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

Best Reef Salt

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.

Reef Salt Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Is Reef Salt?

Coral requires saltwater to survive. Saltwater provides important chemicals like calcium and magnesium as well as the pH that coral prefers.

The best reef salt recreates the chemical and alkaline conditions normally found in ocean water in aquariums so your coral stays healthy.

2. What Does Reef Salt do?

The best reef salt creates the perfect environment for growing and maintaining coral. Adding reef salt to dechlorinated tap water or purified water ensures that the coral will receive the necessary nutrients and avoid any toxic additives that might damage or destroy the coral.

3. How Does Reef Salt Work?

The best reef salt is a blend of elements that are typically found in saltwater. The major components are usually calcium, magnesium, and strontium, but manufacturers often include other trace elements so the water in the aquarium mimics ocean water as closely as possible.

The exact ratio of elements varies among manufacturers, but the best reef salt should include only non-toxic, naturally occurring elements and avoid potentially harmful ingredients like nitrate, phosphate, arsenic, and beryllium.

4. Where Can You Buy Reef Salt?

Reef Salt is readily available at any local aquarium supply store. Many large pet store chains like Petco and PetSmart also sell reef salt in their stores.

Petco and PetSmart also have online sites where you can order the best reef salt directly. Sites like Amazon and Wal-Mart are other options for ordering reef salt online.

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

Choosing the right reef salt can be difficult. Some reef salt is only for specific types of coral, while others are more general and suitable for a wide-range of coral.

Our goal with this review is to provide the information you need to select the best reef salt for your aquarium.

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:

  • Aquaforest Probiotic Reef Salt
  • Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE11230 Coral Pro Marine Salt for Aquariums
  • Tropic Marin ATM10581 Pro Reef-Bucket for Aquariums
  • Instant Ocean Sea Salt for Marine Aquariums
  • Instant Ocean Reef Crystals Reef Salt for Reef Aquariums
  • Kent Marine Saltwater Aquarium Salt Mix
  • Brightwell Aquatics ABANMAR150 Neomarine Marine Salt for Aquariums
  • Coralife Marine Saltwater Aquarium Salt Mix
  • Seachem Vibrant Sea

1. Aquaforest Probiotic Reef Salt

Aquaforest Probiotic Reef Salt

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.

2. Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE11230 Coral Pro Marine Salt for Aquariums

Red Sea Aquarium Salts

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

3. Tropic Marin ATM10581 Pro Reef-Bucket for Aquariums

Tropic Marin ATM10581 Pro Reef-Bucket for Aquariums

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

4. Instant Ocean Sea Salt for Marine Aquariums

Instant Ocean Sea Salt for Marine Aquariums

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

5. Instant Ocean Reef Crystals Reef Salt for Reef Aquariums

Instant Ocean Reef Crystals Reef Salt for Reef Aquariums

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

6. Kent Marine Saltwater Aquarium Salt Mix

Kent Marine Reef Salt Mix

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

7. Brightwell Aquatics ABANMAR150 Neomarine Marine Salt for Aquariums

Brightwell Aquatics ABANMAR150 Neomarine Marine Salt for 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

8. Coralife Marine Saltwater Aquarium Salt Mix

Coralife Marine Saltwater Aquarium Salt Mix

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

9. Seachem Vibrant Sea

Seachem Vibrant Sea

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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