Best Reef Salt: The Best Available Fish Tank Products in the Market Today

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We've all seen the fantastic aquariums on shows like “Tanked” and dreamed of creating our own bit of tropical paradise in our homes. Reef aquariums can be a beautiful and soothing presence, but many owners struggle with maintaining livable conditions in the tank. One of the most important factors in keeping a tank alive is the best reef salt.

Coral requires safe levels of calcium, magnesium, and strontium, and modern reef salt is designed to help reef aquarium owners keep conditions at optimum levels. But there are a lot of options out there, and finding the best reef salt for your tank can be a challenge. We're here to help take the stress out of that decision with our review of the best reef salt for aquariums.

Best Reef Salt Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Is Reef Salt?

2. What Does Reef Salt do?

3. How Does Reef Salt Work?

4. Where Can You Buy Reef Salt?

5. How Do I Know Which Reef Salt Is the Best Reef Salt for My Aquarium?

Finding the Best Reef Salt - What We Looked for

Several factors went in to our review for the best reef salt. The most important item is clearly the chemical component of the reef salt, but we also looked at any special features that might be offered, the pros and cons of each product, and availability. We combed through hundreds of websites to find products with a proven track record and ready availability. Any reef salt that was too hard to find or too obscure was eliminated from our research. Our finalists for best reef salt were rigorously tested and compared to find that true standout.

Price Range for Best Reef Salt

Comparing prices for the best reef salt can be tricky since there is no set of standard sized packaging. Most major manufacturers do sell a 175 gallon to 200 gallon product, and we've opted to use that as the base for our price range. Higher-end products are often designed for a specific purpose, such as accelerated growth or tank recovery and carry a higher price.

What We Reviewed

Our final group for best reef salt included:

Features

This product is consist of premium blend synthetic salt mix that promotes simulates the natural reefs which is perfect for reef aquarium settings. This Aquaforest Probiotic Reef Salt is considered to be an ideal option for creating optimal conditions for cultured corals to survive. the probiotic bacteria in this reef salt prevents the growth of pathogens that are dangerous in marine aquariums. It also reduces the nitrates and phosphates in the tank to create a healthy environment for the sea creatures.

Pros

  • Safe with a wide variety of reef aquariums including soft coral, SPS coral, and LPS coral as well as clams and fish
  • Corals exhibited excellent colors
  • Mixes quickly

Cons

  • Produced in Europe, so it is sometimes hard to find in the U.S.

Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE11230 Coral Pro Marine Salt for Aquarium, 175-Gallon
  • Coral pro salt is the ideal salt mix for reef aquariums, encouraging accelerated, healthy growth and enhanced vitality of all corals
  • All corals build their skeletons by absorbing the major, minor and trace elements that they need from the surrounding water
  • Shown that the ratio between calcium/magnesium/carbonates is paramount for the corals to efficiently takes these elements from the water and grow
  • Provides the basis for accelerated healthy growth of all soft, LPS and SPS corals and is particularly recommended for growing out SPS coral frags
  • Available in 175-gallon bucket

Features

This reef salt has been harvested from the Red Sea and includes not only the same chemical balance of calcium, magnesium, and strontium as regular sea salt, but also over 70 trace elements. There are no nitrates, phosphates, or chemical binders.

Pros

  • Low moisture content so it dissolves quickly
  • Works well with mature and low nutrient communities
  • Suitable for fish-only environment as well

Cons

  • Higher alkalinity than some others tested
  • Not recommended for soft coral

Tropic Marin ATM10581 Pro Reef-Bucket for Aquarium, 200-Gallon
  • Tropic marin pro reef 200 galloon-bucket
  • Pharmaceutical grade sea salt especially for modern reef aquaria
  • Regular use of bio-actif sea salt maintains optimized conditions at a consistent level over the long term

Features

Tropic Marin is made with pharmaceutical-grade, 100% biodegradable salts, so no toxins, fillers, or synthetic additives are included. This is an excellent choice for a first-time setup.

Pros

  • Can be used with a wide variety of coral including soft, LPS, and SPS
  • Well buffered so pH won't change dramatically when first mixed in
  • Quick dissolving

Cons

  • It tends to balance slightly lower on the pH scale so using a calcium reactor may be necessary if you need a higher alkalinity
  • Price has seen steady increases in recent years

Instant Ocean Sea Salt for Marine Aquariums, Nitrate & Phosphate-Free
  • Number 1 choice of hobbyists, public aquariums and scientific research facilities
  • Fast dissolving
  • Nitrate and phosphate-free
  • Contains all important major and minor trace elements necessary for a healthy aquarium
  • Makes 200 Gallons

Features

Balanced formulation makes it a great salt for coral, fish, and other animals and plants that rely on salt. It's easy to find online and in stores.

Pros

  • The formula makes it one of the best not only for reef aquariums but also for brackish tanks and hermit crabs
  • Each dosage arrives in separate bags, so no clumping if you accidentally get the box wet
  • Easy to find online and in stores

Cons

  • Mixing this reef salt is more complicated than some of the other brands tested
  • Improperly mixed salt leaves a cloudy appearance in the tank

Instant Ocean Reef Crystals Reef Salt, Enriched Formulation for Aquariums, 200 gal
  • FORMULATED SPECIFICALLY FOR REEF AQUARIUMS: Contains essential ocean reef elements in concentrations greater than those found in natural sea water
  • EXTRA CALCIUM: Encourages stony coral and coralline algae growth.
  • EXTRA TRACE ELEMENTS: Provides vital nutrients.
  • EXTRA VITAMINS: Helps promote growth and survival of corals, anemones and other invertebrates in a captive environment.
  • DETOXIFIES METALS: Neutralizes traces of heavy metals found in tap water.

Features

The Instant Ocean Reef Crystals contains concentrations higher than those found in natural seawater to encourage growth and survival of coral, anemones, and other invertebrates.

Pros

  • Includes a detoxifier to remove heavy metals commonly found in tap water
  • Holds alkalinity and element levels longer than many other brands

Cons

  • Leaves a cloudy residue if not properly mixed
  • Magnesium sometimes exceeds correct levels if not properly managed

Kent Marine 02111 Reef Salt Mix, 200 Gallon Mix
  • Cora-Vite technology
  • Superior dissolvability
  • For fish only and reef aquariums
  • Enhanced with calcium, strontium, iodine, vitamins and minerals
  • Not for human consumption

Features

Designed specifically for reefs and reef fish, the formula provides all nutritional elements. Kent Marine includes the big three (calcium, strontium, and magnesium) as well as iodine and various vitamins.

Pros

  • Powdered form means the salt dissolves quickly and easily
  • Magnesium and calcium levels quickly achieve acceptable levels and remain steady
  • Perfect for SPS and LPS corals

Cons

  • Sometimes leaves a brown residue in the filter system
  • Not as fast as other brands at clearing water

Brightwell Aquatics ABANMAR150 Neomarine Marine Salt for Aquarium, 150-Gallon
  • Safe, Effective, provides outstanding results
  • Made in the United States
  • Precision salt blend for reef aquariums

Features

The formula for Brightwell Aquatics Neomarine is built on years of testing. It was developed by a marine scientist to achieve perfect conditions and was carefully created in a lab rather than simply removing sea salt from water.

Pros

  • No residue after mixing meaning all nutrients are in the water and available to the marine life
  • The formula requires little to no addition of chemical elements to maintain aquarium health
  • Coral exhibit good color

Cons

  • High amounts of trace elements means the salt can get very warm if handled with bare hands
  • Lower pH than other reef salts

Coralife Marine Salt Mix, 200 Gallon (boxed item)
  • Replicates seawater chemistry in all its complexity.
  • Provide the proper pH and optimal levels of calcium and magnesium
  • Only the purest ingredients
  • Nitrate and Phosphate free

Features

Coralife is micro-processed to ensure that every bag of product has the exact same blend. It was designed for excellent solubility.

Pros

  • Can be used with a wide-range of corals including SPS and LPS
  • Excellent algae control

Cons

  • Lower pH than many other brands
  • Sometimes doesn't dissolve as quickly as advertised
Seachem Vibrant Sea - Highly Concentrated Synthetic Sea Salt 220 Gallons
  • SEA SALT: Seachem’s Vibrant Sea is a highly concentrated blend of synthetic sea salts formulated for marine and reef aquariums.
  • FORMULA: Vibrant Sea contains all essential major, minor, and trace components found in natural seawaters, plus the added advantage of enhanced potassium levels.
  • GREAT FOR: Vibrant Sea is ideal for the reef environment and will provide accurate seawater concentrations of magnesium, calcium, and strontium with proper alkalinity and pH for closed reef aquarium systems.
  • USE: Vibrant Sea is an anhydrous salt, which allows for unparalleled uniformity from batch to batch as well as the ability to produce more saltwater from less salt. In addition, it is highly soluble and can be mixed and used in the same day.
  • CARE: When using Vibrant Sea, mix with dechlorinated tap or purified water, then stir the product well until thoroughly, but not excessively, dissolved. For reef aquariums, 1.020 - 1.025 at 24°C (75°F) is recommended. Never mix Vibrant Sea in an aquarium containing animals.

Features

This is the new formulation of Seachem's Reef Salt. Its highly concentrated formula means less salt is required to create a safe environment. It also includes an enhanced potassium formula for better color.

Pros

  • Achieves balanced numbers quickly
  • The extra potassium helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria and algae
  • Safe for all fish and plants as well

Cons

  • Granular flakes makes it harder to mix
  • Remains cloudy for a longer period of time

The Verdict

We found that the best reef salt for your aquarium will depend in part on who you are. For hobbyists, either the Instant Ocean Reef Crystals or the Instant Ocean Sea Salt is the best reef salt. It's easy to mix, contains all of the needed nutrients, can be used with a nice variety of coral and fish, and is usually the lowest priced product on the market.

For more serious aquarists, we would recommend the Aquaforest Probiotic Reef Salt as the best reef salt. Though on the pricier end, it provides an all-natural product that helps not only the coral and fish, but the necessary bacteria and algae as well. It's safe for almost any coral or fish and works quickly. We saw some of the best colors with this one.

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