Adding Salt

If all goes well with your final test, it is time to add the salt mix. With no livestock in the tank, it can be used as a mixing vat. (Under no circumstances should salt mix be added to an established tank with living organisms present.) Add enough salt mix for the tank's capacity, using about 2'A cups for every five gallons. Sprinkling in the mix by cupfuls promotes fast dissolution. After all of the mix has been added, run the system for at least twenty-four hours. Measure pH and salinity. If the salinity is too low, sprinkle in more salt mix, and test again after twenty-four hours. If the salinity is too high, remove some water, reserving it for future use, and add fresh water. Wait five minutes and check the salinity again. Repeat as needed until you reach the correct salinity. Note that reducing salinity with fresh water takes less time and effort than increasing salinity with more salt mix because you only have to wait a few minutes for the fresh water to combine with the water in the tank. Salt mix requires twenty-four hours to dissolve. The solution may clear within a couple of hours, but dissolution and equilibration to pH takes longer. I recommend waiting twenty-four hours to be sure the mix has completely dissolved.

Once you reach the correct salinity, check the pH. If it lies outside the range of 8.2-8.4 you will need a pH buffering additive to correct it. Follow the manufacturer's directions for correcting pH with any brand of additive.

Both salinity and pH should remain stable for at least twenty-four hours. This is a good time to test alkalinity, calcium, iodide, and phosphate. Doing so accomplishes two things: (1) establishes baselines for these parameters, and (2) provides an evaluation of the salt mix. Depending on the chemistry of your tap water, different

Really Big Tank?

Thinking about a really big aquarium? If so, its setup and stocking should be carefully planned. You will be working with many gallons of water, and several hundred pounds of rocks and sand. Some items you may want to have on hand include the following:

• Two or three large plastic garbage cans with lids

• One or more tarps for covering floors and furniture

• A hand truck for moving heavy boxes

• Terry cloth hand towels

Use one garbage can to collect all the wet packing materials from the live rock and other debris. Use one for wet hand towels. Use the third for temporary water storage or mixing. In addition, having a helper or two makes a huge difference when working with a big tank.

Basic Setup Procedures 101

Basic Setup Procedures 101

brands may equilibrate to different readings. Using water purified by reverse osmosis should yield the correct values with any good brand of salt mix.

At this point, the physical and chemical environments of your aquarium have been prepared. You are ready to proceed with the fun part, stocking the aquarium with living organisms.

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