Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between Captiv8 Aquaculture and Reef Blueprint-branded products?

The label is the only difference.  Formulations are identical.  The Reef Blueprint brand is produced for consumers who are generally purchasing small amounts of a formulation because they have modest requirements relative to commercial customers maintaining relatively large systems (the Captiv8 Aquaculture brand is produced in larger sizes for these customers).  Keep in mind that some formulations treat over 1,000 gallons per mL, and it becomes apparent why a consumer might have a 60 mL bottle of that solution for a long, long time!

Do you offer custom formulary services?

Yes.  With over 22 years of formulary experience in the aquaculture and aquatics industries creating solutions and dry blends, organic and inorganic, simple and complex, including sea salt which replicates seawater chemistry to within 0.5% of target ionic values (regardless of volume prepared), we pride ourselves​ in our ability to work with clients to produce formulations which will achieve their desired goals, without the use of fillers, colors, or unnecessary additives.  Our formulary capabilities are extremely wide-ranging, as we have worked with literally hundreds of components throughout the years, so we're particularly well-suited to completing custom formulation requests.

How can I request samples?

Please email us directly, or fill in the form on our website.  In either case, please provide your name and mailing address. We are currently not mailing samples to addresses outside of the continental United States due to ever-increasing shipping costs.  Samples are available as a courtesy, and quantities may be limited due to various factors.

How can I purchase your products?

To purchase our salt, please visit this link.

Captiv8 Aquaculture products may be purchased directly.  Captiv8 Aquaculture items are not marked nor intended for resale or distribution, and are expressly intended for use in research, agriculture (e.g. aquaculture, aquaponics, hydroponics, horticulture), biofuel production, and/or maintenance of zoological displays.  These products are sized for institutional and/or commercial application.

Reef Blueprint products may be purchased within the U.S. from an authorized dealer.

Reef Blueprint products may be purchased outside of the U.S. from an authorized dealer or directly from Captiv8 Aquaculture.

Retailers of aquarium support equipment and/or livestock may contact us to explore purchasing options for Reef Blueprint products.  We will work with you to determine the most cost-effective purchasing solution.

*Captiv8 Aquaculture reserves the sole right to determine which countries to export to based not only upon existing trade embargoes, but also upon geopolitical, environmental, and human rights factors.

Captiv8 Aquaculture and Reef Blueprint items are barred from being sold on auction sites, 3rd party eCommerce sites, forums, and clearance house-type eCommerce sites.  Violation of this policy, or of our MAP policy, results in immediate account suspension and/or cancellation at our sole discretion.

How does your [Captiv8/Reef Blueprint product] compare to [competing brand product]?

Making a constructive and accurate comparison between two products legitimately requires a thorough analysis at the very least, incorporating a clinical trial for determination of practical differences.  It is highly unlikely that manufacturers will invest the resources required to carry out such a study, and for those who do there needs to be published data and repeatability of results if the data are to be verified.  This extent of testing is even less likely to be undertaken than the initial trial.  In our case, we are entirely focused on results obtained through the proper application of our formulations, and in supporting our customers and industry partners; this leaves us no time to perform the studies required to compare the performance of our formulations to those of products intended to achieve the same goal(s).  It is for this reason that you will not see claims of "better, best, cleanest, etc." attached to our formulations, because those terms must be made within the context of a comparison to some other product.  The best that we can offer when asked to make a comparison is the performance data that we have recorded on our own formulations, offer information pertaining to purity and concentration where applicable, and offer intelligent recommendations with respect to the suitability of a formulation, as well as the actual application of it, in the system(s) in question.

In general, it can be said that we strive to maximize efficacy, purity, and strength of our formulations for best outcomes, and consumer comparisons of our formulations with appropriate competing products consistently reveal that these goals are achieved at a comparable or lower price when choosing the Captiv8 / Reef Blueprint product. 

How do your dry microbial blends (Inocul8, Remedi8) compare to those sold in liquid (suspension) form?

Generally, microbial suspensions (i.e. in the liquid form) may experience more rapid performance degradation than dry blends, and may require storage within a narrower temperature range to maintain efficacy.  Producers of microbial blends do not entirely divulge the identities of the species present in their blends, making any comparison of performance on paper impossible.  

 

With regards to performance in the remineralization of dissolved and particulate organic material, as well as conversion of inorganic and organic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, we have found that Inocul8 and Remedi8 begin to elicit changes within a matter of minutes following dispersion.  Elimin8 DIN acts more quickly, however it is expressly intended to target dissolved inorganic nitrogen (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) and is not a suitable suspension for conversion of dissolved and/or organic material.  It is ideal for "emergencies" where biological filtration is interrupted for lengthy periods of time or has become damaged through the application of a biocide to the system.

Can I dissolve Inocul8 or Remedi8 in water and then store this for use at a later time?

Yes, with some conditions met.  First, do not use purified water for this purpose, as it will negatively impact the microorganisms in the respective blends.  Instead, be sure to use system water.  You may refrigerate the suspension if you don't intend to use it all within 48 hours.  Do not freeze the suspension.  Before each use, shake the suspension to encourage homogeneity of the fluid, resulting in greater consistency of performance.  Use within 10 days.

Can I apply Inocul8 or Remedi8 with an automated doser?
Yes.  Refer to the preceding question with regards to conditions.  Ideally, the storage vessel will be gently agitated with a magnetic stirrer (not with a pump) to promote homogeneity of the fluid.

I recently purchased Formul8 or Formul8x; it's different than it was prior to 2022.  What changed?

As of January 1, 2022, the format for our salt blends has changed from a completely dry product to a four-part, consisting of two individual solutions and two dry materials, specifically NaCl and MgSO4|7(H2O), USP in both cases.  This change was made to enable users to mix any volume of saltwater required and achieve complete consistency of ionic values each time.  Overall, the purity of the formulations increased very slightly due to the inclusion of a second, high-purity magnesium source.  The blends go into solution within minutes and leave no residue.  All previously published values for the three blends remains unchanged, with the exception that we have incorporated F and Rb into the formulations in the appropriate ratios.  We now produce two premix options: one without the NaCl, the other without NaCl and MgSO4|7(H2O).  In all cases with regards to pre-mixes, the volume of water treated is in 40-gallon increments.  Complete Formul8 blends are offered in 20-, 40-, and 80-gallon mixes.

Is it possible to simplify the dosing of the various individual trace element solutions?

This question is often asked by individuals using an ICP service to provide a comprehensive analysis of the ionic values in their system(s).  We will gladly assist you; contact us and we will email you an Excel sheet and instructions on completion.

Can I mix the individual Isol8 minor and /or trace element solutions together in the same dosing vessel?

Yes.  With the exception of Isol8 Cu, the individual trace element solutions are compatible in the same vessel.  These solutions include those which provide: I, Co, Fe, Mo, Mn, Ni, Rb, Se, V, and Zn.

Can I mix the individual Isol8 major element solutions together in the same dosing vessel?

Yes, with the following guidelines and exceptions.  Isol8 Mg, Ca, K, Sr, Br, and F may be mixed.  Isol8 B should be dosed alone or can be mixed with any of the buffer solutions (e.g. Carbon8 aq 8.35 and 9.20, or a solution prepared with Carbon8 s).

I farm coral.  Do you offer something that can increase the rate of tissue growth?

Yes, it's called Propag8.  Propag8 is a dry, free-flowing blend of specific free form amino acids shown to impact cellular growth and tissue repair, incorporating immunostimulants to aid in overall robustness of cohort members.  Regular application, even in very small quantities, generally results in observable results within the first week, assuming that chemical and physical conditions remain appropriate for cohort survival.

My marine system is experiencing chronic low pH. How do I remedy this?

There are a number of factors to consider in pH modulation, however there are a few approaches which generally have an alkalizing impact on a closed-circulation marine ecosystem (e.g. marine or reef aquarium).  

  • Incorporate a protein skimmer in continuous operation to aid in expulsion of carbon dioxide from the system.  The larger the reaction column volume and the smaller the bubbles created by the pump and impeller, the greater the capacity for gas exchange becomes. If possible, draw air for the skimmer from a source outside of the building that the system is housed within; this approach introduces air which should have lower carbon dioxide content than air confined within a room with little or no outside ventilation.

  • Incorporate calcium hydroxide ("kalkwasser") dosing, controlled entirely by a pH controller.  A dosing system may consist of a clean pail with tight-fitting lid (into which a hole is drilled to enable tubing to extend to within a inch of the bottom, generally) and a peristaltic pump which is powered through a pH controller.  A screw-top pail with gasketed lid, a quality peristaltic pump, and tubing required (silicone is recommended) can be purchased in the U.S. for less than $50.  For recommendations on set up, please contact us.  Kalkwasser dosing can dramatically improve pH control (and coral skeletal growth rates) in reef systems in which it is not currently employed.  Utilization of calcium hydroxide as directed decreases the amount of other buffers required to maintain alkalinity and pH in all systems not currently employing calcium hydroxide; this savings can justify and eventually negate the initial expenditure on a calcium hydroxide dosing system, simultaneously decreasing the mass of sodium entering the system (most buffering compounds are sodium-based).

  • Encourage air exchange from the space surrounding the system with air from outside the structure housing the system.

  • Review the composition of buffering compounds being used to determine if they are suppressing the average pH value.

  • Application of the following tends to have an acidifying impact on recirculating aquatic systems:

    • shelf-stable liquid food suspensions;

    • shelf-stable liquid amino acid solutions;

    • shelf-stable liquid microbial suspensions;

    • shelf-stable organic carbon solutions;

    • concentrated chloride- and /or sulfate-based ionic solutions.

  • Incorporate an algal turf scrubber, which will remove some of the carbon dioxide from the system.  If this method is employed, then dosing of elements critical to biochemical reactions related to photosynthesis is required, otherwise the potential of the scrubber to reduce nutrients will be surpassed.

  • If a calcium reactor is incorporated into the system, then monitor the pH of the effluent and determine whether decreasing the volume of carbon dioxide injected per unit time is justified.

  • Improve water circulation at the air-water interface.

  • Improve water circulation below the surface to mitigate the accumulation of particulate organic material in and around static surfaces, such as bottom substrate, rock, and massive corals.

 

Do you produce an all-in-one solution for dosing non-conservative ions in marine ecosystems, such as for coral culture?

We do not, as they must necessarily employ organic forms of divalent cation salts in order to avoid precipitation with carbonate, bicarbonate, and borate ions when mixed into the same solution. Our perspective on the addition of organic forms of major ions, such as calcium and magnesium, which are rapidly taken up in closed marine ecosystems housing cohorts of reef building invertebrates, is that they are unsuitable for this purpose due to the heavy organic load that is placed on the system in question. By percent mass, most of these organic salts are composed of the carbohydrate. In a mature aquaculture system, densely-packed with scleractinians, reliance upon organic calcium as a major calcium source becomes very expensive, all the while adding to the nutrient load in the system. Corals may initially respond positively to the presence of the carbohydrate, however a danger exists wherein the system's microbial population may increase substantially due to the nutrient abundance, potentially undergoing a die off if the nutrient demand exceeds the rate of nutrient input.

Do you offer a simple approach for maintaining inorganic water chemistry in reef aquaria?

For systems which do not employ a dosing system and/or a calcium reactor or kalkwasser, the simple approach to establishing and maintaining inorganic water chemistry includes:

  • Formul8 Reef (establishes water chemistry with ionic values typically targeted by reef aquarists);

  • Coral8 Yin and Yang (Yin provides Ca, K, Sr, Mg, Br; Yang provides B, alkalinity, and raises pH);

  • Isol8 MT (provides I, Co, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Ni, Se, V, and Zn).

 

How do I minimize the frequency of needing to perform water changes in my reef?

For this question, it is assumed that nutrient dilution through water changes is not required (in this day and age, water changes performed for this purpose are generally limited to emergency nutrient spike situations, and are not routine as they were in the late 1990's). The following information is provided within the context of employing Reef Blueprint formulations to establish water chemistry, and then maintain values within reasonable ranges.

The simple answer is to begin with proper ionic ratios and minimal contaminants, and then do as little as possible to impact those ratios by minimizing the addition of ions which accumulate due to their conservative behavior in recirculating marine ecosystems.  Examples of such ions would be sodium, chloride, sulfate, and many minor and trace elements (Barium, Lanthanides, Cesium, Lithium, etc.); though there may be some minimal amount of uptake and export through biological and chemical processes, these mechanisms are generally insufficient to offset increases which come with focused supplementation of chloride- and/or sulfate-based salts of major cations, such as Mg, or solutions which intentionally (or inadvertently) contain any of the afore mentioned trace elements.

Depending upon the ionic values that you, personally, target with respect to Mg, Ca, K, and Sr, you would begin with Formul8 ASW or Formul8 Reef to create all of the saltwater in your system.  Either formulation establishes proper chloride and sulfate ratios to all nonconservative elements present.

Then, you will make an effort to provide major cations of interest (e.g. Mg, Ca, K, Sr) in forms that do not include chloride or sulfate.  In such an approach... 

  • a calcium reactor and kalkwasser (dosed in conjunction with a pH controller) are utilized to provide as much calcium as possible (and facilitate the adjustment of alkalinity and pH; more on this below), while minimizing the use of calcium chloride;

  • magnesium is provided on some level by the calcium reactor; additional magnesium requirements can be met with application of:

    • a balanced chloride-/sulfate-based magnesium solution;

    • Nitr8, in the event that nitrate is required in the system;

  • potassium is provided through:

    • Isol8 Br, which is primarily dosed to maintain [Br];

    • Fluorocarbon8, which increases alkalinity and stabilizes pH, and is expressly formulated for application in this "minimal water changes" approach;

  • strontium is provided on some level by the calcium reactor; additional strontium requirements can be met with application of Isol8 Sr, which will contribute chloride, however this amount will be modest given the generally modest strontium Sr requirements in most systems.

Other important major ions include bromide and boron.

  • Bromide, as previously mentioned, is maintained through addition of Isol8 Br;

  • boron is maintained through the addition of Isol8 B and Fluorocarbon8.

Additional major ions of interest are fluoride and rubidium; it is entirely up to the system manager (you) as to whether supplementation of these elements is to be undertaken.  Within the Reef Blueprint line, we offer Isol8 F (10,000 ppm potassium fluoride (USP) solution) and Isol8 Rb (10,000 ppm rubidium chloride (USP) solution).  Dosing in accordance with F and Rb requirements established through ICP analysis will likely contribute a modest amount of K and minimal Cl, respectively, over the course of a year, owing to the rates of F and Rb uptake in recirculating reef ecosystems.

Minor and trace ions critical to photosynthesis, nutrient uptake, and various biochemical processes (e.g. I, Mo, V, Cu, Co, Fe, Mn, Ni, Se, Zn) are provided either through the addition of individual Isol8 solutions, or through Isol8 Hexad and Triad, or Isol8 MT.  While most of the cations are provided in chloride or sulfate forms, the dosing requirements of these elements are so minuscule that no significant increase in the concentration of these anions should occur in even the most heavily-stocked reef system within the span of a single year as a result of their application.

Alkalinity and pH will be, to the maximum possible extent, maintained through the joint use of a calcium reactor, kalkwasser, and Fluorocarbon8.  If the potassium concentration in the system exceeds the user-defined maximum value, then Fluorocarbon8 application will be temporarily halted and the balance of carbonate-based alkalinity provided by the calcium reactor.  Under these conditions, and if using Formul8 Reef as the basis of seawater, then Carbon8 s may be employed as an additional means of alkalinity provision, recognizing that the salinity of the system will increase slightly with each application due to sodium addition.

The term, "in situ", appears on many product pages; what does this mean?

In Chemistry, "in situ" refers, generally, to reactions taking place within the system.  Within the context of recirculating aquatic ecosystems, this term denotes reactions taking place within the seawater medium, and represents a snapshot in time. This use of "in situ" is not to be confused with the application of the term within the context of conservation or Biology, which refers to the location where the subject (e.g. corals, fish, etc.) is naturally found.

You offer three different buffer solutions; under what conditions should I choose one over the others?

The primary consideration is what the average pH value within the system(s) to be dosed is over a "normal" 24 hour period (in which there have been no unusual events impacting system stability, on the whole).  

 

If the average pH value is below ~8.20, then it is recommended to use Carbon8 aq 9.20 as directed until the average pH value increases to the desired value, +/- 0.25, and alkalinity remains within a range of ~8.0 - 10.0 dKH.  Then, either adjust dosing of Carbon8 aq 9.20 or switch to Carbon8 aq 8.35.

If the average pH value is above ~8.20, then it is recommended to use Carbon8 aq 8.35 as directed, dosing as necessary to maintain alkalinity within a range of ~8.0 - 10.0 dKH.  If the average pH value in the system is >8.40, anticipate that dosing Carbon8 aq 8.35 will likely decrease the average pH value in the system to ~8.35.

If Isol8 Ca(OH)2 (kalkwasser) is employed as the primary means of moderating pH in the system, then Fluorocarbon8 aq is recommended as a buffer solution. Anticipate that less buffer solution will be required in systems employing Isol8 Ca(OH)2 when compared to systems not using this method. Fluorocarbon8 differs from Carbon8 aq and Carbon8 s in that it is entirely formulated with potassium salts (sodium salts are excluded). This produces a pH to alkalinity ratio that works well when employed in conjunction with kalkwasser. Further, the formulation contributes no sodium to the system, and encourages fluorescence.