I like instant ocean, or Oceanic. Mixing is easy, make sure you use RO water, use a 1/2 cup per gallon and mix with a power head. You can mix it in buckets, new garbage cans, ect. I let it circulate for 6+ hours, which works for me. Some mix for 24-48 hours. Depends on needs. If this is for water change purposes, use a heater while mixing your water to maintain the same temp as your tank.
you could get 20 different answers on the type of salt, but to mix i put my freshly made up ro-di water into a large container and pour in the salt, i physically stir it in and then drop a powerhead in to help it dissolve the salt, i then check the sg and when approx correct i drop in a heater as well, i check it the next day when the water and salt has totally mixed together and the temperature is correct and if necassary adjust the salinity by either adding a touch more salt or if too high a little more water, i then leave it be, normally i make up my water on a thursday evening and replace sunday mornings
thanks for the headup micheal, really appreciated. anyway what's ro-di water? is it a special type of water? and when you check the sg, what's the sg? i'm sorry if i ask too much, i just barely get into saltwater, sorry.
Michael touched on an important point, that being to add salt to water, not the opposite. by doing this you ensure that the salt will dissolve as completely as possible rather than becoming locally supersaturated and precipitating out important elements.
you'll get many different answers when it comes to salt selection but i like reef crystals. the important thing is to measure important levels, like calcium, magnesium, and alkalinity. these can vary even from batch to batch of the same salt, so measure each batch you make and determine what if anything you want to add to get your levels where you want them. there's a reference that can be found in the sticky at the top of this forum, which everybody should read in my opinion, that will tell you what parameters to aim for.
ro di water is water that has been pumped through a Reverse Osmosis DeIonization filter. this is a filter wherein water passes through a prefilter, a carbon block, a membrane with microscopic holes, and finally deionizing resin. the idea is to purify water to as close to pure h2o as possible, which the more popular and better constructed units do very well.
sg is an abbreviation for specific gravity, a way in which we measure the amount of dissolved salt in our water. pure water has a specific gravity of 1.000, whereas the water we make for our tanks has a specific gravity of 1.026, or VERY close to it.
again like types of salts you will get a few different answers about test kits, heres what i suggest for you at present
get a refractomer to test the sg and salinity
get a decent thermometer or 2 to keep an eye on temperature
i recommend you use salifert kits for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and ph, this is all you need at present until your tank cycles and you start to consider params for adding stock, when your ready to do that things change a little as the type of kits required, the type of test and what to keep an eye on then get a little more involved, however in 4-6 weeks time or less if your lucky you will have learnt a lot here and will find it easy to start adding stock, by then things will seem a lot less complecated, anymore questions just ask, theres plenty of guys on here who will definately do that for you
well, mikes on both side of the pond seem to agree a lot.
i'm using api tests currently, but i'm figuring on switching out the phosphate test for a salifert kit, along with picking up a magnesium kit from them. (i've not got one currently, but i need it.)
api is a good inexpensive test that is popular and pretty accurate for most things, but i've read of problems with them reading low end phosphate and i'm not even sure they make a magnesium test. you'll hear people swear by this kit or that one, but as you read around you'll get to know which ones are generally accepted as accurate.
i'll again back up what mike told you and say that in the beginning the 'extra' test kits aren't really going to come into play. the basic parameters you'll be concerned with are ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. these are the levels by which you'll be able to monitor your initial nitrogen cycle. once that's complete, i.e. ammonia and nitrite equaling zero, and nitrate being reduced by your first waterchanges, you'll be ready to add your first livestock. GO. SLOW.
you're creating a living ecosystem here from scratch, and it takes TIME. patience is probably the best thing to learn first off. take the time that you'd otherwise be pulling your hair out and itching to get your hands in the tank and add all kinds of fish and coral and what not to READ A LOT. think about what fish will be able to live out their entire lives in the size tank you have and which ones they can or can't live with. think about what kind of corals you're interested in, and read everything you can get your eyes on about their care requirements, allelopathy, aggressiveness, etc. keep asking questions, and most of all be patient. there's a lot for everyone to learn with this deal, and many folks will be able to share their experience and help you, and me, along the way.