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Discussion Starter #1
I just found out that the two LFS I have buying my saltwater get it from the ocean. (I live in Key Largo by the way) They do not filter it, they buy it from a delivery truck that gets it from the ocean "at high tide" One of the LFS says he has been using this for 20 years with no problems. Everytime I check my tank water (I bought it already set up), the LFS water and the water from the ocean canal in back of my house it reads 1.028 salinity. Can this be bad for my fish and corals?
If I mix my own from salt mix and do at 1.024-26 but have to continue to buy fish and corals from local LFS, which is at 1.028 won't that stress them when I get them home? How about ich? Doesn't unfiltered ocean water bring ich.
What do you suggest I do?
 

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Officer Tang
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that water wont necessarily be bad for the fish and corals, but raising the salinity means that the fish has to work harder to maintain a stable internal state, which can be a stress factor that will leave them susceptible to illness. Also i was pretty sure that ocean water is somewhere in the 1.026-1.027 range, but generally we dont need it that high, because the ocean is so much more stable and less stressful than our tanks that the high salinity plays no part in fish disease like it does in our systems. I would worry about parasites and other unwelcomed organisms getting into my tank via this ocean water.

If you absolutely must use it, get yourself an RO filter and dilute the water down to 1.025....all your coral will be just fine if you do it slowly, over the course of a couple of days or so. Of course, the ultimate solution in consistency is to just mix your own seawater. You know exactly what you're getting every single time.

Have you tried measuring for phosphates and nitrates in the sea water? how about other things like Ca and Mg?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Tested the water and, other than the high salinity, it is perfect. No nitrates or phosphate and calcium is over 500. My biggest concern is introducing ich in the tank when I do water changes.
Once I have no more additions to the tank I guess I will bring the salinity down but I feel that if I do so now I will stress the fish coming from the LFS which has the higher salinity.
 

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what are you testing the salinity with? refractometer or hydrometer. if hydrometer, then i would not believe it.

there is nothing wrong with using NSW if it is collected at the correct time. it sounds like they are. just before the height of the incoming tide.

G~
 

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The water in my 24 nanocube is water I got while dolphin fishing in the gulf stream off of Palm Beach florida. BucketsII- my water is just like yours, salinity 1.028, but everything else is fine. Nitrates I believe were at 1.5ppm. For you I think it should be fine as the Keys are right on the edge of the gulf stream current, but as Geoff said, as long as they are getting it a high tide
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I am using a hydrometer. Have used two different ones with the same results. I can get the water myself since I have a boat ready to go but the $$ in gas to go far out in the ocean would be more expensive than buying from LFS.
 

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Officer Tang
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I do believe that lowering the salinity to 1.026 (at the highest) would reduce the stress on your fish. In fact, most fish stores have their salinity for fish holding tanks around 1.016! That's because it is way less stressful for the fish (except for some exceptions like the Achilles Tang that enjoy and need a high salinity). So when the majority of us bring fish home we have to introduce it into a more stressful environment in terms of maintaining their internal biological and chemical stability. In your case, lower the salinity can only help the stress level of the fish. Im fairly certain that there is not a critter in the ocean that "requires" salinity above 1.026 to thrive.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I understand but what I am saying is that it appears that the LFS's in Miami all get their water from the ocean at 1.028 and by keeping my tank at lower number i would automatically induce stress.
 

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Officer Tang
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If proper acclimation procedures are followed and the fish is introduced to the new salinity over the course of a couple of hours or so, the salinity will not be a source of stress for the fish. Think about it, the majority of us have to put fish in systems with vastly different salinities than their holding tanks, and this is actually stressful as it's a raise in salinity. Lowering salinity, within reason, is actually a tactic used to REDUCE stress. The fact that they came from 1.028 doesnt mean that lowering your salinity will cause them stress. It has to be done methodically and slowly, but everything will survive without question. Most people even consider 1.026 a little high. But all that said, it is your system, and if everything is looking healthy and happy I dont see too much rush to change anything. But, if you have an ich outbreak or some sort of other stress indicators in the tank, lowering the salinity to 1.026 would be the very first thing I'd try if it were my tank. Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you for the advice. I do have problems with ich and right now I am in the 2nd week of 8 weeks going fishless. I am using this time to get my house (aquarium) in order so when I do bring in new fish it will be to the best environment possible. I have ordered a sump, new protein skimmer, doing water changes etc. I will bring down the salinity to 1.025 by putting RO water and perfoming a very long acclimation when I do buy new fish.
I thought going from 1.028 to 1.025 in a few hours was not a good thing for the fish.
Apparently it isn't so?
 

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Officer Tang
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too much change in either direction isnt a good thing, but since you've got the time, lower it slowly, maybe .001 every day or so. as far as new fish are concerned, the fact that you are lowering their salinity over the course of a two hour period, via drip acclimation, should be enough. But, if you want to be super cautious, set up a QT tank and do the same procedure for new fish as you would do for your whole system...ie, lower the QT salinity by .001 a day. The fish will never know anything changed.
 

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I guess there are some bad hydrometers out there but I have 4 of them. All 4 were used and came with some full set ups that i have purchased in the past. I also have a nice refractometer that I use. all 5 measuring instruments read exactly the same. I keep my refractometer calibrated too.
Maybe I just got lucky and got 4 good ones. The trick is that you have to rinse them with fresh water after each use or the get sticky and will not be accurate.
 

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Officer Tang
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no problem....just a note, I think you can get away with 1.026, but you are the only person that really really knows your system and it's inhabitants. Monitor them, watch them closely...they are the best indication that something is amiss.
 

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1.026 is the average for NSW across the globe. there are local variations. as long as it is consistent around 1.026. 1.028 is not a problem. if that is what the water you get is consistently, then use it. just know this and if you ever have to make a batch of ASW, then make it to 1.028 and not 1.026. nothing difficult or problematic about it.

I do believe that lowering the salinity to 1.026 (at the highest) would reduce the stress on your fish. In fact, most fish stores have their salinity for fish holding tanks around 1.016! That's because it is way less stressful for the fish (except for some exceptions like the Achilles Tang that enjoy and need a high salinity). So when the majority of us bring fish home we have to introduce it into a more stressful environment in terms of maintaining their internal biological and chemical stability. In your case, lower the salinity can only help the stress level of the fish. Im fairly certain that there is not a critter in the ocean that "requires" salinity above 1.026 to thrive.
i do not agree with this at all. any changes in salinity cause stress. most fish can handle huge swings in salinity without issue. Bull sharks are routinely found up the Mississippi as far as Ohio and deep in the Amazon. most of the fish can handle full SW or FW without issue.

the reason why fish stores keep their tanks at lower S.G. is for cost. less salt is needed for their water changes. there is also the belief that lower S.G. will kill parasites. there are however some inverts that can not handle these lower salinities, or for that matter any salinity that is that much different than the 1.026 average. Blue Linkia are the most common invert that must be kept at NSW levels or they will fall apart from osmotic shock.

keeping a fish at the salinity that it is accustomed to is the best way to keep the stress down. any deviation from their current salinity will cause stress to the organism. their entire bodies need to find an equilibrium. they are either keeping salt out or keeping the salt in depending on the external water.

G~
 

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little fishy girl
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Hey buckets i grew up in key largo/ tavernier . so how is it down there now a days been 7 years since i've been down i use to love going to keys critters are they still around, back then i only kept fw and always got fish there. hope your tank does good for you and since i live in the mountains now i have to mix my water
 

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Tarpon
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The keys have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. I sure wish it was like it used to be, you could get a hotel room for 100 bucks a night and eat dinner fairly cheap too. Seems like its going upscale a little bit, which would be great if the prices didnt follow. :)
 
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