my boiled tap water has no chlorine so…??

RockRash

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I was thinking that I could just mix my ATO with salt mix and call it the day.
Are you wanting to use salt water in your ATO or are you taking about using the water you buy for your ATO to mix the salt? What water are you using for your ATO? If you're buying RODI from a LFS they probably sell premixed water for $.50 or$1.00 more a gallon. It might be easier now to just buy the premixed for water changes right now. Worry about mixing it yourself once you have a RODI unit.
 
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Ballyhoo

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Are you wanting to use salt water in your ATO or are you taking about using the water you buy for your ATO to mix the salt? What water are you using for your ATO? If you're buying RODI from a LFS they probably sell premixed water for $.50 or$1.00 more a gallon. It might be easier now to just buy the premixed for water changes right now. Worry about mixing it yourself once you have a RODI unit.
I don't understand why I would have to do water changes since I have such great filtration, a monster protein skimmer, reef matt, activated charcoal. The only thing I wanna make sure is I'm replenishing all the elements that come in my blue bucket. So what if I never did water changes, and instead, I use my roadie saltwater mix in the ATO?And just monitor specific gravity? IE replace evaporated water with salt mixed roadie water through the ATO. My own blue bucket ATO i.e. I take my ATO external unit and mix it with salt . As water evaporates and it takes up and replaces via ATO with my salt mix . And I just monitor the specific gravity and add or subtract rodi water as needed. as it turns out IFS owner told me he only does about a 5% weekly water change and he has the most beautiful coral tank I've ever ever seen That's what I did today . I water replaced my 51 gallon system with about 3 1/2 gallons of salt mix. Tank looked much nicer afterward.
 

ISpeakForTheSeas

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So what if I never did water changes, and instead, I use my roadie saltwater mix? And just monitor specific gravity? IE replace evaporated water with salt mixed roadie water through the ATO. My own blue bucket ATO i.e. I take my ATO external unit and mix it with Max water evaporates and it takes up and replaces with my salt mix ATL. And I . just monitor the specific gravity and add or subtract rodi water as needed.
The issue here is that the salt doesn't evaporate with the water, so adding saltwater instead of freshwater to replace the evaporation will cause a rise in salinity.

If you don't want to change water, you can look into dosing trace elements instead - there are a variety of methods to do this, some are highly organized and technical about it, others just sort guess/add randomly. Probably the biggest methods right now are the Reef Moonshiners and the Triton methods.
 

RockRash

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I don't understand why I would have to do water changes since I have such great filtration, a monster protein skimmer, reef matt, activated charcoal. The only thing I wanna make sure is I'm replenishing all the elements that come in my blue bucket. So what if I never did water changes, and instead, I use my roadie saltwater mix in the ATO?And just monitor specific gravity? IE replace evaporated water with salt mixed roadie water through the ATO. My own blue bucket ATO i.e. I take my ATO external unit and mix it with salt . As water evaporates and it takes up and replaces via ATO with my salt mix . And I just monitor the specific gravity and add or subtract rodi water as needed. as it turns out IFS owner told me he only does about a 5% weekly water change and he has the most beautiful coral tank I've ever ever seen That's what I did today . I water replaced my 51 gallon system with about 3 1/2 gallons of salt mix. Tank looked much nicer afterward.
Adding saltwater to the ATO will rase your salinity. You you dont want to do that. Are you purchasing RODI/ distilled water for your ATO or using tap? If you have salt I'd recommend buying RODI from your LFS to mix the water for water changes until you get a RODI unit.

If you dont want to replace trace elements without doing water changes you will need to dose them. If I were you, I would just buy some 5 gallon containers and buy my water from the LFS for now. Worry about dosing and no water changes once you get a better grasp on the hobby.

I completely understand jumping in and wanting to do everything right away but this hobby it's all about slow baby steps. I'm fighting the urge to go fast after a 10 year hiatus. Really the only thing slowing me down is the fact that I've spent the last 5 months slowly buying all the parts I want, drilling my tank, building a stand and scape. I have so much time invested I really dont want to make any obvious mistakes. Although I know I will make mistakes, hopefully nothing obvious.
 
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Ballyhoo

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you all didn't read where i wrote "monitor my specific gravity and add ro di accordingly."
 

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you all didn't read where i wrote "monitor my specific gravity and add ro di accordingly."
We did - the point was that the salt from evaporated saltwater stays in the tank, and you can't replace the lost trace elements the way you were describing without adding more saltwater; so if you're adding more saltwater without getting rid of some of saltwater already in the tank (i.e. changing the water), then it will raise the salinity because you'd be adding more salt to the salt already in the tank.

On that note, adding RO/DI to replace evaporated water is fine (recommended, actually), but it won't replenish depleted elements.

Edit: So, to be clear, the options for replacing trace elements are either water changes (exchanging old saltwater for new saltwater), or dosing (adding elements directly to old saltwater).
 

RockRash

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Dont take offense but I'd recommend watching some videos on YouTube. BRS has some really good ones. You will learn some good fundamentals and get a good grasp on how to keep/ start a tank and if your anything like me visual references are always a help.
 
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Ballyhoo

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this is so much more fun.
i'll just take it for granted LFS owner was correct. Small water change every week. What's the big deal? he didn't say 10%. He said like 3-5% is fine.
edit
it's hard for me to wrap my head around that a freshwater change wouldn't be superior to dosing. IDK
 

RockRash

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this is so much more fun.
i'll just take it for granted LFS owner was correct. Small water change every week. What's the big deal? he didn't say 10%. He said like 3-5% is fine.
edit
it's hard for me to wrap my head around that a freshwater change wouldn't be superior to dosing. IDK
Dont replace salt water with fresh. The fresh RODI water is used for the ATO and mixing NEW saltwater. Use the saltwater for water changes ( replacing trace elements). Like I said earlier for your size tank the easiest route will be getting a couple 5 gallon containers and purchasing your RODI and saltwater from your LFS. Once you get a RODI unit you can do it yourself.
 

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The salt mixes we all use have specific amounts of all the different elements designed to create the proper levels when added to water that has been filtered by rodi to have a near zero starting point. If you add the salt mix to non rodi filtered water some of these levels will be abnormal. You could spend a lot of time and money testing for everything and adding elements as needed, and buffering to reduce some levels as needed, but it is so easy and relatively inexpensive to mix rodi and pre-engineered salt mix. It is possible to have marine life in a tank without rodi salt mix, but too many unknowns in the water without testing that costs more than the rodi saltwater. The improper levels will compound with time, to what end will vary depending on what the water has in it to begin with. I am not saying it can't be done the way you are describing, just saying it seems easier, cheaper, and less time consuming than the testing needed to ensure the water is right the other way. Tap water commonly has chlorine, chloramine, silicate, iron, fluoride, copper, (even arsenic and lead in some cases) in amounts that are not natural as well as varying amounts of trace elements which when added to salt mix will produce saltwater with the correct s.g. but many other parameters/elements unnatural. Since the natural levels have maintained marine life in nature for so long it would seem to make sense to mimic the natural levels. Some testing will always be necessary, depending on the life in your tank and what elements they consume. It takes a lot of time to care for everything properly with engineered salt mixes, so I don't want to spend more time trying to make something else work.
 

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Here’s what ya need to keep in mind

If you siphon saltwater out, you need to replace with saltwater

If water evaporates out, the salt stays behind and your tank salinity increases. You replace evaporation each day or week with rodi water - NO Salt. This reduces the tank salinity to what it was before the evap

If water evap out, and tank salinity increases, and your ato replaces with sw, then tank salinity increases even more. And then to fix with fw -> you can’t. All the free space has been replaced with sw. You would be increasing salinity unnecessarily just to be adding a step to siphon it out to manually add fw.

Take my advice and what others are saying

If you siphon saltwater out, you need to replace with saltwater

Keep the ato filled with FW only

You’ll be on a good path
 

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I don't understand why I would have to do water changes since I have such great filtration, a monster protein skimmer, reef matt, activated charcoal. The only thing I wanna make sure is I'm replenishing all the elements that come in my blue bucket. So what if I never did water changes, and instead, I use my roadie saltwater mix in the ATO?And just monitor specific gravity? IE replace evaporated water with salt mixed roadie water through the ATO. My own blue bucket ATO i.e. I take my ATO external unit and mix it with salt . As water evaporates and it takes up and replaces via ATO with my salt mix . And I just monitor the specific gravity and add or subtract rodi water as needed. as it turns out IFS owner told me he only does about a 5% weekly water change and he has the most beautiful coral tank I've ever ever seen That's what I did today . I water replaced my 51 gallon system with about 3 1/2 gallons of salt mix. Tank looked much nicer afterward.

Who said you have “such great filtration”?

Your monster protein skimmer is oversized. It actually makes it underperform compared to one properly sized.

Reef mat / fleece roller is a good thing, but that only removes physical particles and not liquid organics

Charcoal is also ok, but it doesn’t absorb everything and has to be replaced frequently.

Skimmers don’t remove phosphates or nitrates. Water changes do.

I can show you some ridiculous setups that are great filtration. I don’t mean to be condescending I am trying to reset the bar here so you aren’t setup for a disaster. You don’t know how many people enter this hobby and have complete system crashes between years 1 and 2, and they lose everything. You have decent filtration but not good enough to not need water changes

As for the 3% vs 10% there might be confusion or assumption. 3% a week is fine, and many people do 10% a month

3x4 = 12% a month. I don’t see anything wrong here. You could do it weekly or all at once once a month. Some people need to do 20% a month. Everyone’s system is unique and you have to find what works for you.

Keep in mind the more fish and coral you add, the more waste and phosphates get added to your system. So what worked one month might not be enough going d forward if you bought a few new living things. You should be monitoring at a minimum:

Calcium
Alkalinity
Phosphate
Nitrate

Test strips are not accurate at all. They are garbage. Junk. They don’t work. Get salifert or Hanna or Red Sea test kits and use them weekly, record the values in a chart or app and track them.
 

Reefering1

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@Ballyhoo
Have you adjusted your protien skimmer to where its not dumping clear water into cup for removal? If not, when you remove that water you're removing salt. Sounds like it would explain why your tank liked being topped off with saltwater...
 

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it's hard for me to wrap my head around that a freshwater change wouldn't be superior to dosing. IDK
To put it simply, a lot of the trace elements in our tanks come (either purposefully or from impurities) from the salt we use - unfiltered freshwater may contain harmful levels of certain elements or chemicals (like the copper and ammonia discussed previously), but freshwater that has been filtered in such a way as to remove those harmful elements/chemicals (i.e. RO/DI water) will not contain any trace elements at all: they will all have been filtered out.

So, unfiltered freshwater may replace some trace elements (though I certainly wouldn't expect it to replace all of the trace elements necessary), but it may also contain harmful stuff, or it may contain too much/not enough of certain trace elements.

Filtered freshwater will not replace trace elements at all.

Saltwater will replace trace elements - the bigger/more frequent the water change with saltwater, the more trace elements are added.
 

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I want to add something here regarding trace elements.

If you start out with a certain level of trace elements, lets say Element-A = 10% in your tank because that is what is in your salt mix. As that 10% gets depleted, let's say down to 9% by coral (or whatever) - adding back fresh saltwater with a 10% concentration of Element-A does not bring it back up to 10% in your tank, especially if your water changes are small like 5%, it doesn't even come close.

Over time these trace element levels are going to fall out of balance even with well intentioned water changes. The smaller the changes, the faster the imbalance will occur. Short term you may be okay, but long term you need a better plan. That plan may be dosing or it may be massive (close to 100%) water changes to help keep things close to balanced.

So @Ballyhoo the major takeaway here should be that you are very new to this and questions are great, as is the desire to learn. But, given there is so much to learn and so many caveats it would be best to follow established practices until you (through those practices and participation) learn what works for you and what doesn't. Once you have that experience than you can forge your own path and methods.

As for your LFS - take the advice for what it is, a guy selling you stuff that may or may not be well informed. Everyone has an opinion and a pretty tank or not, some of those people are right as often as broken clocks. This forum is no different. It takes time to figure out what information is good information.

So that brings us back to established and time tested practices.
- use RODI
- Dose for Alk/Cal/Mag with a balanced additive system
- Run a skimmer - set it (esp at its size and in the new system) to skim very dry (it should take a week or two to fill the cup).
- Do 20% water changes
- Consider bypassing some water in the roller filter or keeping it offline until the system is fully established
- Don't fiddle with dosing N and P
- Don't use other exotic or snake oil products or additives
- Don't overfeed
- Be very cautious about changes, additions of livestock, etc.
- Move slowly. Reef maturity takes time and good things don't typically happen quickly.

Just keep things simple and learn as you go. As time progresses you will figure out what works and what doesn't.
 

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