For almost 20 years I only used & sold Tropic Marin Pro Reef salt. I didn't use or sell test kits, we didn't need them as the 10% weekly water changes using TM salt kept the water element parameters beautifully for us soft coral predominant tanks. I am not a biologist nor chemical engineer etc. but I do know what I'm looking at with my tanks/livestock. 4 years ago I saw ALL of my systems act as though they were crashing. I lost many corals, coraline stopped growing & actually died off and more. After intensive investigation it turned out that my long trusted salt was giving us super low element levels, most especially Alkalinity & the Alk, Mg & Ca levels were inconsistent batch to batch. I sent a saltwater sample to a professional lab which reported our testing was spot on - elements were unacceptably low. I reported this to Tropic Marin & I was told, "Well, everyone doses.".
The hunt for a new salt was on.
After much research we found Red Sea Coral Pro salt. The element levels out of the pail were great & with the "My Batch" service we felt confident each pail would give us consistent results. We expected we just needed to dose their companion elements to our systems to get them up to a high normal then let the water changes using their salt maintain those healthy levels. The first problem we experienced was element levels dropping in the systems immediately after a water change! Dosing the Red Sea elements wasn't helping much either. Levels increased only slightly only to drop below normal shortly after dosing. We saw the additives precipitating (white cloudy or snow like) as soon as it touched our saltwater when added. After speaking with Red Sea they informed us that we needed to use the newly mixed saltwater within 4 hours of it being mixed. We found levels dropped not long after being mixed with water. Because their additives are super concentrated Red Sea advised us to mix them with RO water 3 to 1. Even after following their directions the system levels continued to drop quickly & we could not stabilize them, even with dosing. The following questions were formed: 1. Why were the element levels dropping in our salt mix containers with no draw on them? 2. Why did the element levels drop so fast once in our tanks as well? As many of you have found, having to salt our tubs & use it within a couple hours is not practical for most of us. The brainstorming started again & these are the concerns that developed ... Could it be that any salt MFG who also sells testing & dosing items benefit by their salt & other products under performing - dropping out of solution? Could it be that the idea is more test kits are sold, more dosing additives and dosing equipment are sold as well? We may never know for sure but for me, after experiencing 20 years of water changes only to support my beautiful systems, this experience was & is, totally unacceptable.
The hunt was again on for a salt product that didn't also make & sell tests & dosing items. One that had a long history of use and most importantly, one that would consistently provide the healthy levels of elements our systems needed. To my utter amazement, Instant Ocean Reef Crystals, often considered the underdog of salts, seems to be performing to those healthy standards. Understand it's still early in our research phase of using Reef Crystals salt but after a couple weeks (which is why the delay of this article being released) we are seeing healthy element levels out of each pail, a beautiful consistency both in the saltwater mix containers and our systems with only minor drops yet staying within normal element range between water changes and with NO dosing! This in turn is being evidenced in our tanks with very happy, healthy, thriving & now fast growing corals! Coraline is coming back as well! We're also seeing cleaner saltwater mixing containers & it's looking like we can mix them as before, well in advance of using without their element levels falling off! A final benefit is it's a less expensive salt! Though I never consider price over the health of my animals, this is certainly frosting on the cake!
So again, this is why I've changed salts to IO Reef Crystals and I'm asking you to help me continue researching this salt. Anyone who purchases Reef Crystals salt from me & tests their tank using the Red Sea Pro test kits (to help ensure our results are apples to apples) for Alkalinity, Magnesium & Calcium & reports to me their findings as outlined below will receive a $10 AquaCorals Gift Certificate to be used on-line or in-house. Together we can get to the real truth faster with collaborative results. Either way, I will report again if any changes are found further down the road with the Reef Crystals salt. Right now, I'm more than encouraged!
Steps to participate in the test study/reporting & receive a $10 AquaCorals Gift Certificate:
1. Purchase IO Reef Crystals salt from me. Either size container. On Sale! If you don't already have it purchase the Red Sea Pro Test Kit.
2. Clean your saltwater mix container of any left over saltwater & residue. We found that leftover Red Sea saltwater actually reduced the tested levels of Reef Crystals mixed with it. You must start with a clean mixing container. White vinegar works well for stubborn residue with paper towels & rinse thoroughly with hot water. Whether you participate in this study or not you will want to clean your saltwater mixing container.
3. Mix your saltwater using Reef Crystals to 1.026. Test & record the Alk, Mg & Ca levels once the water is clear (usually about 2 hours). Log your readings - Date & test results.
4. Test your tank & date/record the Alk, Mg & Ca levels.
5. Perform a water change using your Reef Crystals saltwater. Note how long it has been mixed.
6. Test your system a couple hours after performing the water change. Note how long after you performed the water change to when you tested & log the Alk, Mg & Ca test results.
7. Refill your saltwater mix container & make a new batch of RC saltwater.
8. Repeat steps 1 through 6
You can copy & paste this list into an e-mail to me & give me your results under each step number.