We’ve all been tempted by that newest, must-have tank additive that’s going to solve all your problems…


But the truth is many additives do nothing for your tank and some even harm it!


The saltwater aquarium industry unfortunately has a lot of  snake-oil salesmen touting amazing benefits from products, however:

  • the benefits to your tank can’t even be measured
  • manufacturers capitalize on the complexity of the hobby and lack of understanding to bullshit their product into peoples tanks
  • use so much jargon and technical terms people just don’t understand what’s actually being stated, so they just give into the hype.


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A good rule of thumb is: if an additive doesn’t exist in nature, then why do you need it in your tank?


 Here’s some examples of additives that do little or nothing for your saltwater aquarium:


1. A great example of a pointless product is aquarium bacteria additives touted to help cycle your tank quickly.

There are a few brands that may actually work, but most don’t – usually because the bacteria cannot survive sitting on a store shelf for months!


2. There are also a number of coral color promoters and growth enhancers that essentially do nothing but add to the hype and myth surrounding nailing coral growth!

– good lighting, supplementary feeding with plankton and great water quality can mostly likely do better – for free.


saltwater aquarium additives

If your bottle of coral enhancer shows this as the result after 1 easy application – think twice! (Image credit: Carlinhos Moreno)


3. Tap water dechlorinator/ conditioner may actually be able to remove chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals from your tap water.

But it’s use ultimately increases your tap waters’ TDS (total dissolved solids) count considerably which end up acting as a food source for pest algae species which won’t have much of a chance to grow in RO/DI water which has a TDS of 0!



You’re ALWAYS better off investing in your own RO/DI or RO filter unit, because a pure and reliable water source not only is very healthy for your marine life and cause them to thrive – it will also prevent many headaches that using lesser quality water sources can cause.



Other aquarium products that can have negative long term affects on your water chemistry are:


⪼ ammonia removers: In addition to a water change, first aid can be given to fish by lowering the pH to 7.0 or less – Toxic ammonia changes into ammonium at this level and is, at this stage, harmless and non-toxic

aqaurium additives you don't need

If it’s an emergency add ammonia remover to shipping water – but never into water that’s going into your display! (image credit: Jeff Smith)


⪼ water clarifiers: conduct regular, larger water changes instead of adding additional chemicals to “hide” dirty water


⪼ pH adjusters:  PH can be lowered by using distilled water for the partial water change, adjusters add chemical ions you don’t want in your tank.


In my opinion these should never be used in your display tank as they can cause havoc with your water chemistry as they themselves contain many chemicals.


Household chemicals such as room sprays, fly spray and even soap on your hands are unwanted additives too!


So, the best way to avoid unwanted aquarium additives is to not use tap water, take care with household chemicals and not be sucked into the newest aquarium “magic” treatments. Keep your wits about you and you will never have to deal with a poisoning event or waste money on something that does nothing!


Don’t forget, if you would like access to my free ebook “9 Saltwater Aquarium Success Tools” to minimize mistakes and get your tank thriving simply click the button below.


Saltwater aquarium advice