Maintaining a saltwater tank is a very different hobby, compare to your freshwater tank and before you try venturing into deeper waters, may I remind you that salt-water tank are not for amateurs. However, if you think that you are ready for the challenge, then this article is for you.
Compare to freshwater tanks and having a cichlid tank, a saltwater aquarium may give you different issues that you may not have encountered in the hobby. However, the basics are the same. But first, before you plunge to the hobby, ask yourself: Can you give at least enough of your time to the tank? Unlike its freshwater counterpart, salt-water tank needs daily maintenance and regular checkups. Do you have the sufficient financial capacity to maintain the tank? And lastly, are you really interested in maintaining the hobby?
For a salt-water tank, we need a bigger aquarium, especially if you are still a novice. So the best tank that we can use so we can easily control fluctuating parameters is something between 25 gallons to 50 gallons.
There are two options when it comes to water. One is that you can get fresh sea water or the second option is to buy a good salt mix. Getting sea water is economically wise. Well, you don’t need to go to the middle of the ocean and get more on a gallon – you can buy sea water in some pet shops around Metro Manila. The problem are pathogens and some nasty stuff that may find its way from the sea water to your tank.
Mixing sea water mix on the other hand may prevent that from happening and you don’t need to be a chemist to prepare the water. All you have to do is to have a hydrometer that will measure the saltiness of the water. Most salt water mixes already have labels that says whether it is for 25 gallons or 50 gallons.
Now, don’t get too excited! After the water, let it aged a little before you place some fish. Remember that in a salt-water tank, it is advisable to have a thin substrate; at least I inch of sand. Also, it is advisable to place rocks in the tank so that the fish will have adequate hiding places. You don’t need to place real corals in the tank. Plastic decorations can be quite sufficient.
The Invisible Killers
The same with fresh-water tanks, the number one killer is ammonia so please review your ammonia and nitrogen cycle. Remember that in an aquarium, decaying fish food and fish feces will result in the rise of ammonia in the water. Ammonia kills fish and in salt water tank, ammonia is more toxic. Now, because of some type of bacteria that eats ammonia, these ammonia will be converted to nitrates which breaks down to become nitrites which is harmless. You will know if there’s a rise of ammonia in your tank if the water of your aquarium becomes cloudy and started to have a bad smell.
So remember to balance the nitrogen cycle in your new tank. Get a good filtration system. In a saltwater aquarium, the best filtration is provided by canister type filters or those filters that you assemble outside the tank. Also, provide a strong powerhead in your tank to prevent dead spots.
Try buying some of those Nitrogen kits so you can always monitor what’s happening in your tank and remember that the more rocks you have in the tank, the better you can control the nitrogen cycle. The ratio is 1 kilo of rocks per gallon.
Now it’s time to get the fishes. Not so fast! In a salt water tank, we maintain the 1 inch of fish (from head to the tip of the tail) per gallon. So let say you have a 25 gallon tank, then buy at least 20 small fishes in the tank. So before you buy a fish, we now look for the hardiness. Hardiness means that the fish can withstand stress compare to other fishes. As a novice, it is advisable that you buy hardy fishes for your new tank. Most damsel fish is perfect, other than having awesome colors, damsels are quite hardy and easy to maintain.
Also see that you know your fish compatibility to prevent fighting inside the tank. Don’t buy a fish that are known to be too territorial or a known predator.
Ok, now that you have everything… enjoy your very own window of the ocean depths, right in your own living room.