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FAQs on Seawater, Synthetic or Natural 4

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 3, Seawater 5, 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 

Pre-mix, keep spg constant... A nice Fromia seastar. Pic by Bryan Schelle

Which salt? What are your thoughts on Aqua Craft's Marine Environment Dual Phase salt? What about this S-15 report that is being used to compare salts? Is there much validity to this or is this someone's marketing hype? Pete <This is a fine product... on par with many of the other American made synthetics. The stated "report" is not "good science" (open samples provided by ME other peoples products..., study paid for by them...) and has been derided since its production... there are numerous independent studies by marine hobbyists/chemists of various salt brands... though they are not easy to reference (some on on-line 'zines, others as part of the now-defunct Aquarium Frontiers and AF online zines...). A good product in my estimation however, though this "report" is more hype than reality. Bob Fenner>

- Alkalinity in Mix Water - Hello Crew, I submitted this question almost a week ago and had no response, so I am trying again. <Apologies... we get a lot of mail and every once in a while one or two get lost in the shuffle.> 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? <Probably... if I remember correctly, the Coralife salt is a high-calcium mix.> I tested the Alkalinity at 4.5 meq/L after this happened. <Once the snowstorm starts, it will continue until one of the two major reagents is exhausted - it's a race to the bottom between calcium and the buffering compounds.> Can temperature change affect this? <Not typically.> The tank went from 77 to 84 degrees during the day and when it got warm, I noticed the powder. <Probably just coincidence. Would suggest you measure the alkalinity of your RO water and if you're going to add a buffer compound, to add it after the testing and before the salt. You may find you don't need to add any.> Thanks for your time. Michael <Cheers, J -- > 

- Feeding & Salt Mixes - Hi, Hope all is going well for you there.  Just finished weathering the storm here.  I have several questions, please.  I have a 75 gallon saltwater tank with F/O NLR.  I have been using a brand of salt called marine environment, but am tired of paying so much for it.  I wanted to get your opinion on Instant Ocean salt mix.  I have read good and bad (like any product) and wanted to know if it is a decent mix. <Instant Ocean is probably the most widely used salt mix in the world, including commercial enterprises and public aquariums... it is a fine and consistent aquarium salt.> Also, I currently have a pair of false perculas, a flame hawkfish, and a royal Gramma.  I was thinking of adding a canary deepwater damsel.  I have read that they are not as aggressive as other damsels, but also read that as they get bigger they get more aggressive. <Is typical for most damsels.> What is your opinion about my adding one to my current inhabitants? <Given the number of fish you already have, this one will likely do just fine.> I had also thought of a yellow tang, but didn't like the idea of feeding him food like algae on a clip due to the mess I have seen it make in my neighbor's tank as the algae breaks off and floats around uneaten.  Is there any way around feeding like this, like maybe feeding regular food that has algae in it? <Would be best to do both... perhaps limit the amount of food you put in the clip.> Thanks for your time, James <Cheers, J -- >

Precipitate (9/5/04) Hello, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.> Twice now I have added 1 tsp of Sea Chem Reef Builder <That's 4 times the dose recommended on the label of 1 tsp per 40G.> to my 10 gallon tank of "Water Change Water" after I aerated and added salt. <You should put the buffer in first, before salting.> After a day the tank gets cloudy with a fine white powder. <Something precipitating most likely carbonate.> The fresh water consists of RO and I use Coralife Salt. Can you tell me why this is happening, or is there something I need to test for? The alkalinity tests at 4.5 meq/L. <Not exceedingly high, but high enough that you should be able to get to the target (>3 mEq) by using 1/4 teaspoon as recommended by the manufacturer. And add it before salting and wait a few hours to add the salt.> Michael <Hope this helps.>

Hard Water 9/7/04 I have some updates and more questions.  I decided to leave my tank alone and setup a 10gallon that I had as a spare.  I used fresh water, not RO, mixed the salt, heated and aerated for a days or so.  Tested the water and found the alk to be through the roof at over 15 meg/L.   <indeed... it underscores how important it is to buffer RO/DI water before salting it... as the manufacturers presume a certain mineral hardness of average tap water among the many users of their products to get the alkalinity needed> I noticed that the water began to cloud and then everything got coated with a hard white film. I can hardly scrape it off my glass or heater.  I got suspicious and I measured my tanks alk and it was also high at 5 meq/L and PH at 8.1.  So I thought since I'm not using RO water I would try the 10gallon again with RO to see if my water was bunk.  So got RO water, aerated it and added instant ocean salt mix.  Heated it for 4 hour or so to the right temperature and measured the stats.  PH at 8.1 +/- .1 and alk was again over 10 meq/L.  I left it and after 12hrs I got the white coating and white stuff precipitated to the bottom of the tank. <that's bizarre for having used RO water (demineralized)> Did I just happen to get a bad batch of Instant Ocean salt?   <possibly... and easy enough to test for> I'm not using any additives or buffer so is there another explanation?   <do you do drugs? Hmmm... just checking> I think I'm packing it in for a while since I can't find the source of my problem.   <before you give up from this rather minor problem... would you consider using a different brand of sea salt and/or a different brand of test kit? Anthony> I appreciate your help guys.   Prepping Water For Use... Hi Scott <Hey there!> How are you doing? <Doing great! Hope all is well with you!> I would like to give each new fish that I buy a fresh water bath using Methylene blue for a few minutes. <An excellent practice that I use before quarantine> Can Methylene blue be used on all marine fish, is my suggested practice a good one or should I only use fresh water and leave out the Methylene blue. <Methylene Blue is pretty harmless to almost all marine fishes> Second question is - can a low KH cause white spot in fish and lastly what is the best method of pre mixing salt water? <Well, unstable environmental conditions can bring about stress, which can cause diseases. Do consult the FAQ's here on WWM for a lot of great information on preparing water (more than I can provide in the limited space here> I use a plastic drum whereby I put in my water followed by the salt and I have a power head and heater in the drum. I let it circulate over night then the next morning I do my water change. A friend of mine said that I should first only let the water circulate thereby removing all the chlorine and then after a few days add the salt and let this then circulate for another few days. <A good practice, IMO- if you are not using R/o water> can understand the part about circulating the water without the salt to remove the chlorine and then add the salt but a day for each process should be fine, right? <Usually. The extra few days allows the salt to dissolve. That's the way I do it. However, if all looks good, I think a day is just fine.> Please shed your advise. Thanks again Ziad <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F.>

Is one salt mix really better than another? Hello again. I have been using IO exclusively since start up (1 year) and all has been well. Seems like all my LFS (2) have switched to stocking Oceanic's new product and IO is not always available. What do you think of Oceanic's synthetic sea salt? << Well truth be told, after seeing a salt manufacturers testing and analysis of salt mixes.... I say they are all the same. >> I hate to fiddle with success, but availability and price seem to be in Oceanic's favor. My take on this so far is that Oceanic has made their product more attractive to retailers who are singing its praises for reasons other than actual performance in the tank. Am I just being cynical? << I don't think it would bother me.  Honestly, I'd buy whatever is on sale.  Others may have differing opinions on that, but there are a ton of very successful tanks out there being run with whatever salt was on sale that week. >> Thanks, as always, George.   <<  Blundell  >> Making synthetic sea salt? Dear Sir ,   << Blundell here this morning, and please don't call me sir... Adam is fine, or Blundell, or Hey You Fish Nerd, but not sir. >> I am after some information ,is it possible to make my own sea water to go in a large 120 litre tank that I have set up for sea horse . << Yep definitely possible.  I've seen recipes (formulas) on websites, and made my own (I'll get to that later). >> As I live 90 km.s from the nearest town where I can buy the sea water they supply I thought I could make my own and keep it in large tank that way I could change the water when necessary and not have to be traveling so often, is there a simple recipe to making this water if so could you put it on your web page so that others like my self can use it. << I doubt we have one posted here, and I doubt we will get one.  I'll say more in a second. >> I thought about going and getting the sea water from a beach but was told that as I have the tank set up and it is working so well that by bringing in water from the sea I don't know what contaminates I would put in my tank , as well as the seahorse I have anemones and 2 clown fish and they are doing beautifully and I don't want to do any thing to spoil the tank  . I would be ever so grateful for your help. << Okay so you can get water from a natural source, which has its pros and cons.  But you are looking for more like a recipe to make synthetic sea salt at home.  I use to run an aquaculture project and we looked at making our own salt.  The basis was simple water softener rock salt.  Wow that stuff is cheap.  But then to add the calcium we spent a little money, and to add the magnesium we spent a ton of money.  In the end even our research facility didn't make it worth while.  Bottom line, we spent less money just buying big buckets of Instant Ocean/Coralife/Or whoever and their products were better than what we could make anyway.  So, I guess my final comment is that you should look into just buying synthetic salt... it really is a better way to go. >> Patricia McKiernan Western Australia .. << Blundell, somewhere wishing I were in Western Australia >>

Storing & Mixing Water (8/8/04) Hello again! <Greetings. Steve Allen here.> Three quick questions... I need to get a container to pre-mix for water changes. In one post, Bob says, "Get/use a chemically inert, clean 'trash can'..."  In an article, I think he specifies "Rubbermaid" brand.  Of course, I will buy new and dedicate to the task, but how do I know if they are safe (chemically inert)? <Anything recommended for food should be fine. I'd expect most brands of plastic ones to be fine.> Is any Rubber-maid OK?  Other brands?  I would like to get a wheeled tote about 35 gallon or so.  The Rubber-maid with wheels has metal reinforcements for the handles on the inside of the can. I looked at another brand that didn't (Dura-bin? I think) that was brown plastic and square. Recommendations? <The Rubbermaid Brute has served me well. The one I have has no metal parts. I put mine on wheels for ease of use.>   Will my old Mag 5 pump work in place of a powerhead to mix the solution? <Just set it up so it does not spurt water up and out of the container. I use a hose to pump straight from the can into my tank in the next room.>   I don't know how hot heaters get on the surface. Can they melt the plastic garbage cans if they come in contact with it, or should they be rigged away from the sides? <Unlikely to get that hot when in water. However, I use the plastic sheath that one can buy for specific brands of heater. I use a Hagen Tronic and the sheath they sell for it.> If the latter, how do you do it?  Ooops, that was more than 3 questions, wasn't it? <No problem.> Thanks! Greg Smith <Hope this helps.>

Re: Planted Tank Water for Sea Salt Mix?? Thanks for your time and advice.  I'm attending the FINDIG in October (hosted by the Sacramento Aquarium Society) and will purchase a R/O unit there.   <Ahh! A very nice get-together. I gave a pitch there last year> I think a 50gpd unit sold for $35.00 in the raffle last year, I can afford that. Thanks Again for your time and the time you save us with your knowledge. Jose Saldana <A worthwhile investment. Hope to meet you about. Bob Fenner>

Cigarette in my mixing water! Sorry for bothering you again, Blundell (or whoever is on duty for the day). << Blundell again. >> I have been preparing my saltwater in a 32 gallon Rubbermaid tub with a small powerhead for circulation.  As I was fiddling with my old tank, the cigarette (new and never lit) resting behind my ear fell into my Rubbermaid tub with the saltwater! << Doh >> I saw it fall in and quickly grabbed it out (so it was probably in contact w/ the water for maybe a second or two).  Have I contaminated my water and must I now throw away all that salt and preparation time put into it?  Thank you again! << No, I wouldn't worry about.  Personally, something that small wouldn't bother me.  I'd be more worried about the chemicals that were used to make that Rubbermaid than the cig that fell in. >> -Dennis << No worries, Blundell >>

Magic Ammonia Hello to all;<Hi, MikeD here>     I have a problem that seems to have just started happening although I have not changed my routine recently. I have almost .5 Ammonia in my freshly mixed H20. I use RO/DI water, and mix it in a 30 gallon trash can. The RO/DI water measures 0 Ammonia before I add the salt (Instant Ocean).  Typically I let the fresh water circulate and heat for  3 or 4 days before adding the salt.<Is this in the dark, and, without meaning to sound mean, why?> After I mix the salt in the Ammonia measures .5! Very frustrating and annoying. My first thought was my test kit was bad (Salt Water Master), it was about a year old. So I got a new kit (Marine Labs) and I still get the .5 reading after  I add the salt.<Instant Ocean was tested and found to be less consistent than some of the higher cost brands, so it may just be a bad batch> The trash can sits in a room that is rarely used. I can't think of anything that would be causing the Ammonia to accumulate.  I am at a loss as to what could be the culprit.<My only guess would be either bacteria or algae, maybe both, that's growing in the extended aeration period you're using, and when the salt is added it's dying off, with the resulting ammonia you're encountering> Any ideas? Thanks. Bill

Adding buffer, and ridding algae. Hi, Hope all is going well for all of you there.  I have several questions please.  First, I have read on your website that when preparing saltwater in a container for water changes the ph buffer should be added before the salt mix.  Why is this?  It seems it should be just the opposite as the buffer is for saltwater. << I don't add buffer to my mixed salt water.  But if I did, I would be like you and add it after mixing the salt mix.  I'm unsure of why someone told you otherwise, they may have a good reason but I haven't heard that before.  Maybe they meant you add the buffer to your freshwater, before you add the freshwater to your tank as top off water.  That I agree with. >> Also, I have read a couple of articles about people using hydrogen peroxide to treat algae  in freshwater aquariums.  Do you know if this if feasible in saltwater and if so what would be the dosage? << No I wouldn't do that.  First, because I don't think you should be trying to kill algae... it is the greatest!  Plus, if you do have an algal problem, I think there are many "natural" ways to take care of it. >>  What about barley straw extract in saltwater? << It would be better to describe what kind of algae problems you have, and then let us go from there to think of ideas. >>  Thanks for your help, James <<  Blundell  >> Using "The Real Deal" (Natural Sea Water) Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have a 1000L storage tank. (1) I have access to collected sea water. How do I store it. <A food-grade plastic container in a relatively dark place should do the trick> I read that I must just leave it for a week or so before I use it. What happens to the die-off of plankton etc. Do I leave it to settle at the bottom of the storage tank and siphon off the top? <That's a good method, or you can actually run an inside box  filter with some mechanical media, like Ehfi-Mech> Your site said you must circulate and aerate mixed saltwater. Do you have to do this for collected sea water as well? <I would> (2) I also have access to water from the local oceanarium. Would it be better to use this water instead? Salt mix is really expensive here in South Africa therefore I don't want to mix seawater if I can find a solution to using NSW. Thanks John Squier <I agree, John. If you can find a reliable, inexpensive source of quality NSW, by all means use it! If it's good enough for a public facility, it should be fine for hobbyist-level use. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Sea Salt and Calcium Questions Anthony, What brand of salt did you use in your coral propagation facility? <I used to use Instant Ocean primarily. Changes in the company recently have led me back to Tropic Marin with great pleasure> I know that you don't recommend the long-term use of calcium chloride, <absolutely not... it is a temporary supplement at best> and I understand why, but do you think it is appropriate to use it to set your salt mix to desired levels? <nope... not needed. The aspiration of an unrealistic high level of calcium presumes the need for all of that calcium and the precarious water chemistry that goes with it. Corals grow as well or better tapping 20ppm calcium off of a safe 400 ppm level as they do off of an unsafe 500 ppm level. Its still more calcium than most systems will ever come close to using/depleting between water changes and/or proper supplementation. This is a common mistake by aquarists (pushing Calcium unnecessarily high> I have used Instant Ocean and Tropic Marin in the past, which both mix up low in calcium. <not low mate... stable and safe. It is deliberate. rest assured> If you have used Instant Ocean in the past, did you add any magnesium supplements to set the salt mix to higher levels? <nope... large weekly water changes (or replacement of large volumes of water exported with sales from the pools)> I have also read that you recommend the use of Seachem's Reef Calcium in certain situations. <just really for boosting coralline algae the first 4-6 months if desired> Have you had any experience using this product on an aquarium where an ozonizer is employed? If so, is it safe to do so? <hmmm... good question. I've used so much ozone in the past (still do) that I surely must have. I do not recall any problems with it... but suggest you play it safe and take this one up with the techs at Seachem> Thank you for your time, Nick <best regards! Anthony>

Cooking salt for synthetic, reconstituted sea water? Hi, long time since the last time!! Here in Central America the cooking salt doesn't come from mines but from the ocean.  The process is quite simple; the water from the sea is conducted to shallow pools where the sun evaporates the water leaving the salt, then (by order of the government) they adds iodine, but you can find salt without iodine.  This salt is really cheap. My question is, it is possible to use this salt instead the salt marketed to be used in aquariums? Why not or yes? Thank you! Carlos D?z <Good question. It turns out that "table salt" made this way is actually "cleaned" (resolubilized) and otherwise screened mechanically to remove debris et al... and in the process "loses" some percentage of more soluble salts (than the desired sodium chloride, the principal constituent in both seawater, synthetic... and table salt!). So, though there have been folks, mainly "culture" tanks like at the supermarkets and restaurants, who have used this sun-produced sea salt for synthetic, it is not as "complete" a formulation as the intended commercial salt mix synthetics. Short answer, I would NOT use it with my livestock. Bob Fenner>

Coralife Sea Salt 7/9/04 Hi, I currently have a 80 gallon saltwater tank. I do have everything necessary to start mainly a soft coral tank of many easy to keep species. Except for the sea salt and the chemicals involved in order to keep the corals alive. <If you use a good quality sea salt and do regular water changes, you should only need to supplement calcium and alkalinity.  No other "chemicals" are necessary.  My heavily stocked 135g reef tank has been running for a couple of years with no additions except for calcium and alkalinity and 20% monthly water changes.  Some of the corals are growing so fast that they have become pests.> I currently am using the Coralife brand of sea salt.  I've asked many stores and they said that this is necessarily a bad salt to use for reef tanks. IS THIS TRUE? From what they say the salt is mainly for a fish only aquariums. <Coralife is not a brand that I personally would choose.  I trust the experience of others who have not been satisfied with it. Good quality salt is good for any marine aquarium use.  If you believe that a brand of salt is not good for reef tanks, you should not consider it suitable for any marine tank.> But, I was trying to figure out if I can use this current salt in conjunction with SEACHEM'S REEF COMPLETE reef additive. I'm not so sure if this product will have all the necessary additives and more needed to keep the corals alive. If not is there any other additive on the market that comes close to this or that would work well when I put both the Coralife salt and additive together. <Hmmm...  I think you are looking at this from the wrong angle.  We don't know exactly what is in any brand of salt, so we don't know what may be present in excess or what may be deficient.  The same is true for the additives.  So, how then are we to make a combination that produces a desirable (or even predictable) result?  The better approach is to use a brand of salt that you know has produced consistent and good results and use water changes to maintain levels of trace elements.  You will spend less money in the long run (those additives are expensive!) and have much better results.> Since any salt on the market does contain some elements: calcium, iodine, etc. in small or balanced amounts.  So, basically is there a additive that I can use to fully support my tank with corals in conjunction with the other elements and etc. found in the Coralife Sea Salt.  Thank you very much fellow aquarist..... <Maybe, but who knows?  Instant Ocean, ReefCrystals, Kent and Tropic Marin are examples of good quality salt mixes with long standing solid reputations.  Use one of those, do 20% monthly water changes and save the money you would have spent on additives for more important things like corals!  Best Regards.  Adam>

- Salt Question - Hello  I've been reading about different salts. I'm using IO, which is fine but is reef crystal better? <Hard to say... Reef Crystals is Instant Ocean with extra calcium.> If I were to switch brands of salt will I have a bleaching problem? <Not very likely. Cheers, J -- >

- Preparing Water - How early is too early to use mixed water? <Good question.> I'm in a minor ammoniergency, & had run out of salt to mix with. I picked some up yesterday & mixed 20gal up in my 'aging bucket' (20g Rubbermaid + heater, powerhead/aerator). I have well-water, so while chloramines & such aren't as much an issue (I treat it for them anyway), but nitrates are indeed present in it. I'm guessing phosphates too (& yes, I'm having some Cyano-issues also-- taking steps to combat this, & I think I have it on the defensive now. I'm wondering if I'll need to setup a DSB for the bucket?! Not IN it, but on the side?). <Hmm... an interesting idea, but not a quick-fix. You'd probably have to run your new water through the extension DSB for a couple of days... perhaps more trouble than it's worth. Probably better to find a water treatment that addresses nitrates, I think Seachem Prime might do that.> But in either case-- how soon is TOO soon to use freshly mixed water for water changes? <The minute after you add the salt is too soon - at the very least I'd wait an hour or two, always the longer the better. Cheers, J -- >

Keeping Seawater Dear Bob <Brian> I am two minutes from the sea. However, could you please tell me how long can I store seawater in a closed container in a cool shed, before it goes off. I am hoping to breed brine shrimps soon. <For a few to several weeks... take a look at the very bottom of long-stored water... as there may be appreciable content that accumulates there... and this may be avoided by decanting (yep, the fancy term used for pouring off vino excluding the dregs on the bottom)... maybe by siphoning off the water just above it. Bob Fenner> Many Thanks Brian Cotton

- Skimmer and Other Questions - Hi, I am trying to find anyone that can tell me what size of Reef aquarium this US Aquarium Hang On Tank venturi model 20 skimmer is rated for? <I looked around the net for a while using Google, and couldn't find this model skimmer. If it came with any instructions, I'd use those to try and locate the company and ask them.> It has bio balls in the chamber and I am wondering if removing the bio balls completely would be ideal? <Something tells me these are part of the design and should be left in.> Another question: When I add Instant Ocean salt to my tap water so that the salinity is about 32-33 ppm, the ph of the tap water rises to 8.6 or even 8.7. <I'd let the water mix for a couple of days and then try the tests again.> This is the PH of my reef aquarium and I have two fish that barely survived acclimating to this high PH.  I don't want to add more fish until I bring the PH down to at least 8.4. Is this something that RO water would resolve in and of itself? <RO alone... probably not.> Would water conditioners like "Prime" also do the trick? <As far as I know, Prime does nothing to pH.> Does Seachem Buffer work to bring down the PH to normal 8.0 - 8.4 levels? <No.> What do you recommend? <Let the new saltwater mix for a day or two - add an air stone and power head and let it go for a while and test again.> Thank you, I realize you are a skeleton crew so I appreciate any answers you can give. Aaron Richmond, Utah <Cheers, J -- >

Natural vs. Mixed seawater I have just read your article on Natural Water Verses Mixed and was wondering what water the Birch Aquarium uses. Is it the same as the water from the pier? >>Hi, Marina here for Bob as he's currently out of the country (unless he took that starship..). To the best of my knowledge the Birch Aquarium uses natural, well-filtered seawater just as the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific uses, though I would guess that Birch's source water might be a little cleaner. Hope this helps! Marina Thank you, Mark F Hebert  <As far as I'm aware it is the same source water... most of the "local" tanks are open circuit... and the tropicals largely recirculated. Will cc Birch Aquarist Fernando Nosratpour here re as well for his input. Bob Fenner>

Re: Natural Vs Mixed Mark Wrote: >Natural vs. Mixed seawater >I have just read your article on Natural Water Verses Mixed and was wondering what water the Birch Aquarium uses.  Is it the same as the water from the pier? Hello Mark, As Bob and Marina both mentioned, the Birch Aquarium is an open system aquarium. We use the same water available to the public, located at the base of Scripps Pier. The water is sand filtered, removing most particulates. Quite a bit does get past the filters though. This is most obvious when we have red tides. The dinoflagellates causing the red tides get through. I usually tell hobbyists not to use this water during red tides, when there's heavy surf or when it's raining (runoff). All these conditions make for foul water in a closed system aquarium. Because were open system, nutrient build up is not a major concern. With that said, we use this water 24/7 and it's been great. Good Luck, Fernando <Thank you for "chiming in" Fernando. Hope to see you soon. Bob Fenner> Fernando Nosratpour Assistant Aquarium Curator Birch Aquarium at Scripps

-Sky high alk!- My alkalinity is very very high in my tank, about 20. <Yikes, I trust that this measurement is not in alk but in dKH, still very high. You could probably dump a gallon of orange juice in this tank and not notice a pH drop ;) > My alkalinity is close to zero out of the RO/DI. <Ok> I let the water sit for 24 hours, no additives, aerate it, bring it to the proper temp, add salt to 1.023-1.024. I have checked my alkalinity at this point and it is very very high, around 20. <No mystery here, your salt sucks. I use Tropic Marin, the levels are always pretty well balanced and close to natural seawater values. Most of the other readily available salts should have similarly acceptable levels of the important stuff, but I haven't personally tested them lately (Kent and Reef Crystals are both good names in reef salts).> How do I lower the alkalinity? My calcium is about 250-300 I have read through the FAQ's and the article about alkalinity (marbles and all), maybe I am dumb, but I'm not sure what to do. Any help would be appreciated. <Instead of trying to bring it down by offsetting it with calcium, I'd just pick up a new brand of salt and do several water changes on the system, then correct the minor remaining imbalance with some straight calcium chloride to bring the calcium level back to normal and thus suppressing the alk. Hope this helps! -Kevin> Thanks, mark 

-Changing Salt Brands- Hello ya'll!! <Confused new-Englander scratches chin ;) > I have written to you before and was soooo pleased with your advise (you kept me from putting a hippo tang in a 65 gallon tank-poor dory) that I would like to pick your brain again. <Pick away!> I am changing salt brands and would like to know the proper way to introduce the new salt in the tank. I have a 65 gallon tank and I do approx. 16 gallon change per month. Can I do a water change with the new water and be OK?? <No problem, just verify that your new salt doesn't have a drastically different pH than that of your tank, and that, of course, the salinity is the same. It's generally safe to change whenever you want w/out any notice.> I don't want to kill all my fish if the change will be too drastic. Thanks for your help! <You should be fine, enjoy! -Kevin> 

Salt Mixed in Tank <Hello, Ryan with you> Hi, I just bought a black spined urchin yesterday, (Diadema setosum) it was ok when we put it in the tank, it was walking around. My husband needed to add some salt to the tank and when pouring it in some fell on him. <OH MY! You need to read the directions on your salt mix. They clearly state that you must mix the salt in a separate container.> Now he is not moving and some of his spines had fallen down. <He is in shock, in more ways than one. You have put him in a new environment, and then changed it.> Please tell me if he is dying (I hope not). <I think so, but give him time> I don't know what to do. Please A.S.A.P. <Please start reading about this hobby. You're here, so that's good. Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm . You need to take a look at what a saltwater aquarium requires, and decide if it's for you. Good luck, Ryan> Thank you, Kris 

- Synthetic Seawater -  I would like to use Reef Crystals but I cannot get it locally and I hesitate to pay a premium price plus shipping that would make it almost double the price of Instant Ocean which I can buy locally. I know that the WWM Crew speaks well of Instant Ocean. <Yes... is probably the most widely used artificial salt mix - including public and academic aquaria.> Considering that I am running a calcium reactor with Knop media, is there really an advantage to Reef Crystals or is my Ca reactor making up the difference by contributing the same goodies found in Reef Crystals? <I'd just stick with the normal Instant Ocean - your calcium reactor will take care of the rest.> Regards, George.  <Cheers, J -- >

Salt Mix Quality Questions Dear Sir, <No "sir"- just Scott F. here today!> I have used Tropic Marin, HW Marinemix, Instant Ocean and Sera Meersaltz for my marine fish hobby over 5 years. <All good salts; I'm a Tropic Marin fan, myself> Recently, I tried Red Sea salt because it was cheaper which unfortunately resulted in the death of many of my fishes in my aquarium!  <Sorry to hear that...Are you sure that it was the salt mix?> I went back to the shop and found out that the shop owner himself uses Sera Meersaltz for his magnificent showcase tanks. What about the Red Sea then? He said he is aware of blending quality problems last year but thought the problem had been rectified. <Perhaps if this was the problem, maybe you purchased a leftover bag from one of the troubled batches?> He is no longer stocking Red Sea salt mix after my complaint and says Instant Ocean would be the replacement for the budget conscious (Sera Meersaltz for the serious high-end fishkeeper) as he had some similar complaints from others as well.  My question is why has there been a lack of emphasis on the quality of many brands of seawater mix available especially where blending of the formula matters so much? <Well, I suppose that there has been a lot more placed into marketing and packaging in recent years than into research and development by many companies. Some formulas have been established so long that little, if any expense has been put into refining them.  The SF15 report, while appearing biased towards Aquacraft products and somewhat understandable (their products did better in the tests after all is said and done) is about the only thing I have seen so far. <Agreed...there are not too many independent tests out there. However, a number of advanced hobbyists and authors have done some limited research into salt mix over the past couple of years, and have published this information on the 'net. Just requires a bit of research on your part. Some of the findings might be interesting, others seem to be a bit unusual, but it's always worth looking at. I think the real problem is that it is rather expensive to perform a completely unbiased, accurate, and thorough analysis of al of the salt mixes on the market today. I suppose the best bet for the hobbyist is to see what your fellow successful hobbyists have found to be effective, and try the salt in your own system. If the salt works for you- stick with the brand. Consistency in all things, including salt mix- is very vital for marine systems, IMO. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Seawater Mix Product Issues 4/9/04  Dear Sir,  <Wow! No need for such formality. We are a very laid back bunch!<g>.>  I have used Tropic Marin, HW Marinemix, Instant Ocean and Sera Meersaltz for my marine fish hobby over 5 years. Recently, I tried Red Sea salt because it was cheaper which unfortunately resulted in the death of many of my fishes in my aquarium!  <Very bad news indeed!>  I went back to the shop and found out that the shop owner himself uses Sera Meersaltz for his magnificent showcase tanks. What about the Red Sea then? He said he is aware of blending quality problems last year but thought the problem had been rectified. He is no longer stocking Red Sea salt mix after my complaint and says Instant Ocean would be the replacement for as he had some similar complaints from others as well.  <I have not heard of this problem. Perhaps it is limited to certain areas. Tropic Marin and Sera are very highly regarded salts (which unfortunately are not widely available in the US) and Instant Ocean is so widely used that serious problems with it would be well known.>  My question is why has there been a lack of emphasis on the quality of many brands of seawater mix available especially where blending of the formula matters so much? The SF15 report while appearing biased towards Aquacraft products and somewhat  understandable (their products did better in the tests after all is said and done) is about the only thing I have seen so far.  <The results of the S-15 report is widely considered to be very questionable. Your observation that one brand of salts vastly outperformed others is very keen. You might have also noted that the criteria used to judge the salts seemed a bit odd and obviously favored the same brands of salt produced by the folks who performed the testing.  Dr. Ron Shimek performed some testing of salt mixes using sea urchin larvae. Although his results were quite dramatic, it is my strong opinion that not many useful conclusions can be drawn from his results and that much more testing is required.  I think the biggest reason for lack of testing of salts is primarily cost. No one has any way of recovering their testing cost, let alone profiting from performing unbiased testing. Another important reason is that it is only in the last couple of years that husbandry has advanced so far that the life expectancy of our animals may be limited by the quality of salt mix rather than poor husbandry.  Lastly, very pure chemicals are very expensive. To give a very crude example, a 95% pure chemical may cost $1.00 per kilo, the same chemical 99% pure may be $3.00 per kilo, the same chemical 99.99% pure may cost $15.00 per kilo. So, the cost goes up very rapidly to achieve the very highest level of purity. I hope this information is useful to you. Adam>

Fumes from Rubbermaid Container 3/13/04 Greetings O Gurus of the Deep <Greetings to you!  No guru, just Adam.> I just got a 35 G  Rubbermaid Roughneck to premix my water and I am concerned about the plastic smell and if it will contaminate the water.  Once the water was in and being aerated it almost smells like its  chlorinated.  I got RO from the LFS so it shouldn't have any chlorine  in it.  Do you think its okay?   Would it hurt to use a dechlorinator  if there is no chlorine in the water?  Have you experienced this? It smells pretty strong when I take the lid off.  I'm still fighting the slime so I really need it so I can  do my water change but I don't want to bleach my little buddies.  The LFS is an hour away.  Thanks for your help. JJ <If you haven't already, I would soak the container overnight with tap water and a few teaspoons of baking soda.  Drain and repeat a couple of times.  You could also check Rubbermaid's website.  I have heard that some of their containers have antimicrobial/odor fighting coatings.  I would try a couple of soakings and see if the smell goes away.  If the smell is gone, I would consider it safe.  I doubt a dechlorinator would help.  Best Regards.  Adam> - Adding Buffers... Preparing New Saltwater - Was wondering if there might be a link on the site you could direct me to for step by step instructions for making salt water.  I currently have a Kent Maxxima RO/DI 50gpd, and I only mix about 10 gal. at a time.  I was needing to find out the sequence I should follow as far as aerating, adding buffers, salt, etc.  I'm using Seachem Marine Buffer and Kent OsmoPrep before adding the salt, so I wasn't sure about what to do in between. <No worries... get your RO/DI water ready, add buffers, add a powerhead and heater... circulate water for a day or more if you can. Then use.> I figure this question has probably been asked of you before, but I couldn't find anything on the site. <I'm sure it is somewhere too but am feeling too sleepy to look - do the Search Feature button that is on the left margin of all Wet Web Media links.> Any info would be greatly appreciated.  Awesome site, btw. Thanks. Jim <Cheers, J -- >

- Storing Water and More - Crew, good morning.  Great site as usual... I had a few questions about a storage system for fresh and saltwater.  I plan on having two 44 gallon Rubbermaid Brute trash cans for water storage. <Ok.> One for fresh, one for salt. <Sounds good.> I will have a poly filter supplying the trash cans. <Ok.> Do I keep the lids on them all the time? <I would... keeps the bugs and dust out... perhaps a small hole so you can get electrical cords in and out.> Do I keep an airstone in each working at all times? <I'd use a pump to make sure the entire barrel is being turned over. An airstone would be extra but would do no harm.> Do I keep a pump moving the water at all times or only when I plan on adding salt? <I try to keep barrels full of water moving all the time.> Somebody in your crew wrote that it would be good to use a Mag Drive 500 pump.  Is this pump too much movement and do you keep it on at all times? <Actually... I think I have a Mag 7 in my water garbage can right now.> If it is too much, what would you recommend? <MaxiJet 1200 would do.>   Should I have one pump for each trash can? <Yes... would be cheaper to go with the Maxijets.> I plan on having these storage cans in the garage and I want to install PVC up about 10 feet, over about 6 feet and back down 10 feet into my sump in the living room.  I was thinking about an Ampmaster or Iwaki pump (unsure what size).  I will have a hardwired switch in the living room to manually turn on and off the pump to bring in top off water/salt water.  Do you see any problems/suggestions with this idea? <I think that would work... perhaps with some kind of secondary shutoff near the tank in case the switch stops working. You just can't be too careful with this stuff.> I don't really understand all the pumping problems.   Sorry for all the lame questions, but I am just starting and I want to get it right before I buy. <Not lame questions at all.>   Thanks for all your hard work and time spent.   Dan <Cheers, J -- >

Oceanic Systems Sea Salt 3/9/04 Do you have any experience with or know of any one who has tried Oceanic Systems new Sea Salt.  I was wondering what the trace mineral parameters might be as compared to other brands.  Thanks in advance for your response. Terry <Hi Terry. I have a sample of Oceanic salt that I haven't used yet.  I spoke to one LFS owner who has used it without incident and claimed that it had a Ca of 475 when mixed to sg 1.025.  You may consider contacting Oceanic for an analysis.  HTH  Adam>

Oceanic Systems Sea Salt Follow up 3/9/04 I called Oceanic and spoke to someone named Matt.  I find it hard to believe but they apparently either have not done any independent testing or will not seemingly admit to it.  WOW 475 seems a bit high as compared to most other brands.  Any thoughts? <I also find it hard to believe that Oceanic doesn't have analysis results to offer, but there are some possible explanations.  Many brands don't produce their own salt.  They contract to another company to mix it for them to their specifications.  I also suspect that most rely on the analyses of each chemical component from the chemical supplier.  These often only state purity, and don't give a breakdown of what the impurities are (except in prohibitively expensive grades of chemicals.).  Ca of 475 does seem high, but possible.  There is a group that is conducting some analyses and experiments with several major salt brands.  Hopefully they will include Oceanic.  There is no doubt that their results will generate a lot of discussion!  Best Regards.  Adam>

Re: Aquarium Systems and DIY skimmer mod.s I included most of our previous conversations here just so you remembered the incident. After speaking with Bob Studt several weeks ago, I sent the remaining salt as requested back to Aquarium Systems. About a week after I received a brand new bucket, however, no explanation. <Strange... at least seems strange to me> I have since tried to contact him directly, multiple times, and after many messages it is becoming quite apparent that he has no intentions of answering my calls or returning them. Perhaps he is afraid I am going to toss some frivolous lawsuit for the loss of my corals his way if he admits that the salt was improperly mixed. Or perhaps he simply doesn't care how his company's customer service appears to his customers. So from here I suppose I can only tell you that the free bucket of salt loosely acknowledges some error and the rest would be speculation. <I guess> In other issues, the direct link for the WWM mail doesn't work for me. I had a question and you can answer it yourself or please pass it on to the other good peoples at WWM. <Will check... is the link you're referring to on our homepage or elsewhere? We are (definitely) getting mail! Bob Fenner> Thanks Bob, RA "A few years ago I received a Berlin skimmer (appears to be a Classic) with a tank I bought at an auction. I have never had a sump so it has sat in a closet this whole time. <Okay> I was at the LFS the other day and noticed their Berlin hang on models. It appears to be the exact same design with just some PVC or plastic tubing running to the inlet and also from the returns back to the tank (they don't let you open boxes anymore). Can't I do the same thing? I was just thinking of getting the Turbo pump (or another if you have suggestions) and running some PVC with some elbows to the inlet, and then plumbing PVC for the two return lines. Why wouldn't this work?" <Maybe... I'd be careful in cutting for the plumbing... and am hesitant w/o being present to suggest where to make the connections... if it were me, mine, I'd trade it in, sell it and buy one already engineered as a hang-on. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Ryan A.

- Low pH in Newly Made Water - Hello, hope everyone is doing fine. I have a question that is puzzling, I have noticed that when I make water for changes the pH is not as high as I expected. I have a deionizer and checking the pH after aerating for 24 hrs is at 7.8 - 8.0 but after I add salt and let mix for 24 hrs the pH is actually dropping to 7.85? Could there be something in the water that is reacting to the salt mix? <Doubt that.> Or could I have a bad batch of salt (instant Ocean brand). <Doubt that too.> I am trying to get the Tank pH up and could not understand why after a water change the tanks pH would drop. The tanks alkalinity is between 10 and 11 DKH (running a dual chamber reactor) and stays constant but having hard time getting the pH up. Now it runs between (lights on 7.9 and lights out 8.1). Any suggestions would be helpful. <I'd add buffer to the freshwater before you add the salt... baking soda would suffice.> Thanks Mike W. <Cheers, J -- >

- Preparing Saltwater - Greetings again, I wrote a few weeks ago about some mystery deaths.   I lost a fire goby and a flame angel the night after completing a 10 gal water change on a 55 gal tank.  Anyway, my follow up question is this, do I need to buffer my RO water? <You should test the pH on the RO and see... quite possible that it will need to be buffered.> I ask because I lost my yellow tail damsel in much the same fashion after the latest water change. <Are you also matching temperature... letting the salt water mix for 24 hours or so?> Also, my snails are looking rather sad, by that I mean not moving a whole lot during the course of the day and easily removed from the rock by hand. <Snails do this.> Please let me know if I need to change my routine. I make RO water as needed and store it in regular 5 gal bottles.  When the schedule calls for a water change, I add 10 gal of RO water to a Rubbermaid trash can, drop in my mag 3 pump, add reef crystals and viola!!! I reach the target salinity within 4hrs of starting the process and check it again before I add it to the tank. I usually start the water after work on Thursday and conduct the change on Saturday.  Am I missing a step here? <Am not sure... are you letting the salt mix for 24 hours or so? Do read here, good information about mixing/storing saltwater for use in your aquarium: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm >  Is there something I should be doing that I am not? <Would make sure you heat the water to the same temperature as your tank.> Please help if you can.  Thanks Ron <Cheers, J -- > QT and sea salt brands/ammonia 2/17/04 Dear Anthony: you have made me reconsider getting this fish.   <not the point/purpose my friend... I just have hopes for you/all aquarists to be better with husbandry and handling. Quarantine tanks are mandatory. It is standard practice for all zoological, fisheries and wildlife agencies. It amazes and saddens me that so many aquarists look over or ignore this and keep killing fishes that do not need to die but rater rest and stabilize in QT for just a few weeks first. All new fishes, corals, invertebrates, etc should be given this grace. Mind you, I'm not picking on you at all my dear friend :) Its just hard to convey imperative advice through e-mail... no chance to give a warm smile with the persuasion! But the bottom line is that an overwhelming number of fishes that could live if given a better chance die instead because of impatient, uninformed or maverick aquarists ;)> I have a female, but two males have died during  acclimation.  Are they really too fragile for the home collector, and if so, why are they being sold to us?   <as a rule, most all fairly wrasses are very sensitive to shipping and handling... your experience with 2 males does not speak to viability of the gender... just part of the stats for the family as a whole> Are all reef-safe fairy wrasses fragile fish?  My 30 gallon tank is empty and still running, so it is well-seasoned.  I am growing amphipods and etc.  in it.   <outstanding! yes.. please do give it this nice quiet place to acclimate for a few weeks (4 weeks to be proper). The only problem is if you need to medicate. A correct QT tank is bare bottomed to spare and substrate from reducing the effectiveness of the meds and to prevent the "festering" of parasites in the sand. Yet some wrasses are somewhat of an exception. They are rather stressed without some sand it seems. A slight catch-22> That is where I was planning to put the fish, but the dealer told me the fish would never make it through quarantine if it didn't go into main tank. <Oh, my goodness... that is one of the most inaccurate pieces of advice I have ever heard. There is no basis on which he could justify this. I wonder if it isn't his way of trying to cover his butt for selling a fragile fish?> My 30 gal. is a duplicate of main tank and has been running for over two years.  Is a tank that seasoned still thought of as a quarantine tank? <yes... good that it is seasoned... bad that it has a substrate, but I could live with it here. Please do read some of the excellent articles we have on setting up QT tanks here on wetwebmedia. Spelled out nicely... it really is simple> Re: ammonia, you were too right on the source.  We bought two brand -new plastic barrels from a wine supplier and tested the salt with brand-new r/o water.  We have been using Instant Ocean, which I thought was a good brand, and the barrel containing Instant Ocean had an even higher reading than .025 of ammonia.   <yes... it is amazing> (New kit as well)  We just received our own r/o unit, which is not yet installed, so Joe is buying sea water from a LFS in San Francisco until we get hooked up and can determine what salt to use. Joe said he has seen Kent, Red Sea and Coral Life in various stores.  What is the very best?   <let me strongly encourage you to use Tropic Marin. It is truly time-tested and one of the very best> We don't mind ordering online to get high quality salt from a company who cares.  We need consistency here. <yes... very much agreed. TM is the kind of salt you can buy and never look back. I've always joked "If I'm spending someone elses money... I'd buy Tropic Marin... if I'm using my own money, I'd buy Instant Ocean <G>"> I am very interested to know what you use.  I know you would use only the best. Connie <best regards! Anthony> DOH!  Well, Now Ya Know!  >Another difficult question for you (sorry), I took my heater out of my pre-mixed water for a minute and put it back in while it was plugged in. >>Doh!  <smacks forehead>  Well, when we do it (and many do), we only do it ONCE.  Now you know.  ;) >I noticed that the heater light wasn't turning off and the water was cold so I took it out and noticed that the glass was broken at the bottom and the wires were exposed. I am now replacing with a titanium one. >>Cool. >My question is, is my water still ok? Nothing to leak out of the heater, i.e. mercury or various metals etc? Thanks in advance. >>Should be, but filtering through fresh (and well-rinsed) carbon and/or PolyFilter (brand name) would eliminate most all concerns.  I don't think there's anything that would be of any real worry.  Glad you didn't get shocked!  Marina

- Mix Water Storage - Hi, Now that I am tired of mixing water every week I decided to set up a 35gal garbage bin with pre-mixed salt water. I filled it up, dechlorinated it, mixed in salt then put in a heater and a 300gph powerhead with a working air venturi. (Note: Our tap water is great here, all the aquarium stores use it with no problems.) My questions are, is there a shelf life for that water? <Well... as long as the water is well circulated and aerated, it will last a pretty long time - not years, but several months.> I only have a 33 & 10 gal tank and change a total of 7 gallons per week of water. So, this will last me about a month. <Perfect.> I leave the heater and powerhead on all the time. Also, do I need to leave the heater and powerhead on all the time or just run a couple of days before the water changes? <I'd leave the powerhead on 24/7 and heat only before it's time to use the water.> Thanks in advance. Darrin <Cheers, J -- >

- Reducing the Cost of Salt - I'm interested in buying Instant Ocean in bulk? My water changes are 50 gallons a week and it really doesn't take long to go through a 200 gallon IO. If I could find a bulk supplier it might also be cheaper? Any thought would be appreciated. <Hmm... I would work with your local fish stores to see if they will cut you break - typically, the 'really' reduced prices are reserved for wholesale and unless you have a business, you probably won't be able to purchase anything from a wholesaler. Better to explain your needs to a couple of local fish stores and see if they are willing to do anything for you.> Regards David <Cheers, J -- >

- New Salt - Hey Crew. What's your thoughts on the new Oceanic Systems Natural Sea Salt. <I doubt that Oceanic actually makes this salt, but more than likely just re-brands someone else's salt.> All I hear is it's suppose to mix fast because of Micro Crystals. I hear nothing on the quality or trace elements. http://www.oceanicsystems.com/seasalt/default.htm <Well... I've not used this salt so I can't really say much more than I already have.> Have a great day! <You too. Cheers, J -- >

- Mixing Salt Water - Hi I started my reef tank in November and use Tropic Marin salt for my saltwater. I store my RO/DI water in a 20G food grade container with a Ebo Jager 100w heater and a Maxi-jet 900 pump. My question is I see everyone stores their mixed saltwater for 24hrs with a pump or airstone. Is this just to mix the salt I have been using a Squirrel 5G mixer: http://www.covina.com/hardware/products/squlmix.htm with a 18v DeWalt drill and it mixes the water with so much air and so fast that you'll have it on floor if your not careful. I've read of a few others doing that but not the majority. http://www.animalnetwork.com/fish2/aqfm/1997/sep/bio/default.asp After a few minutes of this I use the water am I screwing up my tank? <Uhh... the mixing methodology is fine, I can't see anything wrong with that. However, I would not place freshly mixed water into the tank - I'd wait at least 24 hours for the newly mixed water to stabilize.> PH is usually fine. I usually mix 8G of water in two 5 G buckets. <Cheers, J -- >

- Water Storage - Hello crew! Got one for you I will try to be brief. I have 2-45 gallon Brute trash cans for my water. I plan on having my RO/DI connected to these. Can I tie both cans together at bottom via bulkhead and a ball valve between them? <I don't see why not.> And if I install a float switch in the first can will both cans keep at the same water height without the second one overflowing? <I'm not sure that it will work... but it may. Would be something to experiment with.> Many thanks.. again <Cheers, J -- > Salt Switcheroo <Hello! Ryan with you this morning> love your website, very informative stuff. <Thanks!> My question is, I'm using Tropic Marin salt. The problem is that it's hard to get out here in Brooklyn. Only a few stores sell it. <I see>  I would like to switch to Instant Ocean. What should I expect if I switched brands. <Hmm...not much info to work with.  Are you just keeping saltwater fish?  If so, you likely will notice no changes if you start changing the water with a new salt.  Corals may react negatively to changes in water chemistry.> Is there a method to use. <Nah, not really> My second question is which brand is better, Tropic Marin or Instant Ocean. <Depends on what animal you care for!  If you're caring for a reef, I would encourage you change as little as possible.  If you're caring for fish only, the quality difference between the two brands is negligible.  Good luck! Ryan> Should I stay with what I'm using. Thanks Alonso

WWM mail link and Salt mix Bob, This is the guy that has been having problems with the WWM link. He sent me an email, and hope you don't mind that I'm forwarding it to you. I feel bad for the guy, he has lost a few of his corals and an anemone... He's a great guy, and is one of the people that got me into the SW hobby. If you wouldn't mind, can you send him an email. Thanks John (aka Magnus) <No problem. Bob> The stinking link on WWM still won't work for me, I get it as "undeliverable". <What, which link is not working? Please describe the nonfunctionality> I am in dire need of opinions on this: <Went to do a regular water change last night. Mixed up 12g of saltwater for the tank (55g) and did the change. Immediately, all the Aiptasia reacted a little funny after the change. Actually glad for it, I was not concerned. This morning though, things were obviously not right. <Not a good sign if one organism is malaffected... likely all are> The tank is cloudy, and in the meantime the alk is through the roof (22-24dkh) while the PH is down (7.8-8.0). I did more thorough tests and it is my salt mix (IO).  <I doubt "it" is the Instant Ocean... did you mix some up in new water and test it?> I have no idea why it is creating such different levels now, only a month ago I had tested the tank and it was right where I wanted it to be. Can salt go "bad"? <Not likely. Most salts will "clump" (they are hygroscopic... absorb water to become a one-piece ionic solid) but don't change chemically> What should I do now, corals were hit hard but fish only appear mildly stressed (some rapid breathing).  Thanks, Ryan A.>  <Do check your source water... administer buffers to bring the water to about right pH and alkalinity wise. Please send responses to crew@wetwebmedia.com or if your messages "bounce" there back to me here. Bob Fenner> WWM mail link and Salt mix problem Greetings Bob, the link on the "Ask the crew a question" page does not work for me. To be specific, sending to crew@wetwebmedia.com gets returned to me "undeliverable" in a few seconds. It has been this way for a few weeks. I have successfully used the link in the past, but having not changed anything on my mail server and not being a "computer guy" I am not about to state that the problem is 100% on your end. Judging by your surprise I suppose you have not heard much of this from anyone else (of course if they can't reach you maybe you wouldn't hear about it regardless...hehe). I have enclosed a copy of the returned email if you can decode it, the only thing I notice is that every time I send it to crew@wetwebmedia.com it adds in a "MAIL." wetwebmedia.com tag in it. <Bizarre. I don't know what might be wrong here... the link works for me. Am sending this note to Jason.C (far more computer savvy) for his input> As far as the tank is concerned, believe it or not it is the salt mix. I was baffled at first too (I actually thought there must have been some form of contaminant in the water) when I mixed it in the usual bucket). However, mixing it with pure RO/DI water, it does not even register on my dKH kit. Well I stop at 50 drops (drops equate to dKH in turning the liquid from blue to yellow). <... trouble... The salt container was unopened when you got it I take it? I would contact the manufacturer and send a sample to them immediately... something must have gone wrong with the batch/mix...> This was done with both tap and the RO/DI water with the same results. I then went out and bought a brand new package of IO and repeated the test. With the RO/DI water I came out with 9dkh and with tapwater 10dkh. I then repeated with the old salt and again came up with the elevated alkalinity. The salt itself is only maybe 2 months old and is kept in the original bucket with the lid sealed in a coat closet. My thoughts were to contact Aquarium Systems as well to see what their thoughts might be. <Yikes... the folks at AS will definitely want to look into this> Unfortunately, I lost every coral in the tank from the initial Alk spike and resulting PH crash/precipitation event. There was really nothing to do but sit and watch, waiting for the chain reaction to stop. The tank has since stabilized and all of the fish have returned to normal (from labored breathing, etc.). The only "good" thing from one point of view is that all of the corals were aquacultured....it takes a very small part of the guilt away. I'd still like to hear your thoughts, including "You're Crazy" ;-) It still boggles my mind what could have occurred with the salt as chemistry wise I am not familiar with the "nuts and bolts" of it so to speak. Sincerely, Ryan A. <Does sound like you got a bucket of mis-mixed synthetic. Of all the years and many, MANY samples of IO this is the first time I have heard of a credible bad batch. Bob Fenner> WWM mail link and Salt mix <Unsealed? Do you mean the opposite? It was factory sealed I hope/trust> Yes....sealed...sorry, typing faster than my brain was thinking. I'll drop you an email either here or on WWM when I get more information. Ryan A. <Ahh, good. Thank you. Bob F>

Switching to another brand of salt 1/28/04 I love your website, very informative stuff. My question is, I'm using Tropic Marin salt. The problem is that it's hard to get out here in Brooklyn. Only a few stores sell it. I would like to switch to Instant Ocean. What should I expect if I switched brands. Is there a method to use. My second question is which brand is better, Tropic Marin or Instant Ocean. Should I stay with what I'm using. Thanks Alonso <Hi Alonso, Adam here.  Glad you enjoy WWM!  There is no special procedure to follow when switching salts.  There are two ways to look at your switch....  One is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." If Tropic Marin works well for you, keep on using it.  The other way to look at it is "everything in moderation".  Even the best salt mixes will lack certain things while others will have too much of certain things.  Rotating brands of salt helps even out these differences.  Most folks are loyal to a particular brand of salt for reason #1.  I personally subscribe to reason #2.  In either case, the most important thing is to us a quality brand of salt, and both IO and TM fit the bill.  Best Regards.  Adam>

- Mixing Saltwater - Hey guys! Oh! I forgot I also have a question regarding mixing up saltwater for the first time for my new tank. Can I just use pure ro/di water with the instant ocean sea salt as directed? Or do I need to add something to the ro/di water? <I'd add some buffer - baking soda will work - just to bring the water's pH close to where you need it, before you add the salts. Cheers, J -- >

Ammonia And Source Water? Hi, <Hey there! Scott F. with you today!> I'm setting up my tank now but I'm having a problem where the water that I mix with the salt got ammonia  and its more than 0.5mg/l!! Why this is happen? How to avoid it?  Seng <Well, Seng- I'm not sure what lead to your ammonia reading. I think that you may need to analyze your source water before mixing with the salt, and adjust as needed. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Good Morning From Bernd - His LFS Has Closed! Good morning, crew. I'm the guy from Honduras. My LFS has closed. <I hate when the place you deal with closes...  Feel bad for the store owner.. but worse for my fish.> Now I have only one more store in the whole country that carries marine stuff. <ouch> I was using Instant Ocean salt mix the last 2 years. The other store has only Kent Salt mix and Crystal Sea Marine Mix , which would You prefer? <Personally I have never used anything but instant ocean, but I have know people that are quite happy with their Kent Salt.  But, reading articles online I found more than a few stating that Crystal Sea Marine Mix is one of the best.  Check out this link here: http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-03/rs/feature/index.htm  Seems to say that they are quite happy with the Crystal SMM.> From reading Your FAQ site, I know that You like the Instant Ocean, but I can't get that any more. <You should look online and see if you can order Instant Ocean from online vendors and have it shipped directly to your house.> Also, I need new test kits. He has Seachem kits  and FasTest from Aquarium Systems.  Which should I choose? <I recently tried the Seachem kits at a friends home and found it not only very nice, but seems to be quite accurate.  I would vote on that one.> Thanks as always, Bernd <Sorry to hear of your LFS closing.  Hope things work out for your and your fish. -Magnus.>

LFS - Salt Mix Questions - II >Hi and good morning again. >>Hello Bernd!  You've got Marina again. >Sorry to bother You again... >>NO bother at all, my friend. >...but the salt mix my LFS has is Reef Crystals, not Crystal Sea. What is the word on that one? >>Spendy, but a good quality product nonetheless.  If you are very concerned, I suggest going to the manufacturer's sites (both IO and Reef Crystals) and see if you can compare ingredient list.  Also, reefs.org has a sponsor who is planning a salt mix study/comparison.  Keep your eye open for the Inland Aquatics Salt Study. >It costs a bit more, but if it is worthwhile, I would go for it. Thanks, Bernd >>Not to mention that if it's all you can GET, then you have to work with it, yes?  I'm sure it will do just fine.  It's so hard to make certain changes (especially once we get older).  Marina

The Real Thing-Or The Synthetic Thing? (Salt Water) Hello Gang- <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> Merry Christmas ! I hope Santa was good to everyone ! <Sure was! Hope your Holiday was great!> My question is on the use of "Catalina Water" vs. synthetics like Instant Ocean. I read an article by Dr Shimek (sp?). He makes the case for use of Ocean Water obviously. Have you heard anything on this product ? Is it in wide use among hobbyists ? Pros/ Cons ? What do you recommend ??? Thanks and Happy New Year !  Dan <Well, Dan - I have used the product a number of years ago, and did not have any bad results from it. However, in recent years, I have heard various concerns posed by hobbyists regarding it's purity and source (some people have implied that the water is collected not too far off shore, with potential exposure to pollutants, etc. Perhaps these concerns are unfounded, but I prefer the control afforded by many of the good synthetic mixes and good source water. Seems kind of funny, but I recommend synthetic for many, many hobby applications over natural sea water. In general, we have many concerns about the use of natural sea water in home systems, which can be found throughout the site (use our Google search feature using the key words "natural sea water"). Hope this sheds a bit of light on the topic. Regards, Scott F.>

Coralline Algae & Salt Quality (12/21/2003) Hi Guys or Gals, <Steve Allen tonight> Thank you so much for all you do.  You are greatly appreciated. <our pleasure> A couple of quick questions. I have a 250 gallon FOWLR that I am trying to grow coralline algae in.  A lot of the tank is purple but I would like to have more.  How long should my power compacts be on? Currently I have 2 72 inch 96 watt bulbs on about 5 hours a day. Is that long enough? <depends on what other things you want to grow in there. Corals require a lot more light. Gradually increasing the duration of your light period over a couple of weeks to 8-12 hours would probably help. Remember that coralline doesn't like too much light either.> I am using Tropic Marin Bio Calcium but cannot get a reading over 320? <Is there something else in your tank using it up. Are you using a good brand of test kit such as Salifert, LaMotte or Hach? Make sure your alkalinity and pH are within acceptable limits. Do look at other ways of supplementing calcium. Here is a good place to start for learning how to encourage coralline growth: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corlalgfaqs3.htm > Secondly,  I am very concerned about a conversation that I had with the local Fish Store.  They told me Tropic Marin is the worst salt on the market and I should not be using it.  Do you agree?  Is there a list of available salts with their "ratings"?  Is there a consequence to change the salt you are using when your fish are used to your current mix? <I have no idea where your LFS guy goes. Tropic Marin has an excellent reputation and most of the crew think it's the best. Instant Ocean is almost as good. I use that because no LFS around here carries Tropic Marin. There is quite a bit of controversy over salt mixes right now. Do search WWM under "salt, quality" to learn more. What did your LFS recommend? I can tell you that I had a lot of bad experiences with Red Sea before switching to IO. There should be no harm in gradually switching brands. The way I did it was to start using the replacement in the water changes.> Your help would be greatly appreciated, Matt (Hope this helps Matt.>

Questions about R/O water and mixing salt 12/15/03 I have some questions about R/O water and mixing salt that I was hoping you could answer (I couldn't find the exact answers on your site): - How many PPM of TDS solids are acceptable in R/o water before the R/O membrane needs replacing?  5 PPM, 20 PPM, ???   <somewhere between the two in my opinion. I favor changing it by 10ppm> Is TDS and ppm the right thing to be checking to determine when the R/o membrane needs to be replaced? <good question. It depends on your use of the water. If you are using RO because you are breeding discus fishes, then TDS is a big deal (less is better here). But if your RO is for marines, many of the hardness minerals are actually desirable and we are instead using RO to rid nutrients/contaminants (metals, phosphate, etc). As such, you will want to test for things other than TDS> - I've noticed that my salt mixing tank will build up a brownish residue over months on the sides and on the aeration stones, heater.    <may simply be a bacterial slime. Your vat is hardly sterile, and as such growths will develop in time> I use Rubbermaid tubs for my R/O tanks and salt mixing tank.  the r/o tanks never get this residue, but the salt tanks do, and the only thing different in the salt tank is that it is aerated, heated with a titanium heater, and has salt (instant ocean).  Any ideas on what causes the brown residue slim?   Is it harmful?  It looks almost like a rust, but comes off easily via wiping. <not harmful at all... if the vessel gets any indirect room light, the growth may also be diatoms>     - Your site indicates that when mixing salt, you should:  1) get r/o water, 2) aerate it and heat it  3) add buffer to increase alk, and then 4) add salt.   How much buffer should be added - enough to reach normal salt water alk? <yes... obey your test kit on this one. It will vary depending on the quality of RO water being produced> -lastly, I found a faq on your site that indicated saltwater plants (Caulerpa) could go thru a freshwater dip prior to quarantine (like fish).   <some will, but many wont> How long should the dip last - and is this only for Caulerpa, or can most macro algaes tolerate this (like Halimeda)? <very few will survive the osmotic shock of FW. Its best instead to simply quarantine all as you do your fish in a separate QT tank for 3-4 weeks before moving into the main display> thanks!<best regards, Anthony>

- Mixing Saltwater - Dear Sirs, Don't want to cause any problems here but there seems to be varying opinions in regards to mixing saltwater. Is there really any difference in the end product if RO/DI water is buffered, aerated then salt added or salt added, aerated then buffered? <To an extent, yes. If the RO/DI water isn't buffered, then the addition of salt will deplete the buffers in the salt, which are in a very precise mix. The secondary addition of buffers will then be a haphazard mix. Adding the buffers directly to the RO/DI let you get that mixture up to a useful pH before adding expensive salts. Aeration in my opinion just keeps the water from getting stale - there's no real alteration to the chemistry of the water. I've seen some folks say that the aeration will off-gas CO2 and oxygenate the water, but I can assure you, RO/DI will have zero CO2 and you can fully oxygenate the water in about five minutes stirring it with a stick.> Respectfully, Samuel <Cheers, J -- > Target Numbers Hi Scott <Hi there!> I am gonna be taking a sample of my water to my LFS within the next week or so to have it tested. Can you give me a breakdown of what all my tank readings should be besides the ammonia and nitrates e.g.. Ph? <I'd check specific gravity, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and alkalinity at this point. Your readings should be in this range: Specific Gravity: 1.022-1.025 pH: 8.1- 8.3 Ammonia: Zero Nitrite: Zero Alkalinity: 2.5-5.0 meq/L I wanna make sure that all is a hundred percent fine before I add fish. Thanks Regards Ziad Limbada <Well, Ziad, these are some good target numbers. You don't have to hit them right on the target, but this will put you "in the ballpark", as they say. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Synthetic salt question I was wondering about a good aquarium salt.  Sorry to have to ask you guys this question you've probably answered hundreds of times.  But I could not find any info on the Bio-Sea marine mix salt.  I know you guys highly regard the Instant Ocean salt mix.  For an aquarium with live rock and a piece of rock with colony polyps and one with Ricordea mushroom, and an anemone, what would be you're recommendation between Instant Ocean and the Bio-Sea marine mix? <I do like the Bio-Sea salt mix brand (one of a few good products from Marine Environments), but slightly prefer the IO over it... a bit more consistent in make-up, some small amount more soluble, greater biomineral content...> I definitely want a salt that has good carbonate like the Instant Ocean to hold ph more stable.  Is the Bio-Sea more pure?  I also use the reef solution by ecosystems if that has any bearing on which salt would be best.  I appreciate your help, and just wanted to say your site seems to be the most informative and thorough on all needed topics.  Again thank you very much!! <Most salt mixes are "ninety five, ninety eight percent" alike IMO/E... best in these cases though to get a bunch of folks input. I would try the BB's... ours: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ Bob Fenner>

- Chemical Filtration & Makeup Water Heating - I have done some reading about the two products Chemi-pure and Phos-Zorb.  They sound like really good products for my reef tank.  What I would like to do is place these two in a hang off the side filtration system will they work that way? <Yes.> I have several dual chambered hang off side systems lying around from my cichlid days.  Not worried about unsightliness because I bought a tall tank and stacked the live rock all the way up to the water line.  It gave the tank an interesting effect.  I have fish living in an almost apartment style from top to bottom. I installed mirrors on the wall in back of the tank with dim lights to see what goes on back there.  A lot let me tell you. It's a regular dance club. Complete with bass players and a sand bar.  I also have several corrals put on the rocks I took the time to make sure all are secure ( I built little PVC holders custom made for each coral to keep them off of the rocks and out far enough  to let them fully expand and grow.  Very ugly at first but now all are overgrown with coralline algae) I put light lovers at the top, deeper water ones down at the bottom, aggressive corals with plenty of room.  I also have a few anenomes in and around the rocks.  Very aggressive skimming a Sea-Clone 100 (I know not the best skimmer, but I made a few modifications on the air inlet valve and now I get a whole lot of brown goo in the cup about every other day.)  The reason I wanted to know about these two products is I use a very simple filtration system.  A gravity flow of water from the bottom of the tank into a modified plastic bucket filled with floss and activated charcoal and a big power head to pump it back up into the tank. I guess really the power head helps suck the water through the filter so it is more of a gravity assisted filter.  It has worked well for over three years, Sea-Clone 8 months,  but I want to do the best I can for my conversation piece (aquarium).    Also I keep 33 gallons of salt water for my every two week ritual of water changes, I only aerate it.  I have been reading that some people heat their water in the container. <I'd be one of those people.> I always thought this to be a grey area. <Not in my mind.> Should I keep all 33 gallons at 78F or heat it just before I use it? <Yes... or at least heat it up a day or two before you use it - adding water that is not temperature matched to the tank can be a source of stress for your animals.> Thanks ahead of time, Craig <Cheers, J -- >

- Storing Saltwater - I mixed about 25 gal of saltwater (Reef Crystals) in a large Rubbermaid trash can for storage.  The water was filtered thought the Aquarium Pharm. tap water filter.  I also used a fairly powerful powerhead to dissolve the salt, but no heater.  It is in my garage which can get down into the 50's at night.  After a few days I achieved the correct specific gravity.  However, about 10 days later, it looks like part of the salt precipitated out of the water and is clinging to the sides and the bottom of the trash can as well as the powerhead. <More likely that this is the calcium.> It comes off easily if I rub it.  Is this due to the temperature drop? <I don't think so - solution was likely saturated.> The specific gravity has dropped from 1.026 to 1.023. <Fascinating - I wouldn't have predicted that unless your original reading was wrong... air bubble on the swing arm or something. Typically even salt water in storage will get saltier as water evaporates and salt does not.> Thanks, Randy <Cheers, J -- >

Rock solid tap water and a low pH Greetings and salutations fish people, I have been battling a recent bout of lower than desired pH, and questionable tap water. The setup: 180 gal FOWLR~130lbs of live rock sand bed ranging from 0" deep to 5" deep (depth is decided by my fishy) wet/dry filter (still with bio balls) diy skimmer which seems to work reasonably well: usually about 1cup of decent skimmate every 2-3 days~3250 gph total circulation (love those new Tunze streams) The fishies: 3 damsels @ about 1.5" each 1 adult skunk cleaner shrimp and 1 Gymnothorax fimbriatus @ about 35" named "Corporal Clegg". Had this little guy for about 7 years now. It is my hope to someday soon set up a refugium to get the Caulerpa out of the main tank and to also house some pulsing xenia.... maybe some xenia in the main display too :D.  From reading through the FAQs, I understand that the Xenia are pretty demanding on high pH: so begins my battle with trying to raise my pH The temp is kept at a stable 82F, attempting any lower and I start to see temperature swings of more than a couple of degrees. I have seen the pH in the display range from 7.9-8.1 at various times of the day, but the majority of the time it is a steady 8.0. This is measured with a digital pH pen from Hanna Inst. that I calibrate frequently. Other pertinent measurements in the tank - 11dKh Alk and 400ppm calcium.  I do not supplement w/ any calcium anymore as I currently have no calcium hungry critters.  In the past I have tried to drip Kalk at night to try and raise pH, but had to stop because my source water had such high calcium numbers to begin with. I've tried opening windows in the house to let more fresh air in, but have seen no affect on the pH.... not a surprise since my house is pretty drafty in the first place. So now I start looking at my source water trying to find out why water why my pH is still low: I follow your instructions on treating tap water: I let it sit for 3-4 days before use, running it through a poly-filter for at least 2 of those days. Then mix salt and aerate for about 3hours with the help of a maxi jet venturi before use. Before mixing the salt (Instant Ocean) today, I measured the pH to be at 8.3 already.  After mixing the salt and aerating the water, it was at 7.8!!  WTF??!!! So I test Alk and Ca.  Ca was at 400ppm which is a bit lower than it has been in the past.  Alk was off the chart of the Salifert test!! I had to refill  the 1ml syringe to get the test to change colors - came out to be about 18.4dKh.  How is this possible? Especially when seeing a low pH?  I have tested twice to make sure I didn't screw up the test... same results.  Is there something else I am missing out on?  Given that this would be a 40gal water change, do you think it would be safe to do a water change with this water?  I am completely baffled here.  If these numbers are accurate, this seems like a huge swing in the hardness of the water in a short period of time (I test the source about every 3 mo.s) I will need to wait for a couple more paychecks before I can buy a dedicated high output RO system for the water changes, but what can I do in the mean time? Thank you in advance for your help. Mark < well mark you have done everything possible. I can't believe your alk is that high and ph that low. Try looking on the test kit and see if the expiration date is past due. I would use a Salifert ph test kit to verify your meter .I have found that meters can give false readings. Mike H>

- Using Natural Sea Water -  Hi guys  I'm from the east coast of (Queensland Australia) and I was reading about natural sea water on your page. I have access to natural sea water 24/7 it takes no time at all to collect but from reading your page you seem to not like natural sea water? <It's true.> Is this because you are USA based and some don't have the access? <Well... I thought the pros and cons were well laid out in the article, but to answer your question, no... there are several places here on the west coast, and also a couple on the east where sea water is collected, sand filtered and made available to the public. In general, natural sea water is typically inconsistent... red tides, need for supplementation, organic life, and other issues that can cause complete wipe outs if not handled correctly. Have several friends who have been much less lucky than you.> This tank I have now is my 3rd tank being the smallest of all of them only 220L or 60 Gallon in your eyes over a time of 12 years and I have never used any thing but natural and I have never had any problems i.e. disease and I don't quarantine my fish invert or coral. I'm I just lucky? <Very... I'd look both directions before you cross the street next time.> I collect my own fish, invert and coral from the reefs at my door step so to speak.  I don't treat the water at all I don't even heat it up I some time do 20L a week some time I go 3 to 4 weeks and do more. I'm I doing it wrong? Or am I just lucky and I am heading down the path of death for my tanks. <I think you are lucky... and for my own way of thinking, there is always the risk of driving off the cliff, so to speak. If we were talking about playing a game of cards and you had just run the house, I'd tell you to leave the table... most every good streak is followed by something less favorable. But that's just the way I think.>  Don  <Cheers, J -- > 

Can I Still Use This Saltwater?  >Hi Crew,  >>Hello questioner.  >I'm back again with another 'newbie' question. (didn't have much look with the chat room, and haven't found anything in my shiny new copy of CMA).  >>Didn't have much look, or luck? In any event...  >Sixteen days ago I mixed 20 gallons of RO with Instant Ocean mix to 1.023 sg in a very clean plastic trash can. I didn't need it then as I thought I would, and it's been in the covered can in my garage (75-90F) since then. I planned to use it for a water change today and found a thin white "dusty" film of solids on the surface when I uncovered it. Substance doesn't seem to want to re-dissolve easily with stirring. pH still tests good at 8.0 and s.g. is only slightly over 1.023 (can be corrected I'm sure).  >>Yes it can.  >Is the water safe?  >>I don't see why not, if it doesn't smell bad. However, AERATE it for at least 24 hours before using, it could have a very low degree of dissolved oxygen at this point.  >More tests?  >>O2 saturation, or aerate.  >What's the white stuff?  >>Not knowing where you are, and being in southern California, my mind is on ash fall. I would take some paper towels and skim them across the surface to remove this stuff. If it goes with them, great, if not, then I might hook up a small power filter.  >I need to do a water change, but I'm scared of it. Should I be?  >>BOO! (Sorry, and here I'm just sick of Halloween..)  >Thanks for the great work you guys/gals do. Randy C.  >>Just be prudent and cautious, remember that the high temperatures will lower the O2, if everything else checks out ok, then don't worry too much. But do remove the film, I'd feel better if you did, and I like to visualize a grown man standing over a can of water passing paper towels over it, makes me smile. Marina

Instant Ocean vs. Reef Crystals sea salts 10/20/03 I am currently use Instant Ocean. I have been using it since my tanks inception on 1/10/03. Everything seems fine. I saw that reef crystals is supposedly geared more towards reef tanks. Your expert advice on this please, and would it be okay to switch now? Thanks again <I have used both extensively (8,000 gall mix pallets at a time for my coral farming greenhouse) and hold the brand in high regard. For most reef aquariums however, the extra calcium (etc.) in the Reef Crystals mix at best reduces your need to dose such elements only slightly (days). I personally am content to simply use and recommend IO and test/supplement the aquarium as needed in addition to regular partial water changes. Anthony>

-Switching salt brands?- Hi all, I currently have a 30 gal saltwater tank and use Instant Ocean. I have about 40lbs of live rock and a clarkia clown, blue damsel, cleaner shrimp, a brittle starfish, and a long tentacle anemone.  When I bought the live rock, it had some coral growing on it and was wondering if switching to Reef Crystals would help with the minerals needed for the livestock on the live rock and the coral. <It wouldn't hurt, but without testing for anything, how do you know that you're lacking something this coral needs? You should also find out what type of coral this is (and if it is even in fact coral) so that you can provide appropriately for it.> How should I go about changing? <You could change whenever you want with no ill side effects.> Would my bi-weekly water changes be subtle enough so as not to create any problems or should I just stay with IO. <Depends, if you're concerned about the calcium and alkalinity levels, you'll need to test for them. The first step here is finding out what you have, then you can better determine what it needs to be kept healthy. Hope this helps! -Kevin> Thanks John

Nitrates in the Sea Could I please ask you a question .  How are the NITRATES in our Seas and Oceans removed by nature. Hoping you can Help.  Thanks a lot. <By De-nitrifying bacteria...it's called the nitrogen cycle...type "nitrogen cycle" in google and read more about it...it is very interesting process and there are many factors involved, good luck, IanB>

Shimek's Salt Analysis Hello! <Hi there> My question may actually be more of a comment or a discussion re-starter. The observations below may have even been brought up before, but I couldn't find any such evidence. <Okay> I know there has been a lot of debate about Shimek's use of label values for the composition of Crystal Seas Marinemix Bio-Assay salt (found at http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-03/rs/feature/index.htm ).  However one may dispute his conclusions though, it is difficult to ignore the large difference in the survival of the larvae in the different brand salt solutions.  Having my degree in biological science, his methods APPEARED to be fairly sound.  But there was one section in his methods that was not well documented:  HOW he actually made the synthetic saltwater solutions.  Does anyone know what the water source was that he used to prepare the synthetic saltwater solutions and how he did this exactly? <Let's ask him. Will bcc here> The reason I'm asking is that I noticed something quite peculiar.  As you probably already know, 2 of the 4 tested brands (Marinemix Bioassay & Bio-Sea Marinemix) had much, MUCH higher survivability by comparison than the other two brands (Instant Ocean & Coralife).  Is it just coincidence that Marinemix Bioassay & Bio-Sea Marinemix are the only 2 out of the 4 that also contain an incorporated DECHLORINATOR?!? <Interesting note. I also have a couple of life science degrees, and more than a casual interest in "test models" and their oh-so-common shortcomings...> There was also a huge disparity in the number of surviving larvae in the water samples from "Hobbyists A & B" who BOTH used Instant Ocean.  Hobbyist A water had survival close to that shown for Shimek's Marinemix Bioassay & Bio-Sea Marinemix samples while Hobbyist B's survival rate was on par with Shimek's demonstrated results for Instant Ocean.  Shimek proposed an odd explanation for the disparity citing some unlikely chemical reactions occurring during the freezing process of the Hobbyist samples.  Having worked in a water quality testing laboratory, I find his explanation tenuous.  Isn't it more likely that the difference is because (according to Shimek himself) one Hobbyist's source water was RO/DI and the other's was WELL WATER.  Well water--WHICH IS OFTEN CHLORINATED! <Yikes... some experimental bias now!> So, did Dr. Shimek use tap water in his experiments?  Did he dechlorinate the water?  Or did he unwittingly giving an advantage to the Marinemix Bioassay & Bio-Sea Marinemix samples on that fateful day? <Ron?> Unless he stands up and says something, we may never know.  And in the interim, we are all left scratching our heads over the validity of the study's methods & conclusions and, ultimately, the very worth of his report. Sincerely, Stephen Barker <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Shimek's Salt Analysis Marinemix Bioassay has no dechlorinator.  . The salts were mixed with distilled water. <Thank you Ron. Suspected you were well aware of avoiding bias in experimental modeling. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Shimek's Salt Analysis From Shimek's report: "The Crystal Sea Marinemix - Bioassay Formulation is essentially the same as standard Crystal Sea Marinemix which it differs from only in lacking the dechlorinator found in the latter salt (R. Spellman, pers. comm.)." Sure enough.  I stand corrected.  I must have misread this the first time through. <Happens> If Dr. Shimek used distilled water, then I find it even harder to ignore the survival of the larvae in the Crystal Sea Marinemix - Bioassay solution over the others--regardless of whether one thinks it is due to the amount of heavy metals in the salt or not.  His statistical analysis using ANOVA was very sound and convincing. <Now you're taking me back in time... analysis of variance... shades of non-parametric testing!> Crystal Sea Marinemix - Bioassay does indeed appear to be a better synthetic saltwater medium.  While I understand that Instant Ocean and others have been used for 30 years with no problems, larvae are typically more sensitive to their saltwater environment than the adult specimens we tend to keep in our aquariums. <Yes, for certain> However, there is that weird disparity between Hobbyist A & B samples. <Does Ron discuss this... as in the Discussion part of his dissertation?> But there is so much room for variables that these could muddy such results.  I only wish that Dr. Shimek would have had the chance to perform his same tests on multiple lots of the salt mixes while he was at it to eliminate the issue of lot consistency, too. <Ahh, a common bugaboo... the number of replicates or trials in any experiment> Thank you very, very much, Bob, for clearing my mind more on this issue and contacting Dr. Shimek!  And thank you, Dr. Shimek, for your quick response! I am now even more intrigued by this subject than ever! WWM is so cool!  I had no idea that I would ever get such quick answers to my questions! Stephen <Glad to be of service. Ron, anything else to add for posterity? Bob Fenner>

On The Cutting Edge (Or The Edge Of Madness?) As you may have guessed this is an evolving system. Lots of logistics to be worked out yet. Your opinions have been invaluable Thanks. <Glad to hear that. Keep in mind, of course, that these are exactly that- my opinions- and there are as many ways to "do it right" as there are hobbyists!> So leave the lithified plenum in place. Aiptasia is OK for the sumps. How do you keep them contained?? <I'd chip away the rock that they are attached to, and secure it (epoxy or glue) to the "raceway" that you are constructing. Make sure that nutrient-laden water passes through this area, and you're a state-of the art, cutting-edge, lean, mean Aiptasia-filtering machine!> What is Chaetomorpha linum? I don't recall this one. <Chaetomorpha is a green macro algae that looks just like one of those green pot scrubbing pads. It almost seems like it's made from plastic! But it is a fantastically prolific, hardy, and effective consumer of nutrients, if harvested regularly.> Not bubble algae I have enough of that already. <Nope- not even close! You WANT this stuff!> I'm interested in getting some. Where??? <I'd start with a post on the WWM Forum. I am sure that a lot of your fellow WWM readers could hook you up. Or check another one of the message boards, like Reef Central, etc....You're bound to find someone who has this stuff!> I perused quite a few of your articles and you frequently mention skimming like its inherent with reef setups. I was hoping to keep this simple. <Well, in my opinion, protein skimming is simply a basic component of any reef system. Sure, there are hobbyists who have yanked their skimmers in some sort of bizarre fit of exploratory madness, but for the most of us- protein skimming is a rational necessity> With the corner overflows in the tanks which have been modified to 1 inch plus opening size to allow the necessary volume to pass which is about an inch deep at the nap (breakpoint where acceleration picks up). Yes, I do occasionally get snails and fish going down the overflow. But this has dropped off substantially. When things are good in the tanks they are not so apt to leave. These overflows have 1in stand pipes which go into the sump with the Kalk reactor. There are a lot of bubbles generated by the overflow, many fine very fine and not so fine. Or should I say bubble cloud. And the outlets are at different depths and orientated different directions. In this sump I have the large variety simple leafed Caulerpa (smooth cigar shaped leaves with short stalks connecting to a long smooth runner). <This will change when you get a hold of some "Chaeto", my friend!> This sump also contains about 500+ Aiptasia. OK I used to feed with the Liquid zoo plankton. Aiptasia just love that stuff. (More Marine Zoo, Marine Snow please!) <Yep- you've discovered the magic ingredients to develop a plague population of Aiptasia! Seriously, though- this is the "heart" of one of your new cutting edge "filter components". Do this right and you'll make us proud! I know that Anthony is weeping right now! Seriously, you could really test this concept. I'm stoked for you!> I have a screen in this sump from top to bottom mounted on plastic egg crate which the water needs to get through before exiting the first sump. This goes a pretty decent job at screening the bubbles. <Good idea> The outflow from the first sump is about 4" below the surface 3in PVC with a bell on it so the water sees a bigger 5" exit. This flows into the second sump where it leaves the pipe not going straight into the sump but up and at an angle this breaks the surface with about a 3/4 in hydraulic jump. This tank doesn't have much algae growth at present. I recently reduced the height in both sumps from 24" to 19" to gain more clearance.  I estimate capacity dropped about 15 Gal/sump. This sump has a lot of man-made structures and some live rock.  There is another top to bottom screen mounted on egg crate in this sump before it can enter the inlets for the return pumps. <Sounds quite good> As you may have guessed there is a lot of crud that accumulates at or just above the waterline in the first sump. In short I may already be skimming without a skimmer. Comments?? <Get a skimmer. Really!> I am considering using a two phase inline filter to deal with suspended solids and remaining nutrients before it cycles back to the actual reef. This may cause more head loss and reduce the flow rate to the tanks so this upgrade would include going to a different higher output pump. <Quite possibly, but not a bad concept. Or, perhaps you could rig a micron filter "sock" somewhere to contain fine particulate? Clean/change it often> With the Mag drives I get about 1800 GPH at 5.5' ft of head 900 GPH /tank turn over rate 10time/hr. and I have powerheads rate at 300 GPH 3times/hr. Total turn over for tanks 13/hr.  The sumps are much higher 4 times as high. <Cool...> Yes I do get quite a bit of evaporation 4-6 gal/day depending on humidity. Salinity 1.022-025 doesn't move much even if I wait three days between top-offs.  Total Gal. 92 minus overflow and solids say 85 galx4= 340 plus 80 gal/sumpx2 = 500 Gal. Evaporation rate 1% I appreciate your insight about water changes 5% twice a week = 25 Gal 2 times a week. <You'll love the results, your animals will love you, and the salt mix manufacturers will throw a parade in your honor. One time, I'll remember to post a picture of the pyramid I made with empty Tropic Marine 200gal buckets in my back yard...Well- maybe not!> Currently I get salt from the store. I would have most favored customer status by the end of the year. <Yeah, baby!> Know a good source for Instant Ocean?? This amounts to a 40% water change every month. The seven gal pails would last 1 month. <I'd start with our sponsor, Drs. Foster & Smith- they have a good price on buckets. Or, perhaps you could cut a deal with your local store, now that you plan on becoming a full-on water change geek like me..> About the water, that was what I thought, at best a quarter of the expected life from the filters. <I figured... You have enough solids in that water to make a sidewalk!> Currently my make up water sits in a old 40 Gal long which I used to aerate until the pump froze from the carbonate buildup. But I feel this is necessary. So I'll  be buying a pump for that. <Buy a few! LOL> It significantly reduces iron and overall hardness to normal levels and the water appears clear blue when you pull it out of there not stained, not to mention that its supposed to reduce significantly chloramine and chlorine. By the way I have not been using a conditioner for that purpose.  So I've been getting lucky.   <Yep...in a word!> But for my 60 Gal water changes I didn't have enough stored water to do that so 30 gal would be straight from the tap but well aerated due to the pressure the water exits the faucet at. Things do seem to diminish a little when I do this but not with the expected lethal results. <That's reassuring!> Regardless I do feel it is necessary to store more aerated water. I would buy 2 of those 100 Gal tubs and mount them on dollies, aerate the water for 4 days. That water would fill the second tank which would be used for water changes and makeup water. This may also serve as a pre-treat if DI/RO is used. I could expect longer life from the filters that way. <Smart> Optimally a third 100 gal tub would store aerated salt water which would last 2 weeks with 5% water changes twice a week. <There you go>   Next Purchase: The tubs are $65 ea. at fleet farm. Components for the dollies $30 ea.?? <Sounds about right...> Powerheads $65 ea. All x3. <Mo' money....> Did I mention this set appears to be very stable. I say appears because I do not have the actual probes to tell me otherwise. I am going off of tank and life appearance. <Dude! You are a madman, and I'm sure that our fellow WWM readers will be inspired by your creative ideas! Good luck, and have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Source Water Pre-Treatment Hi, I have a couple of questions please.  First, If I use R/O water is it necessary to let the water aerate in my storage container 24 hours before adding the salt? <I think so. It will help drive off carbonic acid, which will assist you in maintaining alkalinity> Also, since I am using R/O water in my F/O saltwater tank, is it still a good idea to use the poly filter or would using it serve no purpose as the water has already been purified?  Thank you <Good question. While there is no doubt that Poly Filter is an excellent source water pre-treatment, I am a much bigger fan of utilizing Poly Filter pads on a continuous basis in the main tank. They are phenomenal at removing organics and other impurities...Good stuff, IMO! Regards, Scott F>

Natural Sea Water (9-14-03) Hey Guy,<You got Cody today.> I'm from Singapore.  Recently I have just converted my freshwater tank to a marine water tank. I did not buy sea salt but instead I took it from my near by beach. the sea water has some how evaporated and is it okay for me to collect some sea water from the near by beach and fill it up again or should I buy sea salt from the salt and mix together with my exiting sea water. pls help me.<You can get water from the ocean but it needs to be treated first.  I would just buy salt as it is much easier.  You can find some info on this here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm.  Cody> thanks and best regards, Calvin.

What type of salt? (9-16-03) Hey Cody, Thanks for yr information. What type of salt should I get.  just the normal sea salt package form from the fish shop.  but if I mixed with the sea water, will it cost the fishes to die or confused???<Hmm, not sure on this one try doing a search on our website.  I use Instant ocean in my tank but there are many good brands.  Cody tks n best regards Calvin

Marine water treatment, fish farm in Bali Hi Bob, <Hello Charles> I have read your news forum daily and I must say you are simple amazing like a walking dictionary in aquaria industry. Thanks for enlightening those like us who's still figuring out bits and pieces of aquaculture knowledge. I have indeed gained a lot by just reading your aquaria news in the forum. Hope to meet you one day. <Me too> I'm currently running a marine fish farm and would like to know any affordable and effective ways to sterilize my system water. Currently I'm using 2 UV light tubings for 15,000 litre of water in my holding however one aquarist told me to get commercial grade with multiple UV tubings in order to be effective. But getting commercial grade UV light tubings prove to be very expensive. How abt ozonizer for 15,000 litres of water? <Could be done... seek out the larger Sander's (made in Germany) units. If you have room, storing the water in the dark for a week or two, possibly bleaching it (with commercial concentration sodium hypochlorite) THEN dechlorinating it (likely with thiosulfate) are options as well> I have tried submerging LR in fiber glass but in less than a week most of them were dead. DO they need strong sunlight or constant lightings? <More needed are good protein skimming, water changes when water quality slides greatly> What other condition do they need in order to survive? Is it possible to put my posting in more obvious spot as I'm desperate in finding serious business partner for my uncle Ong Kian Huat in re-activating his existing Bali farm? <Where do you suggest?> It's such a waste that this farm with 100 tanks sit lying there untouched whereas many new investors were trying to start from scratch. <Agreed. Got to have aquariums, space> Sorry to email you so many questions as finally I have found a guru which can satisfy all my curiosities in aquaria matters :-) Pls advise. Thank you. Cheers, Stephen <Keep on planning, searching, contemplating your possibilities. Bob Fenner>

Salt brands, What's the Rub 9/9/03 I saw this article on artificial sea salt.  Is this marketing BS or is this for real?   <it has taken considerable flak in the aquarium trade/biz as being perceived to be biased> I've used Tropic Marin salt for years and was alarmed to see it ranked so low, under Crystal sea.  Which I can get locally for cheap. <my very strong advice and shared opinion is that Tropic Marin is still one of the very best sea salts that money can buy> They say the "Information used in this evaluation is from the S-15 report. The S-15 report was prepared by Anresco Laboratories, an independent third party laboratory. The majority of testing was performed by the University of Missouri, a US Government prime contract testing laboratory, Environmental Trace Substances Research Center, Dept. of Environmental Science & Technology." <heehee... yes. Its a familiar/old study. If you ever make it to a MACNA conference or the like, you can get an earful from the real professionals in the field about their opinion of such issues> What do you guys think?  Brian <no worries... TM and Instant Ocean are time tested, tried and true. Working with medium and large sized aquaria and holding systems for many years, I have used literally tens of thousands of gallons worth of these mixes and am quite satisfied with TM and IO. Best regards, Anthony>

Saltwater too Salty - 8/28/03 Dear WWM Crewperson: I just made 32 gallons of saltwater for my storage batch, and I made it a bit strong, around 1.030.  I would rather not dump some out and add fresh water.  Can I add some of my top-off water to my water change bucket at the time of a 2-4 gallon change in order to bring it down to 1.025?  Thanks, Rich <Yes you can. Should be no problem. Bob Fenner>

Salt Question - 8/18/03 I have spent the last three weeks reading your many articles, and I just needed to say THANK YOU!.  <Well thank you for reading. Spread the word>  I have been setting up a new 100 gal reef, and have completely changed just about every aspect of its setup due to your articles.  <Indeed. We appreciate your gratitude.> Gone: Plenum Added: DSB  7 inches Aragonite  <quite deep> Gone: UV Light Added: RO/DI CSP 60 Gone: Metal Halides Added: Helio Compact lights Gone: Spiral media sump Added: 45 gallon refugium Gone:5 gallon "natural water jugs" Added: Rubbermaid holding trash can & 40 feet of hose. I also changed the entire pluming configuration, and I think I can finally start mixing my water, so what's the word on your preferred salt mix??  <Tropic Marin or Instant Ocean your choice. Most here feel that Tropic Marin is the apex of synthetic salt mixes. Outstanding consistency and quality control.> You Guys are awesome!!  Roger.  <Appreciated. Show some gratitude and spread the word (or better yet....buy our resident author's books =)    Thanks Roger. It is refreshing to hear that you were able to read before purchasing. You are well on your way to becoming a Conscientious Marine Aquarist  Heheheheh) -Paul>

Crystal Seas Salt - 8/17/03 When I started my reef several months ago, I had no basis for choosing one salt over another, except Ron Shimek's study, so I ended up using Crystal Sea Bioassay.  Everything seems to be going fine, except I'm concerned by reports of some hobbyists who reported problems after switching from IO to CS.   <with over 10 years experience in the hobby/industry... and one who has long used commercial quantities of sea salt purchased in 8,000 gall mix skids... I will tell you that I would not take CS brand for free> I'm hoping there are legions of satisfied CS users, who, as is human nature, do not publicize their praise as readily as those who publish their complaints.   <perhaps> Can I continue on with peace of mind or should I be thinking about switching my salt? <if you are not having any trouble (common complaints include suffrage of echinoderms and gastropods, e.g.), my advice is to stick with CS believe it or not. If its not broke don't fix it, as they say. FWIW - I don't regard CS as a very reliable product. I use IO because of value and long-standing consistency/quality. But if you ask me to recommend the highest quality among popular brands IMO... I'll tell you to buy Tropic Marin. Best regards, Anthony>

Crystal Seas Salt II - 8/17/03 Ouch.  That's what I feared you would say. <heehee... and I stand in a long line if the complaints we have heard over the years is any indication> Since my tank is still very young and my investment in livestock is relatively limited, wouldn't I be better making the switch now, rather than waiting for problems a year from now (after much growth and more dollars spent)? <oddly enough... perhaps not. Hate to admit it as I might, you might very well go a lifetime and never have a problem with it as other folks do. Yet if we add up the complaints heard per brand and use that as a point of referral, then yes... I would suggest that you consider switching to IO or Tropic Marin early on> P.S.  what is "suffrage of echinoderms and gastropods"? <my fault... a common thread in complaints has been starfish and snails in particular often stunned (and then die after days)... also some complaints with corals bleaching although I have never had that problem. Of course, the reason I've never had that problem is because I've never trusted the mix to be used with them... just on fish and macro-motile inverts <G>> P.S.S.  Based on your writings, can I fairly state that you would not regard my DSB in the display tank another gaff? <excellent choice in my opinion... 4 or more inches always. Never less than 3". Best regards, my friend. Anthony>

SALTWATER STORAGE >Hi, >>Greetings. >I have just started to store pre-mixed salt water.  I have a Rubbermaid trash can ( 20 gallon, didn't have room for a larger one).  I add the water and let my pump aerate it for 24 hours.  Then I add my salt.  How long should I aerate it then?   >>Keep the water in movement (either through powerhead or air stone) as long as it's being stored. >I have heard that aerating too long after adding salt can cause some important elements to escape; but I have also heard that water must be continually aerated to keep it from stagnating.   >>The only elements you'll lose are the salt itself from salt creep (if using an air stone). >My container is in the house so it stays cool.  Should I cover the can to keep it totally dark?   >>Best practice, my friend.  Keeps bad things out, eliminates evaporation.  Do be sure to bring the water to proper temperature before using. >How long will the water stay good in the container?  The water will last me for 3 weekly water changes.   Will the water stay good that long? (3 weeks)? >>Easily.  If we were looking for months, then I'd be more inclined to treat it as I would fresh potable water, and in that situation I would lightly chlorinate and have Sodium thiosulfate on hand for dechlorination if used before dissipation.  In other words, keep it covered and circulated, and you'll be golden. >Thank you for your help, James >>Most welcome.  Marina

WATER CHANGES AND STORAGE Hi, Hope things are going well there.  I have a couple of questions for you please.  First, After purchasing a plastic container to store sea water in for water changes, how should it be cleaned before use?  With salt? <Yes to cleaning... with rock salt, water and a clean "scrubby", then a good freshwater rinsing> Also I know the container should be covered most of the time to prevent contaminants, but I have heard as mixed sea water "cures" it releases certain compounds into the air.  Shouldn't the lid be left off sometimes to let these escape? <A loose fitting top (which almost all are) is best, adding a recirculating pump or powerhead is a bonus for stirring as well as warming, aiding you in pumping the water out> And lastly, I use a piece of plastic tubing to draw out old water before making a water change.  Would having the end of it directly on the substrate help get out more organics. Don't they usually accumulate closer to the bottom of the water column? <Yes... do look into "store-bought" gravel vacuums here. Many are well made for this purpose> As always, thanks for your good help.  James James Hall <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: WATER CHANGES AND STORAGE Would the sea salt work to clean? <Of a certainty, yes. Just more expensive than plain "rock salt" for the job. Bob Fenner>

- Storing Synthetic Seawater - Same question posed thrice, answered by Kevin hereHi, I am currently pre-mixing my salt water in a Rubbermaid container for future water changes.  After aerating for 24 hours I add the salt. How long do I aerate after salt is added? <Until you use it>  I have heard not long due to loss of carbonates and I have also heard to continually aerate as long as the water is in storage.  <I'd either run a small powerhead inside or keep on aerating. It should be fine to use for weeks.>  My water storage lasts me for 3 weeks of water changes.  <Sounds good, Good luck! -Kevin>  Thank you, James

Salt Brand Change 8/5/03 Sorry to trouble you once again, but I have a quick question as I am about to run out of salt. I have been using Red Sea since starting my tank 9 months ago because I got several buckets for $30 each at Petco. I have been somewhat dissatisfied with it's performance, especially since one ff the buckets kept mixing up with an ammonia level of 0.5 using ammonia-free RO water. <I will tell you that for some time I have heard complaints monthly or better with this salt... not so much quality issues... but consistency> Anyway, I am considering a switch. I gather that most of the crew prefer Tropic Main or IO over Red Sea. Is this correct? <for me at least... Bob is agreed too I'm fairly certain><<Yes. RMF>> Might I ask why? <long-standing QC... Tropic Marin is arguably a better salt... IO is perhaps a better value. Both are extremely reliable and consistent> I've tried to read up on some of the issues, including the famous article by Ron Shimek in Reefkeeping Online. <ughhh... for neither love or money, I - nor many other industry professionals I know - can explain why he made this statement or how the heck he came to those conclusions. The backlash on it is already coming back. Sorry to see it for all> He seems to strongly favor Crystal Sea Marinemix.   <do read the message boards and our archives re: issues with this salt in particular from less than pleased folks that made the switch. Seems to be some concern for gastropods and echinoderms in particular as I recall (stunned snails and starfish). I personally would not take it for free.> If I do change, should I just start using the new brand for water changes (say 5% per week)?  Thanks, Steve Allen. <do opt for 10-20% weekly water changes minimum please... and you will not go wrong with TM, IO or Omega salts IMO. Best regards, Anthony>

-Salt switch = loss of bubble tips on BTA- Would you recommend switching back to the Kent salt? <I think it would be interesting to find out whether or not things went back to the way they were before.> My Xenia in the tank has also shrunk up since the salt swap. I think I will go ahead and go back to the Kent Salt. Yes, the tank has 2x55w PC for lighting. My anemone has always had its bubble tips since I got it. I have had it now for over four months not a month like I said before, sorry. I just wanted to see if it was the Frogspawn frag that I added. I appreciate the advise guys! <Let me know if the tips return! -Kevin> Thanks, Chris Hepburn

Seawater mixing, storing containers Thank you, and I have another question please.  I know that  plastic and not metal containers should be used to store pre-mixed sea water in to do water changes.  Is there any type of plastic container I should NOT use or is any one suitable as long as it is new and clean?  Thanks again, James <All that are made for human use are fine. If money is not too dear, the Rubbermaid Brute line of trash cans (even with separate roller bases) are my faves. Nalgene (tm) or similar polyethylene containers if you win the lottery are fantastic. Bob Fenner>

- Salt Problems - I am having a similar (more severe issue) like the user Creative describes in this thread...  My alk is >16dKH and calcium is at 125, will dripping Kalk fix this? <No.> The tank is a new tank and is half way through cycling (0-ammonia, 1.25ppm-nitrites). My pH is great at 8.1, <Sorry my friend, that's not great - should be between 8.2 and 8.4.> SG 1.026 (slowly lowering to 1.025), Temp 80ish,  I have never dosed with anything on this tank, but did have a "snowstorm/Glue on glass effect" when I first mixed up the original Instant Ocean salt... I think that's why the ALK/CA is out of whack. <Probably.> I have since done a 50% water change with Tropic Marin salt (which I am switching to permanently now), and that seems to have lowered the ALK.. Even though it is still off the charts on the Salifert test kit... Seems like the blue color in the test vial is about to break and turn pink when I run out of the reagent in the 1ML vial. At first I continued to add reagent with a 2nd 1ml vial and this is how I know it has come down. I also did confirm that something was not correct with the original Instant Ocean bucket of salt that I used. I am sending a sample back to them to test. Mixing up a gallon of RO ( 0-alk ) with this bucket of instant ocean causes the Alk to go off the charts... However Tropic Marin only raises the same batch of RO to 8dKH. Thoughts? <Sounds like you've found the solution... do a couple of water changes with the new salt and things should be on a more even keel.> Thanks in advance, Sonny <Cheers, J -- >

-Storing premixed saltwater- I have a 55 gallon saltwater tank with 60 lbs of live rock, a few fish, SPS corals, anemones and many inverts. I make my own saltwater using distilled water <Be wary of distilled water unless you are absolutely sure it hasn't come in contact with any metals (especially copper) during the distilling process.> and keep it in a 18 gallon tank in my garage with crushed coral and a aqua clear 500 filter. I use the foam filter inside the filter and add a little carbon every other month to keep the water crystal clear. My question is: Should I keep the crushed coral in the 18 gallon tank or should I remove it and use only a bare aquarium to keep my premixed saltwater? <You don't really need anything in the barrel besides the filter and maybe an airstone> Should I take the crushed coral out and add a few lbs of live rock? <I wouldn't, because you will have to feed it, the critters will produce waste, etc.> What is the best way to store  the premixed saltwater so I can use it for quick and easy water changes? <Keep it well circulated and aerated if possible. Good luck! -Kevin> Thank you! Donovan

Natural seawater (6-17-03) I want to set up a saltwater tank and I live close to the ocean with clear water. my question is can I put water straight from the ocean in my tank and will petstore fish live in it ok? <Nope, too many organisms living in NSW.  There are a lot of places where their water treatment facilities offer free filtered water.  Otherwise read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm Cody.>

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