water is used in many (though not all, especially the more modern) public aquariums... for the very maintenance, disease and pest avoidance issues mentioned. Bob Fenner> 

Salt mix reviews by Shimek I recently read an article by Dr. Shimek comparing different commercial salt mixes using urchin reproductive egg survival rates. Could you give me the link to it as now I can't find it anywhere. Thank you so much! Appreciate all your help! Jo Lynn <Mmm, I would ask over on ReefCentral where Ron hangs out. Bob Fenner>

Storing Seawater >Hi there! >>Greetings! >I am hoping to be able to store enough seawater to last a couple of months at a time, is this ok? >>Yes. >Do I need aeration, filtration, access to sunlight etc? >>Aeration, yes, generally a pretty good idea. Prevents excess precipitation, keeps the O2 levels up. If it's natural seawater, then you definitely want to filter AND sterilize. I'd filter through something like a Magnum 350 diatom filter (usually used to "polish" water, removes very fine particulates). You may even wish to sterilize with a bit of chlorine to be sure nothing unwanted enters, then allow to set out, or use Sodium thiosulfate to dechlorinate should any smell remain prior to use. Other than that, I'd use a heater to keep it warm enough for immediate use should that be necessary. >Any potential problems? >>Only if it's not covered well, sterilized/filtered prior to storage. >Our seawater is very clean and lovely here. >>Nice, and nice on the pocketbook, too. >Cheers thanks for such a wonderful resource! Emma >>Quite welcome, and I'm glad you have this resource. I find it's far better and easier to use than salt mixes, encourage folks to make use of such (as long as unpolluted from runoff, etc.) whenever I can. Marina 

Calcium and carbonate hardness Hi Guys.. (No gender bias intended) <None taken> Man what a great site. I've been doing this long enough to remember the only good source of info being printed materials like Moe's Marine Aquarium Handbook, and college textbooks on marine biology, not that they weren't, and still are, a great source of info. It's almost mind-blowing the amount of good (as well as useless) info out there now, and its great to have such a knowledgeable and respected staff to sort through the bull%#$@ or fish poop as it may be. <Ha!> I work at a local mom and pop LFS part time, and doing some aquarium maintenance service. I've been working on and off for the last 15 years or so in the fish trade starting as a employee at a pet store in New Mexico while I was going to college there, still the best job I ever had and was lucky to start out at a place where there were so many knowledgeable people who cared about the hobby, just wish there was more money in it :) Anyway, I'm rambling and haven't even asked my question. <I understand... had/have a similar background> The query involves a problem I'm (as well as a few customers of mine are having) with KH and CA concentrations (I know I know don't fall asleep yet). Just wanted you to know that I have a pretty firm grasp of the fundamentals, although I'm constantly amazed by what I don't know, and I have perused the previous posts pretty thoroughly, but I'm still stuck. The Issues are dangerously high calcium, 650ppm and up depending on the test kit, (and I have tried several) accompanied by a higher than normal K. I know this is next to impossible as the only issues I've had in the past entailed proactive measures to keep CA and KH up to reasonable levels. This is not; however, an isolated event as I have seen this problem several times, and all without some kind of precipitation event AKA "snowstorm". With my customers I have always assumed it was due to blindly dosing with 2 part buffers and not testing for results until too late. <Commonly this is so> I always recommend the cessation of any additive as well as a series of water changes to get things under control. <Our standard spiel as well> Magnesium levels were also checked and adjusted as I've found low levels of this can skew CA levels. <Yes> I was always amazed at the congruous high levels of CA and KH, as I thought this was impossible, or at least very unlikely, for more than a few hours at a time, something has got to give, but I've seen this happen for weeks based on testing and retesting with differing brands of reagents. <Can indeed "happen"... with the influence of other compounds present...> Here's the kicker, for me anyway, I just set up a 30 gallon reef tank in my office not the first (or the 20th) I've set up and I'm having the same issue! Me, this does not happen to ME, I solve other peoples problems, I don't actually HAVE problems, lol, I'm really not that egotistical no problems to solve equals an uninteresting hobby, right. Jeez someone edit me I'm getting long winded, and now I'm writing about how long winded I am and. Its just that I don't get out much and.... AHHH!!!! <Perhaps a small vacation...> The new setup is a 30 gallon cube with a 5" DSB, 40 lbs live rock (or "once live" rock, freebies from the bottom of the rock culturing pool) Remora skimmer a couple powerheads and about 80 watts of PC light, pretty standard. I've added nothing to the tank except Oceanic salt mixed with RO/DI to the sg of 1.024, and a few hermits. My calcium levels are 660ppm and my KH is 130 mg/L, yes that is not a misprint, and it has been there for over a week. <This is likely due to the Central Garden and Pet salt mix> The tank appears to be normal no precipitation normal new live rock stuff coming out, tube worms, few bristle worms, the Aiptasia and the rock anemones seem to be doing fine lol, little bit of diatom growth, start of some green algae. This is where I would normally start dosing some calcium gluconate to kick off the coralline algae but I don't think that's prudent, obviously. My other parameters are normal pH 8.0 (a little low maybe) NH3 up a little for a few days now at 0, same with NO2, no phosphate, no NH3 yet. Like I said I have added no life except my "once live" rock and the hermits.  Should I do anything proactive to bring these ridiculous levels down. <Yes... switch synthetic salt brands> Something beside a water change, and yes, the salt mixed with RO and tested in a separate container tests out equally scary. There is some variance between test kits but they all test within 20-30 ppm for Ca2+,and 10 mg/L KH. I'm worried that at any second my tank is going to turn into a 30 gallon snow globe, no shaking necessary with the help of my powerheads keeping the flakes in suspension, not what I had in mind. Help. <We've had a few reports re the Oceanic brand and these issues. Look into making a deal (for volume) for Instant Ocean IMO... Bob Fenner>

Re: calcium and carbonate hardness, Oceanic salt mix Thanks for the reply. <Welcome> I have heard by some that Oceanic brand salts have higher than normal CA levels, but lower KH. My batch seems to have high levels of both. <This is a highly inconsistent product> I have heard some GREAT reviews of this salt so thought I'd try. My guess is that the people who have had good luck had a pre-existing set up and switched to Oceanic. If they had low CA and ALK then a PARTIAL water change with this dissolved rock could actually improve their water conditions, in a reef that was already established and calcium hungry. <Correct> But for new setups, never again. I will be switching back to IO or TM, so will all my customers. <Ah, both good products> Just ordered my Reef Invertebrate book, can't wait.  A.J. Ginther <I look forward to "hearing" your review. Bob Fenner> 

- Preparing Saltwater & Tiger Barbs - Howdy All! I have a 75g saltwater tank, and I pre mix RO water a week in advance.  I store the water in a 5 gallon bucket.  The bucket has heater and a Maxi-Jet powerhead on top with the venture thing hooked up, with the output pointing at the water surface.  Is this optimal? <It's just fine... exactly what I do, except that I use a trash can.> Would an air stone in the bottom be better? <Would help only minimally... the powerhead is doing the lion's share of the work.> Does it make a difference? <Only slightly.> Should I leave my heater on all the time, or just turn it on the day before I'm going to do my water change? <I only plug the heater in when I need it, granted here in South Florida that isn't very often, but... the day before is just fine provided the water comes to temperature by the time you need it.> Also, I set up a 37g freshwater aquarium for my 5 green tiger barbs.  That's all the fish I'm currently planning on having.  Should I do anything similar for their water changes? <Not really... freshwater fish just aren't as discriminating about the particulars of their water.> I understand tiger barbs are somewhat hardy, but I want them to be as happy as possible.  Which brings me to another question... is 5 too few?  Would the fish be happier if I put a few more in, or do you think they'd rather just have the extra space? <I'm a fan of understocking, although you probably could fit one or two more in there without too many problems. More on these fish here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BarbsDaniosRasborasArt.htm > Thanks much! - Chad <Cheers, J -- > Greenish Yellow Saltwater Mix (2/10/05) Hi guys and gals!!!!  <Howdy. Steve Allen with you tonight.>  I sure am glad you are here for all of us novice fish people.  <We're all novices at something.>  Ok my question may be really simple or really hard I do not think there is a middle of the road here. I have just changed synthetic salts for my salt tank. I went from Coralife to Instant Ocean. My problem is when I added the Instant Ocean to my saltwater holding tank for water changes. It immediately turned an amber green color.  <Weird!>  It has not reverted back. I did not mix the two different salts together the holding tank was rinsed out before I changed salts. I ran a check of pH, nitrates, nitrites, calcium, chlorine and chloramines. pH is normal, nitrates, nitrites 0, and chlorine chloramines did not register, calcium was low about 370 ppm. I am at a loss here and do not want to use this in my tank, unless the color change will go away and will not harm my tank.  <Smart man. Remembering High School chemistry, such a sudden color change must be from some sort of chemical reaction. I would not risk using it if I were you. It's too risky just for a few bucks' worth of salt. I suggest you contact the maker to see if they can explain this. In your shoes, I'd throw that water out, thoroughly clean the vessel with clean water, and try again.>  I looked in the FAQ's section and found nothing to help me there. Thanks Craig  <You're welcome. Hope this helps. Let us know if the manufacturer has any answers.>

Cheap salt? Ok, I've searched your site under sea salt, Instant Ocean, salt bargains and salt shipping without the results I was seeking. Would any of you lovely marine aquarists out there be able to tell me where I can get a good deal on s&h of Instant Ocean? <Am sure... though these deals do come and go... and the Net is "forever"... so info. does get dated quick!> For the 150 gal bucket we pay $69 here in Alaska and up to $99 for the 200 gal bucket (if still available at LFS).  For a while I was getting salt shipped through PetSmart paying only $18 in s&h for 2- 200 gal buckets. Now they seemed to have closed the loop hole and want over $40 for s&h of just one of the 150 gal bucket. <A bargain> Any help would be appreciated. Thanks so much for the great site. You all have saved me a lot of time, money and fish/livestock loss by the hours I've spent searching your site and reading your books. Thanks so much for the free resource. <You're welcome... for good deals I would ask, browse the various BB's in our interest: ReefCentral, Reefs.org... Bob Fenner>

Re: unidentified Algae, BGA Thank you for your reply Bob.  I spoke with Boyd Enterprises regarding their product Chemi-Clean. <Very nice boys... I knew their father, Dick Boyd... a real innovator>   Would you recommend I try this product in my reef to rid the Cyano that is very present as "red slime" in my fuge and as the "blue-green Cyano" you recently identified from the reef pics I sent you?  They claim this product will have no adverse effects on the reef nor will it create any phosphate problems.  Do you agree and is it worth a try? <Mmm, not entirely. Try as I might, I have not been able to find what this product is... other than that it does not contain Erythromycin...> By the way, Boyd himself (son) also made a few recommendations to me.  He suggested I switch from Oceanic Salt mix to Tropic Marin. <A good idea> My Calcium is high 500 and has been as high as 550+ with no addition of Calcium.  He claims that when testing Oceanic, many batches contained very high Calcium levels 700+. <Yikes!> I am going to test the calcium on the batch I am currently using. He also recommended that I stray away from feeding my reef the delicious frozen concoction 3X per week made basically of Eric H. Borneman's recipe and try "Phycopure" made by Algagen and perhaps some "Cyclops Eeze".  <Another worthy suggestion> It was also recommended to continue to feed my fish pellets/Nori as I have been on alternate days. He felt my frozen cube recipe was just blowing too many nutrients around the reef.  Your thoughts would be appreciated. <All sound good. Bob Fenner> Thanks again. Paul Maresca Pre-Filtration & Marine Salts 1/12/05 Anthony, <cheers> I very much appreciate your reasoned response to my questions regarding mixed-bed versus rechargeable deionization.  You have sold me on the concept of minimizing waste.   <always welcome my friend... I do aim to be sensible/practical> I'd like to pose two follow-up questions: (1) Which prefiltration assembly do you recommend for rechargeable 2-column deionization systems such as the KATI/ANI?  The only one I can find is the SpectraPure FA-PRE-0.5M-20 but I hope that you can direct me to more affordable prefiltration systems. <many possibilities here ... depending on the quality of your source water running through it. But, if your tap water is nothing out of the ordinary (like iron-rich well water requiring an extra metal sponge, or silicate-rich water needing chemical media, etc.) then I say just go to your local Home Depot or DIY store and get a cheap drinking water pre-filter unit. Two canisters cost (well under) $50. First stage will be 1 to 5 micron floss... second stage is simply good quality carbon. If you are really handy, you can DIY home make canisters out of PVC for even less money. If you want to get fancy, have two floss pre-filters (12 micron and a 5 micron to follow)... and better still... have Poly-filters (Poly Bio Marine) after the carbon stage> (2) What brands of marine salts will complement the Kold Ster-il filtration system?  Since the Kold Ster-il system does not filter certain minerals (calcium, magnesium, strontium, barium) and buffering compounds (carbonates, bicarbonates, hydroxides) from my pH 8.1 tap water, which marine salts contain lower amounts of these minerals and compounds? Regards, Paul. <without spending a fortune... I'll say that Tropic Marin is presently the best you can buy. I will add though that I generally like Instant Ocean's QC and affordability in my region and use it more often. Anthony>

Proper water change technique with shrimp 1/5/05 Happy new to all. As I have been extensively reading in the FAQ archives and in Bob's book which I purchased a couple days ago I have rudely discovered that I have been doing the water changes very wrongly. <Happy new year!  Bob's book will help a lot, but let's see what's going on...> I now have two skunk cleaner shrimp and three peppermint shrimp which I do not want to harm in the next water change so I was wondering if I have the water change steps down or if I am missing a step. If I am missing an important step please be kind enough to inform me of it because I will be truly heartbroken if something happens to my shrimp.  At the moment I use Oceanic sea salt mix but would like to switch to Instant Ocean. How do I go about this without killing my shrimp?  <There is nothing to worry about when switching brands of salt.  In fact, I generally rotate among a couple of brands to get "the best of all worlds".> Is this a good method for changing the water in my 54 gallon? I've come up with this method from going through the archives but I am still  incredibly confused do please bear with me. - mix salt and water in a clean Rubbermaid container with water conditioner -aerate with a stone overnight -check PH -If ph is off fix with baking soda or buffer -check temperature Do I need a powerhead or no? <Nope.  Either an air stone or a powerhead is fine.> Is overnight long enough to sit? If not then how long? If there is anything else I need to do please tell me or fill in the steps. I live in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago so the water is in between city water and country water I guess.. (if that makes any sense). :) Please help me through this. -Heather  <You did not mention checking the salinity.  Overnight is plenty of time.  If you are having to adjust the pH of the water, something may not be right.  I would check the pH and alkalinity of your tap water and consider using an RO unit.  I would strongly suggest looking into CMAS (Chicago Marine Aquarium Society).  Aquarium societies are outstanding places to learn and grow as a hobbyist, and the members may have  some insight into your local water quality.  Overall, your technique sounds fine.  If the salinity and pH are close to your tank values, your shrimp will be fine.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> Mixing salt water in the tank... Hi Blundell, << Hi there. >> I am setting up a 130 gallon tank and I am planning to mix the saltwater mix directly in the tank itself.  My problem is I put the substrate in already and I have already put the RO water that I was going to use mix the salt. Is this a problem or can I go ahead and mix the salt even when the substrate is in there already? << You can mix it in the tank, no problems.  I've done it many times.  But not if you have live substrate, like live rock. >> <... Do NOT do this... AdamB, are you high? RMF> Thanks! Martin <<  Blundell  >> <Trade in your lab-coat... RMF>

Mixing salt water Hi Blundell, Thanks for the response on mixing saltwater in my tank even with the sand in it.  I ended up doing that and everything seems to be coming out fine.  I have a question on mixing salt mixes in a separate vat/container.  I mixed about 25 gallons of salt mix with tap water yesterday night and tested the water today for salinity and PH.  The salinity comes out fine, about 1.024 give or take, but the PH is at 9.0!  Way too high!  My question is should I just let it age for another day or so before taking some new readings?  << Yes, and it may help to have a powerhead in there to stir it up. >> I've always done it this way and never had a problem though I remember I never did take readings so soon after mixing the salt. << When it doubt, let it sit for a while, no reason not to. >> Thanks again! Martin <<  Blundell  >>

Supplements and natural sea water Hello, I have a problem I have my 155 reef running with some soft polyp corals, brains, featherdusters and some more corals. They have about a week already everything looks good but my gorgonians died. I haven't added <sic> no supplements and the water was from the ocean but cured for a couple of weeks. << Gorgonians often need lots of filter feeding. >> Yesterday I bought liquid calcium from Kent Marine and in the directions it says to add 1/4 of a teaspoon per 50 gallons tank capacity each day depending on the animal load. What should I do I through 3   1/4 teaspoons and I don't think it seems quite reasonable to throw every day this but that is why I am asking you? << Well for now, and with ocean water, I wouldn't add any supplements at all. >><RMF definitely would... NSW is almost always woefully deficient in ready alkaline reserve and biomineral content> what should I do and what supplements should I be adding now please help me I don't want to lose my corals. << Add nothing to natural sea water. >> What about Kalkwasser and strontium and magnesium? << Nope, don't use them. >> please help me. Another question I am feeding my corals with a Coralife liquid target food for invertebrates and with a syringe I target feed all of them once a week and also I give my anemones this is this ok? << Yes this sounds like a good idea. >> Any suggestions? << Feeding, water changes, and lots of light is the best thing you can do. >> Thank you <<  Blundell  >> <...>

Natural sea water continued Thanks for the quick reply, I still have some doubts though, the natural sea water that my tank has right now I bought it and it was cured, but my question is if I bring seawater from the beach but I would go away from the shore to get it and bring let it sitting in a 55 gal tank for some weeks between each water change, should I put a powerhead in it or leaving it just sitting there. << I would probably use it right away.  If you do wait, then I would have a pump in there. >> Is it good to use it after a couple of weeks after sitting? << Probably okay.  I would use it as soon as I could. >> How should I do after I bring it so it is good to do the changes? << Why would it be bad? >> My tank is 155 gal how much should I change and in what period of time? and the water that I am replacing in the sump if it is tap water and I leave it sitting should I use antichlorine? And if it is Reverse Osmosis can I just pour it directly? << I just add it directly.  Slower the better on top off, but I just add about 2 liters at a time. >> But I can save a lot of money with the sea water because I have a house up in the beach and wouldn't cost me nothing, so if you can please help me. << If I had seawater I would use it all the time.  Not sure where you are located but if it is tropical I would use seawater all the time. >> Thank you much <<  Blundell  >>

Natural sea water and supplements continued Thank you much for replying, yes I am located in the tropical I will be collecting the water from the Atlantic side of Panama, << I'm jealous. >> how frequently should I do the changes? << Well I'd say a 10%-20% every month would be great. >> and no supplements have to be added right like Kalkwasser etc..? << Nope, not supplements. >> Well thank you much <<  Blundell  >>

Scripps Sea Water I have been reading over the MANY older FAQ's about natural sea water vs. mixing your own, and am still wondering whether or not it's a good idea (I did also read http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm). Currently I have a 75 gallon FO tank, but am going to be buying a 125 or a 150 gallon tank in the next couple of days - which will be setup mainly as a reef tank with some fish here and there.    While the cost of buying salt mix is miniscule when looking at the overall cost of setting up this new system, If I can cut down on some of the expense by using sea water here and there, that would be great. <No new update here... that is, using natural water still has the same real and potential downsides relatively... being bulky, heavy, messy to tote about, having little inherent alkaline buffering capacity, presenting the same possibilities of biological and chemical pollution, import of pests, parasitic disease>    I wanted to maybe start off using all synthetic sea water to cycle and get things going - or should I use all natural sea water? Assuming I use all "synthetic"  and the system has been up and running for some time… I was thinking of maybe substituting some of my synthetic water changes with the real sea water - I mean come on it's FREE =) <I strongly encourage your attendance in the local Marine Club... you can call Ron Elander at Octopus' Garden and ask him for Maurice Bullock's phone number, the site URL on Yahoo... ask him his personal experiences with Scripps water...>    It just seems that using natural sea water is more touchy, and that there is more preparation in making sure its ready for the system - while with synthetic is more or less mix and pour in comparison. Thanks for your help Leon. <I am in agreement with your stance. Bob Fenner> Kent Water & T82-LoSi I am trying to duplicate some experiments that were conducted at the University of Washington and published on the web. <Okay> The main solution that was used was 70% Kent Water and 30% T82-LoSi (low silicate) media/solution for the purpose of making artificial freshwater. <Okay...> The web search turns up nothing, except for Kent Marine which supplies Kent this & that. Do have any information or any suggestions where I may go to find out more about those components. Note, the University must have lost the expertise because they tried and cannot help. <Are you inquiring as to the make-up of the Kent synthetic salt mix itself? I would contact them re... http://kentmarine.com/ maybe ask for a copy of their MSDS sheet re. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Dave Fashenpour Natural sea water and artificial sea water Thanks for the quick response, Blundell.  Just one more follow up question. Regarding the new batch of salt water, is it okay to start putting fish, inverts, coral in it already?  << Well, probably not.  I would say that 50% new salt water is the highest percentage I would use when adding fish or corals.  Adding a little new water at a time is a good habit. >> Is it okay to mix natural seawater with the artificially mixed kind? << Absolutely.  Great idea. >> <Actually... a very poor idea... RMF> Thanks again! Martin <<  Blundell  >>

Nitrites and little white bugs Hi Blundell!  I have some general questions: << Hi. >> 1.    I recently mixed a batch of artificial salt into purified water in a 7.7 gallon tank.  No fish, no rock, no sand, no nothing.  Just a power head. I've had it running for about a week and when I took the PH today it was at about 8.1 or so but the Nitrite level was .05!  My question is what is causing it? << I'm guessing some very small impurities in the salt.  But that is nothing to worry about.  If you were to add one teaspoon of flake food to that tank and test the water in a week that number would be much much higher. >> There's nothing in the water to produce ammonia!  Am I missing something? 2.    I have a 20 gallon container that I am using to cure live rock in.  I have an 800 gph power head circulating the water.  It's been in there for 3 days and I am using natural sea water. << You are fortunate to have that resource. >> I took the Nitrite and, as expected, it is off the charts.  I took the PH and it is at about 7.3 or so.  Do I need to take steps to raise up the PH or do I concentrate on getting the Nitrite level to 0 first. << I'd change water.  I think that will solve both areas during this cycling process. >> 3.    Is there anything I can add to lower the Nitrite level more quickly in either established tanks? << Hmmm, not really.  I think move live sand and rock always helps, and then just giving it time. >> 4.    I am seeing what looks like little white bugs is the best description I can use for these little critters in my 24 gallon marine tank.  They are on the glass.  I have some live rock in there, a Clown Trigger, a small eel, a couple of damsel fish and two small anemones.  What are these things and how can I get rid of them? << Oh don't get rid of them.  Most likely copepods which are very beneficial to your system.  You want as many odd little creatures as you can get in there. >> Thanks so much for all your help! Martin <<  Blundell  >>

Controlling salt levels I had many saltwater tanks for years and I never had mastered make up water and adding saltwater mixes.  How does one go about adding deionized water and salt mixed water adequately. << Not sure I understand. >> I can never seem to get the salt to mix all the way into the water before adding it to the tank. << Oh, okay.  I put four handfuls of salt into a 5 gal bucket.  Then I drop a powerhead in there and let it run for about 3 days.  Then I test the salt level.  It is always right on perfect for me. >> Also, I heard that the only water that needs to be added is RO or distilled water as make-up water but I don't think that that is true because a lot of salt ends up on the tank cover or around any of the tank openings. << You only need to add RO water.  The amount of "salt creep" that gets out is minimal.  Also, any time you add phytoplankton to your tank you are slowly adding a little more salt. >> Any suggestions?  Seems like every time I take something out or add fish, I have to test the specif. gravity of the water and re-mix some addition water. << This seems odd.  I've never worried about my salt level when adding a fish.  The fish is only going to displace a minute amount of water.  With a large rock or coral, I sometimes take out a couple cups of water from the tank, then put the new coral in. >> Pls. help.  I am just getting started in purchasing a reef system. << Best advise I can give is to just talk to some local friends when setting up your tank.  Ask them to watch and give advise.  For the most part salinity never changes, and I think most people go months without even testing it. >> Sincerely, Mpolka <<  Blundell  >>

Can switching salt cause calcium problems? I have spent most of my day reading all of the posts re calc/alk to get my head around this. First some background .. I recently (2 days ago) had to switch from Marine Environment to Instant Ocean (ME no longer being imported to OZ). Previous ALK was 10 dKH (JBL test kit) and Ca (sera) .. for the past two days my ALK has been 12dkh and calcium 340 (same kits). Other than the coralline algae the only other obvious calc user in the tank is a Catalaphyllia. pH is 8 - 8.2 My question is  .. should I be concerned? << Or those levels different from before?  They seem fine to me, and I wouldn't worry. >> Do I dose with a calcium chloride supplement or do I do a 100l (approx 500L) tank with Natural sea water? << I wouldn't add any straight supplement.  If I did add something I would add a two part solution, but probably wouldn't do that either. >> I know you must get tired of such questions but I don't know what to do .... the calc chloride supplement will bring up my calc but stuff up my ionic balance. << Yep, probably wouldn't do it. >> Sincerely and thankfully Grant <<  Blundell  >>

Falling Out Of Solution? (Powdery Stuff In Prepared Water) Hello Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I submitted this question almost a week ago and had no response, so I am trying again. <Yikes! Sorry your query fell through the cracks...Happens now and then, unfortunately.> Twice now I have added 1 tsp. of Sea Chem Reef Builder to my 10 gallon tank of "Water Change Water" after I aerated and added salt. After a day the tank gets cloudy with a fine white powder. The fresh water consists of RO and I use Coralife Salt, I added nothing else.  Is this a "snowstorm" I have read about? I tested the Alkalinity at 4.5 meq/L after this happened. Can temperature change affect this? The tank went from 77 to 84 degrees during the day and when it got warm, I noticed the powder. Thanks for your time. Michael <Interesting thought, Michael- but I don't think that Reef builder would cause the "snowstorm" effect at this dosage. The cloudiness is apparently something in the buffer falling out of solution. Water can only hold so many dissolved substances. I have noticed this sort of phenomenon myself when using buffer products, and the water has cleared after a day or two. If the water tests okay, I would not be overly concerned about it. Sorry I could not give you a more specific answer, but it seems like it may not something that is very detrimental. Regards, Scott F.>
Re: Too Much Buffer Crewmates: I noticed today's question by Michael about adding Reef Builder to his make up water and getting precipitates in the tank water. I don't know why he did not get my response, which is posted at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsupfaq3.htm  I would like to point out that he is adding a teaspoon of Reef Builder to 10 gallons of water. The recommended dose for this product is 1 teaspoon per 40 gallons, so he is overdosing by 4 times, which may explain his problem. Steve Allen. <Ahh, thank you for this Steve. Bob F>

Natural Sea Water Hello WWMCrew, I would like to know your opinion on using fresh ocean water or RO salt water. I have used both with different out comes , at this point I am trying to get my levels back to normal from a very low point so I am doing water changes I am finding that the RO salt mix has a low ALK and the CAL is as well and that's the levels that I am trying to get back up without using powders. I am finding that the fresh ocean water has a lot better ALK & CAL levels are there any pit falls I should know about this. I did do a search on your site with no luck. Thank you Chris ***Hey Chris, Sea water is the only thing I use in my marine tanks. I've been using Catalina Sea Water for some years now. As far as collecting it yourself, you need to be careful where you collect it from, as there is a danger of contamination. I know of a reefer who has used water collected off of Manhattan for years now with no issues. My first choice would be a commercial brand that has been filtered if it's available. If you collect it yourself, it could be obtained a few miles offshore if possible. I don't trust the salt mixes.

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