How to Build a Saltwater Mixing Station
Every aquarium needs water. For saltwater aquariums in particular, it is of utmost importance to use PURE filtered water to mix your own saltwater and replenish what is lost from evaporation.
To make these regular aquarium chores easier, we are going to show you how to build and set up your own saltwater mixing station. We did not have much space to work within our office, so if you are lacking space in your garage, this may be the perfect solution for you.
To complicate matters, we have pretty lousy tap water quality and water pressure at Marine Depot's headquarters in Garden Grove, CA. Our water pressure is low, averaging about 40 PSI and our Total Dissolved Solids are high, running right around 400 on the TDS meter.
These unfortunate circumstances make it more difficult for a reverse osmosis deionization system to run efficiently and effectively. There is not enough water pressure to push the clean water through the TFC membrane and the dirty water clogs up membranes resulting in lower production levels.
To combat this perfect storm of problems, we decided to use our new KleanWater 6-Stage Advanced RO/DI System along with an AquaticLife Smart Buddie Booster Pump. A 6-stage system will lower our high TDS level so we can get the most out of our TFC membrane. The booster pump will restore the water pressure our RO/DI system needs to produce pure water at optimal rates.
Since our tap water also contains chloramines, we decided to switch out one of the carbon block filters with the Marine Depot Chloramine-X GAC Carbon Filter which has a higher capacity for chloramine removal.
The KleanWater Advanced System we are using for this application features a pressure gauge so we can monitor the performance of the pre-filters. It is also equipped with a triple TDS meter to monitor the input, RO output and the DI water. It also has a manual flush valve that extends the life and improves the performance of the TFC membrane. In our particular case, we are using the Smart Buddie Booster Pump—which has a convenient automatic flush feature—so the manual flush valve on the KleanWater system will be bypassed.
The Smart Buddie is, by far, the easiest booster pump to install. Every connection port is clearly labeled to make things super easy to set up. It also automates the typically manual tasks of flushing your membrane and shutting off the supply water. Once we installed the unit at our new saltwater mixing station, we were thoroughly impressed with its performance and the increased production we've gotten from our RO/DI system.
For our saltwater mixing station, we needed two separate containers: one for storing fresh RO/DI water and another for mixing saltwater. The problem was we were very limited on space. To solve this dilemma, we built a wooden stand out of 2" x 2" and 2" x 4" pieces of lumber. Once we constructed the stand, we applied a coat of black paint to protect the wood from water spills.
We used a rectangle-shaped 20 gallon Clear-For-Life acrylic aquarium and placed it on top of our DIY stand to store our product (purified) water. We installed a float valve at the top of the tank to work with our booster pump to keep the tank filled with ready-to-use RO/DI water. The water shuts off automatically once the aquarium/reservoir is full.
Beneath our freshwater container tucked inside the stand sits a 20 gallon Rubbermaid Brute trash can on a dolly. This is where we'll mix our saltwater, which can easily be wheeled around the office to our fish tanks to perform water changes. The gray Rubbermaid Brute trash can we chose is made of heavy-duty plastic and is NSF Certified, so the likelihood of it leaching unwanted chemicals into your water is greatly reduced.
We installed a bulkhead on the bottom of the Clear-For-Life aquarium and attached some flexible vinyl tubing and a ball valve. This allows us to quickly and easily fill our Brute or top-off containers as needed. We also placed an aquarium heater and a powerhead inside the Brute for mixing our saltwater and bringing it up to the proper temperature.
By having a convenient and efficient water station at home, you will save yourself a lot of time, money and hassle. You are also more likely to keep up with a regular maintenance schedule which will hopefully result in a vibrant, thriving reef aquarium. Our saltwater mixing station only took a couple of hours to install, but now that it's finished, we can confidently share that it has definitely been worth the effort. Our fish and corals have never looked better!