WHY I'VE STOPPED USING INSTANT OCEAN IN MY REEF

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by David S, Nov 9, 2017.

  1. David S

    David S Well-Known Member

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    Fellow Reefers,

    I've had Marine tanks for the last 30+ years and specifically an ongoing Reef tank for the last 15 or so years.
    During this time, I have used most of the popular salt mixes, such as Reef Crystals, HW Marinemix, Red Sea, Tropic Marin, etc. To be honest, I could not tell you if anyone was significantly better or worse.
    I would always come back to Instant Ocean, as it has proven to be very reliable and, quite frankly, cheaper.
    The one deficiency that I saw was that it was not "fortified" as some salt mixes are, but I rationalized that as my 38 gallon tank has a fair amount of Zoos, LPS and a lot of SPS, I would need to do a good deal of dosing regardless of the salt mix I was using.
    However a couple of things have happened which caused me to reconsider:
    1. The amount of dosing I've been doing.
    2. Impact of Triton testing.

    Regarding my dosing: I dose kalkwasser at night, which also serves as replacement water in my tank. However, this is not sufficient to maintain my alkalinity and calcium requirements. So I supplement with ESV 2 part. I would dose anywhere from 7 to 10 ml each, depending on test results.
    The problem was, eventually, either the alkalinity or Calcium would fall out of my desired range (I like to keep my Alkalinity between 7 - 8 DKH , Calcium between 420 - 450).
    When an imbalance occurred I would further supplement with Reef Advantage Calcium or Reef Builder, for Alkalinity - both Seachem products. I used them because they were a bit more concentrated than the ESV 2 part and the Reef Builder would not raise my PH as much as if I dosed more ESV Alaklinity.
    These deviations calling for additional dosing were resulting in daily testing and was a general pain.
    I wondered, if perhaps switching to a salt fortified for Reef tanks may improve the situation.

    My recent Triton test was another cause for concern:
    It showed a Lithium level of of 3524 ug/l !
    I know that many people have advised that high Lithium levels are not a big concern, but the amount in my tank is literally off Triton's charts!
    Plus, consider that when I had Triton testing done in 1/2015 my LI level was 560.9 ug/l (even that was off their scale).
    Fortunately all inhabitants in the tank (Fish corals inverts) appear to be fine and thriving but if the trend continues, I fear something will eventually give.
    Since it has been suggested that Instant Ocean has a high LI content, I decided to try another mix.
    (For the record, I did 6% weekly water changes with IO).
    Then too, I think Randy mentioned that one of the Seachem products may be high in Lithium.
    As best as I can recall, it was NOT Reef Advantage Calcium or Reef Builder, but as I want to see if I can simplify my dosing procedures, I will discontinue the use of the Seachem products, for now.
    Since most of my imbalances were due to deficient Calcium, I decided to simply have some Calcium from the BRS 2 part, on hand.

    Not to keep you in suspense any further about the salt I decided to use; it is Tropic-Marin Pro Reef.
    Two reasons for my decision:
    1. When I looked at reviews for the other contending salts, there were plenty of proponents but there were enough detractors to make me think twice. But when it came to Tropic-Marin there were virtually no critics (at least from the reviews I saw) except perhaps for the cost.
    The 2nd reason for using TM actually just bolstered my already made decision. It came from the Triton people who recommend this salt.
    As they don't make this salt (they have their own, but it's used for a different reason) that is a very powerful endorsement.

    So I've been using Tropic Marin Pro Reef for one month now (I've increased my water change schedule to 10% weekly although TM recommends 15). Here are my observations:

    OVERALL APPEARANCE OF INHABITANTS - At this point I see NO difference in the health of my Fish, corals or inverts. Corals continue apparent growth rates as when using IO, further I do not detect any difference, in coloration, polyp extension etc.

    DOSING - Let me just say that over the years, I have tried a lot of products that promised the world but were always nothing but a letdown. I can honestly say that this salt is working out even better than I hoped it would.
    As usual, I dose my Kalk at night, but in the morning, I'm dosing 5 ml each of the ESV 2 part. I have dosed BRS Calcium (2 part formula) on two occasions, only as a top off and not due to significant depletion. ( I can remember when 400 PPM for calcium was the goal and if you went much above 420 PPM it could cause precipitation in the tank).
    So I'm actually dosing less of the ESV 2 part, but retaining more of the components.
    Instead of daily testing, I'm testing every other day, but will probably switch to twice a week, as the results have been far more consistent- almost clockwork.

    The funny thing is when I first got the TM salt, I ran tests for all the things, I test for; namely KH, CA, K, and MG and compared it with a batch of IO salt.. The results were surprising and disappointing, as I expected significantly elevated levels in the TM batch. This was hardly the case. As I recollect the IO batch had as much, or almost as much in all the elements tested.
    However, when added to the tank something is obviously happening - apparently for the better.

    FURTHER TESTING - So I intend to send in another test to see, among other things, if the use of the TM salt helps to reduce my LI levels.
    I'll probably send it in near the end of the year. By that time most of the IO salt should be replaced by the TM salt.
    I am also thinking of testing with ATI this time as they also test your RODI Water, although as I live in NYC, where the tap water is excellent, I don't see a problem.
    I'll let you know the results when I get em.
    In the meantime, I'll let you know if any significant events occur, in the tank, between now and then.

    David
     
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  2. TUSI

    TUSI Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Spotlight Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award Partner Member 2018

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    Good write up. I have been using TM pro for ten yrs and I think it's the best salt except a little pricey
     
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  3. David S

    David S Well-Known Member

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    Thanks
    So far the easier dosing is great.
    If it helps with the trace elements, especially LI, it will be a slam dunk for me, and worth the price
     
  4. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award

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    I'm confused as to why the salt was an issue for you.
    Just Poor tests results ? Or was there an issue with the corals?
     
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  5. madweazl

    madweazl Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    If things like alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium are all testing at near equal levels, what leads you to believe the change of salt has led to your more consistent dosing?

    Edit: since you seem to be having an issue with a desired balance between alkalinity and calcium specifically, you'd likely be better off dosing a two part to achieve this.
     
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  6. SuperDragon

    SuperDragon Well-Known Member

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    +1
    There are plenty of well know reefers that use IO regular and adjust for the big 3. I.e. Jason Fox is one of them and I think as a seller his stuff looks out of this world.
    I remeber reading somewhere from Randy that Li has no known effects in our tanks, I could be mistaken.
    Unfortunately that the secret sauce of reefkeeping is more than water quality such as lighting, flow, husbandry, and your style of filtration or method of reefkeeping. There seems to be many ways to keep our animals successfully. I try to read as much as I can from experts that have tanks that I like to look at with similar livestock I want to keep. Unfortunately we can't collect them all like Pokemon. :)
     
  7. David S

    David S Well-Known Member

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    1. Excessive fluctuations in alkalinity and calcium
    2. Ultra High Lithium levels which may be the result of IO salt mix.
    The alkalinity and calcium fluctuations have all been eliminated since switching to Tropic Marin.
    As far as the Li levels; I'll have a better idea when I have my water retested
     
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  8. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award

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    Bear in mind, I'm not bashing your choice , just honestly curious.

    I never saw excessive fluctuation in ca alk.
    I keep my alk somewhere above 8 , for five gal wc every other , and dose TM (currently esv previously) to maintain the 8. Took about 4-8 weeks to find that dosing sweet spot for both products.

    What was your process?

    I do it know about the litium, but I had assumed it was mainly due to one of the processes needed in mag supplement production. I e Kent changed theirs.
     
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  9. hart24601

    hart24601 Well-Known Member

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    Really just send in fresh mixed samples of the salt mix, then you know what is going into the tank unless the manufactures switch sources and then it helps others make choices about their salt. Of course you have to figure in mixing and salt separation but I feel it's more useful than looking at ones tank unless aside from a snapshot or if something is wrong. That is what I did here and got ESV to change sources:

    https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/reef-crystals-vs-esv-triton-test.176536/
     
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  10. madweazl

    madweazl Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Based on myriad results from other IO users, we know to a reasonable degree that IO isn't the issue regarding this users elevated (above what is typically measured) lithium levels.
     
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  11. ca1ore

    ca1ore Well-Known Member CTARS Member

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    Been using IO for as long as I can remember (certainly since 1997); never had any reason to switch. I do run a large CaRx which contributes to stability. I'd have to dose regardless of the salt mix frankly.
     
  12. David S

    David S Well-Known Member

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    My process hasn't changed. When using either salt I dose Kalk overnight and then dose ESV 2 part in the morning. The problem was when I was using IO salt, I would constantly have to make further adjustments to my KH or CA (usually the CA). Since switching to TM I have had to make virtually no intraday adjustments, and find I don't have to test as much.
    Could this be a "honeymoon" period? It's possible, but thus far the results are quite encouraging.

    You mentioned MG supplementation and I think it's only fair to mention that some 6 to 8 months ago, I inadvertently mixed about a 1/2 gallon of ESV Magnesium with my water change. I was totally unaware of this, although I got a few clues some time later, when my SG which I keep at 1.025 suddenly rose to 1.031, then when I tested my MG I saw it was at 2100 ppm. I know from past experience that to have that kind of level a huge amount of Magnesium has to be added.
    It wasn't until I replenished my RODI water a few weeks later that I saw the empty bottle of Magnesium and I realized what I did.
    So is it possible there is Lithium in ESV's Magnesium supplement? Haven't a clue. But I would imagine my water changes since then would have removed it by now.
    You might ask what Magnesium supplement I'm using now? It is Tech-M by Kent. The reason I'm using it is around the time I overdosed the ESV MG, I had a Bryopsis issue. I was hoping the TECH-M would help. I'm assuming this was the newer one with the "impurities" removed because it didn't help.
    Could this product be causing the high LI? Over time I'll find out.
     
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  13. David S

    David S Well-Known Member

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    As mentioned in the original message all animals (Corals, Fish Inverts) are fine.
    My issue was with the constant testing and adjustments to dosing as well as, the high Lithium levels which may or may not be attributed to the salt I was using.
    The first issue of dosing and testing has resulted in a profound improvement since switching (a good month now) salt brands.
    As far as the LI levels, I may have some definitive findings as to its cause after sending water samples to ATI.
     
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  14. David S

    David S Well-Known Member

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    Don't care to spend the money on freshly made samples...yet.
    However, your results for the two salt mixes were interesting. I don't know the levels of toxicity but more of a concern to me than the high LI levels for the ESV sample is the amount of lead.
     
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  15. David S

    David S Well-Known Member

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    I just want to say that I've used IO for years and had great success, I just got tired of constantly adjusting my KH/CA and constantly testing to make sure it's right.
    So far with TM my reef tank appears just as healthy sans the constant testing and readjusting. I don't mind paying the extra bucks, if these results can be maintained.
    Your correct when you say that Randy suggests not to be concerned about high Lithium levels, but I believe he also said that Lithium is not utilized by the inhabitants of the Reef.
    That leads me to believe that Lithium would accumulate in your tank, so you would want to get a salt mix that is low in Lithium.
    I can't say for sure until I eliminate the various possibilities through further testing, but I know I've read articles that suggested that IO has a relatively high LI content.
    Actually, if you look at the Triton sample provided by Hart24601 you see a result of over 6,000 ug/l for Lithium for the ESV batch.
    I know I'd feel a lot more comfortable if the level was reduced - considerably. Do we really know what effect this could have over the long term.
     
  16. hart24601

    hart24601 Well-Known Member

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    I can sure understand not wanting to spend the cash, and now if you search there are results more salt mix brands but my reasoning is that if my tank has some issue and triton says XXX is high, then if nothing else I get the mix tested I know it's not from my salt and waterchanges will help remove the XXXX.
     
  17. Hersheyb

    Hersheyb Member

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    I have been using IO since I started this hobby 15 years ago. Haven't had an issue with stability. I dose 2part from BRS and haven't had any issue with the big 3s. Alk is dead set at 8, Calc at 425 and Mg at 1500. I'm dosing 15 ml a daily of the 2 part. I just just got my triton test results and I did have really high Li. I didn't worry much since everything in the tank was doing fine. Wasn't where the high Li came from. The only other thing I was lacking was Iodine, it was slightly lower then recommended, but that's probably because I do minimal water changes on my system (10-15 gal a month on a 80 gal system).
     
  18. David S

    David S Well-Known Member

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    Yep.
    But think about it. If you have a salt mix that is high in any undesirable element water changes will not help.
    Lithium is apparently not used by any of our reef inhabitants, so does that mean it just stays in the tank?
    It will probably require multiple tests to determine my hi LI level.. that's why I'll probably do quarterly testing over the nest year. Also not ruling out my RODI water (although I'd be a bit surprised if it was that) which is why I'll be using ATI my next go round.
    Eventually, though, I'll figure out what's causing it.
    BTW, the other "issue" I had with my test was high Iodine levels, which I think you have, as well. any insight as to why so high?
     
  19. brandon429

    brandon429 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I like to post a neat point about tank volumes and criticality of salt makeup...that the volume of your tank determines the impacts of the salts you choose, not the salts themselves.

    here's my case claim
    no pico reefer in existence has to dose their 1-3 gallon tank to grow any amount of sps you want to pack in it. More sps per gallon than a larger tank which is why these make excellent scaling examples for the claim

    any of our very old very long term sps and lps pico reefs can be instantly changed to any salt, without ramp up, back and forth every day of the week if we want, and in the end it simply does not matter.

    if a pico reef is changing out most or all of their water weekly (owing to that low volume and easy access variable) they don't have to test for anything other than salinity and temp and the tank will grow any coral you can stuff into it.

    there is a lucky tune in coral command vs gallonage rates such that any tiny reef that is simply changed weekly meets the commands required for every known coral we can stuff into them, and if you really want to get specific pull up Maritza the vase reef (2017 vids) and see that amount of sixty month coral growth only on IO and weekly changes. usually only half the volume is required for very long term success, we change all of it mostly so we can feed/export more aggressively and get that growth.

    of course this observation doesn't help large tankers any, you must modulate your ion dosing much more than us since you cant swap large volumes as easy. So the irony remains that the smaller your reef gets, the less anything matters other than 4 minute weekly water changes it will cover every base you need. No pico reefer ever needs triton testing, salt brand consideration, or test kits other than temp and salinity to produce the exact same corals being produced in larger tanks (slower output rate agreed) but that's a neat irony to consider in these types of posts.

    My own lfs shut down after 22 yrs last week, and I don't keep wc salts handy. my tank has been changed from their Kent back to Fritz, and oceanic, all with 100% water changes, and back to fritz now via the new lfs. if for some reason they changed to IO I would not need to know that info...pico reefers: size of tank set you free from ion concerns completing the tenth way a tiny reef is easier to run than a larger one if coral production is the goal. your reefs are immune to concerns of salt makeup chemistry using the standard online care methods.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  20. David S

    David S Well-Known Member

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    Definitely agree about additional dosing, but I spent to much time adjusting my Alk or Calcium at all times of the day.
    At least for know, I am doing my Kalk and ESV 2 part and that's pretty much it.
    I'm also dosing less of the two part (aside from no longer using the Seachem products). I attribute this to the fortified elements in the TM salt
     
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