Marine salt lab test reveals top products

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Practical Fishkeeping magazine has lab tested six major brands of marine aquarium salt to see which is the best.

The in-depth review, which is published in the April 2010 issue of PFK, measured total nitrogen, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, total inorganic phosphate, pH, calcium carbonate, calcium, alkalinity and magnesium, as well as the yield – the amount of salt water each brand produced.

The testing was undertaken in a blind trial to remove bias with samples being analysed by experts at the National Laboratory Service, the Environment Agency’s commercial laboratory.

The results were compared and rated against the ideal water parameters found in typical natural seawater.

The findings showed that phosphate and nitrate are no longer an issue in modern marine salts, but that mineral levels can often be below the levels preferred for running a reef aquarium, which means some brands could need costly supplementation with additives to get the right parameters for coral growth.

Some brands also produce more salt water than others, on a weight for weight basis. Levi Major, who produced the review, told Practical Fishkeeping:

“It’s clear that many manufacturers do not expect us to run at full salinity in our aquariums when they quote volumes on their packaging, but the table we have provided may help you determine the cost benefits of each salt.”

The full salt review is in the April 2010 issue, which goes on sale on Wednesday March 17 2010.