It's no secret that maintaining a marine aquarium requires more effort than maintaining a freshwater aquarium. Marine fish demand higher water quality standards, particularly in terms of pH, temperature, and salinity. You'll need to maintain them on a frequent basis to keep them in the right range. Planning ahead is the greatest approach to make aquarium upkeep simple. The first time you set up your aquarium correctly, it will make a big impact in your maintenance regimen.
How do you maintain things flowing smoothly once your aquarium is up and running, your fish have been introduced, and you've passed the first cycle period? To maintain your ecosystem healthy, you'll need a series of maintenance procedures. Put it in your calendar and don't forget about it!
Regular Water Maintenance Tasks
Checking Salinity/Topping Off: Daily
Even with a tight-fitting lid, heated saltwater aquariums will lose water due to evaporation. The salinity of the aquarium water will rise as a result of this. This is due to the fact that as the water exits your tank, the salt stays behind and concentrates. You'll need to add warm FRESHWATER on a frequent basis to remedy this. It will feel strange at first, but it will maintain your salinity. Using a hydrometer or refractometer, make sure your salinity stays within the proper range.
Changing Water: Weekly
You'll need to establish a tight water change schedule for the first several months of your saltwater aquarium. It will take some time for your aquarium to cycle and all of your water quality levels to balance when you initially put it up. This is the equilibrium between the new fish, any invertebrates you've added, like as corals or shrimp, and your biological filtration. You may have a few snags in the first 6-8 months after your tank has been properly cycled. Regular water changes will help prevent these issues from becoming more serious in the future. This is especially true if you want to continue adding live features like fish or while fine-tuning your equipment setup.
Use a to get into the deeper levels of your substrate while doing a water change. The microorganisms in the substrate will not be harmed! Move your décor or living rock if possible, and clean below. You'd be astonished how much garbage these elements may accumulate. Make sure you don't disturb any bottom-dwellers! Make fresh substrate piles for any burrowing fish, but be careful not to suck or compress them during gravel vacuuming and cleaning.
Maintaining Filtration: Weekly
Inspecting your filter media should be a part of your water change routine. Regardless of the filter material you use, it should enable water to flow freely and not become clogged with particles. You should never change all of your filter media at once, because the beneficial bacteria that make up the biological filter will be lost. Most filter media may be rinsed and reused unless it is damaged. Use the waste water from your water change to rinse your filter media once you've collected it. If you rinse your filter media in freshwater, the beneficial bacteria it contains will be lost. Make careful to clean out the filter container and refill the media once you've eliminated the bigger particles. That's the point: it won't appear or smell clean. You want your biological filtration microorganisms to stay where they belong.
Making Saltwater: As Needed
You'll need a means to gather or create saltwater if you're maintaining saltwater fish. If you live near a beach and want to collect water, be sure it's been properly tested and that it's legal in your area. To avoid bringing in any harmful or nuisance diseases from the wild, it is strongly suggested that you sanitize "wild" water for at least 24 hours using a UV sterilizer.
You'll have to produce your own seawater if you don't have access to ready-made seawater. You can begin by using tap, well, or RO water. If you're going to make saltwater from tap or well water, be sure it's been tested first. To remove chlorine or chloramine from tap water, use a dechlorinator chemical. Mixing a salt solution is best done with Reverse Osmosis (RO) filtered water. You may employ a variety of salt blends, each of which is tailored to an all-fish saltwater aquarium or a fish-and-coral aquarium. Corals need more carbonate and phosphate to build their stony homes, thus these coral-specific salt mixtures will be required. It is advised that you start with fish only when you first begin working with saltwater. Corals will want a more specialized tank, as well as additional light, water flow, and saltwater requirements.
Scrubing Algae: Weekly
There's no getting around it: fish +. If you have corals, their demand for bright lights will typically exacerbate algae issues. Regularly scrubbing your glass or acrylic aquarium walls with a suitable scrubber will aid in the removal of algae buildup. Check your water quality if you have a serious algae problem. Algal blooms are caused by high quantities of phosphate and nitrate.
Checking Water Quality: Daily/Weekly/Monthly
Water quality is critical in all aquariums, both freshwater and saltwater. Your system will be set up appropriately with proper filtration if you have a solid saltwater aquarium layout. You'll need to check your water chemistry on a regular basis when you're first starting out and your aquarium is still cycling. If you're cycling your tank with fish, this is extremely important. Once you've gotten through the first cycle period, you can reduce your water chemistry checks to once a week if you're not adding any more fish, invertebrates, or equipment. Continue to test everyday if you're still adding elements. When the nitrogen cycle is still growing, waiting too long between tests might be dangerous if abnormalities are not caught early. Allow four weeks for your system to cycle once you've finished adding or changing it, and then begin reducing your testing.
Most freshwater fish have more stringent pH (acid-base balance) needs than saltwater fish. For any saltwater aquarium system, maintaining a constant pH is essential. Although most salt mixes contain enough carbonate buffers to keep your pH steady, it's still a good idea to check it on a frequent basis.
Replace your liquid-based test kit at least once a year. The "expiration dates" on the packages apply exclusively to the places where they are sold. You have one year from the time you open the bottles to use the liquid. If you're using an electronic probe, make sure to calibrate it once a month, as directed by the manufacturer.
Checking Water Temperature: Daily
Temperature is the sole water characteristic that must be tested on a regular basis. External thermometers should not be relied upon. Spend a few dollars on a or a few dollars more on a digital thermometer. Make sure your heaters are working properly on a daily basis. When tropical saltwater fish are exposed to freezing temperatures, they become sick and die quickly.
Regular Fish Maintenance Tasks
Feeding Fish: Daily
Many saltwater aquariums will contain a diverse range of fish and invertebrates with varying food requirements. Research which diets would be best for your fish before you buy them. Some marine fish are finicky feeders, and if you aren't prepared, you will lose your investment.
The majority of marine fish feedings should be televised. This refers to dispersing food throughout a vast region of the water surface, with a concentration on locations with higher water flow, such as powerheads or filter outputs. This will reduce competition, especially among aggressive fish species, and ensure that everyone gets their fair share. Any fish with special diets, such as obligate carnivores or herbivores that aren't interested in the regular food, may need to be fed separately. Corals, clams, and anemones are examples of sessile invertebrates that require nourishment. Most tropical marine fish will need to be fed twice a day. Remember that in the natural, these fish are always looking for food and do not tolerate long periods of fasting. If you're traveling out of town, a skilled human feeder is preferable to an automatic feeder for these fish. People who are unfamiliar with feeding fish, on the other hand, have a propensity to overfeed them, which may rapidly lead to poor water quality and fish loss!
Checking Fish and Invertebrates: Daily
You must keep a close eye on your aquarium every day to ensure that all of your fish are in good health. Use it as a daily meditation time to keep an eye on all of your fish. It may take some time for them all to appear, and you may have to hunt out those who choose to remain hidden. Feeding time is an excellent opportunity to assess the look and behavior of your fish. Every day, marine invertebrates, including corals, should be assessed. Contact your local aquatic veterinarian for further information if you have a problem animal.
If you're going out of town, ensure sure whoever is looking after your fish is aware of the number of fish you have and their specific characteristics. Do you have any jawfish that enjoy burrowing? Do you have any damselfish that like to stay in a single little cave? Do you have any hawkfish that will seek refuge behind a mushroom coral if their tank is disturbed? What about your mollusks and other invertebrates? Some owners may leave photos of their particular fish, along with their preferred hiding spots, so that fish-sitters have a clear notion of who is in their care.
Quarantining Fish: As Needed
Having a hospital or quarantine tank on hand will assist all fish owners. It doesn't have to be as elaborate as your primary system; a smaller tank with full filtration would work. Because fish in hospital systems are frequently more anxious, provide them with adequate hiding places. Although a hospital/quarantine tank does not need to be operating all of the time, it is advised that your hospital filter material be placed in the main aquarium filter to get it up and running immediately. Before reusing your media, properly clean it when your hospital tank is no longer in use. If you can capture them with little stress, any fish displaying active indications of sickness should be quarantined. Before being introduced to the main tank, all new recruits, whether fish or invertebrates, must go through a thorough quarantine phase.