How To Maintain Your Saltwater Aquarium

Photo of aquarium cleaning supplies

Saltwater aquariums can require more maintenance than freshwater tanks, but they are also beautiful aquariums and a great opportunity to have exotic and colorful fish in your home. When setting up your saltwater aquarium, be sure to purchase quality supplies and the right size of aquarium for the fish you want. This will make maintenance go a lot smoother. Here's how to maintain your saltwater aquarium:

  1. Check each fish daily. Spend a few minutes looking at each fish. Familiarize yourself with their behavior and appearance so that you'll notice quickly if one seems sick.
  2. Keep your fish properly fed. For saltwater fish, feeding them one time every two or three days is usually appropriate. Always make sure that you are feeding the proper diet for the species of fish you keep. Most fish enjoy a varied diet.
  3. Keep the aquarium full. As the water evaporates, you should add water which has been dechlorinated.  You'll also need to put in a bit of calcium. 
  4. Add iodine. The amount of iodine needed depends on your  aquarium size, but it should be added about two times each week.
  5. Clean the aquarium walls. Weekly, scrape algae from your saltwater aquarium's walls. Many freshwater fish can be expensive, and they are also known to be very sensitive to their environment. You must keep the aquarium clean and with optimum chemical levels if you want to enjoy your fish and keep a healthy tank going.
  6. Do routine water changes. Every week, remove about ten or fifteen percent of the aquarium water. Add enough water (make sure it's dechlorinated) to compensate. It is much better for your fish to change small amounts of the water every week than to try to change half or more. You can only safely change 25 percent of the water at any one time. The process of routine water changes helps to keep chemical levels in your aquarium from getting too high, and keeps the chemistry of the tank in balance. When you change the water, use a siphon to remove any debris in the gravel at the bottom of the tank.
  7. Test the water. The day after every water change, test the water levels.  You'll need to check the levels of chemicals such as ammonia and calcium, along with other chemicals like nitrate and nitrite.  Also, don't forget to check the pH levels . If you have any invertebrates in your saltwater tank, you'll also need to test the copper. Test the alkalinity every month. Make sure that these levels are within the acceptable ranges for saltwater tanks. If they aren't, something has gone wrong. You may need to do an emergency water change or add a water balancing chemical to return your aquarium to the proper levels. If your water levels are off for too long, your fish can suffer; your fish can even die if the water is not at the right levels for them.

When maintaining a saltwater aquarium, it may be helpful to set up a maintenance calendar as a reminder of when you need to do routine maintenance. Saltwater tanks can require experience to care for properly; if you're considering setting up one of these tanks, do your reading before you decide if it's right for you.


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