Saltwater Aquarium Maintenance

Saltwater aquariums are known for being beautiful to look at—and difficult to maintain. Many fish lovers are intimidated by stories they have heard about the challenges of keeping a saltwater aquarium, but they should not scare so easily- if done correctly a fully matured marine aquarium can be very rewarding for all ages.

Saltwater_Aquarium_Maintenance_02Yes, setting up and maintaining a thriving saltwater aquarium can be quite a challenge, but with the right information and dedication, anybody can be a successful saltwater hobbyist. Read the following articles to increase your knowledge about, and enthusiasm for the saltwater fishkeeping hobby.

For it to be successful, your saltwater aquarium will require a commitment from you. Coral reefs provide one of the most stable environments on earth for the fish that inhabit them. You must dedicate yourself to providing as stable an environment as possible for your home marine aquarium. This will require regular maintenance of the tank. It is a good idea to establish a maintenance routine by setting up a schedule to make sure you don’t forget to take care of anything and to give yourself the opportunity to catch any problems early on.

The immense size of the ocean means that rapid changes in water quality, temperature etc are unusual and saltwater species are therefore less resilient to such changes. Creating a stable environment in your saltwater aquarium is therefore one of the key factors behind successful marine fish keeping. Probably the most valuable item of equipment in a saltwater tank is a test-kit that will allow you to keep an eye on ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH-value/ alkalinity, and water hardness. A fish species that inhabits a small puddle on the African savannah is usually very well adapted to withstand rapid changes, while marine fish species can die if the water temperature or chemistry of your aquarium alters quickly, even when the change is comparatively small. Vigorous filtration is therefore necessary, and you should combine mechanical, chemical and biological filtration. It is also important to avoid over feeding and uneaten food must be removed as soon as possible. A saltwater aquarium should ideally be at least 100 litres since the large water mass will dilute potentially harmful compounds and keep the environment more stable.

Water Changes

Performing regular water changes is one of the best ways to keep your aquarium running well, as it is one of the most efficient nitrate reduction methods. In most cases, frequent small water changes are better than infrequent large water changes. Most experts recommend changing about 10 percent of the water every week. In a very large system, a monthly water change might do the trick, but a biweekly schedule is safer.

Saltwater_Aquarium_Maintenance_01Changing the water in a saltwater aquarium is a bit more complicated than changing the water in a freshwater aquarium but technology does help us. Commercial salt mixes, like Seachem Marine or Reef salt, are readily available and make the task easier. Ideally all new saltwater should be made at least 24 hours before use to avoid any cloudiness and incorrect mixing, always check the salinity is correct.

To change the water, you will first need to disconnect all power to your tank. Then, remove and clean the cover glass and clean any other glass panels that are due for a cleaning. Siphon at least 10-15 percent of the water out of the tank and into a bucket, and then rinse any filter media in the bucket. At this time you should also clean and rinse any pumps, hoses, or other attachments using aquarium water, and clean ‘salt creep’ from the top edges of the aquarium. Using a commercial salt mix and dechlorinated tap water, that has been pre-mixed, finally check the temperature and salinity of the new water matches that of the aquarium and then you can slowly add the replacement water into the aquarium. Finally, turn the power back on and return the cover glass.

Daily Maintenance

Some maintenance tasks will need to be completed more often than others. Every day, you should check the water temperature and adjust when necessary. You should make sure all equipment is running properly, clean ‘salt creep’ top off from water lost due to evaporation, and check the residents of the tank for signs of distress or disease. You should also remove any uneaten food before it begins to decay.

Weekly Maintenance

Every week, you should test the water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. You should also rinse off any pre filters to remove clogs of uneaten food or debris. Cleaning the interior viewing panels of the aquarium should also be a weekly task.

Bimonthly Maintenance

Every two weeks (at least!), you should perform a 10-15 percent water change. At the same time, you can gently vacuum the substrate. A few days before or after completing the water change, you should remove and/or replace any mechanical filtration media. Clean the cover glass at this time, removing salt buildup, calcium deposits, dirt, etc, to improve the look of the aquarium as well as to increase the amount of light that is able to shine through the glass. This is also a good time to check your power sources and make sure they are working well and are free of ‘salt creep’.