Saltwater aquariums aren’t difficult to maintain for seasoned aquarists. However, they’re challenging for new aquarists because saltwater aquariums need a certain level of specific gravity, pH, temperature, and salinity. Moreover, live rocks, corals, and marine fish are sensitive and need utmost care.
Let’s understand in more detail why saltwater aquariums are hard to maintain.
9 Reasons Saltwater Aquariums Are Hard to Maintain for New Aquarists
Marine fish need strict water quality parameters for survival.
So you’ll need to regularly maintain your saltwater aquarium to keep these numbers within the desired range.
A small mistake can be hazardous for the tank inhabitants.
Given below are the main reasons why saltwater aquariums are hard to maintain.
1. Daily Salinity Check
Saltwater fish need a specific salinity to survive.
The saltwater tank should have a salinity level between 1.021 to 1.025 for the fish to thrive.
In saltwater aquariums, water evaporation is the main reason for changing salinity levels.
It can happen despite having a tight-fitting lid on your aquarium.
Stable parameters are essential for maintaining coral reef and fish health.
A sudden change in salt levels will also potentially endanger the lives of the aquarium inhabitants.
2. Weekly Water Change
Some experts may not agree with the idea of a weekly water change, but it’s essential to change the water every week in the first 6 to 8 months.
Once you set up your saltwater tank, it will take a few days before everything balances out.
This balance is between the new fish, invertebrates such as shrimp, and your biological filtration.
After your tank has been fully cycled, there still might be some minor issues for the first six to eight months.
Regular water changes will prevent them from becoming a larger problem later on.
3. Adequate Tank Lightning
Lighting is important for saltwater fish tanks.
If your aquarium doesn’t contain live rocks, you don’t need to worry about lighting because fish don’t need light for survival.
However, if you have live rocks in your aquarium, you must provide proper lighting for them.
Live rocks contain many hitchhikers, which are essential to a saltwater aquarium.
They need the right lighting conditions to grow. Without proper lighting, the hitchhikers will mess up the aquarium.
4. Regular Filter Maintenance
Inspecting the filter media should be part of your water change process.
Regardless of which filter media you use, it should let the water flow freely without getting clogged with debris.
Don’t replace all your filter media at once.
Else, you’ll lose out on the beneficial bacteria that help keep your water clean by preventing toxic buildup inside the aquarium.
5. Continuous Waste Monitoring
Overfeeding causes increased levels of ammonia and phosphates in saltwater aquariums.
As a result, they need continuous waste monitoring.
Compared to freshwater aquariums, the high toxic buildup is a massive problem in saltwater fish tanks.
The ammonia level should also be zero or as low as possible in a saltwater aquarium.
If you have live rocks, hitchhikers will start eating the excess food in the tank.
So there will be a sudden spike in the number of hitchhikers, which is bad for a saltwater aquarium.
6. Checking Live Rocks Before Adding
Live rocks are essential to a saltwater aquarium.
They not only add aesthetics but also act as a biological filter for the saltwater aquarium.
However, live rocks can sometimes carry unwanted hitchhikers.
If you don’t take proper care, these harmful worms will destroy the aquarium.
7. Special Care of Live Corals
Using live corals inside a reef aquarium helps to mimic the coral reef environment in a small glass box.
Corals need light to grow, so sufficient lighting must be provided to support their growth.
Besides, corals need clean water as they can’t tolerate high levels of nitrates, phosphates, and other toxins.
8. Saltwater Fish Are Slow to Acclimatize
Most saltwater fish are sensitive to changes in water quality.
As a result, saltwater fish take longer to acclimate to aquarium conditions than freshwater fish.
Saltwater fish must be adequately cared for during their acclimation period.
These fish species need particular water conditions like specific gravity and pH.
Therefore, you must ensure these parameters are correctly maintained and allow them adequate time to get used to the tank conditions.
You must also be vigilant and patient till the fish adjust to their new environment.
9. Avoiding Algae Buildup
Reef aquariums need adequate lighting to support coral growth. However, aquarium lights can trigger algae bloom.
So it’s recommended to clean your glass or acrylic aquarium wall with an appropriate scrubber to remove the algae every week.
Also, check your water quality if you have severe algae bloom issues.
Algae bloom occurs when there are high phosphate and nitrate levels in the water.
How to Maintain Saltwater Aquariums?
All fish release ammonia into the water; however, marine fish are much less likely to tolerate the buildup of ammonia in their bodies than freshwater fish as they constantly drink the salt water.
It means your marine aquarium needs a more muscular detoxification system than a freshwater aquarium.
Given below are a few tips for maintaining a saltwater aquarium.
1. Get a Large Tank
Most marine fish need a lot of room to swim around. The space needed depends on the size of the fish and their natural lifestyle.
Few marine fish species adjust in a small tank. Most marine fish need plenty of space to swim.
You must also factor in coral, live rocks, and other things before deciding on the tank size.
One of the most common misconceptions surrounding small reef tanks is that they’re smaller and therefore easier to maintain than large saltwater aquariums.
However, in small aquariums, even the slightest change in water chemistry is disastrous for the fish and invertebrates.
2. Maintain Stable Water Quality
Maintain stable conditions by paying close attention to the water quality.
You must maintain constant water temperature, acidity, pH, and salinity in a marine aquarium.
Check the water parameters daily and take action if they’re not within the acceptable limits.
3. Check Filter Regularly
A filter helps to clean the aquarium water by removing toxins, stopping the buildup of ammonia and nitrates, and aerating the water so that your fish can breathe.
Therefore, in marine aquariums, it’s essential to regularly check the filter and ensure it’s working fine.
Without a robust filtration system, your saltwater tank can be a mess.
4. Check Equipment on A Regular Basis
Reef fish and invertebrates can’t adapt quickly to rapidly changing environments.
It means, unlike freshwater species, marine species are susceptible.
To maintain stability in a marine aquarium, you need appropriate tank equipment.
A regular check is also required to ensure the smooth running of the various types of equipment.
5. Provide Adequate Food
You must understand the dietary requirements of every fish species that you want to keep in your marine aquarium.
You can buy fish food in the form of flakes, tablets, frozen, or live food from available sources.
Vitamin supplements can also be added to compensate for nutrients lost due to the freezing process.
Make sure to provide a diverse diet to your fish.
Feed them a small amount of food that they can consume within 2 to 3 minutes.
Try to remove excess food immediately to avoid toxic buildup.
6. Keep Things Natural
You must attempt to recreate an environment inside your aquarium that mimics the natural habitat of the marine fish species.
Most fish sold in pet stores need similar water conditions but may differ in size and temperament.
Some fish are resilient and adapt to change, and others are highly intolerant.
Understanding different marine fish species will help you select the right type for your saltwater aquarium and breed them successfully.