Here are some of the Basics for newbies to follow
Most fish need room to grow and to swim about as they don’t stay small forever. A small neon goby can be happy in a 10 gallon tank, but a 20 or 30 gal tank will let you add more fish or inverts in the future, but is also important for keeping a stable environment for these creatures to live in.
To avoid nuisance Algae from growing in your tank, it is wise to get Distilled or Reverse Osmosis De-Ionized water. You can often times buy this kind of water at the fish store where you found your saltwater pet. You can also buy RO and distilled water at your supermarket. One horrible thing to do is use tap water. It contains the nasties that are bad for your tank. Chlorine, Phosphate, Nitrate, Fluoride, etc. are common things found in tap water, but pure water helps keep things healthy.
Marine salt is readily available at most pet/fish shops and Instant Ocean is very popular and easy to find. When you are setting up your tank, or when you do water changes, you always mix the salt in your water before you add it to your tank. You’ll need a hydrometer or refractometer, which gives you a “salinity reading” to mix the salt to the correct level. You want your salt level at 1.024 ppm. As water evaporates, you only need to add new RO or distilled water, because only water is evaporating from your tank and the salt stays behind, topping off with more salt is a no no.
Your tank needs to a stable temperature of about 76° F to 82° F is your allowable tolerance. Keeping it around 78° F is the ideal. A small reliable heater will keep the tank from cooling too much at night, Also a fan blowing across the top of your tank will avoid overheating on those hot days
Many marine fish will eat Flakes (make sure they are marine flakes). You can also purchase frozen foods at the fish store to feed your fish such as frozen Spirulina, Enriched Brine Shrimp, Frozen Mysis, Frozen Blood Worms, Frozen Plankton are all good choices, and you can rotate through these over the period of a week, mixing their diet will keep them healthy. Make sure it is all consumed in a couple minutes or you have overfed, adjust accordingly.
usually tanks come with a single fluorescent bulb, which is alright for fish. If you would like other things such as corals or anemones, you’ll need far more lighting to allow them to live. When you get to that point, you can choose from VHO’s, Power Compacts, and Metal Halide. And are usually very expensive, but the corals will respond with healthy growth. If you ran a timer so the lights are on around 10 – 12 hours a day would be good.
Most important of all, your tank needs to be kept at stable parameters, to ensure the health and life of your fish and especially corals, pH should be kept around 8.0 to 8.3. Ammonia and Nitrite should be 0. Nitrate should be 20 ppm or less, And salinity weekly to make sure it has remained stable at 1.026ppm. water changes should keep these in check
This can vary a bit, but just make sure the filter you buy will match the tank size you’ve chosen. You don’t want a tiny filter on a 55 gallon aquarium. Many people in the saltwater hobby prefer natural methods of filtration, which involves the use of live sand and live rock. Buying cured live rock is also extremely valuable, but costs are high. 1 to 1.5 lbs per gallon is recommended, and cured live rock will cost between 5$ – 6$ a lb. Putting 4” of sand to create a deep sand bed in your aquarium will create a great natural way of DE-nitrifying your tank, which keeps the nitrates down. However, the live rock will be filled with tiny creatures, that all help eat the waste that occurs in your tank, keeping your system clean and healthy.
This is a greate way of keeping your water clean and pure. There are many types of protein skimmers on the market, some are great and some are are just worthless cr*p. The top brands are EuroReef and Aqua C.
What a skimmer does is pull out waste before it can decay into ammonia and nitrites, which are both toxic to your inhabitants. What the skimmer does is inject air into the unit by use of a power head, which creates tiny micro bubbles that carry Disolved Organic Compounds out of your tank and into a collection cup that you can pour out and rinse out into a sink. An added benefit of this device is it adds oxygen to your tank. Unlike a freshwater tank, saltwater tanks don’t need an airstone pumping bubbles into your tank. But can cost upwards of 100$ - 200$
Using a power heads to eliminate dead spots in which algae can grow is very helpful
Pointing the powerhead to the top of your tank causes the water to ripple which will help with gas exchange. Letting out CO2 and O2 in. and also keeps the surface clean of scum
Cycling the tank.
Unlike a freshwater tank, it takes a pretty while for a saltwater tank to be ready for a new fish or coral. The moment your tank has fully been setup you can add live rock. What your tank needs is bacteria to grow and populate before anything is added. An easy way to do this is to buy one or two uncooked shrimp from the deli at the supermarket then throw them in the tank and let them rot for a week, and when the system is balanced out you can take them out.
As you add livestock to your tank, you increase the bio-load in your tank. It can only handle so much at one time, so it is wise to add things very slowly to your tank, rather than all at once. That way the beneficial bacteria in your tank can accommodate the new load and not create a sudden Ammonia spike in your tank thus possibly killing your newly added stock. This is a very patient hobby and requires a lot of it, but after some time you will learn to appreciate what it has done for you.
Clean Up Crew.
Adding some snails and hermits will help keep your tank clean. By eating excess waste and algae in your tank and keeping it squeaky clean J. But you can’t add them to your tank until it has fully cycled. If you see a snail on its back be sure to flip it over as not all can upright them selves or a hermit may eat it and take the shell as its new home.
Make sure your hands and your equipment are free of soap or hand lotion , food chemicals, etc. before placing into the tank. Be sure to never clean any equipment with soap. You can often times clean things with a brand new rag or sponge(make sure it has no chemicals) specifically for your SW tank only and mixture of common white vinegar and hot water, to remove calcium deposits.
As long as you follow these basics you will be on your way to a successful Marine Tank you can enjoy