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Part of owning a saltwater aquarium is that you need saltwater. Fortunately, there are a few options to acquiring the saltwater for your aquarium. You can go to your local fish store (LFS), bring in your 5 gallon jugs and purchase saltwater buy the gallon and then haul them home. You can also, if you’re close enough, go to the ocean and haul saltwater home or you can mix saltwater yourself. Now if you have about a 50 gallon aquarium or less, going to your local fish store on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to get saltwater for your water changes isn’t too big a deal because you will only be lugging around a couple 5 gallon jugs. However, if you have a larger aquarium it will save a lot of time, money and possibly your back if you mix saltwater yourself. Here are some ideas for building a DIY Saltwater Mixing Station.
To mix your own saltwater there are a few components you will need:
- You need to have a source of filtered water at zero Total Dissolved Solids (0 TDS)
- Some containers to hold water
- A way to mix the water.
Filtered Water Source
For your filtered water source you will need to install a Reverse Osmosis De-ionizing filtration system (RO/DI system). This will take all the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) out of the water and make it safe for your aquarium livestock. After installed, you need to connect to a source of tap water and a way to drain, either from under a sink, split off your washing machine or even special plumbing in your home that is dedicated, if you’re planning ahead. My system also has an auto shut off valve installed to keep the system from over filling my holding container. It also has a TDS meter installed to display the incoming and outgoing TDS readings of the water to make sure all the filters are in check and everything is running correctly.
For your water holding containers their are many options. You can can use any food grade/water holding tank in any shape, size and capacity for your needs. Keeping in mind how much saltwater you would normally need for a water change and maybe even a little extra, this will help you determine your capacity. Keep in mind you will need one container to hold fresh RO/DI water and another to hold saltwater. My normal water changes are about 20 gallons each time. So I decided to use (2) 32 gallon BRUTE trashcans and will mix up about 25-30 gallons at a time. I also decided to use the BRUTE trashcan for its shape and size and built a wood stand that would let me easily stack them one over the other and have room for storage underneath. It is a good idea to test fit your containers in your stand to make sure you can open the tops and have enough room for plumbing. You can have your containers side-by-side or any configuration depending on your space. Other ideas are adding a holder for a power switch box and even paint it, which will help protect the wood. You can do anything to make it look as nice as you want.
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