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Corrosion Resistant Materials, suited for working around salt water

There are three types of materials; steel, aluminum and plastics, that are ideally suited for working around salt water.

Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is probably the best material to use our around saw water as far as durability goes. There are many grades of stainless steel and some or more corrosion resistant than others. Typically the more resistant types are also the most expensive types. Stainless steel in general tends to be much more expensive than aluminum or plastic, but it's very durable and is very strong and stainless steel can be very useful around salt water aquariums. But it is typically used more in commercial systems, not home hobby systems.

Aluminum typically doesn't rust in the presence of saltwater, although it may pit. When exposed to salt water, it will develop a dull finish over time. We don't recommend that you use aluminum underwater but it seems to be ok above water. It seems to work well and is very durable. We use it a lot as it is low cost, very strong, and structurally never seems to decay.

Plastic materials are probably one of the best materials for a beginner. These don't usually corrode although they can degrade under UV light. So you want to make sure, if you're buying a material or an item that's made of plastic and it's going to be exposed to your lights for long periods of time, make sure the plastic is labeled"UV resistant".

Typically plastics are very resistant to saltwater corrosion. Some of them may also become brittle over time, but in general, the plastics like polyethylene, are very good.

A breakdown of types of plastics follows:

  • Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is commonly used in 2 liter soda bottles, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter jars. It is the most widely recycled plastic.
  • High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is commonly used for detergent bottles, milk jugs, and grocery bags.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is commonly used for plastic plumbing pipes, outdoor furniture, shrink wrap, water bottles, salad dressing and liquid detergent containers. This is ideal for plumbing your aquarium and usually is bought as Schedule 40 PVC.
  • Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) is commonly used for dry cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners, and food storage containers.
  • Polypropylene is commonly used for aerosol caps, drinking straws.
  • Polystyrene is commonly used for packaging pellets or "Styrofoam peanuts," cups, plastic tableware, meat trays, and To-Go clam shell type containers.
  • Other types of plastic include certain kinds of food containers and Tupperware. This plastic category, as its name of "other" implies, is any plastic other than the named above.
  • The best types of plastics for use in the aquarium are Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) for plumbing your tank, and Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) for things like brine shrimp hatcheries.

A good example of non-corrosive materials are plastic or nylon cable ties cable ties are one of our favorite things to use as you'll see in our handy items section. These can be purchased at most hardware stores like Home Depot and you can use them to secure items such as powerhead and heater chords near your aquarium.

You don't want to use rubber bands around your power chords, because within about 30 days they will start to deteriorate. If it's better to use cable ties in that situation. We use tons of cable ties in many different colors and sizes and we had a recommended to get a variety pack of cable ties sizes.

Plastic cups and plastic bins that are used to make some salt water are handy to have. One of the most convenient containers is a 5 gallon bucket.

If you buy a container of salt mix, it often comes in 5 gallon buckets. They often come with a screw on lid, and those are great for water changes, and holding fish for quarantine or even making dump buckets or filters and stumps.