How to Solve Common Saltwater Tank Problems

Written by Katherine Barrington January 09, 2017
Any experienced aquarium hobbyist will tell you that there is a lot more involved in keeping a saltwater tank than in keeping a freshwater tank – it is just the truth. But just because maintaining a thriving saltwater tank is a little more challenging doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth it! Saltwater fish are some of the most colorful creatures on the planet and there is something rewarding about caring for a tank full of vibrant, thriving fish. As you do so, however, you are going to experience setbacks and problems – here are some tips for dealing with common saltwater tank problems:
 
1. Temperature Fluctuations – One of the simplest yet most important things you need to do to keep your saltwater tank healthy is to maintain a stable tank temperature. The ideal temperature for your tank may vary slightly depending on the type of fish you keep, but you should aim for something in the range of 72°F to 84°F as your outside temperatures – something between 75°F and 81°F is better. Keeping the temperature in your tank stable can be a challenge if you live in an area where the climate fluctuates. Your best bet is to invest in a solid aquarium heater (or two if you have a large tank) and hook them up to a thermostat so you can set the ideal temperature you want to maintain. It will also help for you to keep your tank away from direct sunlight and protected from drafts.

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Saltwater and Reef Tank Cycling

Written by Katherine Barrington March 02, 2014
Before you add live fish to your tank, you will need to cycle it for a period of time to create a good environment for your fish life. The term “cycling” refers to the nitrogen cycle which is the process through which beneficial bacteria in your tank work to break down wastes, converting toxic substances like ammonia and nitrite into less harmful nitrates.

In order to cycle your tank you should begin by turning on all the equipment and let it run constantly for a few days. If mixing the sea salt in a freshwater tank, follow the procedure on the package for mixing but make sure that the filter is turned on while mixing. When completed, fill the filter with the saltwater. Turn on the rest of the equipment and run the tank constantly for a few days.

Cycling with Live Rock

Cycling a saltwater tank that contains live rock is a little different from cycling one without live rock. When you cycle a tank that contains live rock, some of the organisms living in the live rock will die off in a process that produces a large amount of waste materials which can be harmful for fish. During this cycling period the ammonia level in the tank rapidly climbs as bacteria begin to process the dead organisms. This high level of ammonia, which is toxic to fish and plant life, can have a synergistic effect and cause more organisms to die. This, in turn, produces more ammonia. The populations of...
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Maintaining Your Saltwater Tank

Written by Katherine Barrington January 17, 2014
Now that your tank is up and running and you have fish in the tank, there are some steps that you should take to make sure the ecosystem remains in good health. Although there are no specific rules as to when you should complete them, these guidelines can be of some value. As you become more familiar with your tank community you will ultimately devise a schedule that suits your tank communities distinct requirements. Use your sense of smell as a tool. Give the tank a good whiff to see if the water has a foul aroma. Make sure the water isn't murky and has a fresh appearance to it. A funky odor and/or murky appearance may indicate elevated levels of toxins and should be addressed promptly.
 
Actions you should take include:

Weekly

  • Inspect all of the power-driven devices to confirm that they operating adequately
  • Make sure any heating devices are working properly to prevent disrupting water temperature
  • Measure water temperature
  • Keep bulbs free of sediment accumulation, which decreases light levels
  • Inspect filter media to see if it needs replacement or washing
  • Top off tank as needed
  • Monitor algae growth accordingly
  • Monitor tank inhabitants for signs of illness, infection, loss of appetite, decreased activity level or change is disposition.

Monthly

  • Partial change of water
  • Routing inspection of all equipment and fish

Semi-annually

  • Full tank cleaning including all accessories.
Remember to follow the parameters previously mentioned regarding water levels and other environmental levels as well.


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