Instant Ocean Vs Reef Crystals

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When you are constructing your home aquarium, step one is to decide whether you want a freshwater or saltwater tank. If you gravitate towards saltwater fish, products that provide your aquarium with an infusion of sea salt are absolutely vital. To make it easier for you, we’ve compared two of the most popular types of salt mix – Instant Ocean vs Reef Crystals.

Looking for the winner? That would be Instant Ocean Reef Crystals. This product is suitable for both saltwater and home reef aquariums. Click here for the current price on Amazon

Why Do You Need Sea Salt For Your Home Aquarium?

Maybe you have been thinking about getting a saltwater fish tank. Or maybe you want to have live rocks and coral and brilliantly colored fish, but think that you don’t have the time or money.

As intimidating as it may initially seem, creating a home reef aquarium is far easier than you might expect. In fact, it really all comes down to adding sea salts. Basic sea salts are best for saltwater marine tanks, while reef crystals are best for reef aquariums.

You might be surprised to learn that sea salt is very important to having healthy fish. Sea salt is an antiseptic. It helps to prevent bacterial infections in fish, and guards against parasites as well.

Sea salt contains magnesium for a healthy nervous system, iodine for hormonal balance and manganese for the immune system. Small amounts of selenium act as an antioxidant, slowing cancer cells in fish.

What Should You Look For In Sea Salts For Fish Tanks?

There are a few things to look for when you are looking to purchase sea salts for your aquarium. First, you need to buy the appropriate product. If you only want saltwater fish, normal marine salt is fine, but if you’re going to incorporate reefs and live rocks, reef crystals are far better suited to the job.

Second, you want to buy a product that helps to preserve and even boost the health of your aquarium. Look for something that is free of nitrates, as well as a product that contains vital minerals and other enhancements.

Convenience is important too. A good product should have easy to understand directions so that you are able to quickly mix the water to an optimal saline level.

How To Use Sea Salt In Your Own Aquarium

Sea salts allow you to make your own saltwater at home. It is essential to understand how to use them correctly, as you need the salinity, or specific gravity of your tank needs to be in a certain range. If the saline content is too low or too high, your fish can get sick or worse.

Start by adding a marine salt product to a large mixing container of fresh water, and dissolve either by hand or with a powerhead. Once the water is clear, it is time to test its salinity. You will need a hydrometer for this, as you want the specific gravity of the water to measure between 1.023 and 1.025.

Pour sand into the bottom of a clean tank of your preferred size, and then add your saltwater mixture. You can then begin adding live rocks or corals and fish to create your own reef tank.

To prevent harm to your fish and reef, never add saltwater to a tank with fish already in it without testing for optimum salinity and ensuring the temperature is consistent with the rest of the tank. Likewise, never mix sea salts in a tank containing fish, as it can fatally shock their system.

Instant Ocean Vs Reef Crystals: What Should You Get?

Instant Ocean Sea Salt for Marine Aquariums Review

Instant Ocean is a high-quality sea salt that allows your saltwater fish tank to flourish. Many aquariums and research facilities rely solely upon this product for optimal specific gravity in their saltwater tanks.

Ranging from ten to two hundred gallons, simply select the appropriate size that matches your aquarium and mix the fast dissolving product at a half a cup per gallon of water ratio.

Free from nitrates and phosphates, there are many minerals incorporated into the mixture to help ensure a healthy aquarium. Instant Ocean can be used for almost any kind of saltwater environment.

This product is manufactured by Instant Ocean, one of the most reputable names in the industry. Based in Blacksburg, Virginia, the company prides itself on delivering a quality product for everything from the smallest living room aquarium to the mini-oceans seen in marine parks and aquariums worldwide.

The company is very easy to communicate with, offering an amazing online tech support network, including an Instant ER for emergencies. Each package contains detailed instructions for mixing, as well as a breakdown of the mineral content.


  • Available in multiple sizes. Even if you have a smaller tank, you can buy a bigger box and never have to worry about running out.
  • Fast dissolving crystals mean you spend less time agitating the water while mixing.
  • Free from all nitrates and phosphates
  • Trace mineral content promotes a healthy environment for fish.
  • The company’s impeccable reputation ensures a high-quality product.


  • Some consumers state that the sea salt creates a residue along the sides and bottom of the tank that can be difficult to clean.
  • Be sure to test each batch of saltwater you make, even after you are familiar with your normal mixture. Some batches of Instant Ocean can have higher alkaloid levels.

If you want to have a saltwater aquarium in your home, Instant Ocean is an excellent option. The synthetic sea salts allow you to achieve the perfect environment for your fish and other marine life, ensuring many days of delightful visual stimulation!

Instant Ocean Reef Crystals for Reef Aquariums Review

If you love the idea of having your own saltwater reef aquarium, complete with live rocks, coral, fish, and other marine life, Reef Crystals are one of the best products on the market. Specifically designed to create the optimal home reef aquarium, you can put your faith in the quality of this product.

Reef Crystals have the same minerals contained in Instant Ocean but in higher concentrations. This increased mineral content coupled with large dose of calcium is what allows coral, anemones, and reef marine life to thrive in an enclosed environment.

As a built-in preventative measure, this product also combats traces of lead, iron and other heavy metals which are common in tap water. It is very versatile as well, in that it can be used for simple saltwater tanks as well, provided that the salinity is properly adjusted.

Reef Crystals are also manufactured by Instant Ocean. The product boasts the same level of high-quality performance coupled with unparalleled reputation and customer service for an optimal choice for any home reef aquarium. Each purchase includes the reef crystals along with instructions for mixing and a full mineral content breakdown.


  • Easy to use product enables you to have your very own home reef aquarium.
  • Increased amounts of minerals and calcium provide optimum nutrition to coral, live rocks and other marine life.
  • Can be used in saltwater tanks with no reefs as long as the saline level is properly monitored.
  • Removes all traces of heavy metals from your tap water.


  • Does not dissolve as easily as Instant Ocean.
  • Can leave behind a milky white residue on the interior of the tank that Is difficult to clean.

If you want to bring the magic of a coral reef to your own living room, Reef Crystals are an ideal choice. This easy to use formula is of the utmost quality, used in everything from apartment buildings to large-scale tanks around the world.

Bottom Line

Instant Ocean and Reef Crystals are both amazing products, but in the end, it really comes down to what you want. Instant Ocean is recommended for saltwater fish tanks, but not so much for a home reef aquarium. Reef Crystals can be properly mixed to suit both types.

Both products contain trace amounts of minerals to help boost the general health of your fish tank, yet Reef Crystals have a higher concentration of these, and also contains elevated calcium levels.

All things considered, this makes Reef Crystals the superior product, due to its versatility and superior mineral content. Click here to check it out on Amazon

About the author

Li-ran B.

Li-ran has been taking care of fish since he was a young kid and considers himself a self-proclaimed aquatic hobbyist at heart. What started as a simple childhood curiosity quickly turned into a full-fledged passion. Currently, his new obsessions are nano aquariums and glowing fish tank decorations.