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Salt water

Salt for reef aquarium or fish only

by Akua Design 16 Feb 2022

What is the best salt or what salt to choose for our reef or fish only aquariums.

Here we are going to give you some avenues to choose from. Please note that this is not a buying guide but a guide to help you in your choice.

It is important to understand that all salts are good, but they were not researched and created for the same environments and needs.


In a way, it is often difficult to separate things out in scientific or even fair terms in order to demonstrate how the experience with one brand was so much better than the other, because unwittingly, if we want that works we will also have to be attentive to many other elements.

How can you determine which is the best sea salt for your situation?

Basics :

The so-called basic salts will allow the maintenance of simple maintenance animals. They are ideal for reef tank starters, hospital tanks, breeding tanks and Fish Only tanks. They will also be more than enough for soft corals, because they do not consume a lot of calcium or magnesium. Usable in a fish only aquarium or in a soft coral aquarium, basic salts contain moderately high but balanced levels of fundamental elements (Calcium, Magnesium, Bicarbonates).

For fish-only maintenance, the use of this less expensive and less rich salt is ideal. The development of algae will be less important because they will have less nutrients available. This is of course valid with effective filtration and controlled nitrate and phosphate values. We even advise in fish-only, to keep the fish in a lower salinity (1017 or 1018 against 1024 for a reef aquarium) which avoids certain diseases, parasitic attacks and allows the fish to spend less energy for its metabolism of based.

Enriches :

Rich salts are like a basic salt but with higher levels of calcium, magnesium, KH and trace elements. These salts are recommended for the maintenance of SPS or LPS hard corals by promoting growth and coloration.

These enriched salts therefore provide in a sustainable manner the elements necessary for the maintenance and growth of hard corals which continually build their calcareous skeleton. Regular water changes thus make it possible to provide these elements which are consumed by the invertebrates. In aquariums where the density of coral is very high, additional mineral inputs will be necessary through various reactors or liquid solutions and metering pumps (bailing method).

When starting a reef aquarium, it is sometimes advisable to start with a basic salt then when the number of corals increases we switch to enriched salt corresponding more to the consumption of various minerals of the population of the aquarium. This will prevent too large an explosion of algae at the start, which take advantage of all the nutrients present in mass in the enriched salts and which are not consumed at this stage.

Probiotic :

Considered the cream of the crop by professionals, these salts will promote the development of the bacterial flora essential to the reef aquarium. The addition of probiotics influences the reduction of nitrates and phosphates while slowing down the development of pathogenic microorganisms. Since hard corals are particularly sensitive to nitrates and phosphates, this is an alternative that can be very interesting.

Each type of saltwater aquarium will require the use of a particular type of salt depending on the population housed and the parameters that one wishes to maintain. It is therefore essential to use a specific type of salt according to the population housed and its consumption of minerals. It is necessary to maintain the ideal values continuously in the aquarium, stability being the key to successful maintenance.

Which brands of salt are frequently available?

Aquarium systems, Red Sea, Aquaforest, ATI, Seachem, Tropic marin, Triton, Colombo, kent, fritz

synthetic salt :

Synthetic salts are created using synthetic chemicals rather than natural ingredients. But is salt natural? Yes the salt is natural but during its harvest certain elements disappear. Moreover, it is never as fine as the one you have in your seals. There are a number of steps to make it usable and complete for the aquarium hobby.

The salt mixture :

The first thing to do is to get the best salt for your aquarium. You can easily buy it at a store near you or online. In the majority of cases you buy powdered salt, it is a dry synthetic salt ready to mix with reverse osmosis water.

The next step is to gather all the supplies needed for the mix. You will need:

  • From a clean container
  • Water (preferably reverse osmosis)
  • A heater
  • A circulation pump
  • A hydrometer
  • A thermometer


Composition comparison :

Each brand of salt has its own recipe. Each is based on its own studies of coral needs. But each brand also offers its own range of supplements, which means that if an element is lower in the salt, it may be more present in the additions.

Like any industrial product there are variations in composition, but also in measurement.


Conclusion :

If you have a reef tank then you will probably need to use a salt that works well. Of the various brands available above, you should be able to choose to create the right environment for your corals and fish. Your fish and corals can access quality compounds and grow better. Salt also helps keep alkalinity in the ideal range for corals to thrive.

For those who still don't know which salt to buy, you can always opt for the Instant Ocean Reef Crystals salt or the Red Sea Coral pro. This type of salt comes from recognized brands and meets all the needs you may have. It is for me the refuge salt par excellence and in case of doubt or need. Often it is these two that I use to get an aquarium back on track. My choice is made according to the availability in store. If you test a new salt a few weeks after you start using that salt, you should be able to see some differences. The differences mean that your corals are even more vigorous and beautiful. If this is not the case, you will have to test another salt.

SOURCE : aqua-store, kikeriki, lerecifdubelon, mrrecifcaptif

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