Using high-quality reef salt is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy tank. Some people even consider it the backbone of your whole setup!

But finding the best reef salt can be challenging. If you’re not sure what to look for then the whole process can be intimidating.

However, even if you’re experienced it’s hard to know which reef salt is actually the best. Each product says they’re a high-quality mix and contain all the necessary minerals and ingredients you need.

So which do you choose?

Luckily, we’ve done the research to find the best salt for your reef tank. Using this will save you a ton of time and give you peace of mind.

In A Hurry? Here’s Our Pick

Our pick for the best reef salt is the Reef Crystals Salt for Aquariums By Instant Ocean. It’s really the industry standard for what’s considered high-quality salt. It has everything you need in terms of nutrients and is balanced to perfection.

Large aquariums rely on this exact same product which is something many other salts can’t claim. Aquarists who’ve been in the game for a long time swear by it too.

It’s a great value as well. Very rarely will you find such a high-quality formula priced so reasonably. If you don’t have time to consider the pros and cons of all the other reef salt on our list, just buy this one and go!

The Full List Of The Best Reef Salt You Can Buy

Our research process when it came to finding the best reef salt was simple but effective.

First, we came up with a shortlist to use as a starting point. There are a lot of reef salt products that are used quite regularly among aquarists, so it made sense to consider these initially.

Once we had our initial list we started trimming it down by sourcing feedback online from experienced reef owners. Pros and cons were considered to help us eliminate anything that didn’t deserve to be included in our final list.

Then we took baseline parameters and mineral counts into consideration (calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium). Some products fell short in this regard, so we were able to trim down our list even more.

In the end, we ended up being quite happy with our final list of the best reef salt on the market right now. Each one has a different set of pros and cons but in the end, they all get the job done.

1. Reef Crystals Reef Salt for Reef Aquariums By Instant Ocean

This is another fantastic reef salt product created by Instant Ocean. It has one of the highest-quality formulas on the market and is very affordable as well!

With a strong amount of calcium in addition to the standard mix of vitamins and minerals, you can be sure that this is some of the best reef salt out there.

Like the other Instant Ocean product on our list, this also removed traces of heavy metals that are normally present in tap water. Yet another way to keep your tank as healthy as possible.

Stony coral and coralline algae will thrive if you use this salt. The higher concentration of calcium is specifically geared toward encouraging this growth and resistance to common health problems.

Pros:

  • Higher calcium count encourages growth of coral
  • Fantastic value for the money
  • One of the highest-quality formulas you can buy

Cons:

  • Not much to complain about here, it’s really a great product!

2. ATM10581 Pro Reef-Bucket for Aquarium By Tropic Marin

This sea salt formula by Tropic Marin is another high-quality option for your reef tank. In fact, when it comes to the actual makeup of the formula this might be the best on the list!

It’s a pharmaceutical-grade option that you can have complete confidence in no matter what kind of life is in your tank. There are a number of experienced hobbyists who’ve been using it for years and swear they would never switch to anything else.

There’s almost no residue when using this reef salt and it’s very efficient when it comes to the mixing process. It dissolves extremely fast as well.

The parameters of this product are right in the sweet spot we look for. It has everything you need but doesn’t have over the top alkalinity for the sake of avoiding a loss in color.

It’s in the higher price bracket, but we think it deserves to be. The quality is impressive, to say the least.

Pros:

  • Pharmaceutical-grade salt
  • Easy mix and dissolves quickly
  • Pretty much zero residue

Cons:

  • A little more expensive than average

3. Sea Salt for Marine Aquariums By Instant Ocean

This reef salt has been one of the most popular options in the aquarium community for quite a while. In fact, when we started looking for feedback from hobbyists this was on almost everyone’s list!

The quality of this salt is second to none. In addition to home marine aquariums, it’s also commonly used in public tanks!

When we heard that our confidence in this product went through the roof. The complexity and stakes that large public aquariums operate with on a daily basis is a totally different thing than the setups hobbyists work with. If it’s good enough for them then it’s good enough for us!

This reef salt is one of the fastest-dissolving mixes you can buy and is completely free of phosphate and nitrate. Mixing it is very simple as well.

A neat thing about this Instant Ocean product is that it will significantly reduce the impact of any heavy metal presence in your water. Assuming you use tap for the mixing and tank base, this makes your water much healthier for the life inside.

It comes in a variety of different tank size options which gives you the option to get the perfect amount for your setup at home. It ranges from ten to two hundred gallons!

Pros:

  • Highly respected product that’s used in large aquariums around the world
  • Super-fast dissolving properties
  • Does not contain and phosphate or nitrate 

Cons:

  • Can be more expensive than some lower-quality options

4. ABANMAR150 Neomarine Salt for Aquarium By Brightwell Aquatics

This salt is not as popular as it should be in our opinion. It’s made by a great company that has a solid track record of shipping quality products.

The formula used in this product is very impressive and we heard from a handful of experienced aquarists who’ve been using it for years. Some swear by it and wouldn’t consider anything else!

Brightwell Aquatics is very committed to using modern biology and chemistry data to constantly test and improve their products. This leads to a very precise formula that has all the necessary elements that are needed to positively impact all the life in your tank.

It’s also a pretty affordable product that will last you a long time. While we’re not big fans of being cheap when it comes to reef salt (the higher quality the better), there’s no point spending more than you have to!

Pros:

  • High-quality formula
  • Committed and educated manufacturer

Cons:

  • Not the best of the best when it comes to precision and effectiveness of the formula

5. 80280 Reef Pro Mix Complete Salt By Fritz Aquatics

The 80280 pro mix by Fritz Aquatics has definitely earned a place on our list of the best reef salt you can buy. To be honest, we didn’t know much about this product at first, but after reading so many positive reviews we knew we had to look into it!

This mix has additional calcium, potassium, and magnesium to super-charge your tank. If your tank had been struggling a bit before, giving this salt a shot might make a big difference.

It also has the basic elements that you need in all reef salt formulas to ensure growth and health for life in your tank. Unlike some of the more affordable mixes that result in underwhelming coral, this product by Fritz Aquatics has everything you need.

You won’t find any ammonia, nitrate, or phosphate in this mix as well. Even though this is a standard claim for most reef salt products, Fritz really got it right with this one.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Great pH regulation after initial mixing

Cons:

  • Not the best reef salt if you’re concerned about heavy metal traces

6. Fish Pharm ARE11230 Coral Pro Reef Salt By Red Sea

This is a fairly popular reef salt that deserves all the attention it gets. The ARE11220 Coral Pro by Red Sea is a great choice if you’re looking for an affordable self mix to help your coral thrive.

The effective balance of calcium and magnesium does a good job of encouraging new growth. The necessary major, minor, and trace elements will bring out colors and fortifying the skeleton as well.

One of the main reasons why this product made our list of the best reef salt is the time it takes to dissolve. If you mix it properly you can expect your water to be clear again in roughly 25-30 minutes!

You can expect an improvement in pH and ORP when using this salt as well.

There are a number of customers who have reported a significant increase in growth and polyp density with this product. This is obviously a big draw and will lead to more color over time as well.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Should noticeably improve growth
  • Dissolves very fast

Cons:

  • Can hit your tank hard if making a switch (be careful)
  • Subpar packaging has led to some issues during the shipping process

7. Hot Salt Reef Mix Bucket By ATM Aquarium Products

The Hot Salt Reef Mix by ATM Aquarium Products is another great choice for your tank. It’s not as popular as a lot of the other salts on our list, but that doesn’t mean it can’t do the job!

This is one of the fastest mixing reef salts on the market right now. With an advertised six-minute mix time, you’ll be able to introduce this to your tank at lightning speed. This speed combined with high-quality formula means you’ll see very little residue at any stage of the process.

One thing that’s worth noting is that this formula tends to be on the low side of the alkalinity spectrum. If you’re a tank owner who needs higher alkalinity for their setup you might want to pass on this. If that’s not a concern though, the calcium and magnesium should be sufficient for almost any tank.

There have been a few reported instances of increased water temperature after introducing this mix. Keep an eye on that!

Pros:

  • Dissolves very quickly
  • Pure and high-quality mixture

Cons:

  • Lower on the alkalinity spectrum
  • Possible water temperature increase after adding

8. Saltwater Aquarium Salt Mix By Kent Marine

This reef salt by Kent Marine just gets the job done. There really isn’t one particular thing that this salt does better than any other product, it’s just solid across the board.

It has all the necessary minerals, vitamins, and elements needed to facilitate growth and healthy life in your reef. This quality formula comes at a very solid price as well.

This formula tends to run a little high in calcium but right in the normal range for magnesium and alkalinity. Make sure you consider the specific needs of your tank before buying it.

One of the biggest reported issues with this mix is the packaging and shipment. There have been a lot of problems with customers receiving less salt than they purchased, but those reports seem to be inconsistent.

Pros:

  • Well-balanced mixture
  • Dissolves at a fairly quick rate

Cons:

  • Unresolved shipping issues

Factors To Consider

When it comes to finding the best reef salt there are a few things you’ll want to consider. On paper it can look like most of the products are very similar, so you need to find effective methods of comparison.

Below are the main factors you should look at when deciding on the best salt for your reef tank.

Formula And Composition

You’ll want to do a little research into the composition of whatever reef salt you’re considering. This is because not all are the same, and your tank situation might dictate which makes sense for you.

Focus on the levels of alkalinity, magnesium, and calcium. These all can impact the growth of coral skeletons, pH levels in your tank, and more. You can use your ideal tank parameters as a frame of reference when deciding what’s the best reel salt for you.

Tank Life

You should have a strong understanding of the kind of life that’s in your tank and anything you might want to add in the future. We’re major advocates for aquarists to know as much about the critters they own as possible (which is why we spend so much time making care guides).

Take a second to do a little inventory of the life you have in your tank. What do they need? What might they need more of? Will tweaks to certain parameters impact other fish? These are all questions you should have answers to before making a final choice on reef salt.

Cost

This is a little more of an obvious one, but it’s important to consider. Reef salt is something that you’ll be buying quite a lot of over the years, and the prices can add up fast!

While we’re definitely fans of getting the best reef salt possible, it’s important to be mindful of your budget. Even the cheapest salt on our list will do the job.

Mixing Tips

Most of the reel salt on our list come with in-depth instructions to help you mix everything and get started. You should always follow the recommended steps for whichever product you purchase.

With that being said, there are a couple of common mistakes that beginners make that you should avoid at all costs.

The first is using insufficient water for your mix. The most common culprit is low quality, contaminated tap water. Deionized water is a safe choice that will give you confidence that you’re not sabotaging your job before it starts.

You should also be sure you double-check your amounts. Too much water or salt can throw your mix way off and require you to start from scratch again. This is a busy process, so slow down and make sure everything is measured out properly. It will save you time in the long run.

Conclusion

Finding the best reef salt for your tank is something that’s more challenging than it needs to be. If you follow this buyer guide it will not only save you time but money too!

If there are any products that you think deserve a spot on this list we would love to hear from you. These things evolve and new companies join the landscape all the time. We want to make sure that as this happens, this page will continue to be relevant and useful to aquarists all over the globe.

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