Coral reefs are probably some of the most beautiful things out there. Even better is having one in your own home. The problem with these aquariums is of course that they are saltwater, but you can’t just use the same salt that you drown your French fries in. It has to be the right salt, by which we mean reef salt specially intended for this kind of thing. We are going to help find the best salt mix for reef tanks for you, so let’s get right to it!
If you are in a rush then here is our top pick.
What Is Better Reef Salt OR Marine Salt?
Without a doubt, the better choice for your reef tank is reef salt, not marine salt. While both are present in naturally occurring oceans, they don’t both have the same properties. One of the biggest differences is that reef salt has higher levels of magnesium, calcium, and iodide. All of these compounds are important for a healthy reef, as they require them to grow and flourish. Good reef salt will contain everything that coral needs to grow and fish need to stay healthy.
Also, while both marine and reef salt does usually not contain any nitrate or nitrite, marine salt may contain some, and that is not good for your reef tank. It may sound kind of repetitive and obvious, but when it comes to your own reef aquarium, you definitely want to use reef salt. Reef salt also usually mixes into the water better and distributes more evenly than marine salt.
What We Think Is The Best Salt Mix For Reef Tanks
The below option is our top pick, It has everything you could possibly need for a great coral reef.
Instant Ocean Crystals Reef Salt
In our opinion, this is one of the best reef salt options to consider. First off, this a synthetic reef salt, made in state of the art hygienic factories that ensure optimal quality and safety. Just because it is synthetic does not make it any less effective than real salt and does not lower the quality either. This particular tub contains enough reef salt crystals to mix up to 200 gallons of reef water. Strictly speaking, this is one of the most cost effective options on the market at this point in time.
Instant Ocean Reef Salt contains high levels of calcium, an obvious benefit for any reef. This helps to spur on the healthy growth of stony corals, because they need calcium to thrive. Hard corals tend to remove calcium from the water, so having extra calcium in the salt is a big bonus. Moreover, this particular salt mix contains elements which will help to detoxify the water of harmful heavy metals like copper, something that will damage corals and kill fish. Instant Ocean Reef Crystals also contain trace elements of magnesium and other vitamins which help to ensure the healthy growth of coral.
This stuff is also ideal because it has very low levels of organic carbon compounds, which means that it also prevents the growth of algae, something you don’t want in your tank. Moreover, this reef salt mix will closely match the level of ions in natural sea water to provide your corals and fish with an ideal living habitat. There is a good reason why Instant Ocean Reef Salt is the most popular synthetic salt for reefs worldwide.
- Lots of salt included.
- High grade & safe synthetic salt crystals.
- Contains lots of calcium for coral growth.
- Neutralizes heavy metals in the water.
- Trace elements of other minerals and vitamins for healthy coral growth.
- May change the color of the water – cloudiness.
6 Other Options That We likeSince not everybody wants or needs the same thing, here we have 6 other great reef salt options for you to check out.
1. Red Sea Coral Pro Marine Salt
This salt mix is real salt, which is something that many people prefer. Moreover, while it is technically marine salt, not reef salt, it has many additives that make it just as effective. This is a 175 gallon tub, so you will be able to use it for a long time to come. Moreover, this stuff is shown to be really effective at creating a healthy environment for coral and coral reef life.
Red Sea Coral Pro Marine Salt contains many different elements and compounds which are necessary for the development and growth of coral. It contains a whole lot of calcium, magnesium, carbonates, and other trace elements, but not too much. The ration of healthy compounds in this salt mix is shown to be the ideal composition for marine growth. Corals, no matter what kind, soft, LPS, and SPS corals, all need lots of calcium and magnesium in order to flourish. That is how they grow and develop their skeletons.
- Real salt.
- Lots of trace elements.
- Lots of calcium and magnesium for coral growth.
- Ideal mix of elements for a healthy reef.
- Big bucket will last a long time.
- Does not neutralize heavy metals.
- May lower the pH level in the water.
2. Seachem Reef Salt
Seachem Reef Salt is specifically designed to mimic real reef water as closely as possible, making it a very effective choice to go with. It comes in a bucket that is meant to mix up to 160 gallons of water, making it ideal for medium and larger tanks. One of the best parts about this particular reef salt mix is that it is formulated with an ideal blend of all necessary elements for healthy coral growth. You will also like how this salt dissolved very quickly and should not leave your water cloudy either.
This particular salt contains lots of calcium, magnesium, and strontium. All of these elements are necessary for stable and healthy coral growth. Moreover, one really good part about this salt mix is that it is designed in order to not change the pH level or the alkalinity level of the water, both things which need to be stable and constant for healthy coral growth. You will also like this stuff because it can be used for coral only, fish only, or combined aquariums. This stuff also does not contain any amount of nitrate, phosphate, arsenic, silicate, or beryllium, all things which cannot be present in reef water.
- Dissolves well.
- Lots of trace elements.
- Ideal combination of elements for reef growth.
- Very healthy for coral development.
- Does not contain any toxic components.
- May leave a white film for a short period of time.
- Bucket is notoriously hard to get open.
3. Kent Marine Saltwater Aquarium Salt Mix
Without a doubt, one of the best aspects of this reef salt is that it is said to be super soluble in water. In other words, you won’t get any of that cloudiness or nasty white film in your tank. You will also be able to appreciate how Kent Marine Saltwater Aquarium Salt Mix is ideal for fish only, coral only, or combined aquariums. This particular bucket comes with enough salt mix to make up to 200 gallons of water.
This salt mix has the ideal amount of nutrients and minerals which are needed for the growth of healthy coral. This stuff is enhances with elements such as calcium, strontium, iodine, vitamins, and trace elements of other minerals. It is the perfect combination for a healthy coral reef, plus it does not contain any toxic compounds either. This stuff will also not affect the alkalinity or pH of the water, which is very important when it comes to this kind of thing.
- Can be used for all types of reef aquariums.
- Will not adversely affect alkalinity or pH.
- Does not contain toxic elements.
- Mixes into the water very well.
- Lots of minerals and vitamins for healthy coral growth.
- Some people have noted that it actually contains too much calcium for some circumstances.
4. Aquaforest Reef Salt
This is a pretty decent choice to consider. It is just good old reef salt. That is it. It is technically designed for more demanding corals, but it does not contain any probiotic bacteria or other growth media. That being said, it does contain tons of trace elements of various nutrients and minerals that spur on the healthy growth of coral. Aquaforest Reef Salt has lots of calcium, magnesium, some iron, and about a dozen other elements, all of which are needed for the growth of coral.
It actually has more of these elements than most other salts, which is because it is intended for really demanding coral. This stuff is phosphate and nitrate free, plus it does not contain any bromides either. In other words, this reef salt mix is perfectly fine to use and does not contain any toxic compounds which may harm your fish. This particular bucket contains enough salt mix to make up to 200 gallons of reef saltwater.
- A whole lot of healthy nutrients and minerals.
- No toxic compounds.
- Will not adversely affect pH or alkalinity.
- Mixes easily.
- May require water hardness adjustments once mixed.
5. Red Sea Salt Mix
Yet another good option to go with, Red Sea Salt Mix is designed with the perfect combination of trace elements which will create healthy coral growth. This particular mix is designed especially for low nutrient systems and reefs with a high nutrient demands. The bucket itself comes with enough salt to allow for over 150 gallons of mixed saltwater.
Red Sea contains everything that a coral reef needs to be healthy and develop well. It contains lots of calcium, magnesium, and bi-carbonates, all of which are necessary for the healthy growth and development of coral. This stuff contains no toxic compounds and it will not adversely affect pH levels either.
- Good mix of nutrients and minerals
- No toxic compounds.
- Will not affect pH level.
- Will not affect alkalinity.
- Takes a while to dissolve right.
6. FritzPRO R.P.M. Reef Salt Mix
This reef salt mix contains enough salt to make 205 gallons of seawater that is ideal for coral. You will like the fact this is ideal for both fish only and coral only aquariums. It contains all essential major and minor elements needed for healthy coral growth including magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other nutrients and minerals.
Moreover, it does not contain any toxic compounds such as nitrate, phosphate, or ammonia. This stuff is perfectly safe to sue for your coral reef, plus it is very healthy and beneficial too. You will also like how this particular reef salt mix is designed to reach a stable pH level shortly after being mixed.
- Makes 205 gallons.
- Good for fish and coral.
- Lots of elements for healthy coral growth.
- No toxic or unwanted compounds.
- pH levels quickly stabilize.
- Makes the water cloudy for a while.
- Does slightly affect pH level.
How Much Salt Mix Do I Need For My Tank?
This is kind of subjective as the answer does depend on the specific salt that you are using. However, generally speaking, you will require about 35 grams of reef salt for every liter of water in your reef tank. Salinity levels are very important for a reef tank and anything below or above the recommended level will cause your reef life to be unhealthy and maybe even die. We have reviewed some good nano tanks on this article.
How To Mix Reef Salt Properly
So, once you have bought the best possible reef salt for your reef aquarium, it is time to mix it into the water to get it ready for your fish and coral. What does need to be mentioned is that there is real reef salt which you can buy and there is synthetic reef salt too. This is really a matter of personal preference and will make no real difference. Both are just fine.
You will want to get de-ionized water to mix with the salt. You definitely do not want to use tap water as it will contain chlorine and other compounds. If you use tap water, you will have to follow various steps treat it in order to get it ready for aquarium use. You are also going to need a sterile bucket, a submersible heater, a floating thermometer, a hydrometer, and some kind of stirring utensil.
Now, it is time to mix the salt with the water. Simply put, just follow the directions on the label in terms of quantity and you will be just fine. After you have added the salt into the water, it is time to stir it in, use the heater to heat the water (it makes it easier to dissolve the salt), and use the hydrometer to measure the salinity level. The thermometer is really more to make sure that the water is of the right temperature for the coral reef. You will want to let the water sit over night before adding it into the aquarium.
As long as you pick a good brand name and make sure that it is a reliable reef salt mix, you will be just fine. Make sure that it contains no toxic compounds and that it contains lots of important elements such as calcium and magnesium. Your coral reef will never have looked so good! Just make sure to mix it right!