Picture a bright, vibrant, colorful marine fish tank that’s teeming with life. It’s the image most hobbyists have in the minds when they set out to establish salt water fish tanks. Unfortunately many will not end up with a tank that resembles the picture they started with in their heads. Instead, they’ll end up with a dark, algae-riddled wasteland where only the hardiest of creatures can survive.

Setting up a marine fish tank is hard work – much more than is required for its freshwater counterpart. Here are 3 of the most common mistakes people make when setting up salt water fish tank aquariums and how to avoid them.

1. Starting too Small

When it comes to setting up a marine fish tank, size matters. A common mistake people make is starting too small (under 30 gallons). A small salt water fish aquarium is harder to maintain because the relatively small volume of water in the tank is much more susceptible to rapid changes in water chemistry and temperature. And you don’t want that because marine fish are particularly sensitive to changing water conditions which can be very stressful to them. And while you can relieve your stress through massage or an alcoholic beverage or two, that won’t help your fish. Too much stress can sicken and even kill fish.

The bigger the tank, the lower the likelihood of big swings in water conditions. And that’s good for all of your tank’s inhabitants. So go as big as you can afford when it comes to setting up your salt water fish aquarium with 30 gallons being the smallest tank size I’d recommend, especially for beginners.

2. Overfeeding Your Fish

Overfeeding is the most common mistake made by owners of fish tank aquariums, whether marine or freshwater. Feeding your fish is fun. Since it’s kind of hard to cuddle with your fish, feeding is one of the few ways you can interact with them. Plus, salt water aquarium fish get very excited when food is in the water and they swim faster and dart all over the place, making feeding time one of the most enjoyable times to watch your tank’s inhabitants.

All of these factors make it easy for enthusiastic owners to give their fish too much, too often when it comes to food. Overfeeding, however, leads to two big problems in your tank. First, it pollutes the aquarium. Uneaten food falls to the bottom of the tank or on tank decorations, live rock, etc. and rots if it is not cleaned up. This will screw up your water chemistry, producing nitrates (which you and your fish don’t want) and overloading the tank’s biological filtration. Second, just like with people, if fish eat too much they can experience health problems.

Both those issues can cause illness and/or death. And that’s not going to help you achieve that vision of a vibrant marine fish tank you had in mind when you set up your aquarium. Different species of fish have varying nutritional requirements. Before adding new fish to your tank, make sure you know how much food they require and what type of food they require so you keep your fish well fed, but not overly fed.

3. Letting Maintenance Slide

It’s possible to hire someone to come into your house once a week or month to take care of all the maintenance requirements your tank and its inhabitants have. But that can get kind of expensive and, for something that’s supposed to be a hobby, it’s kind of cheating.

A marine fish tank requires a lot of work to keep it operating properly and its inhabitants happy. Among the things you’ll have to do on a regular basis are water changes, removing excess waste, cleaning the glass, cleaning the filter, testing the water, and feeding the fish (not too much!). If you slack on these tasks for even a month or so, you can cause the water quality in the tank to suffer and that can affect the health of your tank and its residents.

So while it’s more fun to just sit back and watch your tank, it’s critical to keep up with maintenance. Make a checklist of what you have to do. Break things down into smaller chunks that you can do daily or weekly so you don’t have to do it all at once. Tie strings around your fingers to remind you to keep up with your tank maintenance. Do whatever it takes because staying on top of regular maintenance is the most important thing you can do to keep your fish and fish tank healthy.

Those are my big three when it comes to common mistakes that are made when it comes to setting up and maintaining a marine fish tank. While there are other mistakes that can sabotage your efforts, avoiding this three will go a long way toward helping you achieve that vision of owning a healthy, vibrant and thriving salt water fish tank.

Matt Warren is a certified marine fish tank nerd. He shares his passion for salt water fish tanks and their inhabitants and his website, marinefishtank.org.

Author: Matt Warren
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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