11/07/2007, 10:53 AM
Hey Marc, just read your water change article. Awesome! I am in the process of fully revamping and automating my WC process so that I can do frequent WCs that will add up to about 25-35% change a month.
While reading, I learned quite a few things and want to follow up with some questions:
1) I use the cheapest Salt I can find :rolleyes: b/c I have about 275 gallons of total volume and i buy it in bulk. Seems to be ok but how do I really know if its "good" salt or not?
2) Your comments about testing your RO/DI...I always simply test the TDS, b/c I figured a 000 read meant it was pure water. But are you saying that 000 TDS water could still have Ammonia, Chlorine, and other things in it?? If so, I never thought about that. I am definitely going to test the PH of it - good one!
3) I am planning on using the same type of mixing barrel you show in your picture. 55 Gallons. You mention cleaning them after each use b/c of bacteria contamination. Wow, I was planning on NOT cleaning my barrel too often as long as it was covered at all times, and pure RO/DI water was going in and only clean new saltwater was going out. So youre saying that during that process you can still build up some contaminants?
11/07/2007, 04:59 PM
Hi Bryan. Since my tank is a 280g, you don't get to use the "my tank is so big that I have to buy cheap salt" excuse with me. ;)
When it comes to what salt to buy, there are many opinions. As I mentioned in the article, I've used Kent Salt for the majority of my time in the hobby. It mixed well and was relatively consistent. Truly what it comes down to is how does the saltwater measure up when you test each of the normal kits we use: Alkalinity, Calcium, Magnesium, Nitrate and Phosphate. If you find your current salt meets the criteria set for your tank, then keep using it. If you find you have to buffer it up to match what the tank needs, perhaps a different salt would be a better choice.
When Red Sea Coral Pro was released, I decided to give it a try. I mixed up a barrel full and tested the water. I liked the numbers, and my reef did well with it. I believe I've been using it for over 12 months now, and I have no complaints. Each time I open up a new bucket, I test it to make sure it is properly mixed at the factory to avoid any ugly surprises. If you buy it in bulk, you should only have to test one bucket until that supply runs out, assuming they are all from the same production run.
It seems that one bucket of Red Sea salt is enough salt for three 55g water changes in my system, or close to it. If you change water monthly at that ratio, you'd have enough for 3 months with one bucket, and only have to buy 4 buckets a year. Not really a huge expense in this hobby when you think about it, right?
Regarding RO/DI, some things can be tested for with a TDS meter. That is why having a couple of other kits on hand would be good to verify that your water is actually pure and that your RO/DI is working as it should.
The blue barrels I use were purchased used. They used to hold Dr. Pepper syrup, and it took quite a while to get them clean and stop smelling that sweet syrup. When I clean them out, I'm really only talking about taking them outside, blasting them with a garden hose as much as I'm able, and inverting them to dry out. As long as they are dry, nothing can grow in them. While visiting one hobbyist in South Dakota last weekend, he showed me his saltwater mixing barrel. It was a white Brute-like trashcan on casters. Inside was his saltwater mixing up with a powerhead and some PVC to generate good circulation. What caught my eye was the brown slime on all the inner walls. You may have noticed the same look in the water storage containers at your LFS. Or perhaps you've noticed that after your water has mixed up for a few days, the pump and any submerged tubing is slimy to the touch. That slime is actually a problem if you think about it. If you add pure 0 TDS water to your slime-covered mixing barrel, what was the point of making RO/DI in the first place? I prefer to have clean tubing, clean pumps, and a clean mixing barrel.
What I suggested to him was to mix up saltwater, then store it in sealed containers so he'd still have some on hand in an emergency, and then clean his barrel out with 10:1 bleach water (10 parts water; 1 part bleach). Allow it to dry and air out for 24 hours, then rinse it. Now it is ready to use again. If for some reason the barrel still smells of bleach, a de-chlorinator can be used in the next batch of RO/DI water as a precaution. The stored saltwater is good for about a month or so.
Of course the other option is to have a second mixing barrel, always alternating so that one is clean, covered and dry until needed the next time.
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