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FAQs on Seawater, Synthetic or Natural 1

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

FAQs on: Seawater 2, Seawater 3, Seawater 4, Seawater 5, Seawater 6,  & FAQs on Mixing, Supplementing, Storing, Moving, Physical/Chemical Troubleshooting/Fixing... By Make/Manufacturer: Natural Seawater. Synthetics: Aquarium Systems (Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals), Aquacraft (Marine Environments, BioSea...), Central Garden (Oceanic), Kent Marine (SeaSalt), Red Sea (Red Sea Salt, Coral Pro Salt), SeaChem Marine (Marine Salt, Reef Salt), Energy Savers (Coralife), Tropic Marin, Other Brands... About Buying Pre-mixed Seawater, About  Synthetics Manufacturers Advertising Claims... Spg 1, Treating Tapwater For Marine Aquarium Use, Reverse Osmosis Filtration 

A fifty gallon bag-mix of Instant Ocean. Consistent high quality synthetic.

Copper and aquatic life 5/26/2010
Hi Bob, There are so many hobbyists are so misinformed about the present of copper in fish food that I thought the link below 'might' clarify the misconception. Even among the advanced reef keepers still warn fellow reef keepers the danger of copper in fish food! I thought you might be interested in this info. As well. Little learning is indeed a dangerous thing.
<Heeeee! Indeed>
Oceans, tidal pools, lakes, rivers, and ponds --all bodies of water that sustain life-- have copper present as a vital, naturally occurring element. Its presence as a basic component of the process that spawns the abundant species that swim, scurry, wiggle and wallow in the waters of the world has been established by Nature and confirmed by scientists.
It is, simply stated, indispensable because it is necessary for normal growth in living beings.
"The role of copper in small quantities is essential to marine life," says Dr. Karl D. Shearer, Research Fisheries Biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service, at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Washington.
"It is a key component of enzymes, compounds that act as catalysts in the metabolism of organisms," says Dr. A. G. Lewis, an oceanographer and Professor in the Department of Oceanography and Zoology at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B. C., Canada. "Because it is an essential metal, an adequate supply is necessary for normal metabolism," he explains
"Copper's main role in the body is through metalloenzymes and enzymes catalyze many different chemical reactions," says Dr. Kathryn Michel, Assistant Professor of Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Michel adds that "the body is full of enzymes and any chemical reaction in the body has possibly enzymes associated with it. Copper is a very important component and absolutely essential to the performance of the enzymes"
She explains that "enzymes are critical to the development of bone tissue and the production of red blood cells. A copper deficiency would contribute to anemia."
Put simply, "enzymes won't function without trace minerals such as copper, which means there's no metabolism," says Dr. Shearer, the National Marine Fisheries Services biologist, who has worked extensively in the analysis and development of food for fish. With no metabolism there would be no energy to fuel the vital processes that sustain life in creatures.
Aquatic plants, which play an important role in marine life, are no less reliant on copper. It plays an important role in photosynthesis and respiration. Like marine animal life, plants get copper from copper that is dissolved in the water, copper that is present in other particles or sediment found in the water and copper in their food.
Levels of copper in fresh water and salt water have been found to be generally low. In the United States studies of raw, untreated surface water have shown copper content ranging from 0.001 milligrams per liter to 0.28 milligrams per liter. The mean was 0.015 milligrams per liter. In open oceans, copper levels ranged from 0.1 milligrams per liter to 0.39 milligrams per liter, with an average of 0.8 milligrams per liter.
These figures show how copper is effective in small quantities. Dr. Shearer says that "the normal level of copper in whole fish tissue is one to two parts per million." To measure such tiny amounts requires a spectro photometer, an instrument that gauges matter by zeroing in all the way down to atoms in molecules. Scientists heat animal tissue to extremely high temperatures until atoms begin to emit light. Different atoms produce light at different wavelengths. So "we measure (light) wavelength to get to know what elements are present in the tissue of the fish and we measure the intensity of the light, which tells us the amount present," says Dr. Shearer.
The amount of copper and other trace minerals in the growth and development of fish, crustaceans (shellfish) and mollusks such as oysters and clams may be minute in quantity but enormous in economic terms. Many of these species are part of the renewable foundation of fishing, a vast worldwide activity that helps meet a growing demand for protein.
Commercial and recreational fishing is practiced just about every where in the world, including such land-locked countries as Bolivia, in South America, and Azerbaijan, in Asia. Bolivians have been fishing the waters of Lake Titicaca for centuries, and the valuable caviar industry of the world is centered in Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimated that in 1997 the world's food fish production reached 90 million tons, an almost threefold increase since 1960. Almost a third of that catch was raised on fish farms in a fast-growing commercial process known as aquaculture. Fish grow under controlled conditions within enclosures and are fed a carefully balanced diet that invariably includes copper.
At Bio-Oregon, in Warrenton, Oregon, a producer of formulated food for fish farms, Dr. Dennis Roley, says that "copper has always been a supplemental trace element." Because copper can be virtually recycled from healthy animal tissue, fish food industries find copper in organic forms such as copper sulfate in the offal of edible fish such as salmon that has already been processed.
By including copper in fish food, fish farmers are replicating what nature does so well in the wild: providing an environment that nurtures life and growth. In this respect marine life is similar to other species.
"The requirements for trace minerals such as copper are pretty steady among vertebrate animals," says Dr. Shearer. Interestingly, he adds, crustaceans, such as shrimp, lobster and crab, are in particularly need of copper because its serves as an oxygen carrier in their blood.
Dr. Lewis, the University of British Columbia oceanographer, notes that "copper concentrations in crustaceans may be elevated compared with other groups since many crustaceans use copper in a blood pigment"
That is why, if you look closely, blood on an uncooked shrimp looks bluish, a typical color of certain forms of oxidized copper. Copper in marine invertebrates plays the role that among humans is performed by iron, which is present in blood as hemoglobin.
It doesn't take much copper to perform its critical role in marine species. Data supplied by Dr. Shearer shows that Atlantic salmon and Channel catfish require 3 milligrams of copper per kilogram of feed. Rainbow trout and carp make do on 3 milligrams per kilogram of feed.
Although requirements have not been determined for every marine species, scientists do know that copper deficiencies in certain species can result in reduced growth and cataracts, among other symptoms. Conversely, scientists have observed that overly high presence of copper in natural waters, due to pollutants or produced experimentally, may badly damage gills, adversely affect the liver and kidneys of fish or cause some neurological damage."
Scientists are frequently frustrated in their efforts to study more closely the effects of too little or too much copper on aquatic species in the wild because it is unusual to find whole fish that have died slowly as a result of malnutrition. "In the wild animals with deficiencies get quickly eaten or decompose," says Dr. Shearer.
Dr. Lewis, who every year prepares a review of copper in the environment for the International Copper Association, says that copper plays an important role in other aquatic environments, too. It is a key component of marine plant life. It is commonly used to purify and distribute drinking water. It combats the growth of unwanted organisms that foul water intake lines, aquaculture facilities and the hulls of vessels.
In another link: http://www.copperinfo.com/health/aquatic.html
The requirements for copper is fairly steady among vertebrate animals. Crustaceans, such as shrimp, lobster and crab, are in particular need of copper because its serves as an oxygen carrier in their blood.
Some scientists believe that copper concentrations in crustaceans may be elevated compared with other groups since many crustaceans use copper in their blood pigment. That is why, if you look closely, an uncooked shrimp looks bluish, a typical color of certain forms of oxidized copper.
<Thank you for sending this along Pablo. As we discussed at last week's Interzoo, some Copper is indeed a good thing... An essential micro-nutrient, and useful as a preservative at times. Not harmful. I will gladly post this about on WWM for others edification. Be seeing you, BobF>

Ozone vs. Bromine <<dangers of incomplete answers... RMF>> Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005 Hello WWM bromine guru - I've read something that Albert Thiel wrote that essentially says bromine has been left out of commercial saltwater mixes because it can react with ozone pumped into tanks and create "toxic brominous acids." Have you heard anything about this? I'm curious to know because I use ozone on my reef, and occasionally mix 5-gallon boxes of real sea water - which he also says is loaded with bromine - into my artificial water before a water change. I really don't want to create "toxic brominous acids" by doing this, nor toxic anything if ozone can turn good stuff into bad.  <Shannon, I really don't know where Mr. Thiel got this information, but on my detailed composition of seawater chart, at a 3.5% salinity level, bromine does not exist. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, SLC

Ozone vs. Bromine - Redux! Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2005 WWM Bromine Guy : From this page : http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seah2omats.htm  Comes this quote : "A good example is the relative difference between the elements Bromine and Iodine. Bromine is present in the oceans at several thousand times the concentration of Iodine, yet Iodine is far more important biologically. If it becomes limited/absent fishes exhibit goiter-like growths; a common problem in keeping large sharks in captivity."  Help ... ? SLC <OK Shannon, I did go to a Marine Research Site, and this site does give a listing of elements found in seawater and low and behold, bromide is listed, but not bromine. I don't know if the two are exactly the same or if Mr. Thiel meant bromide. Maybe Mr. Fenner can inject something here. James (Salty Dog)>  

Bromine/Bromide content in seawater Bob, Thought you might want this for your files.  http://www.biosbcc.net/ocean/marinesci/02ocean/swcomposition.htm  Check on a reply to a Shannon I made concerning ozone vs. bromine. I told her/him you may inject something into the reply.  Thanks, James (Salty Dog) <Okay. James... Bromide is a valence state of the element Bromine... just as Chlorine (another member of the same family of elements, the Halogens) exists mainly as Chloride salts... These elements (same number of protons) are the same... but with different numbers of electrons... Use the Net... and don't feel badly re not answering queries you don't understand well. BobF>

Salt Hello, <<Hello, JasonC here.>> Just a real quick question. Have you heard anything about the Marine Environment dual phase salt mix? <<no, but I'll check out the link.>> http://www.northcoastmarines.com/Marine_Environment_Salt.htm It claims to match seawater the best. <<And many other manufacturers make similar claims. I'm not entirely convinced after giving the site a read. Is a fairly bold claim. You'd probably do just fine with Instant Ocean or Tropic Marin.>> Thanks, Kevin <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Buying Water or Mix My Own? I am very new to this hobby. My tank is only 2 weeks old. I have been getting my water ready mixed from the LFS. When I checked the spg, it was only 1.019. <Fairly normal for industry types.> According to the FAQs I have been reading on your very helpful site, this is way too low. Should I mix my own water to bring it up and keep it up to 1.023? <You probably should learn how to mix your own water in case of emergencies (water changes after store hours) and from the point of being cost effective. A S.G. of 1.020-1.027 is good depending on your animals (fish only, Red Sea fish, inverts, etc). Take a look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/spg_salinity.htm> And does this mean I should put new fish in the quarantine tank at the same spg as from where I got it and slowly bring it up to the same as the main tank? <Yes, exactly. And you said you were just a beginner.> Thanks in advance.  <You are welcome. Steven Pro>

Aged seawater Bob, At the risk of taking advantage of your on-line help, you mention in your book to age the seawater for water changes. I set up a 10 gal tank and run it for a week before changes. Have been using a small air pump for circulation. After a day or two the glass is so coated with white stuff you can hardly see thru it. Seems like lime or calcium you would find in a kettle. The water itself is fine. The guy at the LFS suggests just aging the water fresh and then mixing the salt at the time of water change. Your advice? <Mmm, am wondering what sort of chemical make-up your source water has that would produce so much noticeable "scale"... your water must have appreciable hardness... I would still pre-mix the salt in the tap... and age it altogether. Please read through this bit on the subject: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and the FAQs linked beyond. The carbonate scum could be acid washed off once in a while... but I wouldn't let it bother me. Bob Fenner>

Water chemistry HI Bob - I use tapwater for top off water and to mix new saltwater. For a time, I was using the tap water purifier to remove chlorine and chloramines from the water. But because my tapwater has 700ppm of total dissolved solids, I found that the TWP was only good for about 15 gals (although I used it for much longer, oops). <Yikes!> I now use Amquel to remove the same chemicals. Does the AmQuel remove the chloramines or does it change the form of chloramines so that ammonia in the chloramines now reads as nitrates on my weekly testing?  <Does neutralize chloramines> So am I adding more nitrates each time I do a water change? <Minimally... and these are assimilated, amalgamated quickly in "going" systems... as you can/will see through testing, experience> I can change out 20gals. in my 65 gal tank and have no reduction in the level of nitrates in the tank (80ppm). The nitrate test 0 at the tap however, the published city water report indicates that they test 0 - 20 ppm in their tests. <It's closer to zero.> Thanks for your help-- Chuck <And you for writing. I would not, actually should state do not worry about such matters... Our "liquid rock" water here in San Diego is very hard, alkaline, treated with the same sanitizer... I use it in our systems... and many, many, likely used millions of gallons in marine, freshwater, and pond systems over the years in the service side. Bob Fenner>

"Real" dechloraminators Hello Bob, Is "stress coat" the (a) bad dechloraminator that you mention in your article.  <Mmm, not bad, just unnecessary... as all are... given use of otherwise treated (R.O, Deionized, contact treated) water... or small/suggested volume water changes, or best: pre-mixed, stored water: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and FAQs> I have switched to AmQuel and will now switch to storing my water, but I wonder if this has caused the death of some of my pets. <Not likely at all> I have had several fish (in my brackish tank) die with no visible signs of disease and 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites. They stop eating and start "gasping" for breath for a day or two, then die.  <Mmm... likely poor gaseous diffusion, solubility issues here...> I am in the process of starting a new salt water aquarium (75 gal D.A.S.)  <Arghhh, Dutch Aquarium Systems are notorious for these "gas problems"> I used stress coat on my salt water in my new tank, thinking it would help. I am now afraid it probably hurt things. My live rock will be arriving in a few days, should I change out my water?  <Probably not. The water itself is likely fine> I put the water (and stress coat) in there on Saturday and am expecting my rock tomorrow or Wednesday.  I ordered from Tampa Bay Saltwater, their rock is shipped underwater with some coral and sponges. I wish I had read your water article sooner. I also put some CaribSea "Live" Aragonite. Will the stress coat kill that? <No> I have learned so much from your website, I ordered your book it should be here any day. <You will find it enjoyable, hopefully informative, somewhat stimulating> Thanks so much for all your help. Joe Hall <Do look into, add more circulation, aeration to your system: Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marenvdi.htm and beyond... and the marine index sections on aeration, circulation. Bob Fenner>

Rubbermaid brute Dear Bob: My LFS tells me that some of my reef tank problems might be because of the plastic trash can that I am using for preparation and storage of my RO salt water. I am using a Rubbermaid trash can, but it is not the "Brute" model that I see you recommend. One of the RO manufacturers has told my LFS that the storage container should be "food safe". Do you know if the Brute is "food safe" and is that one of the reasons why you recommend it? Bob Pentecost <As far as I am aware, all of Rubbermaid's products are food safe. The Brute line definitely is... We used them extensively for decades. Bob Fenner, who may send this note along to RM.>

Re: new setup There is one thing I can't quite figure out. ...and I cannot seem to find anything on your site about this. <Let's go over "it" here> I have a dedicated Rubbermaid container and powerhead for mixing synthetic sea-water. Have been using instant ocean.... <Okay> Once I introduce my tap water I treat with NovAqua (after reading your site a product such as AmQuel may be more suited, I was told by someone AmQuel doesn't work well with salt water and to use NovAqua instead).  <Mmm, works fine in/with seawater> Then I add my pH buffer. Then I add my synthetic sea salt. I move the power head around to help dissolve the salt. At about the time it seems all the salt is dissolved, and the water at this time looks crystal clear. Within a matter of minutes the entire container of water turns to milky looking water. You cannot see the bottom at all. <Yes... a few possibilities here... likely the bases in the buffer reacting with those in the salt mix... could be the Novaqua as well...> I originally thought this was just because maybe it wasn't fully dissolved so this time I let it sit for about 15 hours or so. When I came back it was a bit clear (could see the bottom barely) but i noticed white powder all over the bottom. When I moved the power head around it just blew this powder back into water and milk returned. <Solid precipitates... the "extra" alkaline material that your water "can't hold"...> The salinity is correct but after 15 hours i tested pH (and it was a little low). Is this substance buffer that is laying on the bottom?  <Yes> If so why would it not be dissolving (I added it while it was fresh water, before I added salt) I wouldn't think it would be salt because by the amount of powder my salinity should be very low if it wasn't dissolved yet. <The resultant material accumulating at the bottom of your Rubber Maid mixing container is not readily soluble at the pH, chemical composition of the mixed seawater...> This time I just re-buffered and added to my tank once pH and salinity was correct. It mixes up in my tank in a matter of a few hours and is clear. <Ahh! I encourage you to mix up the seawater with your source water, leave out the conditioner (Novaqua, Amquel, what have you) as unnecessary, and add what you want as added buffer to the mixed up seawater a day or more after initially blending with tap.> I figured that most milky water was caused by dust from substrate but my container obviously has no substrate. Thanks for the help and if I'm ever in Fiji I'll look you up! :) ...after I steal some live rock (just kidding) <Am back in town in San Diego, California... for a while! Bob Fenner>

Formula ! (salt mix) Hi there. I saw your particulars at the Wet Web Media Site. Is it possible to get the sea salt formula to prepare salt at home. I live in Calcutta, India and at times it gets very difficult to get good quality salt mixes. Getting chemicals is no problem though. Thank you, Vidul <There are printed works that offer such formulae. See Stephen Spotte's "Fish and Invertebrate Culture in Closed Systems", or a university library if interested. By and large this is not a worthwhile approach... better to just buy a pre-made synthetic. Bob Fenner>

Shelf life of saltwater Bob, We are purchasing a house about 45 minutes north of our current location and I will be moving my marine tank. I am going to prepare saltwater in advance of the move (at the new location) and was wondering how long mixed saltwater will stay 'good'?  <Many months> Also, should I mix in some tank water a few days in advance to establish some of the bacteria to the new water or is this a waste of time?  <A worthwhile action> (I will preserve as much tank water as possible to avoid too stressful of a situation, hopefully.) Your piece on WWM gave me some helpful information on the process as well. Thanks. <Good to hear/read. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Humbly, Mike Stewart

Re: New tank setting it up Well, Bob I put in dechlorinated tap water in my 55 gal. tank and let it stand for a day or two. I mixed in a 50 gal. bag of Instant Ocean into the tank with 2 powerheads and a Millennium 3000 filter running. After 24 hrs, I put some of the water in my SeaTest hydrometer and the needle went all the way up to 1.030!!?? Is this normal? Should I add more fresh water? <Normal, yes... there really isn't 50 gallons of water in your 55... not just due to displacement... do the math... Length times width times height in inches divided by 231 cubic inches per gallon... So yes, remove a proportion of the current volume and replace with just freshwater> I also have a CPR Bak Pak2 skimmer which I have not installed yet, should I put it in already? <Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm> Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Bob. I know that you are a busy man and you do not have to do this so thanks again. <No worries, be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Seawater stress  I have a 40 gal. tank and three weeks ago I added three fish and another live rock.. My ph has dropped to 7.8. I use RO water change 15-20 % a week. I just tested my RO water, without the salt added and the ph is 7.0. Does the salt raise the ph level ???  <Yes, it does, and should... in fact you need to add more, another source of alkalinity to sustain your pH, even elevate it. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm> when I used to test the RO water it was always 8.2....but I had mixed in the salt already. I also use c-balance. <The RO only has a tiny amount of alkaline reserve... once "used up" at that pH level, the pH drops quickly to the next one of "reserve"> Also, I have had a yellow tang for 6 months and he always seems to get ick...( then goes to the cleaner shrimp ) every time I change water. I keep the temp. the same as the tank water. why would he seemed to be stressed when he is getting clean water ? <The "clean water" is too much different than what it has become "accustomed" to. Do study here... get in the habit of pre-making your new seawater... providing enough buffering capacity to keep pH in the 8.2-8.4 range. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm You will know soon, how to easily make-up, store and maintain higher seawater quality. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Cheryl

Re: Tank Upsizing Last question. Given a difference of 10-20 gallons, do I just make-up new water for the balance to fill out the rest of the larger tank and let it sit a few days before dumping the old in? Thanks. <I would just make it up and place it. Bob Fenner>

Water Issues Hi Bob, I have a weird problem my water in my tank has a white film on the surface. I have conducted some experiments to find out what the problem maybe. If I skim the surface of the water and remove the film the water stays clear. However, when I add fresh water with no salt to replace the water I removed from skimming the film reappears. I make sure nothing contaminates the water. I think it is the type of salt I use (Instant Ocean) it may not be compatible with my local water supply. <Interesting possibility... could be a few other sources ("dust" from substrate, aerosols from the room...) but would either continue to scoop, wick off... or get/use a surface skimmer attachment of a powerhead, canister filter...> If I had another water source I am sure the Instant Ocean would do just fine. Have you ever heard of this problem? Should I switch to a different type of salt? <Worth trying to see if it makes a difference... Have you had your source water tested, analysis from the supplier? It may be a good idea for you to acquire a reverse osmosis unit. I just installed a new one at our new/used home. Very easy. Bob Fenner> Thanks, David Garcia

AMDA Asleep at the switch! Well, I sent the AMDA group a detailed reply to the many questions that were presented. I offered a letter as to: Who I am, what I do, why and how we do things a certain way. Thus far, not one reply! Interesting group. Michael Del Prete <Hmm, would check to see if "they" actually got your mail... As you likely know, the AMDA is made up of mostly very busy business people... Bob Fenner>

Sunday and MDP is working. Bob, Thanks for taking time to read my email and offer comments. <Glad to help> I am 1/3 into offering information to AMDA regarding why and how Aqua Craft, Inc. makes marines salts. At this point, I am thinking this entire document will be no less than 12 pages when printed from the net. <Sounds about right> I received long winded emails from Tullock and one other. All this to rant. What I have written is several sections regarding all the steps that we consider and address with making our items. -- I fear this is way too much copy for the average AMDA reader. <They're dealers aren't they? They can read twelve pages> I do not what this to be a handbook on how to make marine salts. This has developed into a mini journal. There is no one within the AMDA ranks that I want to have review this. If this was done, no doubt someone else in the group would cry foul, or something. <About what?> Bob, please answer this for me:  Is this effort on my part worth my time? We all know about preaching to the choir. Am I writing a thesis and offering it to a group where the majority are tropical fish retailers that have exhibited over the years they do not give a crap about anything but low costs? <I do think the process and the product (of documenting what you do, have done is very worthwhile> I am not asking you to get involved between my good-self and AMDA. However, I would like some out side input as to how much I should offer this group, and how much effort I should put into dealing with them? <Hmm, about as much "as it's worth"... I would use the same document as an article to promote your business through the hobby literature as well...> If you are an honorary AMDA member, contact them and get onto their yahoo email group. You will be able to see all the communication exchanged regarding this and other matters. MDP <Don't even know if I am an honorary member in all honesty... have never received their bulletins... Do have similar "goals and objectives" as they seem to be attempting... But no interest in proving anything to them (AMDA). What exactly do you want from gaining their attentions Mike? Bob Fenner>

Not a day of rest for MDP. Bob: Thanks again for your last reply. I have drafted one hell of a document. This details a lot from A-Z regarding making marine salts. This is something I will definitely use in our promotional efforts. <Ah, glad to hear... thought it would "charge you up" and help you to plan> What do you know? I had a 30 minute phone conversation with th Prez. of AMDA. Nice guy....yadda yadda. <Hmm> I will send him the draft I created. I would like him to look it over. I am not looking for any type of rewrite or ghost writer. I simply would like the president of the organization to check out what I plan to send his members. If there are some rough edges I'd like him to point these to me. <Good idea> I am not getting a few emails from AMDA members that are just starting to surface. I will keep you informed as to how this goes. <Okay> The AMDA president and a few others will meet at MACNA next weekend. I think all of this will be put on hold until they return. <Will you be there Mike? I'm giving a pitch on Sat. AM. Hope to see you there if so. Bob Fenner> Thanks. MDP

Re: AMDA/Marine Salts Dear Bob: I did not send you this email by accident. This is the near culmination of a lot of dialog between me and several AMDA members. <Hmm, well, thank you for this clarification> AMDA is looking for information to print in their handout to dealers. I offered to write about breeding clownfish and I offered the info from the S-15 Report. <Mike... this report is not "well-regarded" by the trade... or evidently by the AMDA... you supplied the open samples...> Shortly there after, several angry AMDA members attacked me. I mean, a letter man would have backed up. -- I got right back in their faces with facts. They slowly started to buckle. <Spell checker...> John Tullock made a big stink about nothing. I had to remind him, in the public AMDA link that we did not publish his book as he indicated to me he 'read some books and wrote a book'. This was in the early 1990's when reef keeping was at it's frenzy peak. I did not and will not support anyone that write books using others information and does not perform any original text, etc. <Hmm...> The president of AMDA and I have exchanged too many emails. -- Bob, I am sick and tired of people whining, complaining, putting a spin on facts.... at the same time, they profess to be here to help people... and, they not show any interest in doing any thing differently. i.e. The president of AMDA has chosen some nice words to explain some things.... but, has refused to even look at one package of product we make.... That is the reason for my last message to him. <Why did, do you want the AMDA to "look at your products"?> If the president of AMDA refuses to look at, let alone touch, perhaps even test any items that might make his job easier... The job of keeping captive marine animals in prime condition.... Then, what does that tell you about that group? <American Marinelife Dealers Association... you don't sell marine life...> At the same time, I received many more emails from educated people that were able to express valid concerns. I received emails from people I did not know. I am happy to learn while the low end bickering is going in AMDA, there are some very nice people that apparently do care about this industry. I simply sent this to you so you will have a little more information regarding the state of the industry. Do I want you to show this around? Not really. At least, not at this time. <Posted on our site nonetheless... it's a public forum... your concerns seem/ed valid... public> All the of communication passed around is and was within AMDA. You are the only person outside AMDA that has seen anything like what has been exchanged. <I think I'm an "honorary" board member... but not sure...> If this gets weird, I will forward more communications I have had access to. In the mean time, do a water change, kick back, hello to your wife, Don't take any wooden flake food. Mike Del Prete <Now there's the Mike Del P. I know... Overflowing wit and humor... Thanks for the follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Re: [amdamembers] S-15 Report Dear Randy: Thank you for your email. 1) I suggested that AMDA come up with a minimum of $40,000 for an independent marine salt test for one reason. Many AMDA members, who know little to nothing about the production of marine salts slammed me at every turn. <Mike, what was said, written?> If these "experts' are truly interested in finding out if the S-15 Report is valid today, they should simply write some big checks and have real scientific results explained. <Mmm, would be better for someone to commission a independent study... any chemical quality assurance lab could do this...> 2) Mixing different brands of salts, or mixing different batch lots of the same brand of marine salt in order to attain a solution that is consistent and stable ..... What the hell and I even entertaining this wet dream for? -- Just use one bag of marine salt that is comparable to sea water, is consistent and without contaminants. -- Is someone saying we should mix 1/2 a tank of 87 octane fuel and 1/2 a tank 91 octane fuel to get a full tank of 89 octane? -- Are you saying someone should actually get several packages of marine salts, mix them all together in a pathetic attempt to get a solution that would be ... consistent.... Just buy the proper items initially. These are the types of comments that make me want to delete all the rubbish and get on with my business. -- If AMDA wants real information from an industry professional, please sit back and allow this flow of information to be offered. 3) AMDA members buy marine salts that their distributor stocks. This allows some dealers to take more than 30 day to pay. That simple. WANT TO OPEN A REAL CAN OF WORMS? -- One company owns: Marineland, Aquarium Systems & Perfecto. What does a distributor do when he wants one or two of these lines, without the third... The answer is simple... That distributor must deal with a Mafia like group. This is no secret. Buy all three, or pay a lot more for the other two lines. DUH. 4) Several brands of marine salts do in fact contain significantly higher amounts of nickel, lead and aluminum vs. sea water. Check www.aquacraft.net TRACE ELEMENTS icon. -- Those levels of metals have been consistent from the first tests in 1980 to tests made in Nov. 2000. -- You see, there are people with money that use this valuable testing information to better their items. <Can a person go to an independent source for this information?> 5) I have been invited by a few AMDA members to write an article regarding the manufacture of marine salts and why I think Aqua Craft items are superior. This would be sent via email as all of the topic has been discussed thus far. <Good idea> I have several considerations. I do not know home much detail I should go into regarding raw material selection, equipment selection, production methods, etc. I do not want to create a competitor. I do not want people that know little to nothing about this information to take cheap shots. I do not have a lot of time to deal with pissy comments by those that have nothing better to do than watch their business evaporate and spend time on a computer. -- However, I do want to show the AMDA group that I am for real. -- Any suggestions? Michael Del Prete <Michael, I encourage you to write such a piece, even send it to the hobby and trade magazines... in sufficient detail to inform... Bob Fenner>

Re: AMDA/Marine Salts (fwded to RMF out of the blue by MdP) Dear Mr. Goodlett: Thank you for your prompt reply to my latest email. Since you make no indication you are remotely interested in simply touching any of our items, I will offer the following with the proper mind set. 1) If as President of AMDA you intended to take any harsh shots at me, they bounced off. I am not one of the thin skinned, over sensitive wannta-be do gooders that immediately attacks someone that offers eye-opening accurate information. 2) I don't know Tom White or Tom O'Tool. However their immediate comments are those of some dealers that as I said earlier.... "Fight to defend a position of total weakness." As for big John, you gotta be kidding? I have been exposed to him for many years. This is one of the only industries that would tolerate and perhaps side up with his behavior. <Hmm, wonder who this is?> 3) AMDA as well as all other groups and individuals should keep an open mind. Who knows, someone might walk through the door and actually offer something useful. <Good shot> 4) Do you or any other AMDA members know the definition of success? a) you must recognize an opportunity. b) you must move on that opportunity. -- Think many here can deal with that concept? <Don't know what anyone's offering, refusing...> 5) There is a great difference between existing and thriving marine fish. Most people that have only used marine salts that scored under 40 in the S-15 <Umm, this report is not what it appears to be... Samples offered/supplied by the agency (competition, Marine Environments... Aquacraft now.... that was paying for the "scientific testing"... not in original bags.> Report can honestly indicate their results are similar from brand to brand. These products have a few things in common. a) They all contain common salt. <Mmm, sodium chloride is the most common (as in prevalent) salt (ionic combination of a metal, non-metal) in all salt mixes, and natural seawater...> b) They all exhibit some form of deficiency, inconsistency or contamination. <As do all man-made products> 5) Water chemistry is the BIG issue. Providing all factors are proper and equal, animals will respond differently in different marine salts. Again, check with qualified past AMDA members, Lance & Mikki. They were one of the very few retailers that actually tested and evaluated many different marine salts. -- There is no way you can make a statement like "...nothing to do with salts." Unless you communicate with people that have actually experienced a hands-on advantage, or you actually use different items, you are shooting blanks in the dark. After all these years, I am amazed at people that still use words like... "other brands of salts do rather well". Rather well compared to what? Another items that are far from proper? -- Do you recall my first reply on the thread.... "Brand ABC works for me. I don't like brand XYZ. No I have never used brand XYZ." 6) I have personally used all brands of marine salts available internationally. Each is made from different grade ingredients, produced with different equipment thus resulting in a different chemical make up. No two manufacturers produce items that are similar. For those that cannot discern a difference testing all the salts that we have, we feel they are better off vending items that do not have anything to do with living animals. 7) I have personally witnessed the decline in pH and other water quality parameters when using different brands of marine salts. I have personally seen many live marine animals simply waste away in a solvent like solution that was touted as choice in advertisements and on the product package. ( do not indicate any brand names) 8) If I thought all marine salts worked "OK," I would be doing something else. 9) Like other threads on the Internet, this one will change directions shortly and die off. 10) I do not hint about anything. How can anyone give credit to companies that continually produces an inconsistent, contaminated or a mis marked package? Make no mistake, this is all about money. This is out and out deception and fraud on the parts of many pet product manufacturers. (I do not indicate any brand names) 11) As always, there will products that truly stand above the rest. I just happen to care enough about the live animals, so have made the commitment to produce and offer such items. -- If I didn't care, I would have captured the majority of the market by offering a schlock item like some others do. (I do not indicate any brand names) 12) This is the reality of the negative comments on this thread.....-- Some of your members are simply wanting to believe the items they get cheap, and get to pay for with extended terms are superior to items they have never seen. -- How can anyone debate an item, service or information they have never seen. -- That is the heart of this matter. 13) If you think our salts "might' be one of the best on the market, then get off your duff and try some. Currently we hold about 30% of the world marine salt market. We are recognized and appreciated in the top end markets of the world. -- Sorry, we do not court, embrace, wine & dine hole in the wall stores that cannot a) take a minimum of 12 cases of salts b) pay according to our terms. 14) I am continually offended by dolts that indicate we "may" have a good product. These are the same people that refuse to try it. Go figure. Like I said before. The pet industry definition of controversy is saying something that makes someone look they should be doing better. -- The pet industry definition of Political is saying something that cost someone else money. 15) I originally offered information as to breeding clownfish and the S-15 Report to AMDA. Since this posting I have had one individual tell me... "Oh, clownfish are easy"... Well this joker was not around in 1971 when we did it. There were no books at that time dealing with this topic. Most people thought micro organisms were brine shrimp. Therefore, I will not offer any article on breeding clownfish, corals (not propagating) and breeding mandarin fish as well as Chambered nautilus. It would appear the advanced marine hobbyist would appreciate this work more than some dealers. I also offered to share the S-15 Report. This can be found in it's entirety on our site. I have seen the last few AMDA periodicals. Scientific information does not fit into the current format. Since this thread was started I have been in communication with several knowledgeable individuals. It was suggested that I pen an article on how marine salts are made. I have some concerns about this topic. If I indicate our selection process for ingredients and the type of equipment we use and it's advantages, I fear some uneducated individual would take yet more cheap shots at when they do not understand. We have new packaging for our marine salts due out in two months. We will offer information as to how our items are produced there. 16) For the concerned and interested people I met via this thread, I believe I have something to offer. For the people that attacked out of fear, weakness and/or genetic mutation, we will have a 50 gallon mix for under $6.00 shortly. <Ah, good to have competition> 17) I originally stirred the pot of complacently to see the results. I now fully understand who is out there. I am not surprised. However, I am indeed pleased to learn that there are more and better dealers in AMDA's ranks than ever before. It was my treat to be able to communicate with educated, knowledgeable and concerned vendors. 18) I am perplexed at your unwillingness to come into visual contact with our items. As president of AMDA, I would think you would want to at least touch a package. You show no interest in items that could be of benefit to your business, your customers, etc. No offence intended (or harsh shot taken) but, how did you get to be president of AMDA? 19) If I can be of service to AMDA, please advise. Thank you for your time. Michael Del Prete CEO of Aqua Craft, Inc. <Mike, did you send this to me by accident? Want it posted on our site (WWM)? I don't have a clue as to "what has come before" in this confrontation/conversation... Bob Fenner>

Salt mix choices Hi, One more question and I'll not bother you. I have been using Instant Ocean but recently received a 5lb bag of Red Sea salt with my Berlin skimmer. Is the Red Sea salt the best as advertised or should I continue with Instant Ocean.? <IME/O the Instant Ocean product is superior, and has proven far more consistent... Bob Fenner> Thank you

Water change (natural seawater use) Hi, I have 135 Gal tank with fish and live rock. Been running for 6 months now. I made one small 10% water change about 2 months ago. Nitrates are rising. My local fish store just set me up for a water change with ocean water (guy comes with a truck of ocean water; that's how tank got filled) and they are suggesting 50% water change!  <Bigger sale> I am worried that is too much. I read you recommend 10 to 20% frequent changes. <Yes, in general> Should I make up the lack of past frequency with a such a large change for this time and get on with a regular schedule and smaller changes?  <More frequent, partial water changes are best> What is the maximum % you would suggest for this time? <twenty five percent... Read about natural versus synthetic water use on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm and develop a protocol for storing, treating the natural if you're going to use it... It's rarely the better route to go... Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance Thierry Genoyer

Sea Salts Hi again Bob; Just a real quick question about sea salt. I know you have made several points about using inferior sea salts. I just want to know your opinion of Reef Crystals and Kent sea salts. I currently use the Reef Crystals but have an opportunity to buy Kent salt at a substantial savings. Are they on the good list or the bad list. <Both on a "good" list. Reef Crystals a bit better IMO. Bob Fenner> Thank you. Your reefing buddy, Rick Johnston

Using FRESH seawater for water changes Hi Bob, I live in the Florida Keys and we obviously have an abundance of fresh, clean seawater around us here, and I was wondering if its okay to use this directly from the ocean for water changes? <I wouldn't... better to develop, adhere to a regular protocol of collection, storage, treatment ahead of use. Somewhat detailed on the www.WetWebMedia.com site on "Seawater Use" or such> I heard somewhere that you have to "cure" the seawater in a light-proof container for 2 weeks. If this is the case, why? <Cuts down, discounts the likelihood of introducing a "bug", organisms that you may not want... Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance, Brad

Water changes (mal-affects causes) Hi Bob, A quick input if you will...what's wrong with my fish after water change??? My yellow tang swims around in circles & gets dizzy looking. A couple of water changes ago, I lost a damsel; so I'm wondering what's killing my fish or almost killing my fish. I change 5 gallons a wk & 10 gallons during any major tank clean of my 55 gallon. So, what's affecting my fish the most? The temp of my new water?? The salinity of new water?? Low oxygen of new water?? or just changing out to much water. All of the above! I do match the new water with tank water pretty good, I think...I guess what I'm trying to ask, what are fish most sensitive to during water change?? Thanks, Lee Harris, Dallas, TX <Very good question... and "who knows?"... perhaps all the above. My ongoing advice can be found under "Seawater"... on the WWM site... pre-mix and store it... Bob Fenner>

Water Change Bioassay Every time I change water, which I do weekly, that is when my tang seems to get ich. My water right now is ph-8.2, ammonia- .25, nitrite-0 ,and nitrate-0. I use RO water and add the salt and get it mixed and then warm up the water using a 4 cup measure and the microwave.( I thought he was bothered because I didn't raise the temp. of the water before.) I also add sea balance. Does the Ro water and salt mixture have to sit for a day...? <Yes, or longer likely... Please read over the "Seawater" section on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com> In a 37 gal. tank I change around 5- 7 gal. a week. Should I be doing something different? Cheryl <Do read over my suggestions on storing synthetic before using. Apparently you have a good bio-assay for how stressful this process is. Bob Fenner>

More questions (seawater making) Hi Bob, (I'm getting to be a real regular around here) <Careful, you may end up answering queries...> A few questions: 1: As I mentioned before, I'm moving. If the house we purchase has copper piping for it's water supply, will the leeching that occurs contain enough copper to poison the tank for reef animals? <Generally inconsequential... not much concentration comes through to matter... but this is one of the myriad reasons I strongly suggest pre-mixing and storing synthetic seawater... per the rationale, protocol of the same name on the www.WetWebMedia.com site> 2: I'm going to get a Rubbermaid Brute (tm) for holding my water (thanks for pointing those out), would a couple of inches of aragonite (sp?) sand in the bottom be a good idea?  <Mmm, not really... more trouble to pump/move water...> I was thinking it could help buffer the water and lead to less of a ph shift when adding it. <Minimally... adding a bit of baking soda, like a teaspoon per ten gallons, would be much better> 3: I'll be living near (roughly 40 miles) from the Oregon coast, would obtaining a few gallons of sea water and using it to inoculate the tank be a good idea, or should I not bother since the local biome is so different than a tropical reef? <Not so much the difference in living component of this water, but the issues of potential pests, parasites and pollution would dissuade me from such usage.> thanks again! Mike <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

White film in mixing container Hello Bob, <Hi> I am new to the hobby (1 month active after 5 months research), and can't tell how much I have learned from your book and all of the Q&A on your website. <Me neither> I a question about my mixing container for my 75gal FO saltwater system. I was mixing 20 gal for 1 week, but an electrical storm/power surge fried my pump. It has been 3 days without any circulation, and now I want to transfer this mixed water to my main tank but I have a white residue all over the fried pump and the surface of the water. Was this caused by lack of circulation or a reaction from the pump blowing? <Could be either> Should I still use the water or mix another batch and try is again next week? <How badly was the "pump blown"? Was the surface seal or body cracked? If so, I would toss the water... Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help you can offer, Travis

Salt quality Hi There, <Howdy> I have been reading about the importance of the quality of the salt that is used in the aquarium. What brand of salt would be considered as an acceptable brand? The local aquarium shops carry Instant Ocean brand. There are not really any choices. I normally purchase my RO water pre-mixed and the aquarium shop uses the same Instant Ocean they sell to their customers. <Instant Ocean's salt mixes are fine, near the zenith in terms of composition, consistency, ease of use. The few that are slightly (a couple of percent in my estimation) are much more money. There are decidedly some "junk" brands in the industry as well...> Would you happen to know of any online stores who carry an acceptable brand of salt? I want to make sure I am creating the best environment possible. I have already learned a valuable lesson regarding ICH and I want to make sure I am only using the best stuff at this time! <Use the Reef Crystals product by Aquarium Systems to see if you like this any better... or Tropic Marin... both are offered by etailers listed on the www.WetWebMedia.com Links pages> I have lost 2 snails in the past 3 weeks. My water quality appears to be fine. The only thing I can think of that could be causing these mysterious deaths (from reading through the site) is poor salt quality. <Many other possibilities... parasites, senescence, nutritional disorders, predation...> I have heard calcium could be the cause of snail death. I have not tested for calcium. Could this be the cause? Would it be worth testing for it? (I currently only have live rock, snails, crabs, 1 cleaner shrimp, and 2 fish in my 7 month old 58 gallon tank) I did not find anything in the site search that said anything about calcium being a cause of snail death. <Yes, a lack or overabundance of calcium can be problematical. Do read up on the topic on the WWM site, and do test for this material... I doubt if in your case you will need to do much to modify its concentration other than "regular maintenance" (like water changes) though. Read the "Marine Snail FAQs", "Toxic Tank Situations FAQs" over. Bob Fenner> Many Thanks, Christine

Sea H2O Bob--I'm thinking now that my brilliant idea on the reason I was having so much trouble with the calcium level may not be related to my RO/DI unit, although it seemed to make sense at the time. I'm thinking now it may have been caused by mixing the Tropic-Marin Bio-Calcium with fresh top-off water. Here's why. I've been buying RO/DI from the LFS since then. The LFS tested their RO/DI with a FW test kit at the shop and it showed a pH of 5.0 or 5.5. I tested theirs with my pH probe at home, and it showed 9.2! (The pH probe showed my own RO/DI at 9.4.)  <What? This isn't right... your probe is out of whack...> So I decided to test with one of my pool test dip strips, to compare results. The results were that my RO/DI water, on those tests, indicated a pH LOWER than the water from the LFS. Hmmmm. So now I have to wonder why I was getting such a reduction in Ca on water change days. I think a conductivity test of my own RO/DI water is in order. . . And I'm also thinking that my Ca reductions may also have been as a result of the Tropic-Marin not dissolving properly.  <Hmm, doubtful here...> I can't explain it chemically--all I know is that I would typically do water tests on water change days--which would prompt me to add more bio-calcium. So it's possible the relation is there. It did seem that whenever I added the BioCalcium, it depressed my Ca level. Perhaps adding it too quickly can lead to that result??? <Not unless there are other anomalies...> In retrospect, I didn't seem to have problems with Ca/alk when I would add the calcium product directly to the tank. Since it seemed to be "burning" my corals, that's when I started trying to add it to the prefilter area, and also to the top-off water. That seems to be when I started having serious Ca problems. . . Do you have any other ideas? Based on these tests (and my having a conductivity test done), I'm thinking of going back to using my own RO/DI unit.  <I would... the water should not be not be this low in pH to start with...> (I'm thinking I'll also have a conductivity test of the LFS water to compare quality of theirs with mine, just to have a point of reference.) With the increased surface area of the new tank, a more open canopy, the MH lighting and an array of fans for cooling, my evaporation rate I'm estimating will be around 3-4 GPD. So my water needs will about double, and water changes will also be doubled in volume. So I'm now incentivized to really find out if my RO/DI unit was the culprit, or if it rather was caused by my supplementation practices. I'd really like to stop having to make those weekly water runs to the LFS. BTW--I owe you an update--after using the Ca reactor for a couple of months, I've got Ca at 460 and alk at 4.12 meq/L!  <Ah, this is about right... much better> I have had to supplement with Kalk periodically to support pH, but I'm hoping the new system features will allow me to avoid the need for that. Another question on the new system. I added Southdown sand yesterday, and didn't wash it first. :( I've heard from both camps--some say wash, other not to wash.  <Yikes, definitely needs to be washed...> Needless to say, the water is like milk, and I spent several hours last night removing the thick foam from the surface. (Next time, I'll definitely wash it first. . .) I've been told it won't clear up until I add the LR. Is that indeed the case? <No...not necessarily.> Also, I tested the water params in the new tank tonight to see what I have. Ca was 440. Alk was really high at 7.2 meq/L! I think that's because of all the crud floating around in the water from adding the sand. pH was 7.85. No cycle yet, as all I've added is dry sand--ammonia tested zero, so there apparently was little to no dead organic matter in the sand. <Yes and yes...> My LR is arriving tomorrow--are these water params OK to add the LR? Will the pH come up on its own as the cycle starts and it has lights on it? <Yes and sort of yes... do add more of whatever you trust... to bolster the pH... just baking soda and water changes would be my choice...> Thanks again for your thoughts. I'm really hoping that I'll be able to see into the new tank again soon. . . <Gravel vacuum the substrate every chance you get during water changes... good luck. Bob Fenner>

Saltwater storage limit? Bob, I have spent the better part of the night browsing through the Wetwebmedia site. I have been maintaining a 55 gallon saltwater tank for 10 years (okay, I did start completely over after a move 6 years ago), and I am constantly amazed by my ignorance. <I for mine as well> I am constantly procrastinating on water changes because the water making process is kind of a pain for me. I am busy with human children and other pets... Anyway, I did purchase a large Rubbermaid waste container on wheels and an extra sump pump a while back to make this easier. <Very good> After reading your opinions on making up the water, I am almost sold. The drawback--I only need 5 gallons/month for my tank's water changes. Can I make up a whole bunch of saltwater (say 20-25 gallons), mix it for a week, use what I need and store the rest (covered) with no circulation indefinitely? <Absolutely. No problem. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Linda

Questions (salt mix brands, spg, sponge diet) Hi Bob !! If you're given a choice of salt mix, which one would you go for: Instant ocean or Red Sea ? <Instant Ocean by a few percent... with Tropic Marin a few points ahead of them...> Secondly, for a fish only tank with live rocks, can I maintain the SG level of 1.017 permanently?  <Actually, not a good idea... more "stressful" than it's worth/gain IMO/E... would re-raise to NSW (near seawater), 1.025 over time> Lastly, my 6 inch queen angel which refuse to eat for 2 weeks, now begins to feed on sponge which I bought specially for her.  <Yes, a major component of Holacanthus of many species in the wild> Is it ok for her to feed only on sponge or will she suffer from malnutrition from consuming sponge only? Please advice. Thanks. <Best to add other foodstuffs to this animals diet. Bob Fenner>

Quick question about "top off" water Hey Bob, just had a thought today... You suggested that I premix saltwater and store it for a week or so to get rid of the "gunk" that comes in tap water. Does leaving tap water out in a Rubbermaid container alone make it suitable for top off water too?  Or is there something in the mixing of salt that causes the impurities to go away? <More the latter... the sanitizer (chloramine, its consequent manifestations, chlorine) do dissipate in "just freshwater" from such preparation... many more benefits from pre-mixing and storing seawater> Do phosphates and chloramine and all that other stuff disappear just by "sitting out" awhile? <Not so much phosphates... depending on what format (PO4 doesn't exist in a vacuum... attached and more/less soluble, interactive with other matter depending on... how it is attached/arranged molecularly), but other materials, ionic matter yes. Bob Fenner> Thanks. - Eugene

Quick Water Question Hello Bob, Just wanted to clarify something I read in your newest FAQ, and something in CMA. <Okay> I am now acquiring my equipment for my new 1st saltwater tank (90 Gallon) and starting to plan for initial startup. If I buy a huge trash can, I can fill it with the my salt and tap water, let it sit for a week, with aeration and temp control, and all the bad "stuff" will be eliminated. No need to get RO water?  <Not as much...> No need for water conditioners? (not that I doubt you in the least bit) but just wanted to clarify, reassurance. <No need whatsoever> Thanks again for a great website, all my friends are sick of me talking about my new hobby. I love it!!!! <Me too. Bob Fenner> Warmest Regards, Peter Frederixon

Skittish fish We have a 75 gallon reef maybe 2mo. old with a smattering of fish: Chromis, damsels, firefish and a coral beauty. All seems normal but when we do routine maintenance like water changes the fish do a jitter dance in the corners like they are about to be eaten. So my question is: could I put some mirror film on the outside of the tank with the mirror facing the fish so they wont be disturbed? The tank sits in the corner with minimal foot traffic, so what gives? <Umm, if I understand you here... the new water is likely not "ready to be used" as you've prepared it (it's toxic in some way/s)... do read over the "Seawater Use" section and FAQs posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site... you may need to get a R.O. device (for your cooking, drinking use as well), and pre-mix and store your new/change water for a week or so ahead of use... Don't use a reflective material on the outside of your tank... this will cause your livestock harm, and won't look good to you in any length. Bob Fenner>

Salts... Selection for synthetics Hi Bob, I've been using Instant Ocean since I set my tank up. I am pleased with this product. I was wondering if changing to Reef Crystals might benefit my corals more than the Instant Ocean. <IMO/E only marginally> They claim to add extra amounts of calcium, trace elements, etc. ... Is this true? I currently change 5% of water weekly. It would cost me an extra $6.00 for a 200 gal bucket of salt. This is next to nothing, if I don't have to add additional supplements during the week (one less thing to do). I'm trying to streamline my maintenance (like most people) and thought this might save me a little time. Spring is coming, and I've got lawn to do battle with for the next 7 months. (I know I can't win). <Do try "a bucket", and find out what you will... and you can/will win the pre-occupation with monoculture of the Gramineae... I know you that well my friend. Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Tony

Salt mix ? I know you're a busy guy, but I have a question and value your opinions. I have just started a 72 gallon salt tank. I finished filling it yesterday with RO/DI water from a Kent Maxxima Hi-s 6o gpd unit. I have not added my substrate yet, as I wanted to mix the Instant Ocean in the tank and get the specific gravity right first. So, I filled it, brought it up to 78 degrees, and started 4 maxi-jet 1200's for circulation. I added Sea Chem Marine Buffer at the direction of a local pet store to reconstitute the RO water. I then added 15 pounds of Instant Ocean. The tank clouded up bad, which I expected, but it has been nearly 14 hours and it is still cloudy. I still need to add another 7 or so pounds yet to get the SG up, but want to know if the cloudiness will disappear first. Did I do something wrong or is this normal? Thanks so much for taking the time to help me, Collin Romanick <Normal, yes, for the order of operation you detail... The Buffer should have been waited on... and blended outside of the tank... or placed in a setting (like a canister, outside power filter between other media or in a Dacron bag...) where it could/would dissolve slowly with water passing by it... But no worries (as you don't have live rock, other life present), "this too will clear"... Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner> Salt mix ? (again) Mr. Fenner - I wrote you yesterday concerning my trouble with a cloudy condition on a new tank set up. I used the RO/DI water, Marine Buffer, and Instant Ocean salt, I hope you remember. You advised that it should clear up with time, but it is still extremely cloudy, and I am getting concerned. A couple of things that may help you figure this out with me: There is about 70 gallons of water in the tank, heated to 78 degrees and agitated with 4 maxi-jet 1200's. I added 2.5 teaspoons of the Marine Buffer product, and fifteen pounds of Instant Ocean. Per the directions on the Instant Ocean bag, I would still need to add approx. 7 more pounds to bring my salinity up for 70 gallons of water. Right now, after adding only fifteen pounds, my SG is 1.020 on the nose, and there is still some undissolved salt mix lying on the bottom of the tank. It is acting like it is in a saturated condition with the salt, no more will dissolve. Why would my SG be so high already?  <A few things... but principally you really don't have as many gallons in this system as you think... Maybe measure the inside dimensions in inches, multiply L W H, and divide by 231 (approximate cubic inches per gallon)... minus the volume of the solid contents of the tank (gravel, etc.)... No worries> I spoke with a guy named Marty who owns a company called Aquarium Arts in California last night, he said it is possible to have received a bad bag of salt mix, do you think this is possible? <Very, very, very unlikely... Have been to Aquarium Systems in Ohio, and a few other manufacturers of synthetics over the years... about the only "bad" bag of Instant Ocean there has ever been is one that has become "hard" due to hygroscopy... absorbed moisture... and this would still dissolve completely (albeit more slowly...). You might direct your water flow from powerheads, another pump... to move more of the solid on the bottom... otherwise... I assure you, waiting is the best route here...> He said to drain the tank and start over, a prospect I don't like the thought of, as it takes two days to make that much RO water to begin with, plus the loss of the Instant Ocean product. By the way I cannot seem to get an accurate pH reading on my test kit. I am using a Hagen Pro-series kit with the high range pH test, and when I do it I come up with a deep purple color, which isn't even on the chart, it should be a dark blue color in the 8.2 range. What the heck is going on? <This is... not a good product... return it. Look for Salifert, Hach (or their repackagers like... Aquarium Systems...), LaMotte...> Also when I test the RO water, it comes out perfectly neutral on the pH. Please give me you insight on this. Thank You - Collin Romanick <Chat with you soon my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Water Changes Bob, Thanks for the replies. I have visited your site and printed off the details on alkalinity etc. Couple of questions though: When you say "store the water, aerate for a week" do you mean actually aerate it for a week??  <Well, actually no... but to keep the water in motion... if folks are only using a mechanical aerator to mix their synthetic, yes... better to keep this pump/stone running... Much better outgassing of sanitizer, complexing of ionic metal, mixing of artificial salt components... and less likelihood of capillary action/siphoning of water out of the container... Yes, mundane to ridiculous considerations... but real. Better than a mechanical aerator is/would be a small submersible pump, powerhead... that can be easily rigged to help pump/move the new water into the main/display system(s), and possibly contribute its/their waste heat to warming the water...> Most places I read say aerate it for a minimum of 6 hours. Whilst I accept there is no "maximum" it seems an awful long time -what are the benefits? <Would you like more?> I already use the Instant Ocean salt mix - it seems I may have been over supplementing - another local fish supplier recommendation due to the use of de-ionized water! <I know of such suggestions... and disagree with them... if you drink, cook with the water used, it is likely fine for aquarium use... If you have doubts, concerns, have your source water tested (by a lab, the water district...) and invest in a simple reverse osmosis unit...> The last paragraph is a bit confusing - are you recommending the use of a calcium reactor or adding buffers or both??? <Just the calcium reactor... there are a few major "Beta/VHS" variations here... but (let me whip out my crystal ball here) there is no doubt, NO DOUBT, that the hobby will go the calcium reactor route in the near (next few years) route... the supplement field as it exists now is absolute madness...> Maybe this comes under - too much is definitely not better!! Thanks again, Scott <Be chatting, my sentient friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Water Changes, supplements... Bob, Once again thanks for the clear advice. <You're welcome> I have read the web site details on pH and alkalinity and now have a much better understanding of this. Also re-read your Conscientious Marine Aquarist book on the subject (some similarities there!!). <Yes... consistency may be the "hob-goblin of little minds" in some fields, aspects of life... the keeping of living things, no> With respect to the calcium reactor - I have a FO set-up with one hermit crab (who did a terrific job in keeping the tank clean) - all from what I have read is that the calcium reactors are really there for invert/reef set-ups due to the need for essential minerals etc that these types of creatures require. Are you saying that we FO people should also use this equipment as well now (I say now as I have not previously read anywhere stating that this is a required piece of equipment for a FO marine set-up)? <Yes... all benefit from "good water quality"... high, consistent (here's that word again), pH, biomineral content, alkaline reserve.> If so I take it it is to replace supplementing completely or has time and investigation experienced the fact that our swimming friends now benefit from this? <As a replacement of almost all types, kinds of supplementing... as the three qualities listed above are most all that folks need tend to... but some organisms benefit from Iodide/Iodine, others from periodic addition of sugars (ala this and that "vital" et al. products), many other materials...> If this is now the "case" I take it that this is a sign of changing times (and more expenditure!!)? <Actually, much less expenditure... I make the analogy (for this example) with changing car engine oil... Yes, upgrading to a better brand or even just replacing same is an expense... But compared with poor performance otherwise and the specter of replacing your entire engine much more frequently? I'm not a mechanic... what I'm trying to state is that the alternative "supplement madness" is NO CHEAPER in that a few tens of dollars a month over a few years time is more money than purchasing, operating a calcium reactor... And the "SM" is far more unreliable, outright toxic to all... > I will test for the alkalinity etc tonight and advise tomorrow.  Thanks again, Scott <Be discussing my intelligent friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Water Changes Bob, Carried out a "full" test last night - here goes: PH 8.6 - 9.0 (more like 8.7, 8.8 - use the Dry Tab Wide Range test kit and the color chart only indicates 8.6 then 9.0!) <Yikes... this is dangerously high...> Ammonia 0.0 (NH3/NH+4) - Dry Tab Test kit Nitrite 0.0 (NO-2) - Dry Tab Test kit Nitrate 20 (NO-3) - Dry Tab Test kit Phosphate 2.0 (PO-3 4) - Dry Tab Test kit Specific Gravity 1.022 DKH 14.08 - Salifert Test kit Alkalinity 5.0248meq/l - Salifert Test kit Calcium 425ppm - Salifert Test kit Carry out a 10% water change every 2 weeks - de-ionized water mixed with Instant Ocean salt and Re-Mineral "M" supplement (will now not add this). <Good idea> Feed brine shrimp/mix and flakes everyday. Lights on from 11am - 11pm everyday. Replace Activated carbon in Fluval 203 every 6 - 8 weeks.  <I'd do this monthly> UV in-line with Fluval 203 filter. Fluval 203 also includes some mechanical filtration and polishing mat. Biological filtration carried out by external Eheim wet & dry filter (2/3rds cleaned in old tank water every 4-6 months depending on test results and fish behaviour). Protein skimmer - TurboFlotor 1000. Lighting by 2No 30W fluorescent tubes. Only require to clean glass lightly once a week and no algae problems to speak of. Now we have established that the dKH and alkalinity is way over - what is required to reduce this.  <Hmm, a few possibilities... Time just going by (reductive events in your system will trend it down), adding some live macro-algae, maybe some new live rock...> I have read a lot about buffering it up, but not down!!  <Yes, works both ways... "buffer" implies "keeping" a measure about some value... i.e. not allowing it to move/much "up or down".> Is it a case of "clean" water changes and more regular maintenance? <Perhaps...> Is there something I can add/remove in order to help?  <Difficult/good questions... once again, maybe...> Would the introduction of a calcium reactor now bring the tank back inline? <Ah, finally, a definite yes... is this a worthwhile investment for you?> I know patience is required to avoid any pH shock etc and that this must be done slowly, but any help would be appreciated. <Well-stated my friend. The changes you describe, obvious caring in your messages bode well for improved conditions here. Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia.com> Thanks for your help so far, Scott.

Natural Saltwater Aquarium I am looking for information on Natural Saltwater Aquariums. I am located on the ocean in Hawaii, and am thinking of putting in a 700 gallon naturally circulating aquarium. In your article that I found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watrqualmar.htm you mention that you covered the topic elsewhere -- I presume in "Fenner, Bob. 1991. Seawater, natural or synthetic? (Which way to go?). FAMA 9/91.". I could not find this article online anywhere. Can you point me to a book / article on the topic? Thanks. <Thank you very much for this... the tasks accrue... seemingly endlessly... in this case to link pertinent sections of the site... And have placed the mentioned article (it was/is a part of the introduction to marine husbandry...) and a few other logical links on the page you list. Be chatting, Bob Fenner... who really needs some brain sweat going into how best to present background materials with consequent "maintenance" areas of the site...>

Question about salt mix preparation/anemone clue... Hello, I have a question on my carpet saddle anemone. Whenever I change the water he deflates himself . When I mix up my new water, I aerate it and warm it to exactly the same temp. that my tank water is. I mix and warm the water ,and aerate it 24 hours before adding it to my tank. To make sure it is comparable to the original water. He deflates every time. Am I doing something wrong? Please advise me if I am. I use red sea instant ocean salt. salinity at 1023. <Thank you for writing... and good observations. A few things to mention here. Do develop and instigate a new pre-mixed water protocol involving letting your new synthetic blend, mix for a good week ahead of use (the rationale and one approach are covered on the www.wetwebmedia.com site under "Tapwater use for marine aquariums" or such... Do consider raising the spg to nearer to natural seawater density (1.025) as anemones and related life are much more sensitive to this difference than is generally perceived. Lastly, do consider trying other salt mix manufacturers, lines... You mention two different companies above... Red Sea and Instant Ocean... look into the latter's Reef mix... Bob Fenner>

Particles in my H2O Dear Mr. Fenner I recently bought an 80 gal. glass aquarium with the intention of setting it up as a reef tank. I have 2 maxi jet 900's, 2 mini jet 606's, 2 Acura 150W heaters, and an Aqua C Remora protein skimmer. The tank's lighting is comprised of the JBJ Formosa 4 55W power compacts. When I mixed the salt (Aquarium Systems Reef Crystals) I only used purified RO water from one of those machines you find at the grocery store. I was told that since it was a new tank I could go ahead and mix the salt and water inside the tank. It's been cycling now for about a week. The temp, PH, and specific gravity are all in the right range. The problem is that the tank seems very cloudy and there are tiny particles in the water. <Sounds like a nice system, and you've obviously done your studying... I would not be overly concerned about the suspended particulates... Not uncommon in all new systems... and will settle...> I've also noticed a white film at the bottom of the tank. I can only guess that it's salt because I haven't introduced anything into the tank yet. I have a shipment of 135lbs. of live Fiji rock coming tomorrow and am concerned that my tank isn't ready for it yet. <I wouldn't be overly-concerned. Am almost a hundred percent sure I would place this live rock in your system... Its presence will greatly aid in clearing the water> I was hoping you could give me some advice and insight on my problem and whether or not I need a filter. I was thinking about purchasing an Emperor 400 hang on filter. I have also been thinking about purchasing 2 more maxi jet 900's, if you don't think this would be overkill. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. <The hang-on filter is a good idea... not too redundant/overkill at all. Patience my friend. Your days will soon be filled with wonder at what comes of your live rock and time. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Thang Nguyen

Pre-mixing and storing water Hi Bob, In your WaterChgFAQs (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/waterchg.htm), you mentioned that you have a detailed approach to pre-mixing and storing water at the www.wetwebmedia.com site. I have been looking around on this site, but I could not find it. Could you point me in the right direction? Thank you, Jim PS: The search feature of www.wetwebmedia.com was not working either. It returned a "Error from search: can't open the word hash file D:\wetwebmedia\web\_vti_txt\default.wti\All.dct" error. <Jim, thanks for these notes... believe me, do appreciate them. Though I'd much rather be sorting, identifying, scanning and placing my latest photographic efforts from Australia (some fun now!) on the WWM site, sending cover submissions off to mag. editors, the photo bank... Even eating Lima beans... do know that there is much, too much amiss on the site currently (and feverish need to add a few hundred already written pieces on the industry, surveys of groups, adventure/dive travel), let alone strategic trials at adding video, slide shows, chat rooms... Be all this whining as it is, did try to look/find the "detailed" pre-mix instructions part (have in the CMA book, but where oh where on these dastardly HD's?). Have keyed a run at this and placed here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm along with spiffing up spellings, appearance on related pieces... once again at your prompting. Thanks again, you necessarily cruel taskmastah ;) Bob Fenner>

Salt Hi Bob, I setup a 55 gal to cure my live rock. The salt doesn't seem to be dissolving as quickly as it should?? I have been in the hobby (Fish only) for about 15 years. I have never seen it take this long for the salt to dissolve. I added the salt Monday evening. On Tuesday evening, the water was still cloudy and some salt remained on the bottom of the tank. In the past, I was on city water. I am now on well water. This is what I did. The tank was cleaned. I used the Tap water Purifier to treat the water. The salt was about a year old, but sealed in the bucket. It was a little clumpy, and I broke it up before adding it to the water. I added a powerhead and heater got the temp up to 76. Last night (Tuesday) I added a Skilter for some mechanical. It looked much clearer this morning and I think it will be even better when I get home tonight. I wanted to order my rock today, but if there is a problem, that's not a very good idea. Can you think of any reason(s) why the salt is not dissolving quickly? Is it simply that well water is different than city water? The old salt? Thanks once again, Tony Revinski <<Hmm, a few things at play here... yes, the salt being "old and clumpy" (hydrated, by drawing water/moisture from out of the air, does slow down rates of dissolution... and some saltmixes aren't as soluble as others (more finely ground, non-hydrated ingredients...), and there could have been some interactions with other chemical species in your source water (but not much)... The long and short of it though... I wouldn't worry about adding the live rock at this juncture.... However, going forward, do avail yourself of a designated "new water mixing/storage container" (my fave are the Rubber Maid Brute Trashcans.... and roller wheels...) and pre-mix your water for a good week before using... many benefits... and you can recirculate and move it with a small powerhead... Bob Fenner>>

Natural seawater Hi Bob, I read your Q & A daily. Great Information! I have never seen my question addressed though. I have the good fortune of living on the Gulf of Mexico. I have often wondered if I could use natural seawater for my reef tank that is first circulated a UV source to kill bacteria. Any Suggestions?  Thank you, Gail <<Do have some standard ideas about "real" seawater (versus synthetic)... The real thing can be made to work... minus the possibilities of pests, pollution, parasites, by storing the new water in the dark for a week or more... then mechanically and UV filtering it... before use. Bob Fenner, whose synthetic/natural water input in greater detail can be found at www.wetwebmedia.com >>

Water Softener The home I purchased came equipped with a water softener because where we live the water is very hard. Is it o.k. to use softened water or should I be using regular tap water? I like to check the condition of my tank before I leave work in the morning, will it harm my fish and invertebrates to have a split time on my 12 hour lighting cycle. For example having my lights on from 5:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. and then on again from 5:00 p.m. to 2 a.m. I promise to read further into your book before I ask anymore questions. I am just getting into the setting up your tank part and how to set your live rock. I'm still amazed at easy to read and hard to put down your book is. Thanks again, Rob O. <<Hmm, most tapwaters are fine being passed through an ion-exchange (the vast majority are this "salt-recharged" type) water softener... But, if possible/practical do use the bypass feature (if there is one) or the "outside" hose source of the same water to pre-mix your seawater... as the minerals in regular tap are of more use than harm.  Bob Fenner, who thanks you for writing.>>

Maintenance issues Read your Q&A regularly and find the information quite useful. My questions concern routine maintenance issues about which there appears little or conflicting advice in the hobby publications. <Hey! That's why I'm here!> 1. How often do you need to replace the membrane in a R.O. unit ? They say the prefilters must be changed every 400 to 500 gallons on average but nothing about membranes. <Depends on the manufacturer's rating of gallons, "cleanliness" of source water... and even how "clean" you want the finished product... You can measure the last in a few ways... many folks check or have "indicator lights" that register conductivity... when ions, salts are getting through too much, time for a change... as a general rule of thumb I change ours out every three-four pre-filter cartridges> 2. Carbon and resin adsorbents, use or not? Mostly for cosmetic purposes? <My general statement is yes to the activated carbon, once a month adding and leaving the other one month one there, tossing the two month, "bags" (you can buy or make with Dacron bags and zip ties. Am not a big fan of specialized resin products. Many don't work, some can re-release materials into your water... and feel that hobbyists ought to address the cause of excess silicates, nitrates, phosphates... and seek to lessen them up front or provide competing, bio-absorbing strategies and good maintenance procedures to keep their systems semi-balanced. And the Carbon isn't just cosmetic. Importantly clears the water for light transmission (have seen animals burned from late use), removes a good deal of undesirable organics...> 3. Water changes - how much and how often in the mixed reef? <Depends on size of system, stocking, feeding, and desires of aquarist (growth, reproduction, color...), but anywhere from ten to twenty percent per week to month...>  4. Salinity and temperature - noticed a decided movement upward in recommended levels over the last few years. Salinity preference now at 1.025 - 1.026 from older levels of 1.021 to 1.023 and temperature at 80 degrees or slightly higher, from previous recommendation of 76 to 78 degrees. <You're right... along with the general trend to more "reef" less "fish only" systems...> I would be interested in your ideas on these issues and your comment on the always changing popular wisdom in our hobby. Thanks. <Do like that phrase "popular wisdom"... Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

RO Filter Bob- I always buy RO water from the local store for water changes. I think it is probably cheaper to buy a RO Filter for my home. Can you recommend one in particular and what is the general price range? Most importantly, are they as effective as bottled RO water? Thanks, Rob <<IMO, more effective... cheaper, more convenient, and you don't have to drive about to collect the water... For home use... only a few gallons per day... look to the Home Depot/Lowe's et al. Brand X under-sink models.... and if it's not too much of a pain (and a benefit for your drinking and cooking use), just rely on their small/provided pressurized storage tank for holding onto the RO water... You can rig up a simple device for holding the valve open... or even a diverter (ask their retail clerks to show you where the tubing, tee and valves are...) to a clean can to hold the water for use. Bob Fenner>>

Brita Water Filter Dear Mr. Fenner, I cannot afford a RO unit; my question is, will a "Brita" water filter help or  hinder? I realize that it will dechlorinate the water but can it add "undesirables"? (municipally treated water) Thanx, Chris. <<Yes, the Brita is a very good product that will greatly improve your source water for aquarium use. Keep saving for that Reverse Osmosis unit though... the cost per gallon of RO units is miniscule over time/use. Bob Fenner>>

Reef top off water Bob, Almost every expert on reef systems advises the use of reverse osmosis Filtration and de ionization. My question is can the Poly Bio Marine fin-l-filter be used instead? Would it provide better water quality or worse? Thanks  <<Better than tap... not as good as Reverse Osmosis... which in turn is not as good as Poly Bio Marine's Kold Steril system...Bob Fenner>>

Well Water Water questions. I plain on moving to the Myrtle Beach South Carolina area in the near future. My house or property will be supplied by Well water. Is there a problem using Well water? Could I use the sea water, if I went out far enough from the shore? Would boiling the Well water help? Or is my best bet, getting a RO/DI unit for when I move there? Thanks! <<Bingo, on the last choice... Well water might present problems in the way of dissolved materials... and collecting and treating "natural" seawater is quite a job... and real water does actually not do as good a job, as long, as synthetic... Your best bet, least expensive route to go is Reverse Osmosis for your fishes, and your drinking and cooking water.  Bob Fenner>>

Tapwater Bob, your book says that most everyone just simply mixes tap water with powdered salt mixes (of course the salt mix is formulated for marine water). Do you use this rather than r/o water? What about the chlorine? Thanks. Dan <<Good question... and in the land of "liquid rock" tapwater of Southern California, a possible hazard... but no, this is what I/we, and our old service company and retail stores used to do: tapwater and synthetic (mainly Instant Ocean, a premium US brand)... and did use our own mix of dechloraminator (water, sodium thiosulfate, PVA... similar to commercial products) for changes, new set-ups more than 25% water changes)... otherwise we added: nothing. Bob Fenner, who does use R.O. for other water (some freshwater, drinking, cooking), but doesn't worry about marines/reefs for our water... which has more solids similar in mix, composition to seawater.>>

Ammonia Dear Mr. Fenner,  Unfortunately, I do not have access to reverse osmosis water for my water changes, so I am forced to rely on tap water instead. I use Kordon's Amquel  to condition the water, and let it aerate with an airstone for 24 hours. On  a whim, I tested the water tonight before I added it to my aquarium, and  found an ammonia content of .5 ppm. If the Amquel is doing its job, should  there be any ammonia present, or is the ammonia neutralized even though it  still registers? I do not want to keep adding ammonia to my aquarium, but am  not sure how to proceed. Thanks in advance for your advice.  <<Thank you for your message... and rest assured the latter is the case. You are right in your estimation of the "registered ammonia" not being the "present ammonia"... the concentration you determined was/is an artifact of the test and the Amquel... Bob Fenner, who says your water is very likely "just fine" being treated in the manner you describe for your aquarium use.>>

Best kind of water to use I have a 75g.setup using reg. tap water and a water conditioner. I have been having a brown algae problem since set up about 7 months ago. I am in  the process of setting up a 120gal.reef tank. I purchased a 5 stage R/O system. The instructions say it makes 2-2 1/2 gal. per day. (not very fast). I talked to a aquarium store and they told me that's my best option. I was also  told I could run a outside filter (Emperor) on it for a couple days to take  care of in advance any algae problems. What do you recommend? Are clean up crews as good as advertised? <<What? Okay... the Reverse Osmosis unit you bought is puny... I don't believe 2 1/2 gallons output per day... did this thing come with a pressurized storage tank? Can you return it? Take a look around... there are inexpensive (good) units that will make an order of magnitude more water than this per day (25 gallons, easy)... that you have to supply your own reservoir (a new trash can...). The store said what? That a 2 1/2 gallon RO was your best option (no!), or that using an RO device was the best option for producing good clean water from a questionable tap source (yes). Much of the world of claims re "clean up crews" is "true"... I like the red legged hermits, Mithrax crabs, Valenciennea gobies, Ctenochaetus and Zebrasoma Tangs... and many more... Am not near as big a fan of many of the gastropod snails touted as "helpers"... Good planning, set-up and maintenance are more important than all cleaners. Bob Fenner>>

Response to R/O question Dear Bob, Thanks for the lightning quick reply! I am taking the system back to the store and am looking for a larger one. Any suggestions on which brands you like.  I would greatly appreciate it. I have only been reading you Q and A for about  a month, and I think it is great. I'm learning something new all the time. <<Actually, there are so many brands... and as I say/said, folks just putting their "sticker" on the few real manufacturers products that I would instead like to suggest you just compare features yourself... for comparison: Reservoir (pressurized) provided versus not. Production per day & per cartridges (membrane and in-line) Ease of changing those filter cartridges (IMO, really important...) Cost per gallon... not cost of unit... considering "waste/vented water", filter membrane, in-line (usually carbon, DE) cartridges. Percentages of this and that claimed removed... irrespective of "stages", other descriptive terminology... Makes sense, eh? Bob Fenner>>

Distilled water vs. RO Bob- Several people have told me that using distilled water instead of RO water is better because of the lack of nutrients. Just wondering what your opinion is. Thanks, Rob <<Better? Only a teeny weeny bit, at best... IF you had that much toxic or nutritive material in a source (you don't)... The RO, reverse osmosis is the best route to go... removes the vast majority of undesirable materials... at a very small fraction of the cost of distilled water... I use RO for drinking, cooking, most pet-fish uses... Distilled only for irons, radiators, scientific purposes...Bob Fenner>>

RO or DI? If I could only get one or the other, which is better for reef applications, RO or DI units? Also, which is a better value when you take into account operating costs (resin replacement/recharging, etc). I'm currently using distilled water as make-up water (dosed with Reef Advantage or Reef Builder), and, buying saltwater from a LFS. Is this an OK solution until I can get something better? Thank you. David Kleeman <<Reverse Osmosis by a landslide... for purity, cost per gallon, ease of making... And distilled will do in the meanwhile... that stuffs more money than gasoline! Get the RO unit for your kitchen cooking and drinking use... and pet-fish! Bob Fenner>> 

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