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Old 04-13-2007, 10:48 AM   #1
HunterMcCray
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DIY Salt Mix


I will answer the "Why" first to prevent the question from taking over the thread. I sell saltwater minnows for bait, and I go through a fairly large volume of water (~300 gallons/week). Hauling water from the ocean is a real PITA, buying salt for $0.25+/gallon is not econmically viable.

Next I need to state that I would NOT reccomend "making a salt mix" for your prized pets without careful considerations to the potential problems you might encounter. For most this is a hobby and the cost of salt is fairly trivial.

With all the propper disclaimers in place, I am interested to know if anyone has any experience in mixing readily available commercial grade chemicals to form a reasonable facsimile to sea water. Following are the major components in sea water from a few referenced sources:

Code:
FORMULAE FOR ARTIFICIAL SEA WATER (Cl = 19.00 )  
McClendon et al (1917)  Brujewicz (Subow, 1931)  Lyman and Fleming (1940)  
Salt       g/kg         Salt  g/kg               Salt  g/kg  
NaCl     26.726         NaCl  26.518             NaCl   23.476  
MgCl2     2.260         MgCl2  2.447             MgCl2   4.981  
MgSO4     3.248         MgSO4  3.305             Na2SO4  3.917  
CaCl2     1.153         CaCl2  1.141             CaCl2   1.102  
KCl       0.721         KCl    0.725             KCl     0.664  
NaHCO3    0.198         NaHCO3 0.202             NaHCO3  0.192  
NaBr      0.058         NaBr   0.083             KBr     0.096  
H3BO3     0.058         H3BO3  0.026  
Na2SiO3   0.0024        SrCl2  0.024  
Na2Si4O9  0.0015        NaF    0.003
Obviously NaCl (common salt) is readily available. Locally a 40# bag is < $4.00 ( <$0.10/#)

MgCl2 (Magnesium Chloride) is used industrially and commercially as a road de-icer and dust inhibitor. I do not have any pricing information on this item yet; however, it should not be more than an order of magnitude higher than NaCl, so it should be << $1/#

MgSO4 (Epsom Salt) is readily availabe in most grocery stores and drug stores and is < $1/#.

CaCl2 (Calcium Chloride) is used industrially and commercially as a road de-icer and dust inhibitor. Again, I do not have any pricing data on this; however, it should be <<$1#.

KCl (Potassium Chloride) is marketed as a water softner alternative and runs <$10/40# bag.

NaHO3 (Sodium Bicarbinate...Baking Soda) is readily available and considering the extremely small quantity required is very cheap <$1/#.

Assuming that Salt = $0.10/# and Potassium Chloride = $0.25/# and thar all the other chemicals are $1/#, this would bring the price of "fake" sea salt to ~$8.11/100 gallons of water. If the "other" chemicals are only $0.50/#, then our cost would drop to ~$5.25/100 gallons. Obviously if you are maintaining 'pets' this savings is trivial; however, as previously stated, in my case this potential savings is worth exploring.

My question would be if anyone has 'played' with "making a salt mix", and if so, would you share any results and/or observations about the importance of the presence of the various chemicals. Please remember that I have no interest in the long-term health of the fish, my main objective is to reduce mortality. Currently I loose 6-12 minnows a day using nothing but pure NaCl; however, improving on this mortality rate is an effort to maximize profits with the added bonus of improving the health of the remaining stock.

Information that would be helpful would be any trial and error efforts to improve health by the addition of one or more of the 'trace elements' to otherwise stable aquariums. For instance, if anyone has experimented with elevating KCl from .7gm/litre to say .8gm/litre and noticed any positive OR negative affects, this would be very useful information.

While any and all input is welcome, please refrain from reccomendations of various 'name brand' mixes unless you happen to know of a source for purchasing them for <$0.08/gallon or $4.00/50gal; my target cost/gallon needs to be in the $0.03 to $0.06/gal range with the 'break-even point' being ~$0.07/gal.

It is my hope that the discussions in this thread may help others to experiment with adding trace elements to their existing mixes to improve the health of their pets.

Hunter
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Old 04-13-2007, 11:18 AM   #2
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I definitely dont have any input on your question...but i might know a direction for you to look.

Here is a recipe for DIY saltwater by Frank Millero. He doesnt go to the trouble of everything you list as far as components, as the traces fo all the smaller elements are present in the ones that are used. Some google time with that name may find you some more information that you need. good luck

This is all he uses

23.98 gsodium chloride
5.029 gmagnesium chloride
4.01 gsodium sulfate
1.14 gcalcium chloride
0.699 gpotassium chloride
0.172 gsodium bicarbonate
0.100 gpotassium bromide
0.0254 gboric acid
0.0143 gstrontium chloride
0.0029 gsodium fluoride
Water to 1 kg total weight.



I go through an average of 80 gallons a week myself, so the cost to me is a little bit more than trivial as I am of course spending in the neighborhood of your $.25 gallon number.
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Old 04-14-2007, 07:07 AM   #3
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find a reefer friend that has a decent sized tank and ask for his WC water.

j/k

how do you go through so much water? do you give away the water with the minnows?

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Old 05-03-2007, 01:52 PM   #4
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Geoff,

Yes, as it turns out people who buy minnows expect to get water for free !me ;-)

I have been using the following mixture with very good results for the past two weeks:

50#'s NaCl (Water Softener Salt)
10#'s MgCl (Road Salt)
8#'s MgSO4 (2 Box Epsom Salts)
2.28#'s CaCl (Road Salt)
1.4#'s KCl (Road Salt)
.4#'s Baking Soda

I mix everything except the NaCl in a 5 gallon bucket and fill the bucket full of water. Let it sit over-night; then stir it vigirously before use.

To use it I add 5 measures of NaCl to 1 measure of the "mix". For my application I bring the salinity up to about 12ppt with the NaCl then add my 'mix' for a final salinity of ~15ppt. This is roughly 'half strength' of 'normal' sea water, which is fine for my application.

PLEASE REMEMBER these are NOT well-loved pets. My mortality has dropped from a dozen or two per day to 1-6 minnows per day. This is an acceptable loss level / cost unit for my situation; for most here this would be a 'tragedy'. Please remember I keep 900-2700 minnows in a 60 gallon tank (10-30lbs of minnows) at any given time, and they are constantly being 'stressed' by dip nets and children, lol.

As a side note, my minnow supplier plans to do some water tests this winter with various of the above salts either included or excluded to find which salts are strictly requisite and which have nuetral effects. I will report back with the results.

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Old 05-04-2007, 09:31 AM   #5
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that is really interesting!!

what is the longest you have kept minnows in this solution? are we talking hours/days/weeks?

what kind of minnows are these? i am always looking for unussual reef fish.

G~
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Old 05-24-2007, 08:22 AM   #6
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Geoff,

These are "mudminnows" genus Fundulus and this term, "mudminnow", refers loosely to a large number of sub-species. They are common in almost all eastern and gulf coastal areas, generally found in abundance in creeks, tributaries and flats. Their primary goal in life is protien consumption, and their primary function is protien storage for larger fish;-)

How long do I keep them alive? Hard to say. I have ~75 gallon tank and I have 15#'s of minnows delivered 3 to 5 times a week. I almost never 'run out', so, is it possible that a particular minnow could survive the 'culling' for months? Sure, but I would have no way of knowing. In the slow months, a batch of minnows may last in the tank well over a month, but I have not used this salt mixture during that time frame. COme Winter time I plan to do some experiments, but for now, this salt mixture is keeping my minnows healthier than anything I have used previously, including natural seawater.

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Old 05-24-2007, 09:12 AM   #7
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Thank you!!

those mud minnows are what we in the aquarium trade call Killifish. these things are like bulletproof, at least with the stresses we place on them.

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Old 06-12-2008, 05:24 PM   #8
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Just an update on the DIY mix.

My minnow supplier has run a number of tests using my mixture above for maintaining shrimp. His tests have proved that the above mixture has a lower mortality rate in his tanks than the "natural sea water" the shrimp come from. I still would not advocate this mixture for those with well-loved pets, but for those dealing in large volumes of water who do not have ready access to natural salt-water, some experimentation might prove worthwhile.

LOL, my supplier asked me to keep this formula "quiet". I told him I had already posted it on the internet. It appears he wants to sell the trace salts as a "mix" and let the end-user supply his own NaCl. Actually not a bad idea for bait dealers, but I find it funny he would ask ME to keep MY idea quiet so he could make money on it, LOL.

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Old 06-12-2008, 06:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HunterMcCray View Post
Just an update on the DIY mix.

My minnow supplier has run a number of tests using my mixture above for maintaining shrimp. His tests have proved that the above mixture has a lower mortality rate in his tanks than the "natural sea water" the shrimp come from. I still would not advocate this mixture for those with well-loved pets, but for those dealing in large volumes of water who do not have ready access to natural salt-water, some experimentation might prove worthwhile.

LOL, my supplier asked me to keep this formula "quiet". I told him I had already posted it on the internet. It appears he wants to sell the trace salts as a "mix" and let the end-user supply his own NaCl. Actually not a bad idea for bait dealers, but I find it funny he would ask ME to keep MY idea quiet so he could make money on it, LOL.

Hunter
Thanks for the update. Without it, I wouldn't have found this thread. I have been wondering about a DIY salt mix for testing skimmers with. The Calcium Chloride is used as an additive in the concrete industry in the winter time to produce heat and cause the concrete to set up faster. Relatively cheap at a mixing plant.

What I have wondered is if I used just the NaCl what effects it would have on the skimmer performance. I don't look forward to buying salt mix to mix up ~1000 gallons of water to flush it down the drain to test with.
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Old 06-13-2008, 04:10 PM   #10
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Randy I think it should work fine to test skimmers
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Old 06-13-2008, 04:49 PM   #11
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I'm going to try it with NaCl. See how it works compared to ASW. Can try it on one of my small skimmers and see how it works. If it works, then I can use just plain NaCl salt water for testing.
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Old 06-13-2008, 07:57 PM   #12
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I bet you could get away with just NaCl and some CaCl to use as a mixing salt to just keep minnows and such in... the CaCl to act more like a buffer and keep the pH in the useable range...
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Old 06-13-2008, 10:35 PM   #13
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I bet you could get away with just NaCl and some CaCl to use as a mixing salt to just keep minnows and such in... the CaCl to act more like a buffer and keep the pH in the useable range...
Me or Hunter? I only want it for testing purposes. And the pH may be a factor in skimmer performance.
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Old 06-14-2008, 03:22 AM   #14
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both of you..
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Old 06-14-2008, 03:44 AM   #15
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That's even better if all I need to use is the NaCl and CaCl. I can get the CaCl not a mile from home at a concrete mixing plant. The NaCl is simple as well.

If I substitute CaCl for MgCl and KCl, this is what I get. Fairly over-the-counter stuff:

50#'s NaCl (Water Softener Salt)
13.7#'s CaCl (Road Salt)
8#'s MgSO4 (2 Box Epsom Salts)
.4#'s Baking Soda

Wonder how much ASW that would make.
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