I’ve been keeping fish for many years, as a hobbyist, retailer and wholesaler. And yet, I have only recently been convinced of the most basic key to success for a marine aquarium—the fresh water you use to make the salt water. I confess that it wasn’t until I tested a reverse osmosis system for my “In The Fish Room” column in Aquarium Fish International that I ever used RO water to make up the salt water for marine tanks. This alone explains why I never had much luck with marine tanks. In testing the RO system, I used the water it produced to start up a 50-gallon reef tank and then a large system in my fish room for aquacultured clownfish and then a 120-gallon tank.
Marine Fish Tank
For the first time ever, I had absolutely no problems with nuisance algae—and by nuisance I mean not just diatoms, but cyano-bacteria, the slimy stuff. Nothing was any different other than the fact that I used RO water to make the salt water instead of my very good town water. It was truly amazing the difference that the RO water made, not only for the initial tank setups, but also for water changes.
Using RO (or DI) water is the only way to go. If you can’t convince your customers to use reverse osmosis, I would tell them they really shouldn’t start a marine tank. Seriously, if they are not willing to pay the few bucks it costs for RO water, they will probably scrimp on other aspects of their marine tank and not succeed in keeping their tank healthy. The simple explanation for RO is that it removes most everything from the water. This allows hobbyists to decide what they want to put back in. And that means more sales for you.
The best thing for a pet store to do is to sell RO water (or pre-mixed salt water), rather than trying to sell an RO system. For one thing, it will be difficult to compete with prices for RO systems on the Internet. But in addition, having a salt water customer hooked on coming back to your store for water—and for those other tanks we want him/her to set up—also gives you the chance to sell them something else.
The mantra of using reverse osmosis water for making salt water is something that you should have posted in a couple of places in your fish room and in the area where you sell your salt. It is very important for your customers to be successful with their marine tanks—and it is an excellent source of revenue for your store.