Salt Water Fish Tanks

There are various salt water fish tanks for sale so when buying one don’t make the mistake of buying too small a tank. Marine fish are used to having plenty of space and deep water so will not adapt well to a small space.  You really don’t want a tank smaller than one capable of carrying 20 gallons of water.  It should be made of glass and not aluminum or other metals that will corrode when in contact with the sodium in the water.  People forget that this advice also includes the lid.  A metal lid will lead to condensation forming which eventually drips back into the tank and could prove toxic to your new inhabitants.

Salt water fish tanks can be filled with seawater but it is safer to use a mixture made from a saltwater mix. Always follow the instructions especially in relation to measurements as the PH of the water is very important. You should use a plastic and not metal bowl for mixing.  The problem with seawater is that the water lying near the shore can be polluted with contaminants that don’t harm the fish in large quantities of water i.e. the open sea but have an effect when put into a small bowl.  You will need to test the water with a hydrometer which will test the gravity of the water.  You can add more salt to increase the gravity and freshwater to lower it.

You will need to decide what type of filtering system you are going to use in salt water fish tanks.  Some people use the natural method.  They buy live corals and sponges to help clean the water in addition to allowing algae to grow in the tank.  If you are going to rely on natural cleaning then don’t use a gravel base or if you do, only use a thin layer.   Most people prefer to use a compromise which is a semi natural system. It combines the use of a filtering system with the natural cleaners to get optimum results.

If you are putting a filter into salt water fish tanks you have to put a deep layer of base material in as well. It is standard practice to put in crushed shells first followed by a layer of finer coral sand and topped up with a layer of silica sand.  There are certain species of fish that love to bury themselves in the base.  These include the Wrasses.

You can add rocks or dead coral for decoration so long as you have cleaned them correctly.  The easiest method is to wash them using household bleach and then rinse them until the bleach smell has disappeared.  Some fish like to hide behind coral and sleep under it so it is a nice addition to salt water fish tanks.  Others owners will put in live coral as a species in its own right. You may find that you have to replace it regularly depending on the fish species you put into the tank as some eat it.

The only green food you are likely to see in a marine aquarium is algae. Unlike with freshwater fish tanks, it is a good thing in a saltwater environment as it helps to purify the water and also provides a food source but it should be kept under control. You do not want it covering the whole tank.   Salt water aquariums have to settle just like the freshwater variety.  This means that the water must retain a steady ph level of about 8.3 depending on the salt mix you used.  You also need to check the nitrates level when starting salt water fish tanks.  If you add the fish too early you will kill them as the nitrate level will be too high.  It will gradually reduce over time.  You can speed up this process in different ways but it might just be worth waiting for it to happen. If you don’t have the patience you can try adding some base medium from an established tank and rechecking the nitrates level.

It doesn’t matter whether you buy custom salt water fish tanks or not, the process of setting one up does take time and as you will be responsible for the living creatures in your new aquarium, it is worth doing it properly.

When choosing your fish keep in mind that you are buying juveniles which can mean that they grow much bigger.  Be fair to the new occupants and give them plenty of space.  You can always add more fish when the first lot has settled in. Take advice if you have never purchased fish before.  Some species are lovely to look at but can be dangerous to their neighbors.   Don’t think about using your first salt water fish tanks for breeding.  Some species do breed in captivity but if this is your first marine aquarium you may not be ready for that experience just yet.