When is it time to switch salt mixes? Well, let’s start by discussing stability. To maintain a successful reef tank it is very important to have stable parameters. This is especially true with a SPS dominated tank. An aquarium will benefit when swings are minimal for temperature, salinity, nitrate and phosphate. But having stable alkalinity is paramount and a big reason why I use an alkalinity monitor from GHL to keep tabs on this parameter on a daily basis.
Calcium and Magnesium are important as well and it is certainly easier to monitor and course correct as needed with an automated measurement device like Neptune’s Trident or the soon to be released ION Director from GHL.
Consistency is Key
Ok, so what does all of this have to do with salt mixes? Salt mixes are important because they contain calcium, magnesium and a bunch of other trace elements. When you do a water change with newly mixed saltwater your parameters will change depending on the concentrations of these elements in the mix.
It is a good thing if a salt mix is consistent from one bucket to the next since there is stability. However, if magnesium, for instance, varies a lot between buckets then that is problematic and needs to be addressed when adding salt to the tank. The automated monitors can help in this regard since they can also be used to control the supplementation of alkalinity, calcium and magnesium.
However, relying too heavily on these monitors as controllers can be risky if you slack off on calibrating and maintaining the units, which can impact their accuracy. Nonetheless, I would say many reefers do not have these automated monitors/controllers and are more prone to the pitfalls associated with inconsistent salt mixes.
My Salt Journey
Personally, I have been using Instant Ocean salt for the last couple of years without any issues. Things changed when I discovered much higher concentrations of magnesium and calcium in my tank. Yes, I could have avoided this by always testing new saltwater in my mixing drum before adding it to the tank. But is it really necessary to burn test kits in this manner?
For many, many years I used Tropic Marin Pro Reef and ESV salt mixes without any issues. They were consistent batch to batch and it was just one less thing to worry about. They also mixed up very clean and left no residue in my drum, something that was not true with Instant Ocean. Ultimately, I made the switch to Instant Ocean because it was much cheaper. I guess I got what I paid for….and that is when I realized it was time to make another switch. This time back to Tropic Marin Pro Reef 🙂
If you would like some help with a new tank build, including help designing a custom aquarium, or help re-configuring your current setup then you can visit this page for more information. And if you are looking to add some equipment, I do sell GHL, Pax Bellum, Reef Octopus Calcium and Kalk Reactors and Royal Exclusiv products, including Dreamboxes, which is the equipment I use and recommend. I also sell Reef Brite metal halide and LED fixtures as well as Maxspect & IceCap Gyres.
As for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my YouTube channel. For an even deeper dive into reef tank care you can check out my Reef Keeping Master Class. This online course is an immersive and one of a kind educational tool designed to help reef aquarium hobbyists build and maintain a beautiful SPS reef tank. The course is a series of video presentations with some supplemental video from my YouTube channel. There are also quizzes to help students retain and understand the information presented in the course.
Need some frags…..I can help with that as well 🙂 Please visit my SPS Frag store to see what is available.