Skip the crud, mixing salt for saltwater aquarium without all the crusty build up - Reef FAQs
Salt mixes start out by being mined from the earth, evaporated from seawater or refined from synthetic salts. They all can potentially contain impurities such as chelators, clays and clarifiers that will produce precipitate and brown organic crud on the storage tanks walls. Some aquarium salts can even create a brown foam on the surface, not exactly ideal considering the saltwater is supposed to be clean and ready for use in your precious saltwater tank!
So lets confront the crud and learn about the top three ways to stop brown, crusty build-up that accumulates inside your mixing container when mixing salt for your saltwater aquarium.
Filter it out - One of the easiest ways to deal with this sludge is a technique that should be all too familiar to aquarists, simply filter it out!
Use something like the BRS GFO & Carbon Media Reactor but instead of chemical filter media, stuff it with a 5 micron Rosave.z Depth Sediment Filter.
This particular sediment filter is strongly recommended because it is a true depth filter with progressive fibers at varying density which means it will capture contaminants throughout the entire filter and last longer for this particular application. When combined with proper salt mixing techniques, a single $7 sediment filter will clean an entire full size bucket of salt mix.
Mix it correctly - In many cases, what looks like a crusty precipitate or impurities in your storage container is actually a result of improper mixing technique.
That was something we found out in our BRSTV Investigates video in which we mixed and stored 8 different salt brands to research proper mixing techniques and the effects of storage.
We found that 6 of the 8 brands left considerable amounts of residue when mixed for one hour with only a pump; when we added heat and mixed for a longer period of time, the residue was not evident.
We repeated the test and mixed for 24 hours at ambient room temperature and all but a couple stayed thoroughly mixed so the heat was really only required for some of the salt options and this was indicated in those particular salt’s mixing instructions.
Moral of the story is follow the manufacturer instructions for mixing, not all brands are the same.
Choose a quality salt mix - Use a salt that doesn’t have the brown stuff to begin with and mixes easily without the need for heat or prolonged mixing methods.
All these salts have different source materials and purification steps. In one of our salt mix experiments we ran the 20 gallons of mixed saltwater through sediment filters and there was an obvious difference in terms of the amount of sediment that each particular brand left behind, some better than others. Keep in mind we only mixed up 20 gallons and an entire bucket would contain roughly 8 times that amount of impurities that will end up in your tank if not removed.
The best performer in all these experiments was the most expensive, Tropic Marin’s Pro Reef. The cost and the performance almost certainly both related to the pharmaceutical grade materials used to make this salt.
The extra costs are actually quite minimal when you consider everything; for a 100 gallon reef tank with a 10% weekly water change the highest performing salts will cost about $5 more per month. When you consider the extra costs of heaters, reactors, sediment filters and the effort required to purify the lower grade salts, this extra cost is null.
An intermediary option that balances easy mixing and minimal precipitation at a mid-level price point was Brightwell Aquatics NeoMarine. Which is also the same salt mix predominantly used by the team at World Wide Corals.
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