How to Take Care of a Saltwater Fish Aquarium


Saltwater aquariums can be a great alternative to freshwater aquariums in that they often can provide a wider variety of options for the type of fish bought. However, saltwater aquariums require a different kind of maintenance than freshwater aquariums do. Here is how to take care of a saltwater aquarium and keep your fish healthy.

Things You'll Need

  • Aquarium thermometer
  • Saltwater test kit
  • Hydrometer or refractometer
  • Marine salt
  • Iodine
  • Calcium
  • Dechlorinated water
  • Algae scrapers
  • Glass cleaner
  • Rag

Daily Tasks

Check the temperature of the tank. Most saltwater fish require water temperature between 75 and 80 degrees F. Check with the pet store to make sure your fish require this range.

Check the water level of the tank. Especially dry climates will result in faster evaporation of water from the tank, which can affect salinity levels quickly.

Check the fish. Fish that seem particularly inactive or which are acting abnormally can indicate a problem with the tank, even before you test the water.

Weekly or Biweekly

Replace one tenth of the water in the aquarium with dechlorinated water. This will balance out the salinity that will have slowly increased over the week. If you notice that your salinity level is consistently high because of excess evaporation, you may need to do this more often than once a week. Check your salinity with a hydrometer or refractometer.

Check the filter pads. Bad pads can affect the health of your saltwater fish and the cleanliness of the tank very quickly.

Check the levels of ammonia, pH and nitrate every two weeks. If pH is high, add some baking soda. If salinity is low, add marine salt. Keep track of the levels of iodine and calcium. The requirements of each will vary depending on the size of the tank, the number of fish or corals and the evaporation ratio.

Scrub the algae from the inside of the tank with a sponge or other suitable tool.

Clean the sand that sits on the bottom of the tank.

Wipe down the outside of the tank with a rag and glass cleaner to keep the glass free of fingerprints, oil and dust. Do not spray glass cleaner near the tank.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always check with your pet store on the care of fish in your tank. The above steps are guidelines for general saltwater aquarium upkeep, but your individual fish may require additional steps or may require the above steps to be done with greater or lesser frequency.
  • Some fish are very sensitive to chemicals. Do not use chemical cleansers on anything that comes in contact with the inside of the tank or the water that filters into it unless the cleanser is specifically approved for aquarium care.

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