New Tank Shopping List - Water Change
By starting with pure water, aquarists can accurately maintain essential water parameters while ensuring they're using water that is stripped of contaminants, heavy metals, and harmful disinfectants like chlorine or chloramines. If you're just jumping into the saltwater hobby and aren't ready to commit to buying an RO/DI system quite yet, most quality local fish stores will sell RO/DI water by the gallon for a reasonable price. But if you're looking for maximum convenience and control over the RO/DI water you're using in your reef tank, be sure to check out our Top 12 Things Every Reefer Should Know About Choosing the RIGHT RO/DI System!
Salt mix is one thing you simply can't go without. After all, it's what makes a saltwater aquarium a saltwater aquarium! Aquarium salt mixes differ from standard table salt, however. Not only do these mixes contain sodium chloride (salt), but they also contain dozens of major, minor, and trace elements that are critical to the health of the animals in our care. When picking a salt mix, we suggest deciding on your target alkalinity level and selecting a salt mix with a similar dKH level. This will help you avoid big parameter swings when performing water changes.
When mixing your own saltwater for a water change, you'll need some way of accurately testing the water to ensure it's at the proper salinity level. Hand-held Refractometers are by far the most commonly used tool used for this purpose because they're inexpensive and fairly accurate, but digital testers are becoming increasingly common due to their extreme ease of use. We particularly like the Hanna Salinity Tester as it doubles as an accurate thermometer.
When performing a normal 10-20% water change, it's important that the temperature of the newly mixed saltwater is close to the temperature of the water in the aquarium. In most cases, a heater will be necessary to adjust the temperature of the water in your mixing container. You don't need anything ultra-accurate for this purpose. As long as the freshly mixed saltwater is within a few degrees of your display tank's water, you won't run into any problems.
To ensure that your freshly mixed saltwater is ready use, a thermometer is used to check the temperature. There are a range of thermometers from the ultra-accurate Hanna CheckTemp to less expensive options like the JBJ Digi-Temp2. By making sure your freshly mixed saltwater is within a few degrees of the display tank's water temperature, you'll make the water change less stressful on your fish and coral.
The best way to mix saltwater for a water change is with a pump. Just about any inexpensive pump can be used for this purpose. Marineland utility pumps and Sicce or Tunze powerheads are some of our favorites for small mixing stations or 5-gallon buckets. If you use a utility pump for your mixing pump, you can usually have it pull double duty and attach some tubing to it so that you can pump your freshly mixed saltwater to your aquarium.
When performing a water change, we try to work smarter, not harder. Removing water from the aquarium can be really simple and easy if you use a siphon. A siphon is simply a tube used to move liquid up and over the rim of the aquarium, then down to a bucket or drain. The Python Water Change System makes this super easy as the faucet hookup will start the siphon for you and pull water into the sink using your household's water pressure.