Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Brightwell Aquatics NeoMarine Salt - 150g Bucket

Product Information
As you have read on the outside of this container of NēoMarine, we make the claim that it is so close in composition to natural seawater that marine organisms cannot tell the difference. How can we make this claim if the product does not provide every element present in natural seawater?
The answers are not as complicated as one might think, and may be addressed in three separate but very important aspects: 1.) the nature of the elements present; 2.) their concentrations with respect to average natural seawater parameters; 3.) the quality of ingredients utilized and the means in which the salt is produced. These points are addressed individually below.
First, all major elements are present in NēoMarine, however only minor and trace elements known to undergo biological and/or chemical interactions (e.g. depletion) in natural seawater are included. What this means is that there is a specific change (decrease) in the concentration profile of the element measured in the surface waters where life is concentrated; such elements are believed to interact with marine life and/or with other substances present in the water, and these elements are considered to exhibit “non-conservative” behavior. Elements that do not exhibit these characteristics do not apparently interact with marine life or these other substances (at least as far as current analytical methods can discern); they are not likely necessary for the continued health or existence of marine organisms. It follows that these elements are not required for success with a marine aquarium; in fact, if added they would gradually accumulate with time. Because of this, they may be omitted from the salt mix and the savings in raw materials and production procedures passed on to the aquarist.
Second, the comparison table on the outside of this package indicates that, when mixed to a specific gravity of 1.024 g/cm3, the concentrations of elements present are extraordinarily close to those observed in natural seawater; in fact, with only one exception (chloride), all major, minor, and trace elements present are in the proportions to one another that they are in natural seawater. The natural seawater concentrations of elements listed are taken from current data compiled by oceanographers, and the formula is adjusted as analytical methods are improved and new data becomes available. These changes are so minute that they will not noticeably alter the performance of the salt or the appearance of aquarium inhabitants; we simply want the concentrations of elements present to remain as close to those found in natural seawater as possible.
Third, as with all Brightwell Aquatics water care products, we use the very highest purity ingredients available, period. This means that the majority of individual ingredients in NēoMarine are of USP or ACS grade, the highest levels of purity in existence. We do not cut any corners when it comes to what goes into our products. Additionally, we manufacture our salt mix on-site under very strict environmental conditions, ensuring the maximum degree of quality and accuracy to our formulation, and every container of NēoMarine is lot numbered for quality control.
This formula has undergone extensive testing and has produced very impressive results. Livestock from every common family of ornamental marine organisms has been maintained in water prepared with this formula without incident, many of them reproducing freely when they had not done so in aquaria maintained with other salt brands.
If you have purchased this package, used a portion of it, and find that the salt falls short of your expectations, please do not hesitate to contact us. We want you to use this salt and be 100% satisfied with it. We are confident that NēoMarine Salt Mix is the best such product on the market because we have formulated it to contain everything needed by marine life in precise natural seawater concentrations, and because we have paid such close attention to all pertinent details of purity and manufacturing. We thank you for choosing Brightwell Aquatics as your supplier of marine aquarium salt, and wish you the best of success with your aquaria.

A Brief Discussion of Specific Gravity (Density) and Salinity
Specific gravity is a measurement of density, and the relationship that it has with salinity is dependant upon water temperature. Oceanographers generally agree that the average salinity of the world’s oceans is ~35.0‰, however the salinity of water in some areas may be considerably higher. This is largely a result of the balance between evaporation and influx of freshwater in specific areas and/or bodies of water; the higher the rate of evaporation and/or the lower the relative volume of freshwater influx, the higher the average salinity tends to be. The Red Sea is a prime example of this: essentially surrounded by desert and with very little exchange of water between itself and neighboring water bodies, the average salinity tends to be quite high relative to that of other tropical marine environments; areas of the Red Sea may exceed 40‰ at times. For the most part, however, salinity in tropical areas tends to fall between 35 – 37‰, and this is a sensible range to maintain within marine aquaria.

Instructions and Guidelines
Each 138.8 grams of NēoMarine will increase the specific gravity of 1 US-gallon of purified water to approximately 1.024 g/cm3. To obtain a higher or lower specific gravity when preparing water, divide the desired value by 1.024 and then multiply this number by the volume of water (in gallons) being prepared, then multiply this value by 138.8 to obtain the mass of salt required (in grams) to be added (example: if target SG is 1.021 in 5.0 gallons of water: 1.021 ÷ 1.024 = 0.998; 0.998 × 5.0 = 4.985; 4.985 × 138.8 g = 691.92 g, as opposed to 694.0 g required to increase SG in 5.0 gallons to 1.024 g/cm3). If not using an accurate scale to measure salt, dissolve approximately 4 oz., or half a cup, of salt mix in each gallon of purified water to obtain a target specific gravity between 1.021 – 1.024 g/cm3, and adjust as needed by adding more salt or water to increase/decrease specific gravity, respectively. It is strongly recommended that water purified via reverse osmosis and/or deionization be used for seawater preparation. Add the required amount of water and salt to a clean container such as a large plastic pail and mix it thoroughly with a submersible pump. Always use an accurate hydrometer or (preferably) refractometer to determine the specific gravity of prepared seawater. Ensure that the water temperature matches that of the established aquarium (use a submersible heater if necessary). Although the prepared water may be used immediately upon reaching the desired specific gravity and pH (and temperature), it is recommended that at least one hour (and preferably several hours) of mixing be allowed to pass before adding the water to an established aquarium; this extra time enables gas formed during the salt dissolution to escape, further stabilizing pH.
Water changes in all marine aquaria should be made weekly to help maintain the natural seawater ionic ratios. The addition of supplements (which add elements that are affected by both biological and chemical interactions (non-conservative elements), as well as others that are not affected by these processes (conservative elements) and therefore accumulate with time unless removed with water changes), the depletion of various non-conservative elements, loss of salt to the external environment through water spraying, interaction of various elements with organic matter in the aquarium, and removal of elements via chemical filtration all alter the ionic ratio of the water. Weekly water changes of at least 5% of the total volume of water in the system will help counter these processes and provide a more stable environment for ornamental marine organisms. Note that if an aquarium is established with an inexpensive synthetic salt blend lacking adequate concentrations of non-conservative elements, additional money must be spent on supplements to correct the deficiencies before any animals are introduced to the system; these supplements may contain conservative elements that further alter the ionic ratio of the water. In light of these facts, it can be said that purchasing an inexpensive salt blend saves no money in the long run and does not encourage the health of livestock.
Switching from your present salt mix to NēoMarine: Stability of water chemistry is one of the most important aspects of successfully maintaining a marine aquarium. Therefore, sudden changes in water chemistry, such as when making high-volume water changes with water that has different chemical characteristics (no matter how slight the differences are), can have significant negative impacts on the livestock; even if they appear to be healthy initially, they may very well be found in poor appearance or even deceased a few hours later. This is often the case when manufacturers alter their salt formulation (either by accident or design) without informing their customers; what would seem to be a routine water change with a salt that has been used for months or even years can result in disaster.
It is imperative when changing from your current brand or formula of salt to a new one that the transition be gradual. We strongly recommend that the maximum water changed when switching to a new salt mix not exceed 5% of the total system volume (taking the water in sumps and displacement of water due to rock and bottom substrate into account) per 7-day period. This maintains relative stability in the water chemistry and has a much lower impact on aquarium inhabitants than does changing larger volumes. While it may take 5 – 6 months to completely switch over to a new formula (when doing a weekly 5% water change; water changes with less frequency will increase the time to complete transition accordingly), this should not be viewed as a nuisance, but rather as insurance that the livestock will make the transition smoothly and without illness or death. Considering the degree of care that goes into maintaining most marine aquaria, this method of careful transition is well worth the effort.
If you have recently changed from another brand of marine aquarium salt to this one, we would love to see “before and after” photos of the system after it has been established. Contact us for details on photo submission, and a chance to have your photos featured on our website.

What’s in NeoMarine:
Anhydrous-only forms of major elements
Average Mg, Ca, K, and Sr concentrations of 1,290-, 413-, 399-, and 8 ppm, respectively
All non-conservative minor and trace elements found in seawater
Sufficient salt to reconstitute purified water of the stated package volume to 1.025 g/cm3
Our commitment that this salt blend is the best you have ever used

What’s not in NeoMarine:
Anti-caking agents
Vitamins, amino acids, and other unnecessary organic substances
Hydrated forms of major elements such as magnesium and calcium
Saltwater evaporite (e.g. dehydrated saltwater)

*Ammonia and phosphate are undetectable in water prepared to 1.025 g/cm3 using Hach standard test kits with reagents within the usable dates. Every batch is tested and results are logged.

How was NeoMarine formulated?
Basically, we reverse-engineered saltwater by creating an extremely-precise calculation method that takes into account all necessary chemical characteristics of the salts that provide desirable elements. Natural seawater concentrations of all major elements, as well as the minor and trace elements that are considered to be non-conservative (e.g. they are utilized in biological and chemical processes that occur in marine environments), were used as the design template. We then tested several combinations of ingredients that ultimately provided identical concentrations of each important element (except chloride, which was the only ion that varied in concentration); we were specifically interested in assessing the dryness and homogeneity of the blend, as well as the solubility and speed with which the blend completely dissolved into solution. For what it’s worth, the final formulation provides all major, minor, and trace elements at concentrations within 0.000001% (with the exception of chloride) of their respective average natural seawater concentrations. We strive to reproduce this formulation with our production process.

How was NeoMarine tested?
Once we had arrived at a final formulation, we tested it in multiple research systems for a period of three years. Our research systems house all conceivable types of marine fishes, cnidarians, bivalves, gastropods, echinoderms, crustaceans, coelenterates, and poriferans, as well as ancillary organisms such as suspension-feeding worms, macroalgae, sea grasses, and mangroves. We have exclusively been using our salt formulation on every system during the three-year testing process, with remarkable success: several coral spawning events have taken place, fishes have reproduced, and the coloration and apparent health of all residents in the systems is very good. Additionally, NeoMarine has been successfully used in a large reef aquarium on display at a prominent national museum in the Nation’s Capitol.

How is NeoMarine manufactured?
We’ll give you a hint: no cement mixers are used! The exact process is deemed proprietary, but what we can divulge is that the process is such that a homogenous particle size and blend are created in a clean, climate-controlled atmosphere within our own production facility. Rather than producing several tons of NeoMarine in each batch, we create batches of modest-size that enable us to maintain maximum quality control and ensure the most homogenous blend; the more ingredients that are used, the more difficult it is to create homogeneity throughout the finished product (our formulation makes use of nearly 40 ingredients, for reference), so producing gigantic batches of salt is not an option for us. If we were just blending table salt with “ice-melt” and Dow flake and calling that a finished product, we could make multi-ton batches and not lose any sleep doing so.

How long does it take for NeoMarine to dissolve?
On average, 75deg.F water that has the proper amount of NeoMarine added to increase the specific gravity to 1.025 g/cm3 will clear in less than 15-minutes with vigorous mixing, however when mixing a large batch (e.g. ≥50-gallons) all at once it may take longer for the mix to completely clear. Two things factor into the speed that a salt mix will clear in water of a standardized temperature: the degree of mixing taking place within the mixing vessel, and the solubility of the various salts that are present in a mix. Regarding the former, it can be said that the speed of dissolution is directly related to the amount of water movement in the vessel; that is, faster water movement decreases the time required for the mix to completely dissolve and clarify, assuming that samples are prepared using the same salt blend. Companies selling sea salt blends have been hyping the speed with which their salt dissolves completely for so long that aquarists now use this as a bench-mark to judge the quality of a salt mix; ironically, salts that mix immediately into water are typified by low concentrations of magnesium, calcium, and/or the use of a large percentage of highly-soluble hydrated ingredients that drag unwanted substances into their final product (see the following section). Honestly, salt water should mix overnight in order to allow all intermediate gasses formed during the dissolution process to escape and pH and alkalinity to become stable. If the newly-mixed saltwater doesn’t become crystal-clear within 30-seconds, who cares?

Why is NeoMarine more expensive than other brands?
As with all items baring the Brightwell Aquatics name, we do not cut corners in any aspect of the salt formulation or preparatory process. The primary reason that the salt is higher-priced is that the ingredients are of such high purity that they command a higher price from our vendors; for instance, because we use superior grades of anhydrous magnesium salts rather than low-grade hydrated forms (which contribute ammonia and insoluble particulate material into a finished product), our cost increases by an order of magnitude. However, we wouldn’t use hydrated magnesium (or calcium) salts for the afore-mentioned reason, not to mention the additional weight that these salts add to a finished product (which factors into the final price that is paid at a retail-level as a result of the resultantly higher freight charges). Simply stated, NeoMarine is more expensive because it truly is made of better ingredients, and more of them. Furthermore, rather than prepare water to only 1.018 - 1.021 g/cm3, each container of NeoMarine prepares water to 1.025 g/cm3. In this aspect alone it costs us more to manufacture than it does our competitors whose salt blends fall short of this specific gravity. We run a chemical analysis for pH, alkalinity, calcium, ammonia, and phosphate on each batch of NeoMarine produced; this costs us money. Lastly, we manufacture NeoMarine and all other Brightwell Aquatics supplements and filtration media in-house using precision equipment that can be used for the production of foods and pharmaceuticals, we pay our personnel a good wage, and we are privately-owned so our operating expenses are expectedly-higher than those of many of our competitors.

In summary, we would like to make it known that we did not set out to create a salt blend that was superior to other salts in one aspect or another; that was never a consideration. Our intention was to make a salt blend that recreated all important aspects of natural seawater with such precision that captive marine organisms couldn’t noticeably tell the difference between water prepared with our salt and “the real thing”. To us, this approach merely makes the most sense, and we believe that your aquarium inhabitants will agree. Thank you for your interest in Brightwell Aquatics; we sincerely appreciate it. Oh – and remember: it’s more than an aquarium. It’s an obsession.

-Brightwell Aquatics


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