It’s no secret that if you want to keep a saltwater tank, it needs to stay healthy in order for it to be successful. Keeping your tank healthy will take some effort and education on your part but once you know a few tips, you will be on your way to achieving the goal of having a vibrant and healthy looking saltwater tank!
Here are 17 ways to ensure you have a healthy saltwater tank.
17 Ways to ensure you have a healthy saltwater tank
#1. Consistency is key
The first thing you should understand is that all things in the saltwater aquarium hobby require you to be consistent with everything you do. Without consistency, your fish tank will suffer and you will have a poor experience. It really is the key. Small changes are the best way to keep things healthy. Never make large or abrupt changes to anything.
#2. Have Patience
Remember this. Slow and steady wins the race. Saltwater aquariums can take a long time to mature and be considered healthy. It doesn’t happen overnight. Trying to rush a saltwater tank and adding livestock too soon is a recipe for disaster. It never works. You must have patience, take your time and add things slowly to your new tank.
#3. Use RO/DI water
Using RO/DI water is very important to have a healthy saltwater aquarium. Tap water can contain harmful substances that are not good for your fish or corals. It will lead to algae problems that can be a difficult issue to deal with.
#4. Proper stocking and tank size
I see this mistake all the time. A saltwater fish tank can not be healthy if it is overcrowded with too many fish or corals. If your tank is too small for the livestock you plan to use, you will have stressed out and sick fish. Not to mention keeping on top of water quality will be difficult. A properly sized aquarium that is stocked correctly will have a much better chance of success.
#5. Sufficient water flow
Proper water flow in your aquarium will go along way in keeping things healthy. If you are using live rock for your biological filtration, it requires the right amount of flow to be efficient. Certain corals like SPS require stronger water flow and overall your tank will be healthier with the right amount of flow and water turnover rate. Ensure you have the right-sized wavemaker for your tank.
#6. Proper cycle time
When starting a new saltwater tank, it will take between 4-8 weeks for the tank to complete the nitrogen cycle. Every tank will go through this cycle and it’s important to frequently test your water levels and wait until the ammonia and nitrite levels are 0. Once the cycle has finished, you can start adding livestock. As mentioned above, rushing this step will only reduce the health of your tank and make things difficult for you to progress.
#7. Proper Filtration
Having the right amount of filtration is very important for a saltwater tank to maintain it’s overall health. Biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration all play a crucial role. There are many different methods for filtering your tank, make sure to do your research and find what will work best for your tank.
#8. Having the right equipment
Having a saltwater tank doesn’t mean you need to have all the high-end expensive equipment. The important thing is to have the right equipment that works for your tank. This might mean that a basic hang on tank filter instead of a full sump filtration system works best for you. Of course, you don’t want to cheap out on some items as they are necessary, but start your tank the right way by choosing the equipment that suits your needs.
#9. Use proper test kits
There are some hobby grade test kits that are just not accurate. If you test your water levels on a regular basis, which you should do, make sure that your test kits are not expired and will give you an accurate reading. Some kits will just give you an average or a range of colors that are just to difficult to read. The right water test kit will help keep your tank healthy as you will receive the proper information preventing you from making changes to the tank that are not necessary.
#10. Avoid fish aggression
It’s almost a guarantee that at some point your fish will fight over territory or some other dispute. It’s important to research each fish that you plan to keep and make sure they are compatible with each other. Fish aggression will lead to stress which leads to disease and death which is not healthy for any tank.
#11. Lighting for corals
If you plan to keep corals in your saltwater tank, one of the most important things that will keep them healthy is lighting. All corals will require some form of lighting and depending on their specific lighting demands, you can base your decision on what type of lighting to use. For example, soft corals like mushrooms don’t require as much lighting as some LPS and SPS corals which are higher demand and need specific lighting requirements to remain healthy.
#12. QT new fish
1 sick fish can wreak havoc on your fish tank. You might have a stunning saltwater aquarium with very healthy fish and decide to add a new fish to the tank without a proper quarantine method. Perhaps this one fish has ich parasite and passes it on to the others in the tank. It doesn’t take long for a tank to be wiped out due to a sick fish being added too soon. proper quarantine time for any new fish is crucial to keeping a healthy tank. You should consider setting up a separate QT tank for introducing new livestock to your main tank.
#13. Ask the fish store to feed fish before purchase
This is something that is often ignored but is very important. You should ask the fish store or wherever you are buying new fish to feed them first. This will give you some peace of mind that the fish is healthy and eating. Most fish that are under stress or dealing with an illness will not eat. So if you are at the fish store and considering a new fish, if it won’t eat in the store, I would avoid purchasing it.
#14. Research your intended plans
I was reading a lengthy post the other day on Facebook where someone was showing off their new saltwater tank. Very nice tank but the issue is the person didn’t do any research into the long term plans for the tank. They wanted specific fish that would eventually outgrow the tank, didn’t plan the right equipment needed, wanted to add corals right away, the list goes on.. Not planning ahead of time into what your tank will need to stay healthy is the wrong thing to do. You will be fighting a battle you cant win.
#15. Quality foods
Just like humans, fish require a proper diet to stay healthy. You can’t expect to feed your fish the wrong types of foods and survive. Not only is the right types of food important, but the quality of the food as well. There are many options when it comes to selecting frozen and dry foods for fish. Some fish require more of a meaty diet and others more vegetables. Ensuring your fish stay on a proper diet with quality foods that are not overfed will go a long way to maintaining their overall health.
#16. Take care of nuisance algae
Nuisance algae can be a real nightmare for you and your tank. Cyano and other forms of algae can quickly take over your tank and cause livestock to die off if not taken care of. it’s important to know what the cause of the algae is and eliminate that from the system. Also, consider manually removing any nuisance algae that you can. An example would be hair algae. This can be removed by pulling it out of the tank as much as possible and using certain cleanup crew and fish that might eat it. Don’t let algae overtake your tank as it can cause serious health concerns.
#17. Use a good clean up crew
A good clean up crew can go a long way in keeping your tank clean and minimize the amount of uneaten foods and algae that forms in your tank. Invertebrates like snails, crabs, shrimp can all play a role in keeping a tank healthy. It’s important to have the right amount and mix of cleaner crew for your tank. You don’t want to under or overdo it. Most invertebrates are readily available and affordable to get. One of the best purchases you can make for your tank is a good clean up crew.