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FAQs on Seawater, Synthetic or Natural 3

Related Articles: Synthetic or Natural Seawater, Saltwater Impressions (Synthetics Review) By Steven Pro, Specific Gravity,  Water Changes/ChangingpH, Alkalinity, Marine Alkalinity

Related FAQs: Seawater 1, Seawater 2, Seawater 4, Seawater 5, Seawater 6,  & FAQs on Mixing, Supplementing, Storing, Moving, Physical/Chemical Troubleshooting/Fixing... By Make/Manufacturer: Natural Seawater. Synthetics: 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... Spg 1, Treating Tapwater For Marine Aquarium Use, Reverse Osmosis Filtration 


Sea Salt recommendations - 7/14/03 Hi, I have a 75 gallon fish only aquarium.  Is there a particular sea salt mix that you would recommend?   <Tropic Marin would be my first choice, Omega my second, and Instant Ocean a very well deserved and tried and true (30+ years) third place> Also, do you think it necessary to supplement my water with additional trace elements to make up for those that get depleted? <yes... at least in small amounts unless you do generous weekly water changes. Keep it simple though... trace elements, not just any organic supplements or vitamins necessarily> Thank You, James <best regards, Anthony>

hw MarineMix salt Hi Bob, what do you think about Hw Marinemix, called Hawaiian Marine in USA. Which do you prefer for FOWLR between Hw and Tropic Marin salt? Thank you very much Lorenzo <This is a very good product, on par (IMO/E) with Instant Ocean, but I still rank (by a few percent) Tropic Marin's salt mix as the best available in the U.S. Bob Fenner>

Salt (mix) question Hi Bob, Why do you consider Tropic Marin salt better than others. <Better, more consistent composition, more ready dissolution w/o pH anomalies> I'm using red Sea Salt, what do you think about its composition? <Not a consistent product, particularly in terms of calcium, alkalinity. Bob Fenner> Thanks Lorenzo OmegaSea-Salt 7/1/03 Anthony-I got some OmegaSea-Salt from north coast it rapidly dissolves in minutes just like they say it will and becomes very clear not like some other sea salt that I used for years. <indeed... I was surprised myself, and not inclined to switch brands from something I was previously content with. I do wish them the best for the future... seems like a fine salt/brand/company> Thank you for telling me about it. And now you and Bob go out there and sell lots of books, I hope you will get time to finish the one you have started. Have a good day.    RGibson <best to you too, my friend. Anthony>

Using sodium chloride (rock salt) to cycle a marine aquarium Hi: I am setting up a fish only 300 gal marine aquarium. I plan to cycle it using ammonium chloride. After the tanks zeros out I plan on a 100% water change to rid to system of the high nitrate aftermath. Because the cost of replacing 300 gal of marine water is expensive. I am wondering if I could use sodium chloride (rock salt) to cycle the tank? and then replace it with Instant ocean. If this will not work could please tell me why not! Or is there another inexpensive way to go, Lobster salt etc. Thank you kindly: Rick Luckert <There are cheaper lines of salts from a few of the manufacturers (e.g. Instant Ocean, Marine Environment) if you can find them... but I would just look for the "200 or 300 gallon buckets on sale" and use the "standard" brand from your manufacturer of choice. Bob Fenner>

Raising the pH <Ola Carlos (we've just about exhausted my knowledge of Espa?l there), PF here tonight> Ok, this is not the common ask about PH, my problem is that the only salt that I can found here in my country is AZOO marine salt.  I have been using this salt more than a1 year + 2-3 months (age of my tank) the problem is that this salt only reach a 7.8-8.0 ph after diluting, I tried everything, with the water previous the mix, like aerate for 2 days, then buffer to reach 4 meq/L (the PH without salt 8.5) 2 Days more, then I add salt and nothing... 7.8-8.0 the problem is not just to switch brand of salt, because there is no other brand here... In my tank the PH is 8.1-8.3 (am-pm, assume in the tank the ph raise because the use of Kalk) but I have Bryopsis and believe me is not a nutrient problem, I read that if I raise my PH around 8.3-8.6 constantly I will discourage this green algae. PH 8.1-8.3 Alkalinity 4 mEq Ammonium 0, nitrite 0, nitrate less than 5 or not detectable, calcium 350, mag 1200 Temperature 78-82?F (actually another problem but I'm working to drop to around 74-75) I will appreciate your inputs Carlos <Well Carlos, have you tried buffering with some baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) after mixing the salt water up? Try a small amount, say a teaspoon/10gallons and see if that helps buffer your water. Be careful using this with Kalk. You might have a phosphate problem, did you check for that? That Bryopsis has to be living off something. Here's the article on pest green algae's: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalg.htm. Would it be possible to setup a refugium, preferably using Chaetomorpha, to compete with the Bryopsis? You might also want to try one of the bristle tooth tangs, such as the Kole Tang Ctenochaetus strigosus), they might eat it. Also, as for temperature, you might want to stabilize it around the higher end, a few degrees difference during the day is ok, but 4 is rather high (and taking it to 8 would be even worse. If you can't get it down to around 78-80, try keeping it at 80-82 instead. A little warm, but better than the constant fluctuation. Check for phosphates, and if you find them, there are materials you can use as phosphate sponges out there. Good luck beating this stuff, I've dodged the bullet so far, but known those who've had to deal with this stuff, and it's a bugger. Good evening, PF>

New Aquarium Hi again, I'm on my first week of the cycling stage and so far I've lost all 5 damsels. I have a 65 g corner aquarium with approx. 55 lbs. of live rocks. I've read in an article, that as soon as I have added the live rocks, I should have added calcium, strontium, molybdenum and iodine. <well the salt adds proper levels of these supplements> Should I've done this? <don't have to> and what does this do? <well once your tank is cycled and if you decide to make it a reef aquarium then you would have to test all of these strontium, iodine etc levels, and supplement, but for now I wouldn't bother> Thanks again in advance.<your welcome, Do read more on WWM about cycling, IanB> Regards, Felix

Sea Salt recommendations 5/22/03 Anthony what is the best sea salt that money can buy . <Japanese money can buy a mix from Tetra that is hailed as the best in the world, quite expensive... and only sold in Japan as I understand it. For us, I'd be hard pressed to say anything other than Tropic Marin. Yet that is not what I use. I have been quite happy with Instant Ocean and Omega brand sea salts for getting reliability and the most "bang for your buck". As of late, I'm inclined to stray towards Omega... may stay there too. Quality, price, and the fact that they have employed the brilliant chemist and all-around good guy, Tom Frakes, for consultation [original formulator of Instant Ocean... a pioneer]> Hope you are well. RGibson <keeping very busy, my friend... but well :) With hope for you in kind. Anthony>

How to tell if a plastic is toxic? I went today to Home Depot trying to get a plastic bin for a) making and aging salt water b) using it as treatment tank for sick fish and also for quarantining new fish. I've heard there are some plastic that can be very toxic to fish, even if just used to mix the water and salt (brief period) but none of the buckets and bins were labels as water/food safe or gave any other indication. How can one tell which plastic is good and which is the bad one? thank you, Luke <contact the manufacturer or be conservative and simply avoid any that do not say food-safe, my friend. There are so many plastics available and most nearly every one is safe. Anthony>

Going Natural? (Use of Natural Sea Water) Hello Again WWM Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> As always, I'd like to say marvelous job to all of you.  Great team effort.   <So glad that you enjoy the site! The crew here really enjoy bringing it to you!> I am 3 weeks into the curing of 25 pounds of live rock, 50 lbs of live sand.  I am confident that I am nearly complete with these test results: Salinity: 1.023 Temp: 78 pH: 8.3 Nitrates: 5ppm Ammonia: just slightly detectable Nitrites: 0 Calcium: 450 I do weekly/bi-weekly water changes of 5 gallons.   Am I done?  Cut back on the water changes? <I'd keep 'em up for a while longer. ammonia should really be undetectable> The water movement is good, but I have constant bubbles forming on the underside of the Tonga branch.  I've learned on your site that this may be an indication of bacteria: Beneficial or not? <Well- really hard to say...It could even be hydrogen sulfide, etc...Most likely, however- nothing I'd be overly concerned about at this point> And if not, could phosphates be a problem?   I haven't tested for them (I know, I know...) <Gotta test for 'em to find 'em!> I use a CPR Bak Pak skimmer, and have about 1/4 of the BioBale still in the return side.  This will be FOWLR, should I keep it?  Also, would a small branch of my Tonga in the skimmer instead of the BioBale be beneficial? <Well, it essentially performs the same function- serving as a biological filtration media within the skimmer/filter unit> Secondly, on a recent trip to an aquarium in San Francisco, I discovered that they sell natural sea water conditioned for tanks at a reasonable price.  I already have artificial sea water in the tank.  If I decided to take advantage of this, would it be a bad idea to mix in the natural sea water in when doing water changes? Also, should I dilute this a bit with RO water, since the salinity is 1.025? <Believe it or not, I do not favor the use of natural sea water under most circumstances (and I leave near the ocean, myself!)...The necessary "prep work" to assure that it is made suitable for use in captive systems is too great, IMO.>   And lastly, my sand bed is between 3-5 inches across the tank.  I've read that you need 4+ for denitrification.  Is it worthwhile in the long run if I were to add enough that it could be 4+ across the whole bed? <Yep- I'd be shooting for 4 inches plus!> I'd be up a creek without your advice!!! Thanks always, Ryan Bowen San Francisco, CA <And we'd be "out to sea", without everyone's support! Thanks for stopping by! Regards, Scott F>

Sea Salt Brands/woes and excess light 5/14/03 Hello, I recently tried the Crystal Sea salt and have experienced a major problem in the tank I tried it in. <for what its worth... I have had experience (a few thousand gallons over a some years) and I would not presently take this sea salt for free!> The tank is a 50 g (18 x 18 x36) reef that's been up since about 1994. I thought I would be safe by doing a 5 gal change with a mix of 75% IO and 25% CS (normally this would have been a 100% IO 5 gal - so the only diff was the CS). I immediately noticed my pipe organ retracted its polyps and when they did come out in a day, they were drastically shrunken and a bright un-natural lime green. A Pavona (3 yrs) that was med. green over a dKH reddish body turned bright lt green over the whole coral. Within a week a encrusting short tentacle Goniopora that I have (3 yrs) had started to turn brighter green. A rock (6 yrs) covered with brown Zoanthus w/ small dk grn cntrs and green zoos w/ brown fringe - they were fine for 1 1/2 wks but are now closed and the brown is totally bleached and the green cntr is lt gr, the other Zoo is now a very lt green w/ no brwn. Waving hand anthelia faded to a light bwn in a day. Xenia is fine (2 types). Pink Pocillopora - fine. In about 1 - 1.5 weeks the following changes happened :Yellow leather - bright yellow (the only color change that actually looks better than the original color). Teal blue zoo's that I just got from Trop bleached to a light green. Lime green Nephthea - fine. Lime green Caulastrea - lighter grn. Caulastrea w/ green cntr and red-brwn perimeter - red brwn is starting to fade. Bwn Lobophytum (8 + yrs) is now light tan heading toward white. Green mushrooms - brighter grn even thought they are partially shaded??? Blue Indo sponge is fine. 7 yr old pink bubble tip Anemone is fine. 8-9 yr grn/ wht flower A is also fine. To me it looks like everything affected is suffering from severe light exposure. Any suggestions - I am cutting back on the lighting. <do not cut back on lighting unless you know that was the problem (changed to new lamps, excess photoperiod, increased intensity, cleaned bulbs or increased water clarity after long period of neglect). Reason being... The OK corals and the zooxanthellae left in the struggling ones will be further challenged to feed their host with the diminished light. Terrible idea. Please keep the photoperiod the same... never make any sudden changes... and try to feed the stressed corals a little better to compensate until zooxanthellae recover> At first I thought I could just wait but after getting back this weekend, I noticed that the changes are just getting worse. The pipe organ and bwn /grn zoos are now totally closed and some of the fading corals are even more faded. Not sure what to do??? The corals affected are high and low in the tank, lighting is 4 - 95w VHO's that are over due for a gradual change. I would estimate 2 are 9 months old and 2 are 14 old. The rock w/ zoos has them on top and down each side. Its about 9" x 9" x 9". All zoos at all exposures are affected - even where slightly shaded by algae. Only thing changed was use of CS salt. <yes... do check the other message boards for similar experiences. You are not alone> I would appreciate your thoughts. At this point I am also tempted to do an all IO water change. <not a terrible idea... but the water change (with either brand) could have just been done a little inaccurately and caused the stress just the same (harried with temp or salinity adjustment?)> I was wondering if there is something in the CS that makes the zooxanthellae more sensitive to light? <many possibilities here> The reactions all seem to be as if the light level has drastically changed. <possible if a change of carbon after a long period of neglect coincided with the water change... or the cleaning of a very dusty/dirty lamps or lenses> This amount and timing of the water change is on my normal schedule (actually a little ahead of schedule). The water removed was not in bad shape i.e. heavily tinted. I had not used activated carbon before or after but I did add Kent TechI right after (maybe 2 days later). <wish you would use carbon or do larger water changes... but no worries on the Iodine> Right now my photo period is 15.5 hours. <yikes! that is a very long photoperiod with any lighting system. I did not guess photoinhibition at the top of this query... but it sure is possible. 6-10 hours with halides... 10-14 hours max with fluorescents> Its now been 16 days and there have not been any losses yet. I was thinking about moving some of the corals to a different tank. <no way, bubba... too stressful. > Corals seem willing to eat, so I have been feeding a little heavier. <excellent> Fish and inverts are fine. Algae is fine. Aquarist is not fine. Thanx for your time. Tim <best regards, Anthony>

Salt mixes cloudy... Hi  Again I am already setting up a 150 gallon aquarium. I put 400 pounds of live sand and I am waiting for a Euro-reef skimmer that I already bought (CS8-2). I am also waiting for Hamilton lighting 2 Reefsun with metal halide bulb 14000k, but I am having some problem with the salt I bought here in Colombia, Crystal sea from Marine Enterprises International.  I mixed on Friday and today Monday 14 is all cloudy.  The temperature at the aquarium is of 72 F. and I have been moving the water with 2 pumps for 4000 LPH what can I do? I bought this salt because I read an article in reefkeeping online magazine about the good quality for invertebrates.  Marine enterprises advertise in their web page that this salt will clear in minutes I wonder if it is solar minutes Best Regards, Andres Saravia Colombia, South America <Hi Andres, You don't mention your source water, if it is filtered with reverse osmosis or DI and if not, it's hardness and pH. If this is RO/DI water, I would aerate and heat it for 12-24 hours before adding salt, then continuing mixing and aerating for an additional 12 hours. If this isn't RO/DI water, then I would suspect this is a reaction with the hardness mineral content of the source water.  I hope this helps. Craig>

Natural Seawater Use (from John Foster, MASLAC) Just my experiences...  I have used plenums in all my tanks (125, 180, 240) for between 3 and five years.  Some of my sandbeds I disturb a lot and often and others only a little.  I have never had any problems.  I will say that when I set up my next tank I am beginning to think that a deep sand bed may be just as good and I will only go with the sand bed.  Charles Delbeek compared them side by side (with and without  plenum) and found very little difference.  It did seem that the tank with the plenum lowered nutrient levels faster when they were elevated, and this has been my personal experience.   John   I tested Scripps water about 5 years ago and NO3, NO2, PO4 were not detectable.  ALK and PH were perfect, however, Silicates were high.  I used a HACH Professional model test kit.  The water is alive with bacteria not Nitrates and Phosphates.  What I have noticed is that if you seal the containers and/or the temperature rises quickly, there will be a rapid die-off of the bacteria/[plankton.  You can tell by smelling the water.  If this happens, do not use the water until you store it in the dark sealed for a couple weeks. I have used freshly collected water up to a week after collecting it but I store in in a cool place with the container open.  Don't leave the water in the direct sun for too long after you collect it if you intend to use it right away.    As far as plenums go, I don't recommend them.  They seem to work well until something disturbs them (inevitably something will) and then watch out!   This happen to me with a Pistol Shrimp and caused my tank to cycle.  I lost some of my more sensitive corals.   Happy reefing,   Keith   I have heard such conflicting information about using Scripps over RO/DI +salt that it is really bothersome.  One LFS says only use artificial water b/c the Pacific ocean water is too rich in Nitrates/Phosphates etc.  It is true that our water is very rich in nutrients, that's why we have such large kelp beds, the fastest growing "plant" brown algae, in the world.  Other LFS's say that there is nothing wrong with Scripps water.  The first LFS attributed my algae problem to using Scripps water, but with biological controls and more sand in my plenum the algae are gone.  So was it the water, or lack of good biological controls?  Or a combination?  After 2yrs of using Scripps water for my 80 gal reef I would say that it works just fine.  Has anyone sat down and tested some artificial water and some Scripps water to see how they compare in the NO2/NO3/PO4 department.  It would be nice to have a seawater nutrient profile   for different times of the year and see how it fluctuates.  I would expect nutrient levels to go up in the spring and early summer when   we have the most wind, and then to drop off when the upwelling cycle   is over.    by the way:  how do people feel about plenums?    > Scripps's water, it's water you can get for free at the la Jolla Scripps aquarium, many people go to get their salt water that they use for their own systems, the water over there it's perfectly balance (PH, N2, N3 etc).   > But I also heard, that the water over there contains many plankton and bacteria that is harmless to their extremely large system, but can be a wipe out to small systems.

Crystal Seas Marinemix Dr. Ron is at it again...heavy metals.   <sometimes I'd really like to know what he's smoking> Now he claims that Crystal Seas Marinemix is the salt to use. <yes... formerly of "Forty Fathoms" infamy! Change the name and suddenly it isn't so bad anymore <G>> However some of my friends have used it and tell me that their corals have undergone substantial bleaching (after the 30% water change recommended by the dear doctor). <I have had commercial experience with this salt and from it would not personally take that product for free nowadays> What is your take on this subject ?   <not surprising from above comments... have chatted about this at length in the WWM archives and on RC over and over again... the theory is fundamentally flawed and bunk IMO> Is there really a major difference in the composition of this salt that would benefit my tank? I use Tropic Marin  and unless I see hard evidence that it is detrimental to my tank, I want to continue to use it. <Tropic Marine is tried and true... and one of the finest salts available. Continue to use it my friend if you want my opinion. Best regards, Anthony>

Salt Per Gallon - 4/12/03 Hi, I'd like to know how much sea salt to use in my new lobster tank, <I am assuming an oceanic lobster not brackish?> how many cups of sea salt for every  gallon, thank you very much, frank <Well, if you are using Instant Ocean sea salt it should be around a 1/2 cup to a gallon of R/O water but it all depends on the salt manufacturer.  Paul>

Salt mix recommendations - 4/8/03 Can you please tell me how much salt (in cups or table spoons to mix for my marine tank.) i was told it was about a pound per gallon.  But i don't not have a scale for that amount.  Also what is the best ratio in of salt too. <????>  I keep my tank at about 1.022-24.  <Sorry Doug, there is usually a recommendation from the company as to the ratio. What about where you purchased the salt from? What do they use? Is this an aquarium salt you are using? What company manufactures it? See if they do not have info on the web for mixing or if some other aquarists have not used it and could give you the solution. Depending on the salt, a 1/2 cup per gallon should be enough to put your salinity at or about 1.023 to 1.025 in most cases though. Hope this helps! Later - Paulo> Thank you Doug

Good salt, bad salt.... (04/02/03) Guys, <And gals. Ananda here tonight> Have any of you seen this recent analysis of some popular salt mixes? http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-03/rs/feature/index.htm Up until now, I have exclusively used Instant Ocean, but maybe.... Sincerely, Mark Schwartz <I quote from the article: "The constituents of the other salts were not independently analyzed, and I had to rely on data provided by the manufacturer of Crystal Sea Marinemix Bioassay Formula. For the Bio-Sea Marinemix, I used the data from one of the advertising brochures describing the salt." I am leery of trusting data that is not independently analyzed. The data from the manufacturer's claims form the basis of a large part his paper. I have studied the S-15 Report at length, and found many holes in the data and its presentation. I posted some of my questions in a forum, where they were either flamed away or not addressed by the company owner, who was in on the discussion. More comments about Dr. Shimek's article here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seah2ofaq3.htm --Ananda>

Water Preparation WWM Crew: <Scott F. your Crew Member tonight!> I have been reading The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and plowing through the FAQ's. Between the two, I have taken in so much information I have had to let out my hat. Thank you for these two great resources. <Bob's book is a real treasure! And I'm proud to contribute to the WWM resources!> From what I have read, I understand that I would do well to have week old tap water and saltwater on hand for topping off and water changes respectively. <A wise idea...Be sure that your fresh water is properly conditioned and aerated before use> If I have read correctly, the aging of the tap water with some type of circulation is to rid it of chloramine and other nasty's. <Well, also to drive off carbonic acid, which can drop pH and contribute to unstable water chemistry> It has been recommend that the storage containers be covered to keep out dust.  If container is covered too well, will this keep the bad stuff from dissipating? <Well, if it's covered too tight, it can hinder gas exchange as well> My second question is, if I age my tap water for a week and use it to make synthetic salt water, should I then age the synthetic saltwater yet another week? <I don't think that is necessary, as long as the source water has been properly prepared. I'd let the saltwater sit in the container, with some circulation (for the express purpose of letting the salt mix dissolve thoroughly), then use it> Thank You in advance; David <Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F>

Using Natural Sea Water Aloha WWM Crew, <Howzit?> Thank you for all your help.  I truly appreciate the resource you provide.   <Our pleasure- always great to help fellow hobbyists!> My question involves the use of natural seawater in my 55 gallon FOWLR.  I live on the island of Oahu and have access to seawater through a University of Hawaii marine research center on Sand Island. I was told that the water is brought in from a few miles out and is stored in large containers.   Of course, its free so the idea sounds great to me.  I'm just wondering what the drawbacks are.  I read through the FAQ's, but I was wondering if any of the issues are different due to my location.  Would it be okay if I just let the water sit for two weeks and check the PH before use? Mahalo Nui Loa, Jeff <Well, Jeff, natural seawater is certainly good stuff, but it actually has a few drawbacks in closed system aquaria, regardless of its source. Among the drawbacks is that fact that it contains a variety of potentially problematic microorganisms, which can survive many pre-filtering processes. The other potential concern is the limited buffering capacity of seawater in closed systems. That being said, however, it is still nice to use. If you're going to use it, it's a good idea to let it sit in a dark place for a week or so, which lets all of the good and bad stuff die and settle out, then filter it and maybe run a filter with some PolyFilter or carbon for a few days, then it's good to go. Seems like a hassle, but it's worth the effort. Hope this helps a bit!  Malama Pono, and A hu'i hou! Scott F>

Dr Ron's so-called salt toxicity theory 3/7/03 I read the article at this link   http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-03/rs/feature/index.htm and did a little research and thought I'd share my findings. First of all, the data from table 4 is not all scientifically gathered.  "The data for Instant Ocean and Coralife salts are from Atkinson and Bingman, 1999. The data for Marinemix-Bioassay Formula were provided by the manufacturer."  In other words, the info for Marinemix is marketing... you and I have had discussions about this topic haven't we Anthony.  ;) <heehee... indeed we have> Second, I did an internet search on the Marinemix product and found more than one source to support the position that this stuff is crap, and the marketing is a bunch of lies. http://www.aquacraft.net/w0008.html says... www.northcoastmarines.com/salt_comparison.htm www.calgaryaquariumsociety.com/Articles/ Web_Site_Review_Marine_Aquarist.html <yes... it really is unfortunate> All these sites comment on the S-15 report tested various salt mixes, and the last one is a very objective view on the report itself. <the S-15 report has been an industry laughing stock for quite some time> The report basically says that all the salts are bad and that their marketing claims are not valid.  We all knew that already though, didn't we!!  And so the point is that the values for Marinemix were marketing, the values for Instant Ocean and Coralife were scientific.  And the differences in survival rate of the urchin larvae could be any one of a number of causes (including batch differences).   <very much agreed> I'm surprised that someone would make an article that is supposed to be scientifically based, and publish manufacturer's marketing in his article, and base a lot of conclusions on it no less... shame, shame! Jeremy Calgary, Canada <your sentiment is shared whole heartedly by many! Thanks for the convenient links too, my friend. Will post on the dailies :) Kind regards, Anthony> Salt Mixes ATT: Anthony  3/6/03 Hello Anthony while reading this months Reefkeeping magazine, I ran into an article written by Dr. Shimek which shows that Instant Ocean salt has a higher toxicity then other salts such as Bio-Sea and Forty Fathoms/Crystal Sea Salt Mixture for Bioassay Research. <what a pile of crap... "toxicity". Decades tried and true and now its toxic...heehee> The article can be found here http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-03/rs/feature/index.htm and wanted to see what you thought about the article and what salt do you prefer and why. <I have read the report Dr Ron has put forth and am very sorry to see it. This really is an enormous can of worms... but in short, of all the things that Dr Ron is an expert in... chemistry does not seem to be one of them. I say that in all seriousness and with all do respect for the man's  considerable and appreciated (certainly by me) contributions to the hobby. But he still is not a chemist... and several highly regarded chemists that I trust and respect have riddled his data as unreliable. I myself, am no more qualified to conduct the experiments to confirm or deny the reports. Frankly, though... I think it is complete bunk. If you have the time to browse through the WWM archives you will see replies made in response to this subject. The gist of it, though, is that synthetic sea salts have been time-tested: period. We have fish and invertebrates on record over 30 years old in the mix... and I'm not talking just hardy fishes and corals either (ocellaris clowns at 32 years old!)... Blue faced and Navarchus angels over 20 years in France... numerous German aquarists with 15-20 year old reefs producing tons of coral. The proof is in the pudding as far as I'm concerned. I personally like Tropic Marin if I'm spending someone elses money <G>... or Instant Ocean or Omega for the best value and quality without paying too much. Instant Oceans quality control has been the industry standard for 30 years. Best regards, Anthony>

- Snow Storm in Freshly-mixed Water - <Hello, JasonC here...> Hello Crew, sorry to bug you again, but I have a question about the water that I've made up to do a water change with.  I've just recently started using RO water for water changes.  I have 20 gallons of RO water in a container with a heater and a Rio 90 power head.  I am using Tropic Marin salt and got a reading of 0-0.7 meq/liter for alkalinity.  I added Seachem Marine Buffer and followed their instructions.  I only had to add it once as it raised the Alkalinity to about 3.2 meq/liter.  Now, the water has been in the container for about three days and everything inside is covered with this whit powdery "stuff". <I also use Tropic Marin and have had similar experiences... I've not been able to tie it down to any particular set of actions, but am pretty sure it's calcium precipitating out of solution.> Is this harmful? <No.> Should I go ahead and use this water? <I have without ill effect.> This has happened once before, but that was when I was using softened tap water.  I thought it was caused by the water being to hard, but now it is RO water and I'm confused. <Check the alkalinity of it anyway... RO 'should' be demineralized, but it's still worth a check. Perhaps buffer the RO and then let it stew for 24 hours before adding the salt.> Please get back to me on this. <Cheers, J -- >

- Re: Snow Storm in Freshly-mixed Water - Thank you Jason for responding. <My pleasure.> I will try your suggestions.  One more thing.  Before and after I added the Marine Buffer the PH was about 8.4. Now that the powder has formed the PH has dropped to about 8.0.  Does this sound right? <Not really...> The Alkalinity is still at 3.2 meq/l.  Could this be caused by the lid on the container not letting the water "breathe"? <A possibility and one that is easy to fix. Do aerate your mix water.> Thanks again <Cheers, J -- >

A Grain of Salt? I really love and value this site, but the more I read, the more I shake my head and wonder. <Yep- sometimes I have to bang my head and fall over for a while! Scott F. with you today> I got my tank with the office I bought 1 1/2 yrs ago and love the steep learning curve. I have a 90gal, wet/dry with 1/3 the bio balls, AIS 90 skimmer, power compacts ( can't remember watts ), Ebo 500 watt heater, 20 gal sump, 2 - 401 power heads, carbon filter bags, live sand with about 75 LB LR( a guess ), 9 med size fish, many mushrooms and 1 small polyp coral.  I do 20-25% water changes every week (as you suggested, nitrates going down again ), RO water, ph 8.3, sg 26-28, nitrites 0, nitrates 20, alk 300, cal. 480, phos. .25. <Sounds like a good trend! Keep up the good work! I tend to recommend smaller (like 5% twice a week) water changes, but if your schedule is getting results- keep it up!> I'm wondering based on other guestions, does the salt vary by manufacturer? I'm using Coralife. <Well- yes- there are various subtle differences in formulations and quality control/consistency. Unfortunately, there are no "standards" within the industry governing the formulation or regulating minimum quality standards, so you have to go with a proven "winner". In my personal opinion (and not being an analytical chemist!), most of the reputable major brands (i.e; Instant Ocean, Coralife, Tropic Marin, etc) are quite good. I worry more about some of the "lower end" brands, in terms of quality control and packaging quality...Other than that- not too much to worry about, IMO.> If the skimmer should be first in line to receive water from the display, why do all the wet/dry and sump set ups I see for sale go to the skimmer second? <I asked myself that, too. Probably more convenient to make in this configuration...not to sure!> Should I change my set up to use a sump for the skimmer, direct from the display, that will overflow to my wet/dry and so on? <That, or a dedicated "level flow box" to serve as a skimmer compartment, where it receives a constant level flow of raw water right from the display> Also, all my rock is about 6-7 yrs old, is it effective/functional enough for now or this way too old? Thanks so much, ..........Mike <Hey- its probably thousands, if not millions of years old on the reefs...and it works there! I wouldn't be too concerned about long-term "viability" of live rock, as long as it has been maintained in conditions that foster its continued animal growth and condition. Hope this helps you! regards, Scott F>

Tropic Marin distribution Hi, I am from Caracas, Venezuela. I need information about distributors in Florida, USA. of  "Tropic Marine Salt, 82lbs, Made in Germany" Can you help me Thank you Eduardo Reyes Acuario Sambil <Mmm, well, there are two distributors of Tropic Marin's products in the United States, (they don't sell to consumers.) You can contact them via the company's home site: http://www.tropic-marin.com/web/english/homepage.html Bob Fenner>

Re: (New) water aeration Dear crew, greetings and salutations, how are you, i haven't mailed you in a while, and all i can do is apologies, i have heard a few conflicting reports about aerating r/o water prior to adding salt, could you guys set me on the road to Valhalla or are my questions going to fall on stony ground ha! ha! Anyways should you aerate r/o prior to adding salt to elevate ph and dissipate co2 in the water, or should you just add the salt straight away and then aerate allowing that the buffers in the salt will elevate the ph to 8.2. <Aerate or at least circulate vigorously. Our protocol for pre-mixing synthetic is archived here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and the four FAQs files beyond> What is correct, some folks say that you don't have to aerate as the salt will buffer straight away, and some say add air for 12 hours or so, i personally always aerate my r/o for 24 hours prior to adding anything, am i overdoing it or am i utilizing good husbandry practices, another thing that gets me going is the now much heralded charge that you don't have to do water changes, especially in reef tanks where there is an abundance of live rock, you constantly hear people saying 'my parameters are fine when i check so i only do a change every 2 months' or whatever, i always do a partial change every weekend usually 10%, what are your views on this crew. <This is about right... you can read over much more stored on WWM under "water changes" in the marine index...> regards to Anthony and Sir bob, god I've wound myself up now, I'm going to wander down to the pub and treat myself to some cold Guinness, all the best guys and I'll speak to you soon, i promise (as Arnie spoke those immortal lines) I'll be back. <Be seeing you, Bob Fenner>

Water Storage Question I am trying to line up everything for my new tank. I am setting up a 180 gal. reef ready but FOWLR for starters. <Nice size> My question is in regards to storing water for my water changes. A friend of mine was able to get me a 55 gallon plastic drum that was used to store honey. (His friend works at a big cracker factory). <Yummy> Would it be ok for me to was h this out with hot water and use it for water changes? <Should be, yes> I will have to cut a hole i n the top about 6-8 " in circumference in order to put in the salt, heater, and a pump. If this is ok how long can store the water? <Indefinitely> I plan on getting two of these drums and always have one ready for action. <Good idea> Thanks in advance for the info! <Please see here for more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and the FAQs (linked, in blue, at top) beyond. Bob Fenner> Dave

2/05/03 - Clouds in the water 2 Thanks!!!! <My pleasure> I've thrown out my salty R/O water and am starting fresh (no pun intended!). There is no way I'd use that cloudy water. <May not be all bad though. Check Alk and see if the water can't be salvaged. In any case you made the right decision to start anew>    I'll make smaller amounts and keep an eye on the quality for my next change. <smaller amounts are easier to deal with but it is okay to made saltwater for quite a while this may have a lot to do with the Alk level etc. not how long you had the water per se> I'm evaluating everything I've done the past 2 water change (attempts) that may have caused this reaction...my guess is that I've been letting the water sit for too long. <Again may be possible but could be other issues here as well. If you do find an answer please pass it along. Have heard of others with this issue. It would be of great service!> I'll take appropriate steps and email you back and let you know how it turned out. <Great and thanks for the response. If I can do anything else.......> Tanks, I mean, thanks again! <Tank you! Pablo out-> Later,  

Pre-mixing synthetic water treatment protocol Hello again. Craig recommends not buffering RO water until after the salt is added.(??) Others say different. Help here. <Hi Mark. I recommend aerating first, 12-24 hours, then testing your water pH and alk. Most salt mixes contain buffers, some more, some less. I am a cautious person and I test my replacement water to know what it is, as there is some variation in salts, etc.  The better salts might buffer more than others, unknowingly pushing your alk or affecting calcium levels. To be clear, either way would work provided you know how much, if any, buffer to dose in your RO/DI water that, when mixed with your salt won't precipitate out of solution or push your parameters out of whack. (with NEW water!)>. My question was should I stop all supplements (buffers-Marin plus-Kalk) while doing water changes to get back ionically balanced. I am testing and is how I knew there was a problem. Could be just high CA usage. I have lots of Halimeda and I know It can suck down the KH. My CA is about 325 and KH stays around 8 DKH. Just trying to get closer to 400 using Kalk and Marin plus (is this calcium chloride ?). Everything looks great except the numbers. Am I a worry wart? You guys are great and I read here several times a week. Thanks for all the confusion. TGIF     Later Dudes, Mark <No, not necessary, but water changes over time will definitely restore ionic balance and needed alk and calcium (provided it isn't out of whack in the replacement water). Your calcium is, in reality, only 25-50 points low, I would be more concerned with low alk. Your Halimeda doesn't use as much alkalinity as calcium, which is not all that low. I would use a good balanced marine or reef buffer to raise alk to 4-5 meq/L (11.2-14 dKH) and continue Kalk dosed in the early AM for calcium. If Kalk isn't enough to raise and maintain at 375-400 then I would use a calcium supplement once or twice to get those up to around 400 and then use Kalk to maintain. Dosing more Kalk in solution will raise calcium as necessary but may push pH if you aren't careful as it has a high pH to begin with. I wouldn't consider your ionic balance to be a problem, you just need to dose more alk and Kalk to maintain usage and minimum levels. Your calcium dosing is pushing your alk lower and lower (and vice-versa). They both need to come up, 12 dKH for alk and around 400 for calcium. Higher levels of both concurrently is flirting with disaster. Don't forget magnesium with Kalk use. I sure hope this helps!  Craig>

Supplements and new seawater Hey Guys. I have a quick question about the old no matter how much ca you add, nothing happens. After reading much in the archives, (still reading) I am going with old dilution solution. My question is should I stop all additions (buffers, Kalk, calcium Marin plus) until things are back in balance. I'm still trying to perfect treating my RO water and think adding buffers to soon (before aeration) or to much may have been the beginning of the problem. Before I just added tons of buffer and calcium to the tank to keep balanced and Kalk made with untreated ro water. Anyway, thanks for all of your time. Mark <Hi Mark, If your ionic balance is shot, you need to perform water changes and test your water (pH, Calcium, alkalinity, magnesium) to see where you stand. You shouldn't buffer RO/DI water until after adding your salt mix and aerating for at least 12 - 24 hours before testing to see what, if anything, is needed. It is very risky just adding calcium, buffer and Kalk without testing to see how much is actually needed. Be careful, and test first!  Craig>  

Re: to aerate or not to aerate...that is the question Hey gang, Quick question. What's the purpose of aerating salt water for 16-24 hours prior to adding it to the main system? <It helps the water to get saturated with oxygen and improves the pH, also gives the salt time to completely dissolve> I'm so very used to just pouring salt into a 20 gallon bucket and tossing in a power head for about 20 minutes then adding it to the tank's sump. <Egads! I wouldn't do this. Read on the salt bag/box? See what it says? "Can be used instantly but don't use it for 24 hours." The water will greatly benefit after aerating for 24 hours+. Try this: mix up a batch of water and test the salinity and pH as soon as your finished. Now let that same batch of water aerate for at least 24 hours. See the difference in the numbers? Thanks, Steve <You're welcome! David Dowless>

A Pinch of This, A Dash of That (Mixing Salt) Is there a formula for mixing saltwater to a desired SPG?  I use Instant Ocean, and when I mix it according to directions, (1/2 cup to 1 gallon water) it is about 1.021.  My tank is at 1.024.  Invariably I end up adding more salt, more water, waiting, etc.  Does anyone have a tried and true method for obtaining 1.024 with Instant Ocean?   Would this vary with your source water? <Could vary based on the source water and its temperature.> It would be so great if someone could tell me to add a specified amount of salt per gallon to get this result.  This seems like a very basic question to me, but everyone I ask with a tank pretty much does it like I do and would love to have a more definitive formula.  All my experiments end up with numerous additions of salt and then water, until I don't even know how I got there. <Well, there are no "set" formulas, but my personal "recipe" that gets me in the ballpark is 2 1/2 cups for 5 gallons of source water...That puts my water at about 1.025 at 79 degrees pretty much every time. Now, I use Tropic Marin, so your results may vary! Will it do the same for you? Maybe. Maybe not! How's that for an answer? (If you don't like my salt mixing formula, you'd hate the way I make a gin and tonic! Seriously, there are many ways to get there. I arrived at my formula based on trial and error, and using the same size containers and amounts of water and mix every time.> Thanks for all your help in the past.  I've got my 20-year old LFS guy reading your site and he said it is so much more helpful than his employer. <Gotta love that! :)> Linda <Take care, Linda! Regards, Scott F>

Mixing Salt (cont'd.) Thanks Scott.  Although your "formula" is exactly what the salt manufacturer calls for and is exactly what I use to get 1.021.  (2 1/2 cups to 5 gallons is exactly the same as 1/2 cup per gallon).  How can our resulting Spg's be so different, as you get 1.025 with the same proportions?  Does the difference really lie in the source water?  I am in a very rural area, but do not have well water. < Yep- I've used that "formula" for years, and it always works for me with minimal adjusting! It's certainly no "secret weapon"! Great questions...I'm certainly no chemist, but I'll bet that the source water composition and temperature are contributing factors. It would be interesting to try the ratio that you're currently using on some RO water or distilled water to see if there is any difference. Alternatively, (and probably the easiest route) you could try simply going with two cups per five gallons to see if the specific gravity increases noticeably. Also (and I'm sure you thought of this already) you may want to confirm that your hydrometer is accurate. I had a friend who's water was "always 1.022", no matter how much evaporation seemed to occur in his tank, no matter what the temperature was... He always got 1.022 every time he mixed water...never a deviation. One day, I was helping him out with his tank, and I was rinsing the hydrometer (one of the "swing arm" types) out after using it, and I noticed that, even when filled with freshwater, it read...1.022! (BTW- his tank was 1.026!). Moral of the story- it never hurts to check on the obvious- get a "second opinion" from another hydrometer, or even a refractometer! These devices are certainly not "bulletproof"! Hope you get the results that you're looking for...Keep experimenting!  Hmm- maybe I need to re-check MY hydrometer...? Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Low pH? (Pt 2) Scott F., <Here again!> I tried your methodology.  I also took heed of your comment about how salt mixes are manufactured assuming some level of minerals, etc., in the water. To this end, I made a 5 gallon water change as follows: 1)  2 gallons of tap water (central Indiana liquid limestone: ph = 8.03 and dKH = 17) 2) Added to 3 gallons of distilled water (I normally use 5 gallons of distilled) 3)  Aerate for a full 24 hours (I normally aerate 16-18 hours) 4)  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Seachem Marine Buffer ph 8.3 and stir. 5)  Add 3 3/4 cups of Instant Ocean. (Well known to mix up at ph 8.3) 6)  Stir until any trace of cloudiness is gone.  About 8-9 minutes. I then tested the ph with my Pinpoint monitor.  Take a guess: How about 8.04 ?!?! What the heck????   It's GOT to be something environmental.  But what? <Wow! That is frustrating...I'm wondering if you should experiment with just the tap water, and no distilled...?> If I add 1/2 tsp. of Seachem Marine Buffer to 16 ounces of RO water and test, I get ph = 8.3.  Now this I expect. My reef system has a near identical ph to my tap water Water parameters as of 5 minutes ago (water change done 2 hours ago): Parameter        Test kit used Ammonia = 0        Aqua. Pharm. Nitrite = 0        Aqua. Pharm. Nitrate = 0        Aqua. Pharm. Temp = 79 Calcium = 350        Seachem Mg = 1280            Seachem ph = 8.02          Pinpoint monitor spg = 1.024        ESHA Marinomat dKH = 10           Aqua Pharm. Any thoughts?  <Hmm...My limited chemistry background is being seriously challenged here! One other thought for you...Is using RO water a practical and affordable alternative for you? Since the RO readily buffered to a pH of 8.3, I'm wondering if there is some factor in the tap water or distilled water that you are using which is "eating up" the buffer...Another experiment for you to try: How much buffer does it take to get your source water up to 8.3pH? This may yield some clues. Give it a shot. You may want to contact your local water utility as well to get some more clues ass to the composition of the water...>   I have two young children who don't aggravate me near as bad as this problem -- and that's saying something :-) Frustrated. Sincerely, Mark Schwartz <I hear you, Mark! See if these little experiments get us anywhere, and we'll try to pick it up from there...Craig Bingham, where are you???>

Water storage Happy New Year to Bob & crew! <Good morning> I recently got 2 blue plastic 55 gal. barrels for use as water storage containers.  Allegedly used for wine transport by a local winery. Intent is/was 1 for SW mix, 1 for R.O. water.  I have washed them out twice with hot water & chlorine bleach, de-chlorinated with Aquatronics "De-Chlor", & rinsed twice.  I still end up with a thin film (scum) on the surface  when I fill with R.O. water.  The distributor said they were just "steamed" out, but since they are a large barrel recycler, I don't know if they used any kind of cleaning agent, soap or ???  In your opinion, am I taking an un-necessary chance with these barrels?  Would running a canister filter with carbon help to remove any potential contamination? <I am suspicious too... and would not use these tubs just yet. Are they polyethylene? If so, they may have to be "cured" over some time to remove whatever the residue is. For now, try scrubbing them out with rock salt, a little water and a tough sponge... and let very salty water sit in them a week or more... drain, rinse, see if the scum is gone. If not, we'll talk over what you might do next. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Neil

Mixing/Storing Saltwater I have a question about keeping saltwater for water changes and for make-up. I want to pre mix salt water in a plastic 30 gallon container, if I keep an airstone in the water how long can the water stay fresh or does it go bad? <Well, I don't think that it will necessarily "go bad" after a certain time, but evaporation may occur, resulting in a higher specific gravity. Perhaps there may be some dissipation of compounds found in the water over time, but probably not in amounts substantial enough to impact its usefulness, IMO. I generally mix up water just before I use it (i.e; a couple of days).> I have tried this and noticed  a odor  from the container. Does this mean that the pre made water has gone bad? <Maybe it has not "gone bad", but there might be something in the container dissolving into the water, or perhaps the container did not completely dry out after its initial use, and you are smelling mildew or something...? If you smell a sulfurous smell, then there may have been some anaerobic activity occurring in the container when it was "empty", and you're just smelling the end result. Hard to be sure from here.> If you have any suggestions I would appreciate any tips. Thank you. HAPPY HOLIDAYS !! Sergio. <Well, Sergio, as outlined above, I'd make up the water as I need it, and clean out and dry the container after each use. I'm sure that you'll be fine. Good luck to you, and Happy Holidays to you, too! Regards, Scott F> Re: invert prob.s??? I think its Kent that I got from local store. He gets it in plain white bags. <oh... that even sounds scary: "plain white bags".> Thinks I'm going to go back to getting my own water from beach again cant take these kinda hits and my poor critters can't handle it either. <I have to admit... it sounds scary indeed... although not as scary as using natural seawater. Seriously... you might get away with NSW for months or even a couple of years. But you will have a serious problem with it in time. It is a lot more work to properly sterilize and prepare natural seawater... highly variable composition, sometimes pathogenic... always mildly polluted or worse. Where do you think all of that waste treatment from your local community goes, bud? Ahh... no NSW please. Can't you simply use Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals or Tropic Marin? Do consider for ease of preparation, reliability, and consistency. A much better investment for your live dependants. > Hmmm wonder how many thousands of dollars it would cost to get a pump ran from beach to house. <more $ than a discounted 8K gallon mix pallet of good synthetic sea salt <G>> Hehe.....I wish. Mahalo Bill. Again thanks for the words of wisdom Now I'm thinking of taking them out completely. By the way what kinda fish would eat branches anyways. I have no idea. <most any curious fish will take a shot at a dead carcass tumbling around the aquarium. There's the rub with a toxic species that doesn't exude toxins. MELE KALEKI MAKA Anthony>

How Much Salt could a Salt Mix Mix if a Salt Mix could... have just got a salt water tank and i don't know how much salt to put in it can you help <Yes. Either read the directions on the synthetic salt container... and mix per. And/or please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm and the files linked (in blue) at the top. Bob Fenner> Jonathan Slater.

Re: Aqua Craft? Hello, yet another question from me.  It is sometimes very difficult to get past marketing hype to find out what are the really good products and what are not.  I'm curious as to your opinions regarding Aqua Craft synthetic salts.    http://www.aquacraft.net/ http://www.aquacraft.net/w0018.html http://www.aquacraft.net/w0002.html I am very skeptical to say the least.  Any information concerning this company would be welcome, as I seem to be hearing praise and hate towards their products, but in equal amounts, so it is hard to filter out the facts. <These are all fine synthetic salt products... I have known the owner (Mike del Prete) for many years... and wish he had not produced his "study" (S-whatever "report") (which had poor scientific test protocol)... and instead relied on the merits of the products, acceptance instead. I rank Mike's salts just below Aquarium Systems products, which in turn I consider slightly less efficacious than Tropic Marin... but all are within a percent or two in utility. Bob Fenner> Thank you again for your time!

pH falling in Make-up water I have a question about my pH levels when I buffer my top off water. I aerate the water (r/o water from LFS) for 12 hours, then I add my buffer (SeaChem's marine buffer), and then I aerate for another 24 hours. After that my ph is usually around 8.4 and my dKH is around 11. I usually make enough water for one week of top off. After the 3rd or 4th day my ph falls to around 7.8 and stays there. I would like to know what could be the cause of this? I do not continue to aerate after the 24 hours of aerating after buffering, could this be the problem? <By gollies I think you've already figured this one out! Yep! Keep the aeration going and add some circulation...like a large powerhead and I think you'll find that PH will remain stable. Without the air and circulation, the water gets "stale" (for lack of a better word)> I do the procedure just as I have read from here, but my ph falls every time. Thanks for your help. <You're more than welcome! Keep air and circulation going my friend. That will easily solve the problem. David Dowless>

Aerating aquarium better to raise pH Thank you Anthony... another fan of yours told me to do the same thing tonight! Great minds think alike!  I just attached an air line to one of my powerheads, let's see what I find in the morning! How exciting... and simple! Pam <Good heavens.. you just made my night. I now have two fans?!?! Life is good <G>. Do let us know how it all works out dear :) Kindly, Anthony>

Natural Seawater Use Hello everyone, good day to all of you! I live a couple miles from the ocean and I have often tested it's water to find wonderfully, perfect conditions. Never a nitrate, salinity perfect! Ahhhh, to be Mother Nature! These are my questions: 1.) Could use this for water changes? <You could, but I don't recommend it. To many variables and not enough control/safety.> 2.) How would this water keep, if I put it in a bucket with a powerhead? <Take a look here for additional information http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm> Thanks guys, I'd be lost without ya! Pamela <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

Natural Seawater Use Thank you, very informative link! I especially like this part, "Some folks assert that natural water must be best for "natural" livestock. Maybe they think their aquaria are "little pieces of the ocean"; most systems more closely approximate "little sewers". <I love that part!> Cheers! Pamela PS ~ I'll stick to synthetic! <Me too! -Steven Pro>

Re: Salt mixes Hello, I read a reply on your site today about salt mixes that are liquid and concentrated and more economical than the dry mixes commonly found at aquarium supply stores and on line.  The reply also says that in addition to the liquid slurries of salt you have to add something else to them?  What else needs to be added when mixing the salt for makeup water?  I think I may have missed something here?  Also, where would I find these mixes and do I need to be a wholesaler to buy them or can I order through the manufacturer?  Who would I need to contact to purchase these mixes?  I like to do weekly water changes on my 240 gallon total system and am planning on my propagation business to expand in the future and would want to use something more economical and practical than the dry salts that I am now using (Instant Ocean 200 gallon buckets).  Please advise if at all possible.  Thanks a bunch as normal, Jeff <Hi Jeff, these mixes are for gigantic holding systems for wholesalers and large scale breeder/growers with constant loss dosing systems. Most of the better known  grower/breeder/wholesalers/importers (30,000 gallons and up) use IO or an equivalent dry mix, but they buy wholesale and bulk, not 200 gallon buckets. For your size idea, this would be a more appropriate suggestion.  If you are going to maintain a few hundred gallons to a thousand gallons or so, regular salt mixes are easily your best bet. You might look into business licensing as the best option.  More on the business on WetWebMedia.Com!  Craig>

How many pounds of salt are there in a gallon of sea water?   Thanks, DB <About 0.4, or perhaps more clearly, a gallon of freshwater weighs about 7.8 pounds per gallon, seawater about 8.2. Bob Fenner>

Ocean Water? Hello there, I just found out about your site from the Nov. 2002 TFH magazine.  <welcome, my friend!> I spent over an hour searching around and reading your FAQs and plan on spending more time there (great site!).  <excellent... and do share your wisdom in kind with others> My question is the use of ocean water in polyp/coral production tanks I would like to set up.  <it is very unlikely that I would ever recommend natural seawater for many reasons. The basics however are: very unreliable/seasonally fluctuating composition (pH, calcium, etc), the expense (time, space) of preparing it for safe use (ozone, bleach, filtration), the unlikelihood that you live in a remote coastal region and can draw pristine water from 5 to 10 miles out without effluent from dense coastal populations contaminating it, etc. Even if you get the water for free... it is unlikely to be worth it and almost certainly not as good for growing coral as a quality sea salt and its consistency. I would recommend Tropic Marin or Instant Ocean sea salts>  I would like to propagate for trade with friends and local sales and trades.  <excellent! Do let us know how we can help/advise> My questions are, with sea water available to me (central Cal. coast) how would I treat it for safe use in the system (e.g.. aging, U.V., etc..)?  <bleaching and dechlorinating are inexpensive and fairly easy. Decant the top water and store dark for 2 weeks. Aerating and buffering 2 days before use too. That may be enough... but I still wouldn't bother. And I will say that it will eventually be dangerous (1-2 year picture) if you are taking water from within 3 miles of most any coast> Could I use a flow through type of system as this would be the easiest setup for me?  <by flow through, if you mean raw, untreated... not recommended without massive micron filtration and ozone> If a flow through system is an option, how would heating the water be performed (I have heard of flow through heaters but have not seen them available)?  <very expensive... if the scope of your operation is large enough we may be able to reckon the expense. For most aquarists, synthetic sea salt provides peace of mind, reliability, consistency, etc. Bets regards, Anthony> Thank you in advance for any help you can provide. Dan

I Give Up !!!! (Toxic Synthetic Water... not, Bob's response) Bob, I just read an article by Ron Shimek that is very discouraging. He is claiming that through feeding and commercial salt mixes, a build up of toxic trace substances builds up in our closed reef system. He claims that after 4 years, this build up is so toxic that it is lethal to most animals and that the reef tank should be broken down, sand and live rock removed and discarded. <I heard this ridiculous scheme/proposal at the MACNA get together in Dallas a few weeks ago... I am amazed that Ron wastes the exposure he could have in helping others on such zany notions... Of course, the formulations utilized by most commercial manufacturers have kept many (hundreds) of species alive in captivity longer than their known spans in the wild...> He also claims that there is no way to remedy this situation except for using natural sea water from the beginning. He goes on to say that a salt mix used by the scientific community for may not contain these substances and that\all that is needed in any salt mix is salt, calcium and some buffers and that anything else will cause toxic buildup <IME he's absolutely wrong... the rationale for storing, filtering NSW has been worked out and tested for decades.> I have a 300 gallon reef tank with mucho corals, fish, sand, live rock that didn't come cheap. Am I doomed to have to tear down my tank in 4 years and take out my wallet again ? <No> Let me know your take on this. Thanks, as always, Chuck Spyropulos <Thanks for raising the issue... Ron.S is also the mental giant who advises maintaining captive marine systems in the mid 80's F... he should be challenged, then shunned for such "publicity stunts" IMO. Amazing. Bob Fenner>

I Give Up !!!! (Anthony's response) Charles... Rest assured that you can enjoy a fantastically successful marine aquarium for having used a quality synthetic sea salt and please do not give a second thought to Dr Ron's assertions. Bob has very concisely summarized all that you need to know and the entire hobby agrees, save for Ron and some misinformed followers. This topic has been put to rest by the very few respected authorities that even cared to address this ridiculous notion on scientific bulletin boards and hobby message boards alike. No one can offer an explanation for why this learned man (who of course has important things to otherwise contribute to aquarium science) has proffered such a wacky assertion short of publicity. Whatever the reason... all agree that the hypothesis is assuredly bunk. Reef aquarists have kept coral more than 20 years captive in synthetic seawater and had them spawn repeatedly. Fishes have been kept far longer and many years beyond their natural lifespan. What more is there to say? Fully realized lifespans and reproduction in our captive charges. Its a beautiful hobby for so many reasons... please enjoy it and share your enthusiasm and experiences. Don't give up because of one kook. If that's all it takes, than I suppose you would have given up on the political system many presidents ago :) Best regards, Anthony Calfo

Using Seawater for water changes Hi Robert, Is it possible to use ocean water to refresh my tanks instead of mixing water up? I live next to the ocean and the saltwater mixes start to get a bit expensive. I live in Australia and the water is fairly free of contaminants. Regards, Michael. <Yes, possible... and in many cases, desirable. Some caveats though... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm and the many associated FAQs files archived there. Bob Fenner>

Water Preparation Sorry guys, I forgot to ask: I was reading the water treatment section and it was unclear to me about sitting water. If I fill a few 3 gallon (easy to manage) containers with tap water, cover them and let them sit for a week or so, is that good enough to rid them of chlorine and the other chlora-stuff? <Not always, you may want to filter with activated carbon, or even use a commercial chlorine/chloramine remover.> Do I just add salt and aeration at that point or from the start of water filling? <I generally aerate the water first for a day or so to liberate the excess CO2, then add the salt mix, but I know lots of people who aerate and add salt mix from the start> In either case, when aerating, can I just hook up a pump and put an open air hose in the water, or do I need a diffuser type thing? <I like to use an air stone, but the airline alone should be fine> One last thing for today: I have a Power Sweep at one end of my 55gal; is it better to have it create tons of bubbles in the tank near the top, or just let it move water from deeper down?  <Well, this really addresses two different issues: aeration and circulation (water movement). You do want a certain amount of surface agitation, and-depending on the animals that you keep-water movement. There are many, many ways to achieve this, and WetWebMedia's own Anthony Calfo has just added a FAQ on circulation to the site. Also (another plug for Anthony), his "Book of Coral Propagation" offers great information on water movement within the aquarium (not to mention a review of many different aspects of reef husbandry-check it out!> Thanks a million from a new frequent caller, Rich <My pleasure! Scott F.> Ps: I have purchased and I am reading for a second time, the CMA (great book!). That coupled with this email/web-site, I feel like I am getting off too cheaply! Is there anything else I can buy from you guys? <Just read, learn, enjoy, and share your experiences and knowledge with others. That's the best thing that you can do!>

Salt follow up (prob. from Mike.DP) Bryan trying again. Sorry Bob, not sure why you didn't receive the rest of the e-mail. Here goes again. I had some questions regarding salt mixes, so I was reading thru F&Q's and came across something addressed to you about the "S-15 Report". I did some more searching on the internet and found that the S-15 report came out in 1993.  <A shameful bit of how to manipulate data, media... the co. provided the samples... that paid for the "testing"... results never replicated by independents...> After going to the Aqua Care web page and reading all the info about the different salt mixes I was a little alarmed. In the back of my mind though I knew the site is probably biased towards their products. <Yes> I want to know if there is any truth to the negative claims against these salt manufacturers. particularly IO and Tropic Marine). <None as far as I'm aware...> Last thing, the site claims their salt 1. Marine environment (2 part) and 2. Bio Sea, are the closest to NSW. Are these really that good and do you think that they are superior products. <They're not bad products... our old co.s used a great deal of them, even used to distribute them for a while... but not superior in any way> Especially after the last 9 or so years since the original S-15 report. And lastly Bob, IYO and IYE what are the best salt mixes. Price does not matter, I just want to know what is the best out there. Thank you Bryan. <This is already posted on WWM... likely, all the way about they are Tropic Marin... perhaps a percent or so "better" (in terms of overall "performance", capacity to support captive marine life) then the Aquarium Systems products, Instant Ocean and Reef Crystals... then likely a percent or two less so almost all other brands (really)... I draw a comparison with automotive gasoline's here... the principal brands of salt mixes are quite similar... all should be pre-prepared and stored (covered on WWM)... If costs are a (primary) consideration, one must (as always) decide for themselves which lines are worth more/less money. Many notes could be provided here. I.O. is a scientific standard around the world... T.M. is used extensively for culture work and experimentation... and I'd like to mention a new brand by Omega-Sea coming out... that should be a real contender to the A.S. brands. Bob Fenner>

Re: Juvenile Queen Angel is sick, but from what? Hey Bob, Just did a 25% water change with NSW from my local inlet, on incoming tide. <Sorry for the interjection/ruption, but do you do much to the new real seawater before placing it in your systems? We've had some real trouble over many years time (periodically) with just using the raw product on the west coast (U.S.)... most folks now store the new water in the dark for a week or two, others bleach and dechlorinate it... still others use U.V., other novel ways to "kill" what is live in it before applying> So we'll see what happens in the next couple days with the Queen, Thanks for the input!!  Now I have a question about my protein skimmer. I unplugged it earlier, before I emailed you, because I was going to add green ex. After I did the water change, I plugged it back in but its not skimming.  I can hear the pump working but no skim action. I'm going to browse the faq's on the site and see if that has been covered there. I'm sure it has, as everything is!! Thanks for all your help!! Ray <Is this a Venturi type? You might want to check the intake (blow through it)... or take the whole thing to the sink, take the pump apart (to check for foreign matter on the impeller, spindle...) and clean it thoroughly... Also, do check the intake line to the unit... any obstruction, restriction there will produce this non-result. Bob Fenner>

Re: Juvenile Queen Angel is sick, but from what? Uh oh. No I just used fresh sea water, but have heard of letting it sit. In this case I just didn't have time/ or any NSW around, but will in the future. I wonder if water purchased from the local fish store has been treated etc. <The big brand here on the other coast is not... though some folks claim otherwise. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm and the associated FAQs files.> and is ready for immediate use because Id like to do another water change of that size in a couple days. Its a much faster method of raising salinity as opposed to replacing the evaporated water with NSW. My skimmer is made by SeaLife Systems and has worked great up until this point :). It seems the most logical thing is some sort of restriction inside the pump (Rio 800 I believe), because it makes a lot of noise now not running smoothly as it did before.  <Turn it off... take it to the sink (along with the skimmer if need be) take it apart and check... easy to do> The Queens demeanor hasn't really changed, she's still being awkward; sort of staying in the corner upside down. :shrug: <Might just be low dissolved oxygen... the skimmer running will remedy this> I think only time will tell with her, she's been normal up until this point though, nipping at all the rocks and what not. In the morning I will take apart the pump on the skimmer and clean out any mess inside, hopefully erasing that problem. Thanks again for your help my friend!! Ray <A pleasure. Bob Fenner>

Re: Juvenile Queen Angel is sick, but from what? I'm on it! Thanks BOB! <Please make it known what you do, how all turns out. Rootin' for you, Bob Fenner>

Re: Juvenile Queen Angel is sick, but from what? Hey Bob, Bad news: the Queen was dead this morning when I awoke. She was floating on the surface, near the overflow box. :( I'm not really sure what happened to her. Her gills were RED and swollen. <Rats! Sorry to read of the loss.> To add insult to injury I can't get the pump on my skimmer to work properly. I took it apart and there appeared to be no gunk/ restrictions inside. I ran warm water through the pump for a few minutes and cleaned of anything that was there (not much). Its also not sucking air through the intake, and there isn't anything blocking airflow in the tube or on the inlet on the pump, so I don't know what to do.... Any input is greatly appreciated. <Try hooking it up with a "direct" connection to your tank water (to discount the possibility of intake restriction)... it may be the pump is bunk (this happens)... next, a trip to your LFS, or visit from a sympathetic fellow reefer. Re the Lion eye opacity and Angel loss, I am still of the strong opinion that these troubles are/were directly related to diminished environmental quality... and advise you to get your skimmer re-going, and develop and adhere religiously to a plan of storage (in the dark) of new seawater (for at least a week... for me, two)... or switching to synthetic. Bob Fenner> Frustrated Ray Re: Juvenile Queen Angel is sick, but from what? Hello Bob, I went to the LFS and had them inspect the pump and it turns out that the shaft somehow got bent. <Ah ha!> So that explains that issue! Tomorrow I'm going to the store that I prefer and see if he can get me a new shaft or a new pump. Thanks for all the help Bob!!! Ray <You can call me Sherlock, well at least "Not Late For Dinner". Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Trace of ammonia in newly mixed salt water Hello Bob, <Steven Pro in this evening.> I followed your advice and pre-mixed salt water in advance. Just to be sure I tested the premix water (1 week old) and it showed trace of ammonia (0.25). <Kind of strange> I then tested the tap water and it read zero. The salt brand I'm using is Coral Life. <Ugh!> Now I hesitate to use this premix because of the ammonia level. Please advice. <If this is fish only, I would probably go ahead and use it. But, if you have any inverts, I would purchase a different salt mix. Perhaps you could use this stuff to de-ice your driveway.> Thanks, Dung Ngo <You are welcome. -Steven Pro> 

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