Best Saltwater Reef Aquarium Salt - Which salt is best for my saltwater reef tank?

Which salt is best.

Lately I have been going through a TON of issues with salt. It seems that every year I am wondering if I can get more growth and color out of my salt or why the salt I am using mixes in a certain way. Or if the more expensive salts are actually worth their cost etc. Some people find brands and stay with them forever while other people switch every few months in an effort to get more “balance” out of their tank.

Let me get the first topic out of the way that a lot of people may not be thrilled with my opinion. Are the salts in “fancy buckets” that claim to have more of certain elements or “better buffer capacities” really worth it?

Short answer, no.

Longer answer: The reason being is your corals will use elements such as Calcium, Magnesium and Strontium in the same way. Even IF a salt brand has higher levels of calcium or magnesium your corals are still going to use the same amount. Putting calcium at 450 ppm instead o 430 ppm isn’t going to make your corals grow any faster. Your corals are still going to use what they need even if it takes them slightly longer to absorb what they need. Here, we have been growing frags for going on 30 years. And I can tell anyone for a fact that us changing our salt to one that claims to have higher “buffer capacities” or higher amounts of certain elements has never made a single bit of difference in the growth rate or color of the corals.

Synthetic vs. Mined salts.

Synthetic, every time. One reason being is there a less of a chance of impurities or bacteria coming in with the batches. The synthetic companies amaze me. The mined salt brands are salts that come directly from a saltwater source and then the water is removed and VOILA you have your bucket. The synthetic ones are going to be more element specific because they are lab formulated. Most reefers purchase additives for their stability, and a bucket of synthetic salt is basically like a giant additive. They are formulated to mimic seawater so their levels are going to be precise based on that factor. 

Want to now the best salt brand on the market IMO? Seachem Vibrant Sea.

Live Aquaria Professional Reef Salt is a VERY close second. It is also a synthetic reef salt that is used by one of the nation’s largest livestock sellers. A place that large isn’t going to put their name on a product when they have so much riding on their name, including their reputation. And at 33 cents a gallon it’s extremely hard to beat. As a store we just have not put much effort into testing the Live Aquaria Reef Salt to see if it actually is a higher quality salt.

Seachem is a brand that has been around forever. You are basically guaranteed stability and a company that is constantly trying to improve anything that they do. 20 years ago I was going into other local fish stores and they were using Seachem Reef Salt and most of them had amazing coral growth.

Here are, as far as I know, all of the salt brands on the market and what the cost breakdown of each one is.

Instant Ocean Regular – 24 cents per gallon

Instant Ocean Reef Crystals – 28 cents per gallon

Corallife – 29 cents per gallon

Fritz Reef Pro Salt – 31 cents per gallon

Live Aquaria Professional Reef Salt – 33 cents per gallon

Seachem Vibrant Sea – 35 cents per gallon

Red Sea Marine Salt 1.021 – 40 cents per gallon

Red Sea Coral Pro 1.021 – 42 cents per gallon

HW Marine Mix – 43 cents per gallon

AquaForest Reef Salt – 43 cents per gallon

Neomarine Reef Salt – 48 cents per gallon

Tropic Marin Reef Salt – 49 cents per gallon