Mr. Saltwater Tank TV Friday AM Quick Tip #109: Crack Me Open, Then Do This First

You can’t have a saltwater tank without salt.  And every fresh bucket of salt needs to have this step done to it before you use it in your tank.

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Comments for this article (28)

  • Daniel G. SCHMITT says:

    Hi Mark!
    Thanks for the video and I’m quite sure it’s full of interest.
    But for foreign people who can read and wright English, its’t even easy to understand what you tell Mark. Please don’t forget those with bad ears too , like me 😉
    For those people, I belong, that would be very helpful if you could put some subtitle for the most important things you point !
    I hope you can and I thank you !


  • dave from brooklyn says:

    Very interesting. Do you think salt mixes have a shelf life? Been using reef crystals and now i get red coraline instead of purple. You ever have that issue. Didnt see it in the algae guide

  • JulieS says:

    Hey Mark,

    We used to use the 200-gallon buckets of Reef Crystals back in the 90s and since starting back in the hobby about 5 months ago we’ve now been using the similarly-sized buckets sold from Kent since our local LFS sells that.
    I’ve recently read that people are now recommending we stir the whole bucket up after purchase because different components of the mixture can settle out into different regions of the buckets making for an inconsistent saltwater product from batch to batch.
    I never stirred the salt back in the 90s and have found it a royal pain in the butt to do so now. Is this a valid concern? Do we need to find a better way to re-mix 200-gallons worth of dry salt? Or is this one of the new myths?


  • Matt Hall says:

    I heard you can just roll the bucket around… Of course if UPS delivers it like usual it’s already shook up! Lol I can’t tell you how many busted Coral Pro salt buckets I got delivered.

  • Matt…mixing/shaking the bucket is important as well as testing the first batch of saltwater you make with the new bucket. If the bucket is part of a bad batch, shaking the bucket alone won’t fix the problem.

  • JulieS…I’ve recommended people stir/shake/mix up their salt buckets for a while now. See this quick tip

  • Dave…good question re: salt mix shelf life. I’ll ask some salt manufacturers and see what they say.

  • JulieS says:

    Thanks Mark,

    So would just rolling the bucket around be enough to mix it? Currently, we’d been pouring the salt between buckets which, as you can probably imagine, kind of poofs out clouds of fine salt dust everywhere.


  • killroy says:

    hi mark,
    i was wondering if you could do a how to set up a calcium or kalkwasser reactor video.

  • Michael says:

    Such a coincidence that this video was posted. My LFS has been dealing with inconstant buckets of salt from their main supplier for about a month now. They have sent in multiple tests and the manufacturer had even sent out a rep to the store. The manager said that was pointless because he just bought some of the test kits they were using, stuffed animals, and left. Unfortunately, the manufacturer has gone cold in the communication. My fiance were using the same salt as the store based on their recommendation, but we shall be switching soon.

  • Hello Mark,

    In response to Dave in Brooklyn’s question, sea salt mixes are composed of inorganic chemicals which do not degrade over time so there is no shelf life for sea salt mixes per se. However, depending on the raw materials used in the particular salt mix in question, the mix itself can be very hygroscopic. If a hygroscopic salt is stored in a humid environment it can absorb water molecules from the surrounding environment which can change the chemistry of the sea salt slightly. So if a sea salt mix has been open for a while it is probably a good idea to test its parameters (alkalinity, pH, calcium and magnesium) after mixing the salt to just insure everything is as it should be.

  • Steve says:

    Amen Fritz ! Just what I was going to say.

  • Jerry says:

    Mixing on arrival is important, as is doing so periodically. I’m considering switching to Bio Actif but in the interim, I purchase Kent Reef in the 200g box. It’s cheaper than the bucket, per gallon and comes in 4 resealable 50g bags. Easier to mix, easier to keep dry (I roll the bag down, removing any air; seal and put in an old Kent bucket

  • Chris says:

    Hey mark love the site and I would love you for to revisit LEDs again. IM seeing more and more ever changing types of LEDs coming out some with different colors and ways to adjust the light spectrum. I feel like the argument for and against needs to b e addressed every so often because new technologies and applications pop up all the time ……can you do a 5-10 minutes segment on this ….I think alot of people would benefit and appreciate this

  • JulieS says:

    @ Jerry

    That sounds like a much better way. We’ll switch over to buying the 200-gallon box since mixing a bag (only 1/4 the weight) would be significantly easier.

    Thanks, Julie

  • Mathew Do says:

    Instead of using a brine shrimp net to soak, rinse or prepare frozen foods like PE Mysis, use a stainless steel spring loaded tea ball. Like this one, It’s much easier and lasts longer than a brine shrimp net.

  • Brandon m says:

    Love the videos Mark, its amazing how much I thought I knew about this hobby before I found your channel.
    What kind of salt do you use/suggest for reef tanks?

  • Tim whitaker says:

    Please send me an email where I can get your advice on purchasing a SWC skimmer or advice on the skimmer I have. Also have questions about stubborn red slime.
    Thanks for the online advice.
    I’m in the mountains of nc and my only fish store closed shop.

    Tim whitaker

  • Tim…I just sent you an email as requested

  • Brandon…Unless you are going to use the ultra-premium salt like Tropic Marin Bioactif, I feel the other reef salts are nearly all the same.

  • Mark de Groot says:

    This was a much needed tip and discussion for me, as I’ve just reentered the hobby after many years. Bottom line, your videos have been great. While I don’t have the money to buy your books yet, I will as soon as I get the financial means. I’ve got a 55 gallon tank and I would say I’m somewhere between enthusiast and mild junkie. For now I am focused on the basics, this was a big one. Go figure salt. Once I get your book and read it I will start to really focus on adding live stock and corals. I already know I have to look at automation for monitoring and dosing, because I see the value, just need the money. In summary, thanks for a practical and sensible approach to the hobby and keep up the great videos.

  • Good tip, Mark. I’ve also discovered recently that a saltwater mixing vat needs to be cleaned of the scale that can build up over the years. We recently found higher than normal levels of copper in newly mixed saltwater made from Instant Ocean, which I’ve used for years. And then we noticed quite a bit of scaling built up on the walls of our saltwater mixing vat (the suspected culprit). The way to remove the scale is to fill the mixing vat with freshwater and muriatic acid at a 1/70 ratio and let it run for 24-48 hours (if you don’t want to wait 24 hours you can do a more aggressive dilution of 1/20 ratio). Then drain the mixing vat, refill with tap water and drain a 2nd time. Now the vat is clean and ready to use again.

  • chris boyles says:

    hey mark i was wondering what is the difference in a sump and a refugium, and i have a 55 gallon tank and was wondering if i should put one on my tank.

  • arnold says:

    Hey Mark

    A while back I added a comment to a quick tip, though it wasn’t a glowing positive comment, it wasn’t a hack either. What surprised me is you then took me off your mail list. Considering how hard you are now pushing into making money from your email list I was surprised you would do this but I’m OK with it.
    Thanks for what I did learn.

  • Craig says:

    Thanks great tip so obvious yet I never even considered the settling effect.
    My question is what type of salt do you use and do you think a product like Tropic Marin Bioactif is worth the extra money.

  • Craig…I use Bioactif on my tank and have used it for years now. IMO, all the other reef salts are mostly equal with bioactif being different due to the “biological” component of it. Do I think it’s worth it? While I have no data (and I’m not sure how anyone would measure it anyways) to back it up, I feel that the sale is worth the price as it always mixes up without any residue and each bucket has been consistent for me.

  • Craig says:

    have you ever tried Red Sea Coral Pro Salt or Natures Sea and if so what did you think. Thanks.

  • Doug says:

    Hi mark your videos are great. I purchased a 200 g bucket of TM Bio salt mix. Just wondering if there is any special treatment when storing this salt in a container after being mixed with Rodi water. I usually keep 30 gallons on hand at all times. Usually only use 15 gallons of it per week or 2. So I constantly just add to the remainder of salt mix. So needless to say, it sits for a while with out being used. Any input on this method or anything special with the bio salt being premixed and stored would be greatly appreciated.

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