How to Mix Saltwater for Aquarium

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    Victoria Smirnova

    Victoria Smirnova is a writer and editor who adores animals and helps readers get along well with their pets. While studying at the University, Victoria became interested in writing articles on different themes. Before The Pets, Viki headed several websites and worked as a news editor. Victoria has been working in digital media for more than 5 years and has great experience writing content about lifestyle, including pets.

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  • Updated on: 17/04/2020

Many people buy marine aquariums to enjoy the beauty of marine fish and corals. The water for marine and freshwater aquariums must be clean. The process of preparing saltwater for a marine aquarium may seem difficult, but it’s not as complicated as it seems.

how to mix saltwater for aquarium@yanukit / Freepik

Stage 1. Purchase of necessary materials

Before making saltwater for a marine aquarium, you must purchase all the necessary materials.

Sea aquarium salt

Aquarium stores can offer you two options for getting saltwater for a marine aquarium:

  • Purchase of ready-made salt liquid.
  • Purchase of synthetic aquarium salt.

Buy dry aquarium salt. It is sold in buckets of 22 to 44 pounds. If you still have salt left after making the salt solution for the aquarium, it may come in handy later.

Be sure to use only high-quality synthetic salt for marine aquariums.

Choosing a water source for a marine aquarium

The source of water is very important for the preparation of high-quality saltwater. For a marine aquarium that only contains fish, tap water can be used, but for a reef aquarium, another source of water is needed. For marine aquariums with fish and reefs, it is better to use water that has been treated with reverse osmosis or deionized water.

Tap water can be used only if it is of proper quality. Water must not contain traces of petroleum products, organic compounds, chemicals or other substances. Also, before using tap water to prepare a salty liquid for a marine aquarium, you will have to dechlorinate tap water. There are air conditioners for removing chlorine and chloramines from water, and they can also be purchased in stores for aquariums. You can also buy reverse osmosis or deionized water in aquarium stores.

Water and salt are the most important materials for preparing a salt solution for a marine aquarium. But you may also need other materials. Before you start preparing a solution for a marine aquarium, make sure that you have the following materials:

  • Clean bucket or strong plastic container.
  • Submersible aquarium heater.
  • Classic or electronic aquarium thermometer.
  • Small submersible pump for water circulation.
  • Refractometer or hydrometer for measuring water density or salinity.
  • Tool for mixing the solution.

Stage 2. Preparation of saltwater

how to mix saltwater for an aquarium@fridzema / Pixabay

Wash the saltwater container under running water. Do not use chemicals to rinse the container. They can harm the inhabitants of your aquarium. After cleaning, put the box next to the aquarium so that it is easier to fill the aquarium with ready-made water.

Fill the container with water. You need to know how much water you need to prepare for the aquarium, and you can calculate its volume. Fill the container with tap water, reverse osmosis water, or deionized water to the required amount.

Do not fill the container for preparing the salt solution to the brim, as the salt added to the water will take up some volume. In the same way, you should not fill the aquarium with a ready-made salt solution to the brim, as fish, decorations, filters and other attributes will take up a certain amount of your marine aquarium.

Put a thermometer in the container. The thermometer should be positioned so that you can easily observe its readings. This will allow you to see that the temperature in the preparation tank and the aquarium is the same, which is important for the health of marine fish and corals.

Place the pump and aquarium water heater in the container. Place the pump and water heater near the bottom of the tank to prepare the solution. They will speed up the process of dissolving the salt, and you will be able to prepare water for your marine aquarium quickly.

Make sure that the water heater is set to the same temperature as in your aquarium. For marine aquariums with fish only, the water temperature should be within 71.6 and 79.7 F, and for reef aquariums, 75.2 F to 77.9 F.

Add aquarium sea salt to the water. Now that you have created a water circulation in the tank for preparing the salt solution, you can add dry aquarium salt to it. It is very important to read the instructions on the packaging of the salt used in advance. Slowly add the measured amount of salt to the water and stir it.

Be sure to read the instructions from the salt manufacturer. From them, you will learn how many parts of salt should be added to each liter of water. At the same time, you should get a water density of about 8.5 lb/gal, or salinity of 35 ppm.

Adding salt to the water should be carried out in portions. Divide the required amount of salt into three portions. Fill the portions one at a time and stir until the salt is completely dissolved in water.

Check the water density. After dissolving all three portions of salt in water, you need to check its density with a hydrometer or refractometer. This will help you find out if you added too little or too much salt. Make sure that the water density is at the level of about 2.2 lb per gallon. If the indicator is lower than 2.2, add a little more salt. If the density is higher than 2.3 lb per gallon, add water to reduce the density to acceptable values.

Leave the water for a day to settle. Before you pour the salt solution into the aquarium, let it settle for at least 24 hours. This will guarantee the remaining salt is dissolved and will achieve an equilibrium saturation of water with oxygen and carbon dioxide from the air.

Leave the pump running in the tank so that the water is properly saturated with air. This will ensure that it is evenly saturated with oxygen and carbon dioxide. Leave the thermometer in the cooking container, too.

Stage 3. Check the water salinity parameters

Check the density of the prepared water. After the salt solution has settled for at least a day, recheck its density. This is important for detecting and correcting possible deviations in water parameters. Make sure that the density of saltwater is within the optimal range. Add more salt if this indicator is too low, or more water if it is too high.

how to mix saltwater for aquariums@lunamarina / Freepik

Check the water temperature in the aquarium again. Just as proper salt concentration is important for the well-being of your fish, so is water temperature. After checking and adjusting the density of the water, check its temperature. It must correspond to the temperature of the water in your aquarium.

If the temperature is too low, raise it with an aquarium water heater. Periodically remove the water heater and check the water temperature until it reaches 71.6 F degrees to 79.7 F for fish tanks only, and 75.2 to 77.9 F for reef aquariums. Remember that if you add water of different temperatures to the aquarium, it will cause a temperature change in it, which can harm the health of your fish.

Pour the prepared water into the marine aquarium. When all the important parameters of seawater are at the optimal level, you can start adding it slowly to the aquarium. This should be done gradually so as not to shock the fish and other aquarium inhabitants.

Keep checking the temperature and salinity of the water constantly to ensure that their level remains stable.

After your fresh aquarium is filled with the ready-made salty solution to the desired level, return the fish to the aquarium. If you are particularly worried about fish, you can also check the temperature and salinity of the water again before doing this.

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