Maintenance of Salt Water Aquariums
Monitor Ammonia and Nitrates
- The first four to six weeks of a saltwater tank exhibit the cycling process and watching the ammonia and nitrates level is critical. If the fish looked stressed and are darting around the tank, a partial water change could help. Always keep salt mix and dechloronized water on hand for water changes.
Monitor the pH
- The pH should always be monitored in a fish tank, whether it is going through the cycling process or not. Over time, the pH level will fall in a tank. It will need to be raised by adding sodium bicarbonate to the water. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. One tablespoon of baking soda mixed with one cup of dechloronized water should slowly be added to the tank over the course of an hour or two. The pH level will initially drop again, but raise to 8.2 over time.
Adding New Water
- Water will evaporate from the tank. This water will need to be replenished. The water that evaporates out of the tank is fresh water and should only be replaced with fresh water. The only case in which replacing evaporated water with salt water is suitable is when you are raising the salinity of the water.
- Around the second or third week, you will notice algae growing in the tank. Brown algae will cover everything in the tank. This should be cleaned out every week or so. With time, the brown algae will stop growing and green algae will start. If algae does not start to grow, the tank may need more light.
Major Water Change
- After the cycling of the tank is complete, it will be time for a water change. Change at least 40 to 50 percent of the water, if not 100 percent. The gravel should also be cleaned. When changing the water, the new water should be as close to the chemical makeup of the tank as possible. The pH level should not be off by more than 0.2. The water should also be within one to two degrees. It is favorable to have the water warmer rather than colder to reduce risk of shock to the fish.
- Check the filter pads every two weeks and replace them as needed.
- A major water change should be done once a month. There should be weekly algae scrapings and bi-weekly feedings. Water checks for chemicals should be done every two weeks. Add or replace 10 percent of the water with dechlorinated water once a week.