Saltwater fish are known for being notoriously tricky to take care of, but are they really? The short answer is yes. Saltwater fish can only live in saltwater that meets strict parameters when it comes to pH, salinity, and temperature. This is why a saltwater aquarium requires constant upkeep to ensure that the water falls within the perfect range. To keep your saltwater fish happy and healthy, you will need to put in place a strict aquarium upkeep schedule.
Monitor the Health of Your Marine Critters
Check on the health of your fish and other saltwater critters daily. Use this as an opportunity to step away from the hustle and bustle of your life and make sure that your fish are looking healthy and acting normally. Any persistent irregularities should be logged and brought to the attention of a vet. A great opportunity to fish watch is during your daily feedings!
Feed Your Fish
Fish feeding is one of the basics- regardless of if you have a freshwater or saltwater tank. The best way to feed your saltwater aquarium fish is by broadcasting, or sprinkling food over the water’s surface, focusing on places with water flow. Make sure that you watch your fish as they eat- not only to check on their overall health, but to also ensure that all of your fish are eating properly. Some fish can be aggressive and can consume more food then they should, not allowing other, shier fish to eat their fill.
If all of the fish in your tank doesn’t have the same diet, you may need to target feed them the appropriate food. Some of the fish you own may need to eat more than once daily, so ensure that you not only know the dietary expectations of your fish but also how often they need to be fed.
Top off Your Aquarium
Saltwater is more prone to evaporation than freshwater, so you will need to top off your aquarium daily. The reason for this being is that when water in salt water evaporates, it leaves behind salt which throws off your tank’s salinity. Highly concentrated saltwater can really hurt your fish. Add warm freshwater to your tank every morning and monitor your water’s salinity level with a refractometer or a hydrometer to keep it in check.
Now, depending on whether or not you’re adding new critters to your saltwater aquarium, the frequency in which you should be changing out your water may fluctuate. After you complete the cycling process that comes with incorporating new pets into your tank, you should cycle your water weekly with a sand or gravel siphon until the water is perfectly balanced. Take this opportunity to vacuum the bottom of your tank to get rid of any sediment build-up and perform a general tank cleaning, and scrub all algae away- wherever you find it!
Check Your Filter
You can do this in tandem with your weekly water change. Ensure that the filter in your saltwater aquarium is free from debris and rinse your filter and with the waste saltwater from your water change. This may seem gross, but it will help your filter retain all of the healthy bacteria that your mini marine ecosystem needs to thrive. Wipe down the waste container after removing the larger debris and re-insert! We don’t advise replacing your filter media all at the same time- it could prove harmful to your saltwater critters. Re-use and recycle until it breaks!
As Needed Maintenance
Make Extra Saltwater
Make sure you have a little extra saltwater on hand for daily topping off and water change maintenance. We recommend taking it from the ocean or making your own. No matter what you choose, you will have to do your part to ensure that the water is ready to be integrated into your tank.
Saltwater from the Ocean
Verify that it is legal to take saltwater home with you. We advise checking your state or county laws.
Test the water to ensure that the salinity and pH levels are right for your tank.
Sterilize it with UV light for up to 24 hours. This will kill any dangerous pathogens.
Make Your Own Saltwater
You can use fresh water, well water, or reverse osmosis (RO) water to start.
Test the water to ensure that it’s safe
Use a dechlorinating solution and follow all instructions
Next, mix in your salt solution. There are a number of them to choose from. (Be advised that there will typically be mixes for all-fish saltwater aquariums and others for coral. We recommend starting with fish first, as coral requires more phosphates and carbonates in their salt mixtures).