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FAQs on Mixing Synthetic Seawater

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

Related FAQs: Seawater 1, Seawater 2, Seawater 3, Seawater 4, Seawater 5, Seawater 6, & FAQs on 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 

Many invertebrate and algae groups members will show the ill-effects of mis-mixing synthetics first. Chromodoris kuniei Pruvol-Fol 1930.

Salt improperly added    7/13/12
Greetings, i have an unfortunate situation with my tank and wanted some expert advice as to correcting it. We recently acquired 60 x 18, 120 gallon tank. The plan is to go FO or FOWLR. My spouse purchased two buckets of generic Top Fin salt along with the crushed coral substrate. She had added part of the substrate, and then proceeded to add the salt; however, she did not premix the salt. The salt was added on July 11, and obviously the water is not only cloudy, but i am thinking  that all the water might need to be removed, so that it can be replaced with properly mixed water.
<Mmm, the cloudiness is almost certainly from the coral substrate. Was this rinsed before being placed? If not, it may take some time and changes of mechanical filters/cleaning of media to clear the water up. You may be compelled to remove the substrate to rinse it...>
 She keeps insisting that given time to aerate and such, the salt will fully dissolve.
<This is so>
She has a few old HOB filters running on there for water movement. I don't mind giving it a few days to settle, but I
don't know if she is correct, and even if she were, I have no clue as to how long it would take for the salt to dissolve,
<A few days. Again, the cloudiness is not from the salt here>
considering the substrate was essentially added on top of it. In terms of eventual livestock, I was going to use media and substrate from an established 75 gallon (the inhabitants would be upgraded eventually as well).
<A good idea>
I apologize for the long email, just wanted to write all the details. Thanks in advance for the
advice and assistance.
<Glad to help. Bob Fenner>

Mixing salt  5/19/11
This is a tad obscure so I need your honest opinion. In a forum I am a member, a person said that if you put salt in a bucket and then add water, elements would "fall out" or precipitate. Can that actually happen?
<Mmm, possibly... certainly much more so depending on what is in "the water" you're using... But not much of a n issue w/ good, major brands of synthetics.
Do read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/seah2omixing.htm
and, peruse the linked files above as well. Bob Fenner>

Mixing natural seawater and synthetic sea water   1/21/11
<Hello Denice>
I have a 200L reef tank (aquarium has a chiller, protein skimmer, wet/dry trickle filter, surface skimmer, sand filter with a large amount of live rock and a variety of corals and fish), which we normally use natural
seawater in since we live in beautiful Queensland, Australia where the water is almost always blue and clear. However, due to the recent large amount of rain and flooding, the salinity of the ocean has dropped and is probably full of pesticides and other pollutants so I'm reluctant to use it for upcoming water changes. What would happen if I was to use made up synthetic salt water (mixed with RO water) for the water change?
<Should be fine. There are more potential issues "going the other way", i.e., back to natural>
What would I have to keep in mind when it comes to the parameters such as pH, salinity, phosphates (shouldn't be a problem since it's RO water), Trace elements (most are incl in reef salt mixes) etc. Would this be to much of a shock for my corals and fish?
<Not too much of a shock... mostly one needs pay attention to temp., pH, alkalinity and salinity>
Thank you for your expertise and assistance.
<Welcome! Bob Fenner> 

Salt Mix and Low pH   9/17/10
Hello, and thanks for all the great information available through this web site.
<Hello Rob, and you are welcome.>
My question is specific to the Reef Crystal salt mix and my pH. I make my own RODI and the pH is 9.0 before I mix in the salt.
<The pH of highly purified or RO water cannot be measured accurately by test kits, or by pH meters. One of the reasons for this is that highly purified water has very little buffering capacity, so its pH can easily change.
A well functioning RO unit should produce water with a pH somewhere near 7.0.>
After the mix, it drops to 7.5.
<Sounds correct as there are little to no buffers present in RO water and the buffers in the salt mix are quickly being depleted.>
I have been using this for about 18 months with no problems, but would like to improve my water quality to optimum so I can progress with corals. I see that a pH of 8 - 8.2 would be best. Why would the pH be dropping, and should I be correcting before adding to the tank. If I should correct, what would be the best buffer?
<Yes, I would buffer/adjust the pH to 8.0 - 8.2. And before doing so, allow at least 24 hours after you mix the salt and take a pH reading. As far as buffers go, I personally use Seachem's Marine Buffer, works very well.>
Thanks for any help you can supply.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Salt Mix Question 8/14/10
I have been using Instant Ocean Salt mix in RO/DI water for water changes.
I note that regardless how slowly ( over days ) I mix the salt into the water I get some precipitate in the 55 g aquarium that I use as a mixing vessel. This has prompted me to have to clean the precipitate between water changes. The last time this happened I filled the aquarium up with RO water and added white vinegar a tablespoon at a time until the precipitate was brought into solution ( probably took a cup of vinegar total).
Is it safe to use this water ( pH of water is 6.0 ) for mix as long as I bring calcium and alkalinity and salinity levels where they need to be by adding salt and buffer?
<I would not use or do. You would be going through quite a bit of buffer to get that pH back up to 8+.>
Does aerating the RO water during the mixing process make the process more apt to precipitation ?
<No, but it is recommended that you aerate the fresh water for 24 hours before adding the salt. During this time period it allows the heater to bring the water up to temp allowing the salt mix to dissolve much easier.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Preparing saltwater -- 01/12/2010
Hi Crew, <Hello Sam> I was reading some responses lately and I am now questioning my methodology. I know what the ideal is I just want to know if what I am doing is acceptable, i.e. not stressing fish or corals <ok>. I mix my salt about a week ahead of time by stirring it every once in a while during the week <should be kept moving continuously, using a powerhead or airstone>.
The water is tap water that goes through a filter that uses a solid carbon block (made by Water Dome) <Not ideal, but depends on the quality of your tap water, and the sensitivity of your animals. Using RODI water is the preferred method, but if your animals are otherwise healthy.....>. My tank is a 24 gallon so I assume the actual water volume is about 20 gallon. I change one gallon a week and I do not test it so I do not know how far off the ph is <there is a solution to this... test it. Very easy and very cheap>. Is this a significant amount to change without knowing how
different it is from the tank water? <No, this is not a significant amount, and is a good, regular regimen to have, but I implore you to test your water (both tap and tank). Tis easy, tis cheap, and will serve to better educate you about your system> Thanks, <No worries, please read here for help with this & Related FAQs
:http://www.wetwebmedia.com/scottsh2ochgart.htm> Sam <Simon>

Need Bob Fenner's Expertise!!! Water change, synthetic salt mix prep.  -- 01/03/10
Hi Bob & Crew!!! I have opened a can of worms with the following thread after quoting Bob Fenner & I would love if Bob could read the following thread & posts & give us as much detailed explanation as possible....Thanks....
Sue Brown http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1767456
<Hi Sue, and thank you for sending this along. Have read through the thread, and will try/proffer a bit more, albeit still likely too vague input re this issue: The suggested addition of some "old water" into new that is being prepared for water changes in an established system. First though, I do encourage anyone "really" interested to try experimenting... adding and not... and measuring whatever characteristic/s they might... ORP, DO, BOD... most anything... even if there's time, sufficient replicate systems (can be very small) various bioassays with small life... The overall benefit of such mixing of new and old water is to discount the chemical and physical "new-ness" of the change-out water. How to put this... tap/mains water is proving more variable and synthetic salt mixes much more so in recent years. Blending in the life in the new water days ahead will generally help to reduce/dampen these potential "difference" effects. Oh, and I do want to mention that our captive systems do generally have high (though also variable) concentrations of microbial life... often orders of 10 to the seventh per milliliter... even with "super filtration"; skimming, UV, ozone use... Again, this can be measured... through a few means. Simplest, a "high power" microscope and counting slide (e.g. hemocytometer). The vast majority of folks/aquarists skipping the "extra step" of adding old water to new are going to be fine, but I still encourage the practice; if nothing else, I have found it is a good/important reminder/stimulant to urging further consideration as to what one is up to. Cheers, Bob Fenner> 

RO\DI systems: pH drop after adding salt mix.  6/18/2009
Hey folks.
<Hi Jason, how's TN?>
My freshly made RO/DI water shows Ph 9.8 out of a brand new unit.
<Wow, that is high. What is the pH of the water out of the tap?>
6 Stage 3 RO/3 DI cartridges. Is this good or even what it's supposed to be?
<The pH of the output water is dependent upon the pH of the water going into the unit.>
Using a Hanna tester.
<May want to get a different test kit to sanity check your tester.>
Also, why does my Ph drop in my make-up water garbage can after I add salt?
This is after it had a chance to aerate for a day and get Ph up.
<The output water is stripped of its buffers, the pH quickly drops as it gets mixed with oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air.>
Seems counter productive to initially have Ph where it's supposed to be only to have it drop, then have to raise it with buffer to be the same as tank water
<Quite normal. Water out of a RO\DI unit has no buffering ability at all, so the pH changes based upon what is added to the water..

Marine replacement water for water changes 1/26/09 Hello, i hope this isn't too dumb of a question, but I was wondering how long water can be kept after it has been made up. <A good long while... particularly if it is covered... Months at least> Not having great tap water or a reverse osmosis setup, I get mine from my LFS that has a wonderful self fill station of salt water that is reverse osmosis and has a SG of 1.020. I keep my tank at 1.022 so I do have to add a bit of salt mix, but I keep the bucket(s) covered. Does the water need to have a pump in it for storage or does it need to be stirred only before adjusting the temp and replacing. <Can be used "right out of the bucket"... i.e., it shouldn't "settle out"> How long can the water be stored before it is considered old or stagnant? <Ages> On a side note, do you happen to know roughly how many tablespoons it would take per gallon to change the SG from 1.020 to 1.022? A half cup of salt seems to make a gallon of water have a SG of 1.021 from my tap, but I am guessing the reverse osmosis water might be a bit different. <Mmm, only if you have appreciable dissolved solids...> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Keith <Mmm, well... can you tell me how many tsps there are in a cup? Given your stated relationship twixt the salt mix and spg... this should be a relationship of the equivalent of how much a tbsp. out of a half cup will "move" a gallon of water one thousandth (0.001) in density... Yes? Bob Fenner>

Re: marine replacement water for water changes 1/26/09 It is 7 tablespoons in a half cup, <Really? Seems way too little> <<Is actually eight: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_tablespoons_does_it_take_to_make_half_a_cup . RMF>> which is what makes my water 10.21-1.022 per gallon, so I am guessing a half a tablespoon per gallon would bump it to 1.022. <And this seems short too... Well... do try it out and make it known what you register> I might need to do a few test buckets with different quantities of additional salt. <Yeah!> While we are on the subject of SG, Do you know at what temperature the Marineland hydrometer is calibrated at? <Dang! I've read it a bunch of times... I do think it's somewhere in the low 70's F.... ergo the usual suggestion to understand it as a bit low... e.g. as 1.024 when it reads 1.025> I know for a fact that the water from the LFS is 1.020, but after the water sat overnight and temperature dropped it is only showing in the 1.017 range. <Yes... there are handy charts (even on the Net!) for said "adjustment" in reading hydrometers... Perhaps Santa can/will bring you (deficit spending again!) a refractometer...> My house is a bit cold here in New England this time of year. I knew i was going to have to set my buckets in a the bath with hot water or add a heater the night before the WC but I was just wondering how much temperatures change the reading and the proper temp range to test where the SG is a safe range for a FOWLR marine setup. <Mmm... let me get off my duff here and: http://www.deltaenvironmental.com.au/management/Lab_methods/Specific_gravity .htm BobF>

Re: 55gal FOWLR setup 11/12/08 Going to get the book today, but I do have one more question I couldn't find the answer to on WWM. When I first put water into the new tank, can I mix the water and salt in the tank or should I do it in a bucket? <You can mix it in the tank if you wish.> Also, should I already have the live rock and live sand in the tank when I add the water and salt to it (if I mix it in the tank) or should I add the rock and sand after the salt mixes with the water? <After.> Sorry for all the Questions, I just really want to get this up and running so I can add fish in a month or two. Thanks! <Welcome, you will love the book! Scott V.> Angela <Welcome, Scott V.>

Salt  (humidity causing lumpiness) 11/05/08 Dear Crew, I have a question about the salt mix I use. If the salt in the bucket clumps or solidifies, caused by humidity, is it safe to use? I have used it in the past by breaking it into useable chunks. I guess the thing I want to know is if there are chemical changes in the salt that will hurt my reef tank? Thank you in advance. I have learned a lot from your site, keep up the good work. Thank You, Linda <Hi Linda, yes, "chunky" salt is absolutely fine. Any chemical changes will be miniscule. But do understand that if moisture is getting into the tub, then other things, such as dust, might do so as well. Check you're closing the lid onto the tub properly, and that you're storing it away from excessively moist parts of the house (for example kitchens or outdoor sheds). Thanks for your kind words about the site! Cheers, Neale.>

Water change issue/pH, FOWLR spg, Crypt... 10/23/08 Hello, <Hi> I've been having an issue that I just started to realize recently. I have been conducting water changes, and finding that the next day my pH is rather low. Around 6.5. <In the tank? Does it stay here consistently?> However when I test my water prior to putting it into the tank the pH is perfect. I believe this is due to the oxygen being generated by the pump mixing the salt and everything else in the tub prior to me pumping it into the tank. My tank is a 120 FOWLR. I usually conduct 30-50% water changes every 2-3weeks. So basically that's one issue, is how do you think i can go about balancing out my PH more efficiently right around water changes. <How long are you mixing your water for before adding it to your tank, make sure you allow 24 hours for everything to mix correctly and stabilize. Also do you buffer your water change water prior to adding the salt? See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm > What is the ideal salinity for a FOWLR? I do have live rock, and nice purple coral growing. I keep it usually around 1.019-.21 <Too low, close as possible to natural levels, 1.026, the creatures in your tank have spend thousands of generations adapting to this fairly stable parameter.> What do you guys think about the AquaC Urchin Pro in sump skimmers? <Love Aqua-C.> And for a future reference, what's a good way to treat ich without medication? <The only way I know of is using the tank swap method, where you switch the fish between 2 bare bottom tanks, completely cleaning and drying the tank not in use.> Or perhaps help prevent it, or stop it from getting worse during beginning stages. <Quarantine, Quarantine, Quarantine, and have I mentioned Quarantine?> I've been told to soak food in garlic extract... <Not useful for ich treatment, or much of anything really, does seem to stimulate a fish's appetite a bit, but so do many other products that also add value to your fish's food. A nice article from Steven Pro http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-08/sp/index.php > Thanks, Sam <Welcome> <Chris>

Re: Water change issue, Alk., storage   10/23/08 I usually poor some dechlorinator, then start adding water. Add salt and then when 30 gallon bucket is like 3/4 full with fresh water I add ph Seachem buffer. (Which says safely doesn't go above 8.3 mind u) I let this all mix for about 20 min then add to tank. <This pH problem you are experiencing is exactly why it is recommended to wait 24 hours before adding to your tank, parameters can swing wildly in newly mixed water.> The ph is usually low right like 12hours after water change. However in my 30gallon tub it reads 8.3 because of all the oxidation I suppose. Anyhow ye, so I decided to add some buffer this time around and 12hrs later ph was high! So I guess ill just add a little smaller dosage of ph buffer then I did last time... Sam <See here for more on alkalinity http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm .> <Chris>

How to make sure container (i.e., big drum) is safe? Was wondering if there is any way of making sure a plastic container can be safe for, say, storing saltwater or RO/DI water? <Mmm, yes, there is/are> I mean, it's the regular blue PVC plastic drums, but it could have been used as a container for soap (I suppose easily cleaned), or maybe some chemicals (maybe even <gulp!> cyanide!) <Yikes!> While the answer is probably "don't use it unless sure", I just came across a sort of "junk shop" that has hundreds and hundreds of these "unknown" containers ranging from 15 gallons to VERY big ones (and cheap!) -- he says he cleans them all out, sometimes with chlorine. Anyway, just checking first if there's a sure way of really cleaning/disinfecting these containers (super chlorinate? Bleach? ozone?). Thanks! <All can/will work in terms of biological cleanliness... chemical not so. Some physical cleaning (with coarse salt, some water, a tough sponge) may be a good idea to scrub all the insides... I'd rinse, fill, let sit for a week or so... add some "test fish" (perhaps a few Comet goldfish, platies...) see how they do for a few days as a bioassay. Bob Fenner>

Safety of salt addition to sump, water changes, salt mixing  09/27/2008 Thanks for all of your wonderful information! <<Thanks for the nice comments>> I know I have read that adding salt directly to your tank is not a good idea with livestock in it. What are the risks if the salt is added to a sump chamber with no fish/corals/inverts in it so that it is well diluted and mixed before entering the main tank. Does this have any risk of killing bacteria in the water column? <<Same risk as undissolved salt will find its way back to display tank. A big no no>> Once in a while my Kalk additions dilute the tank and salinity needs to be corrected, normally this can be done during water changes but once in a while it is needed before a change. Thanks again <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Making your own salt concentrate Good morning, WWM Crew, or evening or afternoon depending on your time zone!!! <AM for me presently, good morrow to you> When you buy a 200 gallon bucket of salt mix, the chemical composition of the top of the bucket is never the same as when you get to the bottom of the bucket. <Mmm, this shouldn't be the case...> Unless, of course, you are fortunate to have one of those paint shaker thingy's like they do at Lowe's or Home Depot in your garage. And no, neither my local Lowe's or HD will shake my bucket, I already asked. <Heee!> Can you take your 200 gallon salt mix and mix it with something like 10-20 gallons of RO/DI water and store it in a cool dark place until ready to use? <Mmm, yes... such "slurries" are used by large institutions (public aquariums, aquaculture facilities...) to pre-mix new water... get it ready for use> Then 2-4 days before you do your water change add the concentrate instead of the dry mix. I currently do my water change water the WWM way of aerating, buffering, heating and then adding salt mix and mix for another day or two. <I see> I'm one of those people that tests just for the "h. e. double-hockey sticks" of it. And I find that the calcium and other elements have a significant difference between the top of the bucket and the bottom. <Interesting... I have only seen a couple of companies plants that make synthetics... the most expensive piece of gear, part of their operations was the mixing machine... keeping moisture out of a huge room, blending all to make it consistent. I cannot speak for all companies, but there have also been small timers that reportedly blended theirs in hand-loaded cement mixers!> I know with a reef that consistency is just "one" of the most important things. Making a concentrate would also prevent things like caking and my Labrador's hair from getting in the bucket. It usually takes me about 1-2 months to use a 200 gallon bucket. I also like to mix 2 salt mixes, Tropic Marin and IO. <Okay> You guys are the greatest!!! If this question has already been asked, please forgive me. I swear I have read almost every page of the saltwater section over the last year. Thank you, speppers69 <One of my fave Beatles albums. I do think your plan has merit. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Saltwater Mixing Container Turning Brown. 7/6/08 Hi I have 120gal with 45 gallon sump/refugium. I have a system set up that performs an automatic water exchange of approximately 2.5 gallons per day. This is done at 1 hour intervals for about 8 hours for a total of 2.5 gallons daily. My fresh saltwater storage container is a Rubbermaid Brute 44gal. <A fave brand, model> The system works pretty well if I don't say so myself. My salt mix is Red Sea Coral Pro. I'm using a Spectrapure 5 stage DI. I keep the lid on tight and the water constantly mixing with a mag drive pump. It's heated to 80° and is kept vigorously mixing until the container is just about empty. The tubing that pulls the water from the container goes through a hole that I drilled up near the top of the container. I switch over to a smaller powerhead for mixing when the level has dropped too low for the mag drive. But the question I have concerns the brown film that develops in the fresh water container after about 3 days of storage. What is this stuff? <Got me...> It coats the sides of the container, the cords, the pumps, and the tubing. Is it harmful? <Mmm, not likely> Over time the buildup increases and I'm unsure about the potential to create a problem in my tank in the long term. I've been told that fresh saltwater mixes can be stored for a period of weeks. <This is usually the case> So if this brown stuff is a fact of fresh water life, then is it something to be concerned about? I have searched around for an answer to what this stuff is and if it's harmful. I can only seem to come up the fact that it exists. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. Jeff <Have seen similar... always leads to make the general questions... "Is this biological?" "Or just chemical"... The can itself is very chemically inert (polyethylene...), the water... lacks nutrient, reactants period... which leaves... The salt mix... I am a much bigger fan of other manufacturers, makes myself... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm Scroll down to "Water, Salt Issues" Bob Fenner>

Solid Residues Remaining After Preparing Artificial Seawater 6/21/08 <Hi Richard, Pufferpunk here> I mix my saltwater in a Rubbermaid trash can. <So do I.> Over time, despite rinsing it out before and after use, the can gets crusted with deposits that flake off into the water. <Same here.> Is it safe to line the can with a plastic trash bag when mixing water? If it's safe, I could just throw the bag away after each batch and for a few cents save a lot of time and hassle. <Not necessary. If you are mixing with a powerhead, it will more than likely suck up the plastic from the bag, into the intake. Most salt mixes leave behind a solid residue when dissolved, although the extent to which this occurs varies from brand to brand. I use Reef Crystals and rarely clean out the 33-gallon trashcan that I mix it in, so a significant residue builds up over time. More than likely the solids are probably just calcium carbonate. In order to minimize the formation of insoluble carbonate salts when mixing, the following suggestions may be helpful: 1. Add the salt to a full batch of water, rather than adding water slowly to a large batch of salt. The latter allows a greater time at much higher than natural seawater salinity, which may tend to precipitate calcium and magnesium salts. 2. Stir the mixture vigorously as it is being dissolved. I have an external pump plumbed into the bottom side of my mixing Brute can to mix the salt. With the turn of a valve, it also pumps the salt water up to the 1st floor & into my tanks for easy water changes. 3. If using a mix with a high initial pH, aerate the mixture as well as stirring it. The aeration will reduce the pH. I usually rinse out the can after about every 3-5 batches, just to get the loose crud off. For more info, look here: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-07/rhf/index.php#2 ~PP>

Re: Trash Can Liner 6/22/08 (re: Solid Residues Remaining After Preparing Artificial Seawater) Thanks for the tips, I already do most of them. However, you didn't answer the question. Assuming the powerhead is raised off the bottom (I make a small platform out of Lego pieces) so it won't suck up the plastic, is it safe to line the can with a trash bag? <It should be save to use but I guarantee you it will become a PITA. Totally unnecessary. ~PP>

Mixing saltwater 04/09/2008 Hi WWM crew <<Hello, Andrew today>> I was wondering when mixing saltwater where you have to leave it overnight, is it suitable to use a large storage container a few times to mix the sufficient volume of water or do you mix the saltwater in separate buckets and gradually add the water to the tank. <<When the water has been mixed in large water tub, i drain out my water amount and then pump new back to the to the tank when i am ready for a water change>> Thanks for all the help Kind Regards Dean <<Thanks, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Help need... salt mix... vol....    2/27/08 Hello Sir/Mam, I've purchased a tank that can hold about 110 liter of water I wanted to know how much of marine salt should I add in fresh water so that the setup is correct.. <Every salt mix is a little different. You should read the instructions on the bag/box and add as much as you need to maintain a salinity of 1.024 to 1.026.> next how many filters or pressure pumps should I keep in the tank.. <These are very basic beginner questions much written about here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm ...and in many books, websites available worldwide.> thanking u , Awaiting Ur kind reply warm regards Jawad <Best, Sara M.>

Preparing salt water, RO Substitutes 2/13/08 Hi Crew, <Hello> I have become tired recently of the process of preparing RO/DI water (takes 10 hours), waiting a day, adding salt mix, waiting some more days. So the following thought drifted into my mind: I could fill my Rubbermaid garbage can straight from the tap, add salt mix, leave the heat and circulation in place, but add a currently unused Fluval 404 outside filter with PolyFilter inside. Let this run for a few days to a week and then use the water. Shouldn't this take out any stray nutrients or metals that I am now taking out with my RO/DI unit? Do you think this is a good idea? Thanks, Tom <Unfortunately this method will not be nearly as effective as using RO/DI water. While better than nothing it just won't be very effective, the Poly-filters are just not absorbent enough.> <Chris>

Automated Salt Mixing -- 01/25/08 Thanks for all of your help as always.... <<Happy to share>> For the truly lazy I am trying to think of ways to automate the mixing of salt into a mixing bucket. <<Mmm, automation of ancillary functions is a good thing in my opinion'¦anything to help hobbyists 'keep up' with routine maintenance of their systems is worthwhile pursuing I think'¦though physically 'eyeballing' all on a daily basis should never be replaced. I have some of the daily/routine functions of my system automated such as freshwater top-up, ozone injection/monitoring, Kalkwasser additions, and can even perform a 50g water change in less than 15-minutes'¦all a big help with maintaining the systems balance/stability>> My first thought was to suspend salt above a mixing bucket and use an electrically actuated hopper to drop salt via gravity into a bucket while monitoring salinity electronically in the mixing bucket. <<Sounds feasible'¦though I would think the 'room' where this takes place would need some type of humidity control to keep the very hygroscopic nature of the salt from attracting moisture from the air and caking/solidifying. Not only would this make the salt difficult/impossible to dispense, but it will also render much of the biomineral elements within the mix insoluble. The RO mix-water would also need sufficient aeration before use to reduce CO2 levels as this gas will have a negative impact on Alkaline elements>> I haven't really been able to come up with a good design here, and lifting large quantities of salt above a mixing bucket to last for a period of 2-6 months will be difficult. <<Hmm, there are feed/grain hoppers used for livestock that could do this'¦though corrosion from the salt may be an issue>> I am thinking of a different design involving 2 buckets. One bucket is a traditional mixing reservoir to store pre-mixed salt water for water changes. The second bucket would contain large quantities of salt and would be sealed air-tight and filled with R/O Water. This bucket would contain a super-saturated mix of salt, I'd assume it would not all dissolve at first. A mixing system would periodically mix this bucket. When the original bucket is filled with R/O water, we would pump over super concentrated water w/ salt to electronically obtain the desired salinity. Once the pump over is complete, fresh R/O would be added to the super-concentrated bucket until all salt is dissolved. Enough salt would be included to last 2-6 months. <<A 'brine' solution such as you describe would seem to make good sense/provide the easiest mixing option'¦but it won't work. Super saturating a volume of water with an artificial salt mix will result in much precipitation of the Earth/biomineral elements (Calcium, Magnesium, Strontium'¦) from solution, rendering a less than satisfactory end-product (this is why we always recommend hobbyists add salt to a full volume of water when mixing, rather than adding water to a premeasure of salt). If you were to purchase the individual elements/salts individually, you could hydrate those that wouldn't precipitate in concentration, and add dry measures (metered for the water volume) to the mixing bucket of those that do. But this is likely much more involved than you/most anyone would wish to deal with>> This is basically a Kalk reactor design. <<Works great for Kalkwasser'¦but a 'salt' reactor as you describe just won't work for the reasons explained>> A few unknowns about this design: 1.) Above a gravity of 1.025 or so, I wonder how much more salt can be dissolved before it is saturated? I am guessing quite a bit. <<Indeed'¦but is a moot point>> 2.) By sealing this container air-tight, can we really store this water and salt in this way w/o negatively affecting its qualities? In other words will things happen as it ages that would be undesirable? <<There are varied opinions re how long prepared artificial saltwater can be stored. In fact I had a running discussion (argument?) with a Dutch gentleman who worked a coral propagation facility in the Netherlands where his stand was that 'aging' the saltwater was useless and even deleterious. My take is the opposite'¦ I believe aging the water for a 'minimum' of 72-hours (preferably a week) produces a less harsh and more 'stable' product by allowing any ongoing chemical processes to complete. I also think 'inoculating' the new mix with a bit of water from the tank and giving the bacteria some time to grow by consuming Nitrogenous compounds present in the new solution affords additional benefit to lessening the harshness/increasing the viability of the newly mixed water. But just 'how long' can you store this water? I don't know'¦though I suspect it might be for a considerable time (months?). Perhaps a small test batch re is in order'¦>> 3.) I wonder if the un-dissolved salt will turn into a paste so thick it would not dissolve when fresh water is added. <<Periodic agitation (automated?) could preclude this'¦but it won't put those elements that have precipitated out, back in to solution>> Best, Bryan <<Thank you for the thought provoking exchange, Bryan. Please do keep me involved/posted on how things go if you pursue this further. Regards, Eric Russell>>

Copper Question  1/19/08 Hi Bob. I have a 10 gallon sick tank that I have used copper in before and I want it to be a vat for water changes on my 72 gallon reef tank. Is this possible because it has been coppered before or do I have to buy another tank? <Is almost assuredly possible. What little copper there might have been precipitated out in the Silastic, on the glass will not resolubilize appreciably> I cannot afford a RO unit right now so I was thinking I could just make up water in the 10 gallon tank and let it set for a week with a heater and a powerfilter with a polyfilter and carbon inside the powerfilter. Is this a good idea or is there a better cheap alternative to a RO unit? <... Separate ideas here... I would buy/use an RO (I do) from a large "warehouse" store... for your overall use> Thanks, I love your site. Matt Columbus, Ohio <These issues are covered on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Mixing Saltwater 10/7/07 Hi Crew <Hello.> Two fast questions if I could? I just hooked up a R/O DI filter under my kitchen sink. I have been using tap water treated with Prime for my top offs and water changes that I let sit over night but have never ran a powerhead in it or nothing like that. I have never had any problems and all fish are doing well for sometime now. After reading some posted questions I'm afraid to try something new. Kinda like if its not broke don't fix it. In the posts it says to aerate for 24 hours and use a buffer? I never would use a buffer in my tap water and would check pH twice a week and add Marine Buffer by Seachem as needed. For my top offs can I just add r/o water or should I aerate it first? <I would just add.> In one post I read for 10 minutes and in most it says 24 hours? They sell units to automatically top off the tank and these aren't aerated so would I be OK to do my top off with fresh R/O water? I'm going to keep using tap water till here back from you to be safe. <Is fine to use R/O for top off water without aerating. Aerating the water for mixing salts will remove any excess CO2, if present. CO2 can deplete the buffers that are present in the salt mix.> I use about a gallon of topoff a day. My second question is much faster. I have a 125 gallon with FOWLR and it's Gulf Live Rock from Florida. I love it, lots of color and growth. I have been getting with dots or specs on the glass like calcium buildups that I have to scrape off. Any ideas what it is? I was thinking some sort of eggs? I have no snails in the tank? <Without looking at it, I'm thinking coralline growth.> Thanks for any and all help. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

New salt water froth  9/23/07 Hello Crew, <Dustin> When I mix up new batches of salt water using Reef Crystals mix, I use the needle-wheel Rio powerhead from the CoraLife super skimmer with venturi, when I do this with R/O, I get a fractionating effect and I could easily scoop this nasty looking froth out, should I? <Am wondering where the froth is coming from? Do you use RO, otherwise somehow filtered source water?> Also should I be aerating this vigorously? <Not necessarily, but shouldn't make a difference in terms of frothing> My mixing container could almost be a skimmer with the addition of a collection cup, there's that much air! Thank you in advance, Dustin, West Bend WI <When you stop the pump, does the froth dissipate? I would scrub out the mixing/storing container (with rock salt, water, rinse...) and see if this makes a difference. Bob Fenner>Changing Salt Mix -- 09/12/07 Hey Guys, <<Greetings>> I am sure you have been asked this before, <<Maybe>> but I couldn't find it. <Okay>> Based on your input and others, I want to switch from Red Sea to IO or Reef Crystals salt mixes. (having trouble keeping Alk high and sometime CA too) However, I have enough RS mix for 200 gals. Not wanting to throw away $/salt, I was thinking I could either mix a 50 / 50 batch of RS and IO together going forward or do alternating H2O changes with each brand until RS was out. <<Rather than 'alternating' as you mention, I would do the 50/50 mix>> These great "money saving" ideas so often cost me more in time and/or troubles, I thought I might stop and ask your input. <<Mmm, yes... And though I have heard some folks tell of having issues when 'suddenly' switching salt brands...if switching to a better quality mix that has been prepared correctly, I would think it could only be of help>> Thanks. <<Regards, EricR>>

Mixing Saltwater & BGA   8/27/08 Hi?. I am experiencing what I think is a cyano outbreak (photo) in my 3 month old 120 with sump/fuge and Chaeto. This is my first tank. I'm not sure if the stuff in the pics is part of normal new tank growing pains but, I am going down the list of areas to get to the root cause and/or where my husbandry skills could use some sharpening. <Good idea> One such potential (among other things) is the consistent low pH I have, which has actually been described to me as ?OK as long as it's stable?. I want to approach these issues individually and there are more areas to be addressed. I'm finding that the overwhelming amount of info/opinions out there is creating paralysis through analysis. I simply don't know what to do anymore. I guess an inch at a time is my only hope. <Mmmm... perhaps more punctuated, saltatory lengths... and some review, going back...> My pH levels are always constant but on the low end (7.8-8.0). My Salifert Alk is 2.97 Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, Phosphates, and DI Phosphates are a Salifert zero. I keep the tank temp at 79. 79°F is where the heater on-off cycle is at it's minimum with the lighting on-off cycle? which by the way is 8 hours on with my Outer Orbit MH, T5?s running together. I monitor with the profilux controller and I trust that my pH probe is calibrated correctly. I calibrate pharmaceutical grade instrumentation for a living so I'm prone to be wary of consumer grade eq. <Most of this is fine (accurate, precise)... enough for hobby use> My tank instrumentation (temp, conductivity, pH, redox) gets checked on a monthly basis. Anyway, I see where I could be coming up short when mixing saltwater. I have failed to aerate my Spectrapure DI water prior to mixing salt. <Mmmm, a minor matter> My salt mix is Red Sea Coral Pro <There are better brands... you have read on WWM re?> and has a pH rating of 8.2-8.4. I see on your site that I need to aerate DI water for 24hrs?. but I would like a little more detail as to what that means. <To assure complete mixing, introduce dissolved gas, mainly oxygen... in the event folks are using treated/processed water with none...> I have seen and now understand the reasoning (to dissipate any CO2) but a couple of questions arise when I see that. First off, exactly how do you aerate? <Mechanically... with a submersible pump, powerhead... or a "bubbler"... air pump and diffuser (airstone)...> Every two weeks for water changes, I have been mixing the saltwater at tank temp. in a 20 gal. Brute and ?circulating? with an Aqua Clear powerhead with a tight fitting lid for 48hrs. And if I ?aerate?, it seems to me that a tight fitting lid (which I was told was necessary for TDS reasons) will just re-trap the CO2. Is this true? <No...> Do I need special aerating eq.? <No> And do I aerate with the lid on or off? <Matters little> If I aerate for 24 hours then mix in the salt, how long do I mix the salt before it's ready for a water change? <The longer the better... Ideally a few to several days...> And do I mix the salt with the lid on or off. Is my water change schedule adequate? <Seems to be... just you have a mis-focus on gear/technology and an apparent dearth of basic understanding... of water chemistry> I also see some talk about buffering the new water. Could you elaborate on ?buffering?, how I know if it's needed? and what to buffer with and all that stuff?? <Is posted... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked files above> I appreciate any feedback on this. Thanks. Jeff <Welcome. BobF>

Re: Mixing Saltwater -- 08/27/07 Ok...So I "have a mis-focus on gear/technology and an apparent dearth of basic understanding... of water chemistry." But believe me, I'd like to do this right...and I'm truly seeking more knowledge. <Mmm, glad to share what little I have> The "understanding" I have from sifting through all the WWM emails is that my low pH may be a contributing factor to my cyano/algae. <Yes...> And that CO2 in my DI water contributes to low pH. <Yes, but, stipulated that this dissolved gas is quite transient... it can be gotten rid of in minutes... by simple circulation, aeration...> But this response says it matters little. <This is so... given... that the new water is mixed, stored properly...> I'm new...I admit it. I'm reef challenged. <Heeee! I am in about all other ways!> I may be out in left field with my gear/eq. But what also throws me into the outfield is the sifting, linking, typing hour long emails/posts, and sometimes flat out arrogant responses (RC et .al.) that I get in my honest effort to know more and get nudged in the right direction. <I see... and sense your righteous indignation> I made a list of things that I would like to try to improve on. I have found out that I am underskimming. There may be a problem with my salt mixing techniques. Now there may be a problem with my salt. I may have sump/fuge issues. This is all based on what I've READ. I have pics of a growth in my tank that has never been positively identified. <Was this the BGA?> And no matter what source I use, I am unable to identify it on my own. <Ok...> I didn't just dive into this hobby...I began reading in Feb. 07 and set up my tank in may. Yes...I went nuts on the monitoring eq. But I find that just as interesting because it is my livelihood. Process loops fascinate me...guilty. <I wish they fascinated all... Especially negative feedbacks... real problems in our world as a consequence of their lack> "Aerate the water for 24hrs", raises questions for me. I am detail oriented...which I thought would be an asset. I'm a degreed Associate engineer.....just not in biology or chemistry. <All right...> I'm a so-called expert in a totally unrelated hobby/activity whatever you want to call it. And frequently I have to remind myself what it was like for me when I first started. This can be flat out overwhelming if something takes a turn for the worse. Pardon my rant. <No worries... Let's start again if you'd like... A bit or part at a time... I am in the process of editing the Conscientious Marine Aquarist for a new edition (the last I finished penning in late 95), so feel I am "up" to about whatever par might be for understanding principles, consequences... Where do we start? Bob Fenner>


Re: Mixing Saltwater 8/28/07 Bob?.sorry to have you catch the brunt of my frustrations. I truly appreciate any of the voluntary help we get for this hobby. Now to address my saltwater mixing procedure. Allow me to tell you where I'm at now. The tank is 120 4x2x2 by the way, and running for 3 months. I recently added 2 Vortechs and they running at full blast (6000gph total). My return pump is a Mag7. Previously I had 2 Hydor4?s 1200gph and one hydor1 400 gph powerheads (2800total). So my tank flow has doubled as of 4 days ago. <Good> I just filled a 20 gal brute with DI from my Spectrapure MaxCap 90 RO/DI unit. I'm heating at tank temp. and I'm aerating with the aerate feature on my powerhead. I have the lid resting on the rim of the container (slightly ajar). The water has been aerating for the last 2 hours. No salt has been added yet. The pH of the DI water right now is 4.9-5.1 I believe it is important to tell you that I have an auto top off coming in to my sump directly from my RO/DI unit. <I see this... and if there is not much evaporation, and your pH wasn't so low to start... This would not concern me...> All along I have been using Red Sea Coral Pro salt. My Salifert alk test on the tank water is 2.97. My phosphates on the tank water have always been 0. My DI phosphates are 0. My nitrates are 0. Ammonia is 0. and Nitrites are 0. (Salifert) I always have a constant pH of 7.8-8.0 depending on the time of day. <I think I've mentioned I would bolster both the alkalinity and pH here... with a commercial carbonate, bicarb. et al. product if you don't want to formulate/make one yourself> I run a reverse lighting schedule with my fuge/Chaeto. Lighting is from 4pm-12am (Outer Orbit T5?s and MH 150w x2) Fuge lighting is from 12am-8am (previously 12am-12pm). I cut back on that due to some red ?stuff? growing on the fuge baffles/glass. <I see this... BGA... BTW I'd about double the depth of your DSB... maybe with sugar-fine aragonite added> I have good Chaeto growth and recently (2 days ago) put a spare powerhead in the fuge (400gph) to hopefully make it a less desiraable environment for the red ?stuff?. <Should help> The Chaeto tumbles for a little while then gets tangled on the rocks since the addition of the powerhead. This is a pre-fabbed sump from ADHI. The only thing I question? now that I know a little more? is the filter sponge they use in the return chamber (see pic 180 please). I attempted to remove this sponge but realized it is also acting as a baffle. When the sponge is removed, the level in the return section oscillates wildly. <I do wish this sump and its areas/sections were larger all the way around> I have been rinsing this sponge every few days with tap water. I don't like this idea but haven't come up with another way. <Likely none better> I've been throwing the sponge in the dryer before putting it back. But I recently (last week) stopped that. I haven't used any dryer sheets for quite some time? and there's no perfume smell. But I stopped drying the sponge just in case. <I think this is prudent> I know I ran off from the original pH question. Which is where I should start, I guess. But there are some dots that begin to connect when I begin talking about my tank parameters and it snowballs from there. <Ah, yes> There are two types of stuff growing in my tank. The brownish ?tufts? and the cob web like stuff. <Both are assuredly Cyanobacterial mostly> These tufts have almost taken over two of my rocks and are working on a third. The cobweb stuff grows anywhere it wants? glass, sand and rocks and covering some of the patches of ?tufts?. Some of the tufts appear green in the pics but they are brown under the lights. When the cobweb stuff dies, it loses it's color and then looks exactly like cobwebs. I did a 3 day blackout on the tank and most of the cobweb stuff died. But it is now beginning to return. Hence my reasoning behind doing another water change. I have been doing 10% every 2 weeks. I just did a water change last Friday. I was thinking of increasing the frequency to every week, same amount. I'm uncertain of the correct approach here. <Might be a good idea> Thanks again for your valuable time and input. Jeff <Again, to summarize: I would use a one or two part alkalinity/pH + biomineral supplement (liquid or granular), with testing... Plus I'd double your DSB depth with fine material added... these two will likely greatly diminish the BGA... and raise your alk. and pH. BobF>

Re: Mixing Saltwater, using WWM  8/28/07 Bob....the summary you wrote "<Again, to summarize: I would use a one or two part alkalinity/pH + biomineral supplement (liquid or granular), with testing... Plus I'd double your DSB depth with fine material added... these two will likely greatly diminish the BGA... and raise your alk. and pH. BobF>" Also referring back to this "<I think I've mentioned I would bolster both the alkalinity and pH here... with a commercial carbonate, bicarb. et al. product if you don't want to formulate/make one yourself>" Here's where I'm a little stuck. I wouldn't know where to begin to formulate/make one myself. (Are you talking about plain old arm and hammer baking soda?) <No... please, learn to/use the search tool and indices on WWM... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm see the heading marked "Maintenance"...?> So if I used those exact words at an LFS, what product might they point me to...assuming they even know what the heck I'm talking about? <See the above> And if I got the product, I'm assuming I would mix it with the water used for water change? <Yes, this/there is best> If so, do I mix it into the DI water or the salt water? <Either... but if it were me/mine, with the salt already mixed in> And when you say "with testing", I will be monitoring the pH and checking the alk with each incremental addition of the supplement? <Yes> And then, what do you think will be the effect of my auto top off? <Some "nibbling away" and dilution of alkaline reserve... No worries though... you'll be bolstering with each water change...> AND....the additional sand for the fuge....right on top of the existing bed? <... see WWM re... I'd mix...> Any rinsing required of the new stuff? <... archived as well... yes> Forgive me, I humbly admit that this is an area totally alien to me. Thanks <Learn to help yourself Eric... See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm the link to this page is on the left shared border of every page. BobF>  

Re: salts... alkalinity... reading   8/27/08 Next question. I am doing water changes twice a week per one of your earlier articles. Will the alk. Go down or do you think it will stay up? And if it does stay elevated will it hurt the fish I plan to put in? Thank you for your patience. <Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked files above. BobF>

Maintaining  pH In Saltwater Mixing Procedure  1/5/07 Crew, <Mike> I have been using my understanding of Bob's method of mixing saltwater.  I use one Rubbermaid trash can to catch <Catch? From where?> and aerate top off water during the week.  By the end of the week I have provided enough water for my top off requirements and have 20 gallons of aerated water with a ph of usually around 8.40. <... okay>   The water is maintained at a 77 degree temperature.  On Saturday I mix saltwater for the next weekend's water change to a salinity of 1.25.  I add 2 cups of tank water and cover for a week still aerating. The odd thing is my ph when it comes time to pump the water for the water change the next week is 7.90.  In case it matters I have used Reef Crystals for some time as my salt.  Using a second trash can and the same procedures I begin filling my top water requirements for the coming week.  It is a two can rotation top off one week then saltwater the next. Am I doing something wrong? <Mmm... no... But I would switch salt mix brands>   What can I do to keep my ph at the level I have when I mix it? <Could add a source of carbonates, bicarbonates... But I'd try switching to another synthetic first>   If that is not possible should I buffer it before adding to my system or wait until it is my tank? <Could, but I'd...> Thanks, Mike Phillips <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Maintaining  pH In Saltwater Mixing Procedure  1/5/07 Mr Fenner, <Miguel> One more piece of information.  I had buffered my salt water earlier this afternoon in the trash can.  The ph is not maintaining. <...?> Since getting it at 8:30 a few hours ago if has dropped to 8.21 an hour ago and just 5 minutes ago it was 8.15.  Do you think either the salt or gas collection from the trash can being covered to tightly is the culprit? Thanks, Mike <Shouldn't make a difference, but easy enough to test... Take the lid off and test during the day and night and see what you get. Bob Fenner>

Re: Maintaining pH In Saltwater Mixing Procedure  1/5/07 Mr Fenner, <Mike> Thanks for your reply.  I collect or "catch" my water from my RO system. <... strange then that the pH is so high... should be below neutral (7.0) initially... rising to about this with aeration, timed. I would be checking your cartridges, test kit/s> Do you think closing the Rubbermaid trash can completely during the week after mixing the salt (snapping the handles in place) is preventing CO2 gas from dissipating thereby lowering the ph? <Shouldn't be, no... if there is some air exchange, the carbonic acid will be liberated> What salt brand would you recommend? <Mmm, the Instant Ocean products likely> In the interim would you buffer while still in the trash can?  Presently I use Seachem Marine Buffer.   <Yes, and a good product in my estimation> Thanks, Mike <Welcome. BobF> Re: Maintaining  pH In Saltwater Mixing Procedure   1/6/07 Mr Fenner, <Mike> On your question about the ph of my top off water, the 8.4 is achieved after a week of aeration.  It comes out of the RO tap in the low 7's.   <Ahh, okay> On the falling ph after my salt mix and another week of aeration I will conduct daily tests of the ph this coming week.  I will leave the top of the can ajar to create some air exchange and may run an air stone some days to supplement the pump's aeration during the week before my water change. <Sounds like a plan> Leaving the top ajar during the week it is salt water is basically the same environment that exists during the week it is accumulating and aerating as fresh water when it achieves the 8.4 ph.  The only difference would then be the salt. <Okay> I will let you know how this approach works at the end of next week.  It is a puzzling issue.  Perhaps the snapped closed top on the can with the heater and pump in the water is creating some sort of seal that prevents some air exchange and may be allowing CO2 to build up and lower the ph. <Mmm, but where would the CO2 come from?> As you suggest we can confirm or eliminate this theory fairly easily.  I will keep you informed is that is OK. Thanks for your help, Mike <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Re: advice needed... now making synthetic seawater   1/3/07 Me again'¦'¦.I forgot to mention that for water changes we mix marine salt with tap water in an empty 75 gal tank and let it circulate until all readings are zero'¦.. My tap water has Nitrate but after about 24 hours it reads zero.  Is this the right thing to do? Thanks again, Kathy <Mmm, yes... please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Maintenance/Mixing Salt Water  7/15/06 Hi there, Just a quick one.  I have just started mixing my own salt water.  I have it mixing with a heater, air stone, and a power head. What I was wondering was how long can it be left mixing, as my LFS has told me only 3 days, but I would like to have some on the go at all times as I do a 5% water change twice a week and  need new water all the time. <If that were the case, wouldn't our display tank water only be good for three days?  As long as there is water movement/aeration, there really isn't a time limit.  If you wish to keep for extended periods, it is best to keep in a covered, light proof container, such as a new Rubbermaid trash container.> Also what is the best way to add everything to the R/O water? Heat water first then add salt? <Aerate (heater running) the freshwater 24 hours before adding the salt.  After the salt is added, let this mix run for 24 hours before using.  Aeration will remove any CO2 present which can lead to a lowering of dkH and pH of the new mix.> Many thanks for your help J.C. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Water Preparation/Storage - 09/21/06 Wet Web Crew, <<Gary>> First of all, this is the only place I go now for trusted Reef information, no more LFS misinformation! <<Mmm, sometimes the need/desire to "make a buck" can be a negative influence indeed.  But still, there are some good stores giving good advice out there...up to us, the hobbyist, to "learn" to tell the difference.  Thank you for the "vote of confidence" to our efforts here>> You all have been a great help getting me past my 'infant' stage of Reefing and have helped me keep my reef tank alive and thriving for almost a year now (a new record for me). <<Redeeming to hear>> Again, Thank You. <<Most welcome my friend>> Q: I have an RO unit that I use to make 5gal water bottles for drinking and water changes on my 2 tanks.  TDS water in is about 160ppm going in and about 35ppm out, but when the water bottle sits upside down in my water cooler (standard office water cooler) for a week and I test it, it's only like 12ppm,  why? <<Hmm, don't know really.  Maybe something to do with the manner of orientation and the fact that water (and settled heavy molecules/dissolved solids) have been drained from the bottom?  Do want to mention here the output from your RO unit should reduce the input TDS reading by a factor of about "ten", meaning, with an input reading of 160 your output TDS reading "should" be about 16ppm.  Since your output reading is 35ppm you may want to consider checking/rinsing/replacing your filter membrane>> From other articles I have read I should let my bottles of water for changes sit with aeration for a while before doing the change, correct? <<Correct>> If so, can you please give some more details on this? <<What do you want to know?>> How long should it sit before adding salt? <<A minimum of 24-hours...with aeration to blow off CO2>> Should I put the aeration in right away? <<Yes>> How long should it sit after salt is added? <<The longer the better (to a point).  Newly mixed seawater is very "aggressive" and a real irritant to your livestock.  Even though the salts appear to be dissolved, there are still chemical "processes" taking place for a time.  I like to mix my salt and then let the water "mature" for a week before using.  You can also use this time to monitor/adjust earth element levels, pH , etc. (don't ever leave everything up to "any" salt manufacturer without testing first)>> Should I do pH and ALK adjustments to the water before adding it to tank? <<Ah!  Yes!>> How long is TOO long for the water to sit before a change? <<If in a dark, covered container...a couple weeks at the least>> Is it bad to let the water bottle sit in the sunlight to get the phytoplankton to start growing? <<Mmm, yes...the possibility of die-off/fowling of the water is too great>> Am I putting too much thought into this? <<Not at all...wish most hobbyists gave more thought to water prep/chemistry/storage/use.  Many simply mix it up and pour it in their tanks...'cause that's what it said on the bag to do'...>> Thanks for ANY help you can give me, <<I hope I have...>> Gary <<Regards, EricR>> About source water, salt mix/ing - 10/22/2006 I have been reading your site and am still a little confused. My question is regarding the preparing of saltwater before use. I was not told to do so and have learned I'm doing it incorrectly... We have well water, can this be used? Can spring water be used? <Yes and yes> Can you tell me the  proper way to premix the water? <This is posted... please use the indices and search tool on WWM> Last question, what to do if an emergency occurs and you have no premixed water? <In a pinch, if there is less harm to mix and use... Best to always pre-mix and have stored for ready use> I need to do a water change and would like to do it properly.  I hope you can help for the sake of my Fish and myself! Thanks <Do please read over the FAQs files and Articles archived on WWM re treating/using source water, synthetic salt mixes. Bob Fenner>

Water Preparation 10/12/06 I have a few questions concerning salt water. Here is my current tank set up: I have a 60 gallon DAS tank. We have 80 pounds live rock and about 110 pounds live sand. We have some Nassarius snail, blue leg hermits, astrea snails and a sand sifting star (which I will be giving to my local fish store soon), a pulsing xenia and a hammer coral. The tank has been set up for about 4 months. <Sounds nice> My questions are as follows. 1) What is the "best" salt to use for my tank? What do you recommend and why? <Ask ten people and get ten different answers.  Honestly I don't think there is a big difference between them.  I use Instant Ocean, it is the most popular and very easy to find.  Also for what it is worth it is the brand the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago uses.> 2) I have purchased a RO/DI setup how do the trace elements get back in the water from the salt? <Use a marine buffer and the salt mix should put in everything you need.> 3) How long can I keep a RO/DI or salt water solution bottled up before it goes bad? I am wanting to make the RO/DI a weekly for top offs. The salt water I would like to have it made a week ahead of my water changes, is this safe for my tank and the creatures that dwell in it? I plan on storing this water both salt and "fresh" ro/di on 5 gallon jugs that are and have only been used for water in my garage with lids. <Should be fine, just remember to match it temperature to the tank's before use.> Thanks for your continued help. Have a great day, Mark <Chris>

Air pump Sel.    11/29/06 Hello, <Hey Greg, JustinN with you tonight>          I'm wondering what is the  quietest, highest quality air pump on the market to be used for aerating a six  gallon saltwater tank. Thanks, Greg <Just about any commercially available air pump should do the job, but Tetra makes a quality pump for a specific brand. Hope this helps you! -JustinN> Mixing Salt 10/23/06 Hi Guys! <And Gals> I have decided to switch from Oceanic salt to Instant Ocean. After learning/getting advice from this forum, I noticed that I may be mixing wrong.  My reef has been up and running for about 2 years now and even though I am new to the hobby, things have been going well. Normally, I drip RO/DI water into a 25 gallon Rubbermaid container and as soon as the container is full, I immediately add the salt. After verifying that the temp and salinity were correct, I proceeded with the water change. I do not add any additives at all. This process normally takes approximately 6 hours start to finish. I do this approximately 2-3 times per month. It equates to an approximate 25% water change every time I do it. I have had problems with low PH and this was the main reason to search for a new salt. But, after reading the forum, I see that I should be heating/aerating the water for approximately 24 hours prior to adding salt and then letting it sit for approximately 24 hours longer before doing the water change. <I aerate the water for 24 hours.  This will remove most, if not all, of any CO2 present, which will lower your pH.  After 24 hours of aeration, I then add the salt and let mix for another 24 before making my water change.  And yes, you should equalize temperatures.> My questions are; with my current practice, have I done any irreversible damage to my tank inhabitants? <No.> And, what are the benefits of waiting 24 hours prior to adding salt and again 24 hours after adding salt? <As above, and, letting the salt mix 24 hours will ensure a good mix of the elements present in the salt.> Thanks and I apologize for the lengthy post. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Jeff

Proper water change technique with shrimp 1/5/05 Happy new to all. As I have been extensively reading in the FAQ archives and in Bob's book which I purchased a couple days ago I have rudely discovered that I have been doing the water changes very wrongly. <Happy new year!  Bob's book will help a lot, but let's see what's going on...> I now have two skunk cleaner shrimp and three peppermint shrimp which I do not want to harm in the next water change so I was wondering if I have the water change steps down or if I am missing a step. If I am missing an important step please be kind enough to inform me of it because I will be truly heartbroken if something happens to my shrimp.  At the moment I use Oceanic sea salt mix but would like to switch to Instant Ocean. How do I go about this without killing my shrimp?  <There is nothing to worry about when switching brands of salt.  In fact, I generally rotate among a couple of brands to get "the best of all worlds".> Is this a good method for changing the water in my 54 gallon? I've come up with this method from going through the archives but I am still  incredibly confused do please bear with me. - mix salt and water in a clean Rubbermaid container with water conditioner -aerate with a stone overnight -check PH -If ph is off fix with baking soda or buffer -check temperature Do I need a powerhead or no? <Nope.  Either an air stone or a powerhead is fine.> Is overnight long enough to sit? If not then how long? If there is anything else I need to do please tell me or fill in the steps. I live in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago so the water is in between city water and country water I guess.. (if that makes any sense). :) Please help me through this. -Heather  <You did not mention checking the salinity.  Overnight is plenty of time.  If you are having to adjust the pH of the water, something may not be right.  I would check the pH and alkalinity of your tap water and consider using an RO unit.  I would strongly suggest looking into CMAS (Chicago Marine Aquarium Society).  Aquarium societies are outstanding places to learn and grow as a hobbyist, and the members may have  some insight into your local water quality.  Overall, your technique sounds fine.  If the salinity and pH are close to your tank values, your shrimp will be fine.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> Mixing salt water in the tank... Hi Blundell, << Hi there. >> I am setting up a 130 gallon tank and I am planning to mix the saltwater mix directly in the tank itself.  My problem is I put the substrate in already and I have already put the RO water that I was going to use mix the salt. Is this a problem or can I go ahead and mix the salt even when the substrate is in there already? << You can mix it in the tank, no problems.  I've done it many times.  But not if you have live substrate, like live rock. >> <... Do NOT do this... AdamB, are you high? RMF> Thanks! Martin <<  Blundell  >> <Trade in your lab-coat... RMF>

Mixing salt water Hi Blundell, Thanks for the response on mixing saltwater in my tank even with the sand in it.  I ended up doing that and everything seems to be coming out fine.  I have a question on mixing salt mixes in a separate vat/container.  I mixed about 25 gallons of salt mix with tap water yesterday night and tested the water today for salinity and PH.  The salinity comes out fine, about 1.024 give or take, but the PH is at 9.0!  Way too high!  My question is should I just let it age for another day or so before taking some new readings?  << Yes, and it may help to have a powerhead in there to stir it up. >> I've always done it this way and never had a problem though I remember I never did take readings so soon after mixing the salt. << When it doubt, let it sit for a while, no reason not to. >> Thanks again! Martin <<  Blundell  >>

- Preparing Saltwater & Tiger Barbs - Howdy All! I have a 75g saltwater tank, and I pre mix RO water a week in advance.  I store the water in a 5 gallon bucket.  The bucket has heater and a Maxi-Jet powerhead on top with the venture thing hooked up, with the output pointing at the water surface.  Is this optimal? <It's just fine... exactly what I do, except that I use a trash can.> Would an air stone in the bottom be better? <Would help only minimally... the powerhead is doing the lion's share of the work.> Does it make a difference? <Only slightly.> Should I leave my heater on all the time, or just turn it on the day before I'm going to do my water change? <I only plug the heater in when I need it, granted here in South Florida that isn't very often, but... the day before is just fine provided the water comes to temperature by the time you need it.> Also, I set up a 37g freshwater aquarium for my 5 green tiger barbs.  That's all the fish I'm currently planning on having.  Should I do anything similar for their water changes? <Not really... freshwater fish just aren't as discriminating about the particulars of their water.> I understand tiger barbs are somewhat hardy, but I want them to be as happy as possible.  Which brings me to another question... is 5 too few?  Would the fish be happier if I put a few more in, or do you think they'd rather just have the extra space? <I'm a fan of understocking, although you probably could fit one or two more in there without too many problems. More on these fish here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BarbsDaniosRasborasArt.htm > Thanks much! - Chad <Cheers, J -- > Question re: Circulation vs. Aeration of new seawater Hi crew, <Good day> I have a bit of a silly question so bear with me. Currently this is my salt water preparation routine. I prepare water via my SpectraPure RO/DI 5 stage filter and then store it in a 30 gallon Rubbermaid barrel and keep it covered with 2 powerheads in it. I take the lid off of it only when I need fresh water for top offs and when I need to mix salt water for my weekly water changes. When I make saltwater I take out water from this barrel, heat it up and mix in the Instant Ocean salt with a powerhead. I keep this covered in a separate Rubbermaid covered container a minimum (usually a few days) prior to doing a water change. My question is that I read about how you need to properly aerate water before use. My water is always circulating with the powerheads but there is always a lid on it. Is there a difference between circulating my water with powerheads vs. aerating it to get rid of the CO2? Do I have to keep the containers uncovered to "aerate" the water a minimum of time before usage?  <It would be better to keep the containers uncovered when mixing the salt. The CO2 does need to escape. All you need to do is use the aeration feature on your power head. Water should be aerated this way for 24 hours, then add your salt. Adding salt to a CO2 rich water will just deplete the buffers in the new mix. James (Salty Dog)> 

Question about mixing seawater  8/30/05 Hello Guys/Girls, <And you> I am new to the hobby of saltwater aquariums and thanks to the help of your site I was able to learn plenty before diving head first into a bunch of mistakes and as a result I have two happy damsels in my FO tank. My question for you today is when I am pre-mixing my saltwater I get a snowflake effect after adding the salt. <Happens> Here is the process I go through. I mix it up in a couple different gallon jugs. 1. Obtain 1 gallon of tapwater. 2. Treat tapwater with TetraAqua's AquaSafe tapwater treatment. 3. Aerate for 24 hours. 4. After 24 hours I add the appropriate measure of Kent's Marine Superbuffer DKh. <Ahh! Here's some of it> 5. After 12 more hours I add Instant Ocean marine salt. I find that 9 TBS of Instant Ocean per gallon brings me to a specific gravity of 1.022-1.023 which is desirable. 6. Give my gallon jug a good shake and let it sit another day for pH stabilization before use. I test temperature (77F), pH (8.2), and Salinity (1.022-1.023) before using and they all fall into a desirable range. My problem is that after going using this process I still manage to get a white precipitate (Calcium carbonate?) <Most, most likely> in the pre mixed sea water. I have read elsewhere that this is not harmful to the fish and that it will disappear eventually. <Yes> Yesterday when changing the filter I managed to release a bunch of what appeared to be the same precipitate back into the tank which was soon re-filtered back out with the addition of a new filter. This is telling me that the precipitate is not dissolving back into the tank. Am I losing key nutrients or just a little calcium that isn't totally critical to my tank? Thanks for your help! -Ryan Adamski <Mostly the latter... I would "decant" the supernatant liquid, leave the solids behind, as they may prove to be more of an irritant to the fishes respiration than help in balancing water quality... no worries. Bob Fenner> Half Past Time To Study - 12/06/2005 I am getting ready to do a water change in my 55gal reef. This is the first water change for the tank.  <How long has it been running?> I have about 15 gallons of distilled water. The drinking water at the stored was processed by reverse osmosis but I wasn't sure if this was the same RO that the LFS sells for outrageous price.  <Perhaps not the same quality, but the RO process is just that.> My question is how much water should I change and how do I replace the salt? <I think I see where this is going...> I have a bag of Instant Ocean salt (same kind that was used to start). I am not sure how to correctly mix the salt with the water. <You put the salt in the water and you mix 'em bo' dup, put the salt in the water and then you'll feel better.>  I couldn't find an FAQ on this.  <Here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/waterchg.htm .> How much salt per gallon of distilled water? <In general 1/2 cup per. Should have instructions on the bag.> ....Can I use distilled water? <Yes. Can also just use tap. Here's some info. on that http://www.wetwebmedia.com/trttaph20faq2.htm .> I heard that it is sometimes stored in copper containers (don't want to kill my inverts).  <<Wait a minute, you have a REEF tank, WITH inverts, and you don't know how to mix the change-water???  This does not bode well for the animals in this system.  MH>> Also I have a lot of what looks like brown algae (brown dust on tank walls and power head sponges). How do I get rid of it safely and prevent it from coming back. <Read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diatoms.htm and follow the links in blue.> Do I need better lighting. I am running the store provided daytime lighting (single 48 inch bulb) that came with the tank kit. It is fluorescent. There seems to be a massive amount of different lighting that I can use but I am not sure which is the best for my 55gal reef with 1 BTA, and a few damsels and crabs.  <You should not have bought the BTA without addressing this and the animals requirements first. Best to "waste time" on research rather than on slowly dieing livestock. Read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/bubbletipanemones.htm and be prepared to make the necessary changes, though I advise you to return this animal until you are ready for it.> I also have a skunk cleaner shrimp. All the fish seem to be perfect and the water is well within range according to my quick dip test. I wanted to buy a different test kit but like the lighting issue, I'm not sure which one would do best for me. If you could suggest any brands on the lighting as well as the test kits my fish and I would greatly appreciate it. Mike and Teresa Yates <<You two need to STOP buying animals and do what people here have been telling you: READ!!!  Marina>> <Check into the forums for this, specifically PC lights or stronger. Standard fluorescent won't cut it. Test kits involving reagents are better than dip strips. All depends on what you wish to keep, as well as how involved you wish to be. - Josh>

Should I put salt sludge in my reef tank? 01-13-06 Hi Crew, <Tim> Just a quick question - <I like those.> I am preparing synthetic salt (Tropic Marine) for my AquaMedic Phyto Light Reactor and letting it stand for a few days in 2 liter bottles before use. This is because the undissolved white stuff settles to the bottom - this allows me to top up my plankton reactor with 'cleaner' salt water without getting any clumps developing in it. The question is:  Can I or should I add this left over white creamy fluid to my main display tank - as I assume it contains all the good stuff my reef needs - or is this not a good idea... <No, No, No, Not a good idea. If it does not want to be in suspension, don't put it in your tank. Travis> Thanks in advance. Tim  

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

- Mixing Saltwater - Dear Sirs, Don't want to cause any problems here but there seems to be varying opinions in regards to mixing saltwater. Is there really any difference in the end product if RO/DI water is buffered, aerated then salt added or salt added, aerated then buffered? <To an extent, yes. If the RO/DI water isn't buffered, then the addition of salt will deplete the buffers in the salt, which are in a very precise mix. The secondary addition of buffers will then be a haphazard mix. Adding the buffers directly to the RO/DI let you get that mixture up to a useful pH before adding expensive salts. Aeration in my opinion just keeps the water from getting stale - there's no real alteration to the chemistry of the water. I've seen some folks say that the aeration will off-gas CO2 and oxygenate the water, but I can assure you, RO/DI will have zero CO2 and you can fully oxygenate the water in about five minutes stirring it with a stick.> Respectfully, Samuel <Cheers, J -- > - Mixing Salt Water - Hi I started my reef tank in November and use Tropic Marin salt for my saltwater. I store my RO/DI water in a 20G food grade container with a Ebo Jager 100w heater and a Maxi-jet 900 pump. My question is I see everyone stores their mixed saltwater for 24hrs with a pump or airstone. Is this just to mix the salt I have been using a Squirrel 5G mixer: http://www.covina.com/hardware/products/squlmix.htm with a 18v DeWalt drill and it mixes the water with so much air and so fast that you'll have it on floor if your not careful. I've read of a few others doing that but not the majority. http://www.animalnetwork.com/fish2/aqfm/1997/sep/bio/default.asp After a few minutes of this I use the water am I screwing up my tank? <Uhh... the mixing methodology is fine, I can't see anything wrong with that. However, I would not place freshly mixed water into the tank - I'd wait at least 24 hours for the newly mixed water to stabilize.> PH is usually fine. I usually mix 8G of water in two 5 G buckets. <Cheers, J -- >

- Preparing Saltwater - Greetings again, I wrote a few weeks ago about some mystery deaths.   I lost a fire goby and a flame angel the night after completing a 10 gal water change on a 55 gal tank.  Anyway, my follow up question is this, do I need to buffer my RO water? <You should test the pH on the RO and see... quite possible that it will need to be buffered.> I ask because I lost my yellow tail damsel in much the same fashion after the latest water change. <Are you also matching temperature... letting the salt water mix for 24 hours or so?> Also, my snails are looking rather sad, by that I mean not moving a whole lot during the course of the day and easily removed from the rock by hand. <Snails do this.> Please let me know if I need to change my routine. I make RO water as needed and store it in regular 5 gal bottles.  When the schedule calls for a water change, I add 10 gal of RO water to a Rubbermaid trash can, drop in my mag 3 pump, add reef crystals and viola!!! I reach the target salinity within 4hrs of starting the process and check it again before I add it to the tank. I usually start the water after work on Thursday and conduct the change on Saturday.  Am I missing a step here? <Am not sure... are you letting the salt mix for 24 hours or so? Do read here, good information about mixing/storing saltwater for use in your aquarium: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm >  Is there something I should be doing that I am not? <Would make sure you heat the water to the same temperature as your tank.> Please help if you can.  Thanks Ron <Cheers, J -- > Fumes from Rubbermaid Container 3/13/04 Greetings O Gurus of the Deep <Greetings to you!  No guru, just Adam.> I just got a 35 G  Rubbermaid Roughneck to premix my water and I am concerned about the plastic smell and if it will contaminate the water.  Once the water was in and being aerated it almost smells like its  chlorinated.  I got RO from the LFS so it shouldn't have any chlorine  in it.  Do you think its okay?   Would it hurt to use a dechlorinator  if there is no chlorine in the water?  Have you experienced this? It smells pretty strong when I take the lid off.  I'm still fighting the slime so I really need it so I can  do my water change but I don't want to bleach my little buddies.  The LFS is an hour away.  Thanks for your help. JJ <If you haven't already, I would soak the container overnight with tap water and a few teaspoons of baking soda.  Drain and repeat a couple of times.  You could also check Rubbermaid's website.  I have heard that some of their containers have antimicrobial/odor fighting coatings.  I would try a couple of soakings and see if the smell goes away.  If the smell is gone, I would consider it safe.  I doubt a dechlorinator would help.  Best Regards.  Adam> Salt Mixed in Tank <Hello, Ryan with you> Hi, I just bought a black spined urchin yesterday, (Diadema setosum) it was ok when we put it in the tank, it was walking around. My husband needed to add some salt to the tank and when pouring it in some fell on him. <OH MY! You need to read the directions on your salt mix. They clearly state that you must mix the salt in a separate container.> Now he is not moving and some of his spines had fallen down. <He is in shock, in more ways than one. You have put him in a new environment, and then changed it.> Please tell me if he is dying (I hope not). <I think so, but give him time> I don't know what to do. Please A.S.A.P. <Please start reading about this hobby. You're here, so that's good. Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm . You need to take a look at what a saltwater aquarium requires, and decide if it's for you. Good luck, Ryan> Thank you, Kris 

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

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

Prepping Water For Use... Hi Scott <Hey there!> How are you doing? <Doing great! Hope all is well with you!> I would like to give each new fish that I buy a fresh water bath using Methylene blue for a few minutes. <An excellent practice that I use before quarantine> Can Methylene blue be used on all marine fish, is my suggested practice a good one or should I only use fresh water and leave out the Methylene blue. <Methylene Blue is pretty harmless to almost all marine fishes> Second question is - can a low KH cause white spot in fish and lastly what is the best method of pre mixing salt water? <Well, unstable environmental conditions can bring about stress, which can cause diseases. Do consult the FAQ's here on WWM for a lot of great information on preparing water (more than I can provide in the limited space here> I use a plastic drum whereby I put in my water followed by the salt and I have a power head and heater in the drum. I let it circulate over night then the next morning I do my water change. A friend of mine said that I should first only let the water circulate thereby removing all the chlorine and then after a few days add the salt and let this then circulate for another few days. <A good practice, IMO- if you are not using R/o water> can understand the part about circulating the water without the salt to remove the chlorine and then add the salt but a day for each process should be fine, right? <Usually. The extra few days allows the salt to dissolve. That's the way I do it. However, if all looks good, I think a day is just fine.> Please shed your advise. Thanks again Ziad <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F.>

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

- Alkalinity in Mix Water - Hello Crew, I submitted this question almost a week ago and had no response, so I am trying again. <Apologies... we get a lot of mail and every once in a while one or two get lost in the shuffle.> Twice now I have added 1 tsp. of Sea Chem Reef Builder to my 10 gallon tank of "Water Change Water" after I aerated and added salt. After a day the tank gets cloudy with a fine white powder. The fresh water consists of RO and I use Coralife Salt, I added nothing else. Is this a "snowstorm" I have read about? <Probably... if I remember correctly, the Coralife salt is a high-calcium mix.> I tested the Alkalinity at 4.5 meq/L after this happened. <Once the snowstorm starts, it will continue until one of the two major reagents is exhausted - it's a race to the bottom between calcium and the buffering compounds.> Can temperature change affect this? <Not typically.> The tank went from 77 to 84 degrees during the day and when it got warm, I noticed the powder. <Probably just coincidence. Would suggest you measure the alkalinity of your RO water and if you're going to add a buffer compound, to add it after the testing and before the salt. You may find you don't need to add any.> Thanks for your time. Michael <Cheers, J -- > 

Water Preparation Sorry guys, I forgot to ask: I was reading the water treatment section and it was unclear to me about sitting water. If I fill a few 3 gallon (easy to manage) containers with tap water, cover them and let them sit for a week or so, is that good enough to rid them of chlorine and the other chlora-stuff? <Not always, you may want to filter with activated carbon, or even use a commercial chlorine/chloramine remover.> Do I just add salt and aeration at that point or from the start of water filling? <I generally aerate the water first for a day or so to liberate the excess CO2, then add the salt mix, but I know lots of people who aerate and add salt mix from the start> In either case, when aerating, can I just hook up a pump and put an open air hose in the water, or do I need a diffuser type thing? <I like to use an air stone, but the airline alone should be fine> One last thing for today: I have a Power Sweep at one end of my 55gal; is it better to have it create tons of bubbles in the tank near the top, or just let it move water from deeper down?  <Well, this really addresses two different issues: aeration and circulation (water movement). You do want a certain amount of surface agitation, and-depending on the animals that you keep-water movement. There are many, many ways to achieve this, and WetWebMedia's own Anthony Calfo has just added a FAQ on circulation to the site. Also (another plug for Anthony), his "Book of Coral Propagation" offers great information on water movement within the aquarium (not to mention a review of many different aspects of reef husbandry-check it out!> Thanks a million from a new frequent caller, Rich <My pleasure! Scott F.> Ps: I have purchased and I am reading for a second time, the CMA (great book!). That coupled with this email/web-site, I feel like I am getting off too cheaply! Is there anything else I can buy from you guys? <Just read, learn, enjoy, and share your experiences and knowledge with others. That's the best thing that you can do!>

A Pinch of This, A Dash of That (Mixing Salt) Is there a formula for mixing saltwater to a desired SPG?  I use Instant Ocean, and when I mix it according to directions, (1/2 cup to 1 gallon water) it is about 1.021.  My tank is at 1.024.  Invariably I end up adding more salt, more water, waiting, etc.  Does anyone have a tried and true method for obtaining 1.024 with Instant Ocean?   Would this vary with your source water? <Could vary based on the source water and its temperature.> It would be so great if someone could tell me to add a specified amount of salt per gallon to get this result.  This seems like a very basic question to me, but everyone I ask with a tank pretty much does it like I do and would love to have a more definitive formula.  All my experiments end up with numerous additions of salt and then water, until I don't even know how I got there. <Well, there are no "set" formulas, but my personal "recipe" that gets me in the ballpark is 2 1/2 cups for 5 gallons of source water...That puts my water at about 1.025 at 79 degrees pretty much every time. Now, I use Tropic Marin, so your results may vary! Will it do the same for you? Maybe. Maybe not! How's that for an answer? (If you don't like my salt mixing formula, you'd hate the way I make a gin and tonic! Seriously, there are many ways to get there. I arrived at my formula based on trial and error, and using the same size containers and amounts of water and mix every time.> Thanks for all your help in the past.  I've got my 20-year old LFS guy reading your site and he said it is so much more helpful than his employer. <Gotta love that! :)> Linda <Take care, Linda! Regards, Scott F>

Mixing Salt (cont'd.) Thanks Scott.  Although your "formula" is exactly what the salt manufacturer calls for and is exactly what I use to get 1.021.  (2 1/2 cups to 5 gallons is exactly the same as 1/2 cup per gallon).  How can our resulting Spg's be so different, as you get 1.025 with the same proportions?  Does the difference really lie in the source water?  I am in a very rural area, but do not have well water. < Yep- I've used that "formula" for years, and it always works for me with minimal adjusting! It's certainly no "secret weapon"! Great questions...I'm certainly no chemist, but I'll bet that the source water composition and temperature are contributing factors. It would be interesting to try the ratio that you're currently using on some RO water or distilled water to see if there is any difference. Alternatively, (and probably the easiest route) you could try simply going with two cups per five gallons to see if the specific gravity increases noticeably. Also (and I'm sure you thought of this already) you may want to confirm that your hydrometer is accurate. I had a friend who's water was "always 1.022", no matter how much evaporation seemed to occur in his tank, no matter what the temperature was... He always got 1.022 every time he mixed water...never a deviation. One day, I was helping him out with his tank, and I was rinsing the hydrometer (one of the "swing arm" types) out after using it, and I noticed that, even when filled with freshwater, it read...1.022! (BTW- his tank was 1.026!). Moral of the story- it never hurts to check on the obvious- get a "second opinion" from another hydrometer, or even a refractometer! These devices are certainly not "bulletproof"! Hope you get the results that you're looking for...Keep experimenting!  Hmm- maybe I need to re-check MY hydrometer...? Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Re: to aerate or not to aerate...that is the question Hey gang, Quick question. What's the purpose of aerating salt water for 16-24 hours prior to adding it to the main system? <It helps the water to get saturated with oxygen and improves the pH, also gives the salt time to completely dissolve> I'm so very used to just pouring salt into a 20 gallon bucket and tossing in a power head for about 20 minutes then adding it to the tank's sump. <Egads! I wouldn't do this. Read on the salt bag/box? See what it says? "Can be used instantly but don't use it for 24 hours." The water will greatly benefit after aerating for 24 hours+. Try this: mix up a batch of water and test the salinity and pH as soon as your finished. Now let that same batch of water aerate for at least 24 hours. See the difference in the numbers? Thanks, Steve <You're welcome! David Dowless>

Pre-mixing synthetic water treatment protocol Hello again. Craig recommends not buffering RO water until after the salt is added.(??) Others say different. Help here. <Hi Mark. I recommend aerating first, 12-24 hours, then testing your water pH and alk. Most salt mixes contain buffers, some more, some less. I am a cautious person and I test my replacement water to know what it is, as there is some variation in salts, etc.  The better salts might buffer more than others, unknowingly pushing your alk or affecting calcium levels. To be clear, either way would work provided you know how much, if any, buffer to dose in your RO/DI water that, when mixed with your salt won't precipitate out of solution or push your parameters out of whack. (with NEW water!)>. My question was should I stop all supplements (buffers-Marin plus-Kalk) while doing water changes to get back ionically balanced. I am testing and is how I knew there was a problem. Could be just high CA usage. I have lots of Halimeda and I know It can suck down the KH. My CA is about 325 and KH stays around 8 DKH. Just trying to get closer to 400 using Kalk and Marin plus (is this calcium chloride ?). Everything looks great except the numbers. Am I a worry wart? You guys are great and I read here several times a week. Thanks for all the confusion. TGIF     Later Dudes, Mark <No, not necessary, but water changes over time will definitely restore ionic balance and needed alk and calcium (provided it isn't out of whack in the replacement water). Your calcium is, in reality, only 25-50 points low, I would be more concerned with low alk. Your Halimeda doesn't use as much alkalinity as calcium, which is not all that low. I would use a good balanced marine or reef buffer to raise alk to 4-5 meq/L (11.2-14 dKH) and continue Kalk dosed in the early AM for calcium. If Kalk isn't enough to raise and maintain at 375-400 then I would use a calcium supplement once or twice to get those up to around 400 and then use Kalk to maintain. Dosing more Kalk in solution will raise calcium as necessary but may push pH if you aren't careful as it has a high pH to begin with. I wouldn't consider your ionic balance to be a problem, you just need to dose more alk and Kalk to maintain usage and minimum levels. Your calcium dosing is pushing your alk lower and lower (and vice-versa). They both need to come up, 12 dKH for alk and around 400 for calcium. Higher levels of both concurrently is flirting with disaster. Don't forget magnesium with Kalk use. I sure hope this helps!  Craig>

Re: (New) water aeration Dear crew, greetings and salutations, how are you, i haven't mailed you in a while, and all i can do is apologies, i have heard a few conflicting reports about aerating r/o water prior to adding salt, could you guys set me on the road to Valhalla or are my questions going to fall on stony ground ha! ha! Anyways should you aerate r/o prior to adding salt to elevate ph and dissipate co2 in the water, or should you just add the salt straight away and then aerate allowing that the buffers in the salt will elevate the ph to 8.2. <Aerate or at least circulate vigorously. Our protocol for pre-mixing synthetic is archived here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and the four FAQs files beyond> What is correct, some folks say that you don't have to aerate as the salt will buffer straight away, and some say add air for 12 hours or so, i personally always aerate my r/o for 24 hours prior to adding anything, am i overdoing it or am i utilizing good husbandry practices, another thing that gets me going is the now much heralded charge that you don't have to do water changes, especially in reef tanks where there is an abundance of live rock, you constantly hear people saying 'my parameters are fine when i check so i only do a change every 2 months' or whatever, i always do a partial change every weekend usually 10%, what are your views on this crew. <This is about right... you can read over much more stored on WWM under "water changes" in the marine index...> regards to Anthony and Sir bob, god I've wound myself up now, I'm going to wander down to the pub and treat myself to some cold Guinness, all the best guys and I'll speak to you soon, i promise (as Arnie spoke those immortal lines) I'll be back. <Be seeing you, Bob Fenner>

How to Mix seawater <Greetings surfer, Anthony Calfo in your service> I have searched your site and have not found your detailed instructions on pre-mixing and storing seawater. So here is what I do - Is this OK. The ro/di water goes into the containers at a ph of 5.0. I add Aragonite and let it dissolve for a day.  <stop there...before adding anything, save some money on "buffer"/Araga-anything by aerating purified water for 12-24 hours before doing anything to it. This will drive off carbonic acid (test and confirm) and raise the pH (hence saving buffer, and is proper procedure)> The ph is now about 6.5. I add salt and aerate for 2-3 days.  <Aieeee! stop again my friend...always re-mineralize purified water to near normal pH for seawater otherwise you'll waste precious buffers in the expensive salt mix... a cheap "Seabuffer" type product will be fine> Then I add Proper Ph 8.2. The water goes into the tank then after a total of 4 - 5 days. <way too long, but no harm. You can make seawater in 24-36 hours properly... longer has no real advantage> Thanks for your advice or directions to your detailed description on your site. -- Chuck <good luck, my friend. Anthony>

Sea salt marketing Bob, A conversation/bit of advice I just had with Jason C. just reminded me of something I have seen thinking about for a while. It's one of those things that I thought the industry would address for years but never has. Is it because someone has examined the market and determined there is no need...or just that no one bothered to get around to it yet? Let me know what you think, and if you agree, would you pass this along to Tom Frakes and/or the powers that be at Instant Ocean... they really do have the best sea salt <smile>. Marine/Reef aquarists are forever complaining about problems with depressed alkalinity and pH (natural processes and poor husbandry alike). Many folks use RO/DI and/or otherwise demineralized water, yet most of them do not properly aerate and re-mineralize/buffer it before mixing with their sea salt. It seems to be such a waste of precious buffers in valuable sea salt and the beginning of a slippery slope that many traverse at some point in their tanks history.  <Mmm, actually all sea salt synthetics are artificially boosted (some more so, and consistently so than others for sure) in the way of alkalinity> Furthermore, it is my understanding that sea salt is formulated with an assumed/average quality of expected hardness to the source water used. Thus, the quality of synthetic seawater produced is inherently deficient from go when mixed (inappropriately) with demineralized water. The question is... would it be worthwhile for a salt manufacturer to market (adjusted formulation?) a sea salt for aquarists using demineralized water? A sort of "Mix and Go" philosophy for the new era of aquarists that all have a higher demand for calcium/carbonates even when not keeping coral (as so many have live rock with corallines, and other various invertebrates). Just a thought. Do let me know what you think... (and Hi! Tom, if you get to read this <smile>) <Well... many makers do sell buffers as separate products... will cc Tom.F here. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sea salt marketing Bob and Anthony, I am attaching a response to your questions. Let me know if this creates more questions and I will try to answer. Regards, Tom <Thanks for this Tom. Will post on our WetWebMedia.com site. See you about. Bob Fenner> Anthony and Bob, Thanks for the support and interest in our salt. I will address the issues you brought up. Your observation that some recipes are formulated to add to "typical" tap water hardness is correct for some brands. At one time this was the case with Tropic Marin (per Dr. Beiner ) and in distilled water the Ca was only about 320ppm for 35 ppt. salinity. water counting on about 80 ppt from German tap water. Instant Ocean has actually been formulated to provide NSW levels in distilled water. Magnesium is generally not a big issue and most "hard" water has mainly calcium and may also have high carbonate. In our opinion, excesses of these were not a problem as they would only result in more precipitation of CaCO3 due to supersaturation and then with pure water we started out at the correct level. Some brands are dramatically low on Ca and especially magnesium and my personal opinion is that this is done for two possible reasons. First, magnesium is one of the highest cost raw materials in a blend and reducing it by 25-50% will cut costs. Secondly, the biggest source of turbidity is due to the magnesium Chloride and reducing it can improve initial clarity of the mixed salt solution even if the ratios of the elements does not match seawater. Calcium at a lower level can also save money and reduce precipitation in very hard tap waters. With Reef Crystals we started to movement to enhanced formulas but it has it's limits. Regarding the issue of wasting buffers on un- equilibrated purified waters, I am not sure this is really an issue. If there is an excess or deficiency in dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2), this will affect the initial pH of the mixed solution but due to the conservation of charges (+ and-) the result after proper aeration is essentially the same but this may take a day or two to reach equilibration. Instant Ocean is formulated about 50% above seawater in buffer at about 3.25 meq/l versus 2.6 meq/l for NSW so there is surplus. I hope this answers some of your questions. Regards, Tom Frakes

Made my first batch of salt water... Thanks for the help thus far in convincing me to go the more economical and "better on my back" approach of making my own seawater with my RO system and Instant Ocean salt. So I'm pouring in my RO water into a 28 gallon Rubbermaid container and once it's nearly full (3 day process with my 3 gallon tank on the RO system and slow 18GPD membrane), I dump the appropriate amount of salt into the water and mix. Amazing how quickly the salt dissolved. For some reason, I was thinking that it would take a long time, but it was simple to get it all dissolved. Anyhow, I know I should age the water from somewhere between 24 hours to a week. Your site and FAQs also mention the use of a heater and pump for circulation. My question is... do I have to have the pump and heater in the water at all times during aging, or can I just heat and circulate the water 24 hours before a water change, provided the water temp is heated long enough to be equal to my tank's temp. The problem is that I don't have power on my patio where the water is being "made" and I have to leave a small crack in the sliding door for the power to the pump and heater. Is it bad for the water to "age" at a temp of around 50-60 degrees? What about the circulation? Is it bad for the water to sit stagnant in a dark covered Rubbermaid container? Thanks for the info. -Eugene <Here is what you have to do. Fill up garbage can with RO water. Aerate and heat for 24 hours. Now add salt and mix for another 24 hours. You are now ready to go. It is only bad for your electricity bill to have to heat the water on a patio at 50-60 degrees. Dark is fine too. -Steven Pro>

Mixing Salt Hi! I'm new to reef aquariums...anyway, I have a very simple question...since I'm already an experienced aquarist in terms of freshwater ..... my question is how many pounds of salt should be dissolve per gallon of water? <Generally written on the side of the bag. About 1/2 cup per gallon. -Steven Pro>

pH alk? Thanks again for all the help. I'm sorry to say I have another question... I use instant ocean mix with aerated ro/di water salted to 1.025. This new salted water tests kH of 13-14dkh with 2 different tests. Isn't this pretty high? Is it normal?  <quite normal. Good sea salts have slightly more ALK reserve on first mix than NSW. If you are not doing water changes more than weekly, then this slightly higher ALK is a blessing by design> the ro/di water premix after air is around ph 6.9, kH 0-1 or so low it wont measure. thank you, Neil <best regards, Anthony>

pH, and stored water question Hello there and thank you for helping all of us out. You guys are doing a great job over in San Diego. I have been reading your FAQ's and read about leaving window's and door's open through out the day to raise pH. Is this true? <There are instances in which some houses that are well sealed have a buildup of CO2 which becomes a buildup of CO2 in the tank, depressing pH.> Another question that I have is; the water that I have in my 35 gallon trash can has two Aquaclear 802's at the bottom pushing water upwards for aeration. Should I take these out and use an air pump with a stone at the end of it to aerate the water or is the first method good? <I use the pump method.> Or keep the powerheads and add a pump to it? <You could do that too.> Are these two methods the same? <Actually, I like the pump pushing water up creating a lot of surface agitation vs. the airpump.> And yet another question that I have is, should I wait a while, say 12 hours of (aeration/circulation) and then add the salt (Instant Ocean) to the water for mixing? <At least 12 if not 24.> Or vice-versa? Also, I've been aerating the stored water about a week and then adding it to the tank for a water change. Does this timing period sound right, or could I add the water sooner? <After another 24 hours with salt mixed in you should be fine.> Alright, I think that's it for now, but I'll be back with more questions later. Thanks for all your help. Hamilton of Riverside, CA <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

Mixing salt water Hello Bob, I've read your article "Treating Tap/Source-water for Marine Aquarium Use" but am still a little unclear so hopefully you can help me out. Questions: - If I mix salt water in advance (1 week or more) before using it, do I need to treat the tap water to remove Chlorine, Chloramine... <chlorine...no, but if you have chloramine, it is not a bad idea to de-aminate (Amquel, etc). Ultimately, not a big deal with vigorously aerated pre-treated water> - Even you gave some hints on what products to use to treat tap water but I still could not guess. Would you please spell it out for me ;) ? I really appreciate it. Thanks, Dzung <Kordon brand Novaqua or Amquel are fine. For bulk dechlorination, the chemical ingredient sodium thiosulfate is the active ingredient in most every dechlorinator. It is an inexpensive and easily obtainable product in the photography hobby (fixing solution) Anthony>

Mixing my own saltwater Dear Mr. Fenner, <<Actually, it's JasonC today, how are you?>> Thanks for setting up such a great website and providing invaluable advice for free! <<I'm glad you are finding it useful.>> I have been buying saltwater from the LFS @ .99/gal and would like to start mixing my own. I came across the article related to the above at your site but did not get an exact method to go about using tap water (as Tom Walsh has been successfully adhering to). Could you please outline the steps from scratch or point me to the appropriate link. <<Appropriate link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm >> Thanks in advance ! Best, Mimi <<Cheers, J -- >>

Question (marine aquarium set-up, cycling) Hi, I have a CPR protein skimmer/bio-filter that's only good for up to 60 gallons. I have a 150 gallon and I am going to build a wet/dry or a osmosis filter for it,  <Two very different pieces of gear, different purposes.> I am wondering if I should start cycling the water now with just that and then in a little while put the other filter on, or should I just wait till I have everything?  <I would start now... the longer the system runs before adding livestock, especially with live rock, the better> One more question when adding salt to a new aquarium do I still have to mix it in a separate container? <Not if there is no life present. No live rock, sand...> Thanks for your time, Chris. <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

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>

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

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>

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>

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>

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