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8 Best Reef Salts Reviewed & How To Choose Guide

Just merely asking the question… “what is the best reef salt available?... is going to get you more answers than you know how to handle.

You’re going to have experts coming at you from every angle, each with their own opinion on what works best and when to use a particular brand. They’ll give you their views on one brand, complaints on another, all while praising their favorite.

What you usually won’t get is a distanced, unbiased review of the different reef salts available based on scientific data and through consolidating the reports from hundreds of customers.

Finding the best reef salt can feel nearly impossible when you’re listening to the “expert” opinions of people on forums and groups. That’s we have done that hard work for you.

Instead of sending you out into the wild, letting you get bombarded with hundreds of opinions from people you may not even know, we’ve consolidated all of their reviews and opinions.

Excellent Reef Salt - High Value
  • Neutralizes Traces Of Heavy Metals Found In Tap Water
  • Helps Promote Growth And Survival Of Corals, Anemones And Other Invertebrates In A Captive Environment
  • Encourages Stony Coral And Coralline Algae Growth
​Fast Dissolving - Best Value
  • Nitrate And Phosphate-Free
  • Contains All Important Major And Minor Trace Elements Necessary For A Healthy Aquarium
  • Mixes Quickly And Very Stable
Excellent Quality Salt - Best Choice
  • The Sea Salt Mix Is Excellent For Mature Reef And Low Nutrient Systems
  • Effect The Water Chemistry To The Good
  • Balance Levels Of Foundation Elements
Quickly Dissolves - Recommended
  • One Of The Best Salts For Nano Reefs Available
  • Doesn’t Leave Behind A Residue
  • Balanced Blend That Replicates Natural Seawater For All Marine And Reef Aquaria
Quality Marine Salt - High Quality
  • Provides The Essentials Required For Proper Coral Growth
  • Great Mix That Contains Higher Levels Of Magnesium, Calcium, And Strontium
  • Very Mild Blend That Has Shown To Be Safe For Invertebrates And Corals
Safe And Effective - Best Choice
  • Safe, Effective, Provides Outstanding Results
  • Precision Salt Blend For Reef Aquariums
  • Easy To Mix And Solid Parameters
Fantastic Salt - High Quality
  • Enhanced Calcium, Magnesium And Potassium Levels
  • Enhanced Buffer Levels; Reaches A Stable PH Shortly After Mixing
  • Nitrate, Phosphate & Ammonia Free
Excellent And Fantastic- Beginner friendly
  • Enhanced Vitality Of All Corals
  • Ideal Salt Mix For Reef Aquariums, Encouraging Accelerated And Healthy Growth
  • High In Nutrients To Help Promote Healthy Skeletal System Growth

The Top 8 Best Reef Salts In 2019

Each of the “best” marine salts and reef salts listed below was ranked using a wide range of criteria, including those “expert” opinions -- as well as ideas from actual customers that didn’t know what we were using the data for.

Highlights

  • Neutralizes traces of heavy metals found in tap water
  • Helps promote growth and survival of corals, anemones and other invertebrates in a captive environment
  •  Encourages stony coral and coralline algae growth

Instant Ocean 200 Gallon Reef Salt has become incredibly popular with saltwater enthusiasts.

It has been finely tuned to provide a precise balance of magnesium and calcium, so you don’t have to fiddle with the levels to get them right for your tank. If your tank contains soft corals or reefs, you’re good to go.

Boney coral? It works for those, too. Just add a bit more of the salt and check your levels.

The Instant Ocean Reef Crystals are far more affordable than many other options, too. Instant Ocean has quite a few different mixes to help suit your specific aquarium style.

Pro Tip


Pros

  • The salts are affordable and easy to use.
  • The salts are suitable for both soft and hard corals.
  • The recipe contains a precise mix of magnesium and calcium.

Cons

  • Some users complained about measuring the amounts.
  • The salts take longer to dissolve than some other salts.

Highlights

  • Nitrate and phosphate-free
  • Contains all important major and minor trace elements necessary for a healthy aquarium
  • Mixes quickly and very stable

One of the best reef salts for the money is Instant Ocean’s Sea Salt for Marine Aquariums.

This formula has been specifically tailored for tough coral and contains a higher level of magnesium than their standard Reef Salts. The Sea Salts also contain higher levels of vitamins to keep your invertebrates develop strong skeletal systems.

Sea Salts are also more natural to dissolve than the Reef Crystals from Instant Ocean. The solution will quickly dissolve in warm water and help neutralize heavy metals in the water, like lead and mercury.

 Each package comes with four different bags of salts so you can use what you need while preserving the rest for a later date.

Pro Tip


Pros

  • Separated packaging helps preserve it for more extended periods.
  • The formulation helps neutralize lead, mercury, and other heavy metals.
  • The mix quickly dissolves in warm water.
  • Each bag is enhanced with extra minerals for your invertebrates.

Cons

  • Shipping on the Sea Salts can talk longer than the Reef Crystals.
  •  It can sometimes be difficult to dial in the exact amount your tank needs

3. Red Sea Salt Mix For Aquarium ReefsExcellent Quality Salt

Highlights

  • The sea salt mix is excellent for mature reef and low nutrient systems
  • effect the water chemistry to the good
  • balance levels of foundation elements

One of the best reef aquarium salt mixes available in 2019 is the Red Sea Salt Mix for Aquarium Reefs. It has nearly double the calcium concentration than some other brands we have featured.

This, on top of the higher alkalinity and neutralizing heavy metals, has made the mix easy to recommend. If you find yourself replacing nutrients more often than one time each month, the Red Sea Salt Mix can help lower your maintenance schedule.

With higher amounts of nutrients, calcium, magnesium, and alkalinity, you can go longer in between water changes and updates.

Pro Tip


Pros

  • The formulation is high in nutrients and low in heavy metals.
  • Each dose quickly dissolves in warm water, making refreshing your tank easy.
  • This salt mix is one of the most “affordable” sea salt mixes we’ve been able to find.

Cons

  • Some customers reported the salts showing up in damaged packaging.
  • The salt mix is currently available in only a single formulation.

Highlights

  • one of the best salts for nano reefs available
  •  doesn’t leave behind a residue
  •  balanced blend that replicates natural seawater for all marine and reef aquaria

Continuum Aquatics Halcyon is currently one of the best salts for nano reefs available.

The mix has grown in popularity because users are reporting that it quickly dissolves and doesn’t leave behind a residue like many other sea salt mixes. Each of the required nutrients (magnesium, calcium, and bicarbonates) are appropriately balanced.

One of the upsides of the Continuum Aquatics Halcyon mix is that it won’t upset your existing pH balance in the tank. If you have an active school of fish, this will help keep them steady.

 While developing the salt mix, Continuum Aquatics consulted with numerous different aquarium keepers to ensure they were getting only what they needed.

Pro Tip


Pros

  • The mix has been designed to be used in saltwater tanks that contain fish.
  • The patented mix is incredibly affordable and dissolves quickly.
  • The salts are recommended for use in tanks with hard corals.

Cons

  • Some users have reported clouding that eventually goes away.
  • The mix is not enhanced with extra vitamins and minerals.

Highlights

  • Provides the essentials required for proper coral growth
  • great mix that contains higher levels of magnesium, calcium, and strontium
  • very mild blend that has shown to be safe for invertebrates and corals

Kent Marine Saltwater Aquarium Salt Mix is another great mix that contains higher levels of magnesium, calcium, and strontium. One area the mix falls short, though, is in its lack of phosphates and nitrates.

Each jug of Kent Marine Salt Mix is formulated with only the highest quality ingredients. While this does increase the price, you don’t have to worry about potentially harming your fish or corals with low-quality salts.

One area where the Kent Marine Salt Mix reigns superior is that it is a very mild blend that has shown to be safe for invertebrates and corals.

Pro Tip


Pros

  • The blend is formulated without phosphates and nitrates.
  • Each mix is tested and certified in real-world aquariums.
  • The mix will not damage your invertebrates or corals.

Cons

  • The mix is slightly more expensive than others we’ve featured.
  • You may be required to add supplements, depending on your tank’s conditions.

Highlights

  • Safe, Effective, provides outstanding results
  • Precision salt blend for reef aquariums
  • Easy to mix and solid parameters

Brightwell Aquatics is another popular reef salt mix, especially in North America. If you deal with consistently low levels of nutrients, it is one of the better combinations you can find. The affordable price and high-quality formulation are two of the reasons it made it to our list.

This specific blend of reef salts has been certified as safe to use on nearly all saltwater fish tanks and nano reefs. Brightwell Aquatics also offers several different mixtures of the salts to help you find one that is perfect for your exact setup.

Pro Tip


Pros

  • The mix is excellent for aquariums and fish tanks struggling to maintain nutrient levels.
  • The Neomarine solution does not cause your pH levels to go out of whack.
  •  The solution is ready to use right away; no frustrating mixing involved.

Cons

  • The mix is more expensive than many other combinations we’ve featured.
  • Some customers have reported a pungent odor from the mix.

7. Fritz Aquatics Reef Pro Mixfantastic salt

Highlights

  • Enhanced Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium Levels
  • Enhanced Buffer Levels; Reaches a Stable pH Shortly After Mixing
  • Nitrate, Phosphate & Ammonia Free

Fritz Aquatics Reef Salt is, arguably, one of the best premium reef salts available. The formulation contains a specific balance of nutrients and minerals, color, and odor.

For tanks that are consistently depleted of calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate, you’re going to have a hard time finding a better salt mix.

 One of the best selling points of the Fritz Aquatics Reef Mix is that customers have reported corals glowing with color and life within just a few short weeks.

Pro Tip


Pros

  • The mix is excellent for all types of tanks, fish, and corals.
  • Each package is easy to use and comfortable to hold.
  • The mix has been tested and certified to contain only the purest ingredients.
  • It is one of the more affordable reef salt mixes available.

Cons

  • The mix takes longer to dissolve than most others we’ve featured.

8. Red Sea Fish Pharm Coral Pro Marine SaltExcellent and fantastic

Highlights

  • enhanced vitality of all corals
  • ideal salt mix for reef aquariums, encouraging accelerated and healthy growth
  • high in nutrients to help promote healthy skeletal system growth

One of the only commercial-grade reef salts on our list, the Red Sea Fish Pharm Coral Pro Marine Salt is also one of the best reef salts available in 2019.

The formulation is high in nutrients to help promote healthy skeletal system growth in your invertebrates and coral. Each mix is scientifically formulated with the optimal ratios of calcium, bicarbonates, and magnesium.

The package has been custom-tailored for use in up to 200 gallons of water, making it incredibly affordable when you compare it to other salts currently available. Customers have reported that the salt mix does not cloud your water or leave behind residues as some lower-quality salts will.

Pro Tip


Pros

  • The Red Sea Fish Pharm Coral Pro Marine Salt is a commercial-grade reef salt mix.
  • Each package is economically priced to use in up to 200 gallons of water.
  • The mix contains a precise amount of calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonates.

Cons

  • You can only get these salts in a single size -- for 200 gallons total.

Which Reef Salt Is Best? Here’s How We Compared Them.

There are five main factors to consider when you’re thinking about comparing reef salts.

  1. Calcium content.
  2. Alkalinity levels.
  3. Magnesium content.
  4. Total costs.
  5. Required supplements.
  1. Calcium

  2. Calcium is an essential nutrient in your saltwater for a particular reason. It is absorbed by corals and invertebrates to maintain their skeletal systems.

    For most tanks, it is recommended to maintain at least a 400 ppm (parts per million) level of calcium. For every one million parts of water, you will have at least 400 parts of calcium. It sounds complicated at first, but most manufacturers bake this formula into their products.

    If the salt you’re thinking about buying contains less than 400 ppm you should consider another brand. This usually means the company has cut corners in other areas, too, and you’re going to be required to add additional supplements to get your water to the levels they need to be at.

    On the flip side of that same coin, if the salt you’re thinking about buying contains hefty amounts of calcium you will need to dilute the mix before adding it into your tank.

  3. Alkalinity

  4. Alkalinity is another concept that can be hard to describe and wrap your head around. The alkalinity in your water refers to a pH scale determining whether the water is acid, or, as you guessed it, alkaline.

    A reef salt’s alkalinity will be compared to a neutral freshwater source to determine its level.

    Pure water is neither acidic nor alkaline, but once you start mixing in marine salts, it will become more alkaline since you are increasing the alkalinity. The level of alkalinity helps you determine the level of bicarbonate in the water, which is another factor of healthy coral reef growth.

    For most tanks, a healthy alkalinity level will be in the 8 to 11 dkH range. This means you want to avoid mixing in reef salts that are too low or too high that will throw off balances in your water.

  5. Magnesium

  6. Magnesium is, by far, the most abundant mineral in saltwater tanks. It helps bind to calcium and stabilizes your tank’s alkalinity levels.

    Again, for most tanks, a healthy level of magnesium is going in be in the 1,200 to 1,400 parts per million range. Ensuring the salt mix you are going to buy will keep your tank within these levels is critical to avoid having to do more maintenance to stabilize the water again.

  7. Costs

  8. What most tank owners don’t realize is that simply buying a reef salt mix isn’t going to be the end of the costs associated with maintaining a tank.

    Even though a brand may seem “cheap” on the surface, the added cost of missing nutrients could quickly outweigh the costs of buying a higher-priced salt mix the first time.

    However, buying a cheaper reef salt and adding in these supplements could also end up costing you less money in the long run than buying a more expensive, probably overpriced salt mix, too.

    For instance, if you have invertebrates that regularly consume calcium from your water, to help build their skeletal systems, you may find it’s cheaper to buy a salt mix that is higher in calcium instead of constantly adding more calcium supplements into the tank.

  9. Supplements

  10. With high-quality salt mixes, you’re going to find that you end up spending less money on additional supplements as time goes on. The opposite is true with lower-priced salts.

    If your aquarium has “special needs” and requires specific supplements, it’s recommended to either buy a reef salt that is heavier in those particular nutrients or weigh the costs of acquiring them against the cost of purchasing the salt you want.

    What you’ll usually find is that buying more in bulk upfront will dramatically reduce your costs over the span of a year, to give you an example.

What Is The Best Reef Salt In 2019?

After weighing dozens of different reef salt mixes against each other, reading through customer reviews, verifying ingredient lists, and understanding what sensitive saltwater ecosystems require, we have found that Instant Ocean 200 Gallon Reef Salt is, by far, the best reef salt available in 2019.

Affiliate links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Last update on 2019-10-18.

Top Editor's Choice on Reef Salts

SaleBestseller No. 1
Brightwell Aquatics ABANMAR150 Neomarine Marine Salt for Aquarium,...
TopDawg Pet Supply - Misc.
$68.64 −$8.87 $59.77
Bestseller No. 2
Bestseller No. 3
Bestseller No. 4
Bestseller No. 5
Bestseller No. 6
Bestseller No. 7
Bestseller No. 8
Bestseller No. 9
Bestseller No. 10
The Marine Reef Aquarium
Phil Hunt - Publisher: B.E.S. Publishing - Edition no. 0 (08/01/2008) - Hardcover: 208 pages
$24.99

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