Any saltwater tank owner can tell you just how difficult it can be to maintain
one. Saltwater fish, though dazzlingly beautiful and a joy to own, are
particularly sensitive to even minute changes in their environment. This
makes precise maintenance and constant vigilance extremely important for
those who keep one of these tanks. If you’re looking into accepting
the tricky but immensely rewarding challenge of a saltwater tank, here
is further information about the maintenance process and how it differs
from a normal freshwater tank.
With a saltwater tank, you’ll at the very least be checking your
tank every single day. Depending on the type of system you keep and the
filtration system you use to maintain it, you might need more or less
frequent maintenance procedures. Berlin Live Rock and Jaubert/Plenum filters
tend to go for longer periods of time between maintenance than Wet/Dry
Tickle or canister filtration systems.
Some other factors will also weigh in, including what types and how much
food you feed your fish, whether or not you have any “tank janitors”
(species that naturally help keep a tank clean by eating bacteria and
algae), and the use of any toxin reducing products.
Keep an eye on your fish when checking your tank. Do they appear active
and healthy? Are they eating? Are your coral vibrant and open? Is the
water in your tank clear and flowing smoothly? If any of these factors
seem a little off, your tank may be due for cleaning.
You should be testing your water every single week, and more often if you
have a larger or more populous tank or more sensitive residents. You should
be checking numerous parameters, including:
- Acidity (pH)
- Ammonia levels (fish naturally expel ammonia, which is toxic to them)
- Calcium content
Record the results of each of these tests in a log book that can help you
spot any trends, such as increasing ammonia levels or rapid temperature
fluctuations. These can help you spot any potential issues and resolve
them before they start to make your tank ill. If you’re not sure
where you should keep these values at, ask a professional or look up what
healthy target values for marine aquarium water levels are.
Cleaning Your Aquarium
Even with the best filtration systems, tank janitors, and constant examination,
you will have to eventually clean your tank. The more frequently you do
this, the less time-intensive each cleaning will be, so it’s important
to do this fairly often (as soon as your life start showing signs of sluggishness
Before you begin, you’ll want to pre-mix some new water to your ideal
parameters and be prepared to filter it into your tank ahead of time.
This can be time-consuming so it’s best to get it done before you begin.
To start, you’ll want to remove a fair amount of existing tank water
into a temporary container and carefully move your fish into this container
using a net or small cup. Try to do this as gently as possible to avoid
stressing your fish too much. Second, you’ll want to siphon about
15 to 30% of the tank’s water away down the drain. Then continue
to siphon water into additional buckets or containers until the tank is
between one-half and one-third full. You
never want to change all of the water in your tank at once; doing so can introduce
tremendous bacterial shock that can actually kill your fish and plant
life. In total, you never want to change more than about 30% of your existing
tank water at a time, max. If you perform regular maintenance, you ideally
should only be changing around 15 to 20% of the water.
Once you have dropped the tank level down, use a siphon to clean the substrate
(gravel) at the bottom of your tank, and a scraper to remove the algae.
You should also take this opportunity to scrub off any submerged equipment.
Finally, clean your filtration system (the process for doing this will
vary depending on what kind of system you have), pumps, lights, and salt creep.
Once all this is done pump the saved tank water back into the tank and
then top the tank off with your pre-mixed new water. Give the water a
good few minutes to mix and balance out. Turning on your pump again can
speed this process. Once this is complete, begin carefully moving your
fish back into the tank.
Are you looking to take on the challenge of a saltwater tank? Let the Los
Angeles custom aquarium experts at Living Art Aquatic Design, Inc. help
you create the ecosystem of your dreams! Call us today at (310) 626-1448
to receive a