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Dr. Subhendu Datta Sr. Scientists, CIFE, Kolkata Centre 32-GN Block, Sector-V Salt Lake, Kolkata – 700091 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org A saltwater or marine aquarium is an aquarium that keeps marine plants and animals in a contained environment. Marine aquaria are further subdivided by hobbyists into fish only (FO), fish only with live rock (FOWLR), and reef aquaria. Fish only tanks often showcase large or aggressive marine fish species and generally rely on mechanical and chemical filtration. FOWLR and reef tanks use live rock, a material composed of coral skeletons harboring beneficial nitrogen waste metabolizing bacteria, as a means of more natural biological filtration. Marine fishkeeping is different from its freshwater counterpart because of the fundamental differences in the constitution of saltwater and the resulting differences in the adaptation of its inhabitants. A stable marine aquarium requires more equipment than freshwater systems, and generally requires more stringent water quality monitoring.[ The inhabitants of a marine aquarium are often difficult to acquire and are usually more expensive than freshwater aquarium inhabitants. However, the inhabitants of saltwater aquariums are usually much more spectacular than freshwater aquarium fish. Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Corals are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. Coral secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons which support and protect their bodies. Reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitated waters.
Marine aquariums can range in volume from less than 80 litres to over 1,200 litres. Small volumes are more difficult to maintain due to the more rapid changes in water chemistry. The majority of saltwater aquariums are between 160 and 400 litres. Tropical marine: kept between 24 to 28 °C (75 to 82 °F). Temperate marine (coldwater marine): maintained around 10 to 24 degrees Celsius (50–75 °F). These tanks are not as aesthetically pleasing as their tropical counterparts, as most coldwater fish are gray or dull in color. These tanks also tend to require extra skill to maintain Live Rock and Live Sand: These are used in reef and marine systems as a biological filter. Live rock gives the added bonus of having denitrifying bacteria deep inside the rock to help remove nitrates. At least 2 inches of live sand should be used if used exclusively for the biological filter. Live rock: Live rock is rock that has been in the ocean, composed of limestone and decomposing coral skeleton, usually around a coral reef and is usually covered with beneficial algae, coralline and tiny invertebrates and bacteria that are desirable in the aquarium. Some examples of the microfauna commonly found on live rock are crabs, snails, feather dusters, brittle stars, star fish, limpets, abalones, and an occasional sea urchin, sea anemone, coral, and sea sponge. The addition of live rock is one of the best ways to ensure a healthy aquarium, as the rock provides a buffer to maintain high pH (8.0-8.3). Live rock that is already cured is available at most pet stores that cater to saltwater. Live sand is similar to live rock and is equally desirable. Sometimes hobbyists use so-called "dead rock", which is simply old live rock that has been allowed to dry out and to lose most of its live inhabitants, to keep unwanted pests out of their aquariums, and as an inexpensive alternative to live rock.
Filtration: In general, marine aquariums have more complex filtration requirements than most freshwater aquariums. The various components frequently include wet and dry filters and protein skimmers. Protein skimmers are devices that remove organic compounds prior to their degradation, and are very useful in marine aquariums. Protein skimming relies on live rock and periodic partial water changes to degrade and remove waste products. This method requires large amounts of live rock in the aquarium. The rule of thumb is 0.2–0.4 kg live rock per 4 liters of water. Use of purified water from a reverse osmosis/deionization (RO/DI) unit can prevent KH (carbonate hardness) and pH fluctuation.
Aquarium Nitrogen cycle & Biological filtration The nitrogen cycle refers to the conversion of toxic ammonia to nitrite and finally nitrate. While fish waste (urine and feces) and decaying matter release ammonia, the majority of ammonia released (approximately 60%) in both marine and freshwater aquariums is excreted directly into the water from the fishes' gills. Aquarium maintenance is easy if you have an aquarium nitrogen cycle going on. The aquarium cycle is more commonly known as the nitrification process and is the biological filter for your tank. Aquarium filtration systems work to keep your water pristine and provide a safe home for your fish, and the biological filter is perhaps the most important filtration system to have. Why cycle your aquarium: The important reason for cycling an aquarium is because of deadly ammonia present in the aquarium. Ammonia kills fish and ALL fish tanks produce ammonia Ammonia enters the aquarium through either fish waste, uneaten foods, and/or detritus that start decomposing. Ammonia can be removed through chemical filtration, but that method requires an ongoing testing and maintenance chore, usually weekly. A cycled aquarium maintains itself through a natural biological process. Beginning the aquarium nitrogen cycle and continuing the cycle for the entire life of the tank are important to keeping fish alive and healthy. The cycle starts when ammonia becomes present in the tank. Ironically, though ammonia will kill your fish, it is essential for the nitrification cycle. It is the 'food' that feeds the beneficial bacteria, allowing the bacteria to live and thrive, which then provides a balance environment so your fish will thrive. Simple! How the nitrogen cycle works: The nitrification cycle is actually pretty simple. It can seem hard because of a couple terms that are not familiar in our everyday language. But basically this is a simple three-step process. 1. Step One The first thing that happens when you put fish in the tank is ammonia is produced. This is from the fish waste or excess foods that are decomposing. 2. Step Two As the amount of ammonia starts to increase, a bacteria forms called nitrosomonas. This bacteria begins to convert the ammonia into nitrite. As the ammonia is converted to nitrite, the amount of ammonia will begin to drop and now the nitrites will begin to rise. Soon your ammonia test will show no more ammonia in your tank. This usually happens within the first week and a half of a normal cycle. Nitrite is also very toxic to fish, though not as hazardous as ammonia. 3. Step Three As the nitrite levels increase, another bacteria forms, called nitrobacter. This second bacteria begins to convert the nitrite into nitrate. As it is converted to nitrate, the amount of nitrite will drop and the nitrates will begin to rise. Soon your nitrite test will show no more nitrite in your tank. This happens between three to six weeks in a normal cycle. Nitrate is harmless to fish but is one of the nutrients that plants and algae need and is the final product produced in the nitrification cycle. One of the reasons that water changes are recommended is to keep nitrates at lower levels. The time it takes to cycle an aquarium can be sped up by 'seeding' the aquarium with commercially prepared bacteria. Then the entire cycle will only take between 1 - 2 weeks. This seed bacteria is available in either a freeze dried or liquid form. You can also add bacteria rich media from an established aquarium, like some of the gravel. The seeding should be done after 3
ammonia is starting to form in the newly setup aquarium. You must wait until there is ammonia or the seeded bacteria will starve. What about the nitrates produced: Nitrate is the end product of the nitrogen cycle. The simplest way to remove nitrates is through regular water changes. For the most part nitrate is not harmful to fish unless in enormous quantities and for prolonged periods of time, and even then it is only some types of fish are at risk. You will most likely not run into this problem in a regular home aquarium. Nitrates can actually be beneficial if you have live plants, as it is a nutrient for them. Tanks without live plants to utilize this nutrient however, can get excess algae growth. This holds true for both freshwater and saltwater fish only aquariums, but not for the reef aquarium. Nitrates are usually strictly controlled in the reef aquarium because they can cause undesireable algae growth. What is needed for cycling success: Besides fish that are producing ammonia, there are two important things the nitrogen cycle depends on: 1. Needs a place for beneficial bacteria to live and grow: When you set up your aquarium you will be using a filter of some sort which will provide a home for these bacteria. The most common filters are undergravel filters, external filters, or internal filters. Each of these has a media with a lot of surface area for the bacteria to live and grow on. On the undergravel filter the media is the gravel itself, other filters use some sort of synthetic filter media, such as foam or filter pads. 2. The most important thing to think about when choosing the media is that it provides a lot of 'surface' area for the bacteria colony to grow on. Sponges are laced with holes so a lot of surface area is created inside the entire sponge, pads are similar. 3. Needs oxygen to survive: The higher the oxygen content of the water, the healthier the bacteria will be. To have oxygen in your water, the water needs to be flowing. Where the water is exposed to the air, usually on the surface, an exchange happens. Here other molecules in the water rise to the surface and are exchanged with the oxygen molecules. Then your filters pump moves the water through the aquarium, and the newly oxygenated water flows over the bacteria. Tips to keeping your tank cycled: Once your tank is cycled there are some things to be aware of so that you don't loose your beneficial bacteria. When the bacteria is removed or dies, the ammonia levels begin to rise and you can quickly lose your fish.
Make sure your pump (filter) is always working. Water that is not moving becomes stagnant. If your pump quits or the water stops flowing for some other reason, it is estimated that it takes about 6 hours for the bacteria to die from lack of oxygen. If your filter media becomes exposed to air and dries out your bacteria will die. When you remove the sponge or pad media from your filter to clean it, you can easily wash the beneficial bacteria off of it. It is best if you have two sponges or pads. This way you can swap between the two each time you do maintenance, cleaning one and leaving the other. Next time you do maintenance clean the opposite one. It takes about 1 - 2 weeks for a cleaned pad to re-colonize when there is a healthy colony still in the aquarium.
When you remove the sponge or pad media from your filter to replace it, you loose all the bacteria growing on it. Again it is best to have another sponge or pad, and only replace one at a time.
If you loose your beneficial bacteria or it dies, you will have to re-cycle your aquarium again to grow a new batch of bacteria! Nitrate is readily taken up and assimilated by algae and corals. Most nitrates, which are less toxic to fishes and most invertebrates than nitrites, accumulated in the water until it was physically removed by a water change. However, many marine aquarists are now employing the use of a special section of the tank or separate tank altogether, called a "refugium." A refugium is, as its name suggests, a sheltered area that shares water with the primary, or display, tank. Refugiums usually contain a deep sand bed to allow anoxic zones to develop within them where anaerobic bacteria can convert nitrate into nitrogen gas, a useful means of nitrate removal. Various types of macroalgae can be grown and harvested from the refugium as another means of nitrate export. As refugiums become more common in marine aquaria, nitrate levels are easily manageable for even the novice hobbyist. Ammonia and nitrite should be tested regularly; any detectable levels (i.e., over 0 ppm) can be indicative of a problem. Nitrates should not exceed 2 ppm in reef tanks, or 20 ppm in fish-only tanks. It is sometimes acceptable to have a small amount of nitrate buildup, as some livestock, especially fish, are fairly tolerant of nitrate. Most corals while able to assimilate nitrate, cannot be expected to survive, much less thrive, with high nitrate concentrations. Water testing Marine aquarists commonly test the water in the aquarium for a variety of chemical indicators of water quality. These include: Specific gravity, a relative measure of water density, is normally maintained between 1.020 and 1.024 in aquariums with fish only, and 1.023 and 1.026 for aquariums containing invertebrates. Salinity should therefore be between 28 and 35 ppt, with the higher values being beneficial in advanced reef systems. Because salinity is by definition directly related to specific gravity, both can be tested with an inexpensive hydrometer or refractometer. pH should be maintained between 8.1 and 8.3. Ammonia should be near zero. Nitrite should be near zero. Nitrate should be well below 10 ppm, but close to zero is best. Phosphate should be below 0.3 ppm. Alkalinity should be 3.2–4.5 meq/L. or or 7 and 12 degrees of carbonate hardness (dKH). Copper concentration should be measured and not rise over 0.15 ppm
Municipal, or tap water, is not recommended for a marine aquarium as it often contains high levels of nitrates, phosphates, and silicates and other dissolved solids which fuel the growth of nuisance algaes, particularly diatoms, which appears as a rust colored powdery algae and grows in the overabundance of silicates present in all tap water. Water filtered by a four stage process including mechanical, carbon, reverse-osmosis, and de-ionizing components is recommended as this can provide the easiest route to absolutely pure water. Four and Five stage RO/DI filtration units can be obtained for as little as $100 and are a cost effective means of converting tap water into water usable in a marine aquarium. Fish-Only Tank Test Kit Recommendations Chart Test Test LR=Low Range Frequency pH LR Ammonia (NH3/NH4+) LR Nitrite (NO2) LR Nitrate (NO3-) Several times a week, if not daily. Daily during tank cycling; once every 2-3 weeks thereafter. Daily during tank cycling; once every 2-3 weeks thereafter. Once per week. Note: If test is for Nitrate Nitrogen (N or NO3-N), multiply reading by 4.4 to get Nitrate (NO3-) ionic results. Weekly Daily If used for parasite control, daily. -General Hardness (GH) -Carbonate Hardness (KH) -Alkalinity -Dissolved Oxygen
Acceptable Range 7.8-8.2 (8.0 is a good mid point.) 0.0 ppm 0.0-0.01 ppm
An immeasurable amount is optimal! 10-20 ppm is acceptable with up to 40-60 ppm ok, but strongly not advised. 1.020-1.023 75°-80°F (24°-27°C), with 77°F (25°C) being a good mid point. 0.15-0.25 ppm (If below 0.15 ppm, it is not effective!) Refer to individual test kit directions, and below chart reference resources.
Specific Gravity (Salinity) Temperature Copper Other Optional Fish-Only Tank Tests
Parameter Specific Gravity Temperature pH Alkalinity Ammonia (NH3) Nitrite (NO2) Nitrate - Nitrogen (NO3) Phosphate (PO4) Calcium Magnesium Iodine Strontium
Suggested Level: Reef Aquarium 1.023 - 1.025 72 - 78°F 8.1 - 8.4 8 - 12 dH* Undetectable Undetectable < 1.0 ppm < 0.2 ppm 350 - 450 ppm 1250 - 1350 ppm 0.06 - 0.10 ppm 8 - 14 ppm
Suggested Level: FOWLR Aquarium 1.020 - 1.025 72 - 78°F 8.1 - 8.4 8 - 12 dH Undetectable Undetectable < 30 ppm < 1.0 ppm 350 - 450 ppm 1150 - 1350 ppm 0.04 - 0.10 ppm 4 - 10 ppm
Average Level: Coral Reefs 1.025 82°F 8.0 - 8.5 6 - 8 dH Near Zero Near Zero 0.25 ppm 0.13 ppm 380 - 420 ppm 1300 ppm 0.06 ppm 8 - 10 ppm
1 milliequivalent per liter (meq/L) = 2.8 dH = 50 ppm CaCO3
Saltwater Aquarium Fish Compatibility Chart Taking a fish out of the ocean and putting it into a closed system, such as a home aquarium, greatly reduces a fish's ability to flee or hide from predation. At the same time, it also increases the competition for whatever food is available. The chart will give you an idea of which fish can and can not "normally" exist together in a closed space. In many cases it also indicates which will coexist with a certain amount of caution. In many cases it also indicates which will coexist with a certain amount of caution. Nothing is guaranteed. There will always be exceptions to any generalization, but the chart will give you a place to start when you are trying to figure out what will work in your aquarium.
Readymade Sea Salt Mixes for marine aquaria Here are the top sea salt mixes available in the Indian market today which are used in saltwater aquariums. Bio Sea: Bio-sea is initially created for researchers that required a "true sea water formula", BIO-SEA soon found favor with knowledgeable home marine aquarists. BIO-SEA Marinemix is excellent for research and culturing various marine organisms. It is the standard for science, education and knowledgeable marine keepers. BIO-SEA Marinemix is the benchmark research formula. True sea water formula, no nitrates, phosphates, silicates or heavy metals. Coral Marine: Coral Marine is equivalent in composition and working ability to high grade European marine salts. It is produced with the high purity ingredients and with the 13045 PROCESS. Its consistency from package to package along with economy makes this formula attractive world wide. CORAL MARINE Scientific Formula is bioassay successful with urchin and various larva rearing. No nitrates, phosphates, silicates or heavy metals. 8
Marine Environment: Marine Environment is unique superior ultra high purity two part synthetic sea water formulation contains enhanced levels of calcium, strontium and a strong pH buffer. Also included is a separate "little bottle" that contains various and/or vital supplements or additives usually purchased separately. Marine Environment® Reef Formula™ was used in the world’s first captive spawning of red polyp head corals in 1974 and mandarin fish in 1976. Marine Environment® is the world’s first and only reef formula; it is the ultimate marine salt creation! No nitrates, phosphates, silicates or heavy metals. Also available in the markets are MeerSaltz, SeaChem Marine Salt, Red Sea Coral Pro Salt, Red Sea Salts, SeaChem Reef Salts etc. Good Starter Fish for the Saltwater Aquarium Once all the research, planning and waiting is complete and the aquarium is full of water and has finally finished cycling you will finally be ready to introduce your first fish. It is important to ensure that you make the right choice though as there are some fish which are suitable to be added at this stage and there are fish which are not. Populating your first saltwater tank can be quite a challenge. You don't want to buy a fish that will be too difficult to begin with and you sure don't want some ugly fish that will just hang around in your tank, taking up space and food. The Saltwater Aquarium Fish Compatibility Chart (at page 42) will give you an idea of which fish can and can not "normally" exist together in a closed space. Do you know what you are looking for in the selection of your first fish? Firstly and foremost the fish you choose must be relatively hardy. The reason for this is that the saltwater aquarium is new and the water will not be completely stable. Another reason is that as aquarists we all make mistakes at one time or another and with having a hardy fish they are more forgiving to these mistakes. You will probably have an idea as to the type of fish you would like to keep in your aquarium therefore it is imperative that this fish you choose now will be compatible with future tank mates. If you added an aggressive fish for example at the start then whenever you decided to add a new fish there would be fighting in the aquarium. Not what you want at this stage really is it. Which fish are good fish to start with? Below is a list of which are believed to be good starter fish for a saltwater aquarium. They are all relatively hardy, peaceful and none of them have special feeding requirements. Clownfish Orchid Dottyback Royal Gramma Blenny Chromis Firefish Lets have a look at each of these in a little more detail: Clownfish The clownfish to me is a fantastic little fish. The way it swims, the way it lives in corals etc and especially the colours – a great addition to any aquarium. They are also one of the most 9
popular starter fish. They are quite hardy and are very well suited to captive life in an aquarium. You can keep these singularly or you can keep them in pairs. When kept in pairs the most dominant fish sometimes will turn into a female and the two may even end up breeding. There is a mis-belief that clown fish must be kept with an anemone. This simply is not the case. Clownfish will be more than happy in an aquarium without one. Anenomes are quite hard to keep and at this stage of the aquariums life the aquarium is not yet ready for one, possibly neither are you. There are various species of clownfish, however the best ones to start with are: Common clown (Amphiprion ocellaris) Black and white clown (Amphiprion ocellaris) Percula clown (Amphiprion percula) Clownfish can be purchased tank bred and if this is an available option it is recommended that you follow this option.
Percula Clownfish Tank Bred
Common & Black and White Ocellaris Clownfish Tank-Bred
Orchid Dottyback The orchid dottyback (Fridmani pseudochromis) is a relatively peaceful fish which grows to around 3-4 inches in length. The good thing about the orchid dottyback is that they can be purchased tank bred. One thing to be noted is that you should not mix this fish with other fish of the same shape (i.e. the royal gramma below) or with other dottybacks. Once the fish has become accustomed to life in your aquarium it will become quite bold and swim happily around the aquarium.
Orchid dottyback Tank Bred
Purple Stripe Dottyback (Pseudochromis diadema)
Royal Gramma: Royal grammas (Gramma Loreto) are a peaceful fish with the exception of their own kind and are very colourful fish with the colours changing from purple to yellow along the fish’s body.There are other fish which can easily be confused with the Royal Gramma as they look very similar so ensure that it actually is a Royal Gramma prior to purchasing it.
Blenny There are a couple of blennies which in my opinion make good additions to the aquarium as starter fish and there are the Midas Blenny (Ecsenius midas) and the Bicolour Blenny (Ecsenius bicolor). These are both fantastic to watch. They both like to either rest on a ledge or find a hole and simply watch the world go by.
Golden Midas Blenny
Chromis Chromis (Chromis viridis) are great to add to an aquarium. They are relatively hardy and if you have a larger aquarium then you can add a small group. They normally come in two colours (blue and green). One of the good things about chromis is that they do not grow to be that large. They normally do not grow larger than 2 inches in length.
Firefish The normal firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica) and then purple firefish (Nemateleotris decora) are great starter fish to add to the aquarium. Both of these are very colourful fish which grow to a maximum size of about 4 inches. The firefish has a large dorsal fin which it uses to lock itself into a hole in the rocks which is normally down at the bottom. This hole is where the fish retires to when the lights go out but it also uses it when it becomes startled. These fish are prone to jumping when startled therefore you need to take care to prevent this. Unless you can locate an established pair it is recommended that these are kept singularly.
Red Fire fish
Some other good beginer fishes for marine aquarium:
Coral Beauty Angelfish (Centropyge bispinosus)
Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loriculus)
Lawnmower Blenny (Salarias fasciatus)
Yellowtail Damselfish (Chrysiptera parasema)
Auriga Butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga)
Raccoon Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunula)
Snowflake Eel (Echidna nebulosa)
Green Clown Goby (Gobiodon trangulatus)
Orange Spotted Goby (Amblyeleotris guttata)
Sleeper Banded Goby (Amblygobius phalaena)
Diamond Watchman Goby (Valenciennea puellaris)
Pink Spotted Watchman Goby (Cryptocentrus leptocephalus)
Yellow Watchman Goby (Cryptocentrus cinctus)
Flame Hawkfish (Neocirrhitus armatus)
Longnose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus)
Volitan Lionfish (Pterois volitans)
Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)
Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)
Naso Tang (Naso lituratus)
Kole Yellow Eye Tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus)
Bursa Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus verrucosus)
Humu Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus)
Humu Rectangle Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus rectangulus)
Niger Triggerfish (Odonus niger)
Bird Wrasse (Gomphosus varius)
Eightline Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus octotaenia)
Four Lined Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus tetrataenia)
Elegant Wrasse (Coris venusta)
Ornate Wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus)
Converting From a Freshwater to a Saltwater Aquarium Can the Same Equipment and Components be Used? Do you have a freshwater (FW) aquarium that you would like to, or have thought about converting over to saltwater (SW)? There are undoubtedly many FW aquarists that have considered this, but are unsure as to how much of their FW components and equipment can used for a conversion. With a few exceptions, most of your FW components and equipment can be used for this purpose. That being said, let's get down to the individual components. The Aquarium Aquariums are not specifically designed and built for use as either a FW or SW tank. The glass or acrylic material used is the same for both, as is the silicone adhesive used in construction, but each material does have its pros and cons. As far as tank size, SW tanks tend to be a bit larger, although the mini and micro reef tanks are becoming more popular all the time. A FW tank even as small as five gallons "can" be converted into a SW aquarium, but be advised that small tanks are rather touchy and unforgiving to work with, and a vast majority of experienced SW aquarists will tell you to start to with no less than a 55 gallon tank. Filters and Filtration Filtration in a SW aquarium is a bit more involved than that in FW. Since biological filtration is the backbone of a SW system, filter selection is undoubtedly THE most important part of the SW set up process. In all likelihood the filter equipment you are presently using will need to be replaced. The small hang-on-tank biowheel and box, or in-tank corner type filters commonly used in FW tanks are usually inefficient in SW tanks. The traditional undergravel filter (UGF) set ups, although still used by many SW aquarists, contribute to unwanted nitrate problems as the tank matures, and they have lost their popularity as more advanced filtration systems like wet-dry trickle and canister type filters with bio-media chambers have been developed. As far as what type of filter and filtration method to use, there are no set rules. Every aquarist has an opinion as to which set up is best, but the easiest way to figure out what you may need for your SW tank change over is to decide on whether you want a fish-only or a reef tank 13
system, research the various filtration methods and filter set ups one has to choose from, and then pick one based on what "you" want to try. However, something to consider here is that even if you are starting out with a fish-only tank, it doesn't hurt to begin with a filter set up that can be used for a reef tank. By doing so, in the future if you decide you want to progress into this type of system, you can save some money by not having to invest in a whole new set up. Pumps and Powerheads Most all pumps and powerheads used in FW can be used in a SW set up with no problems, as long as they are rated as safe to use in SW. In general, SW tanks use more pumps and/or powerheads to attain greater water movement and circulation, and particularly with reef tanks they aid in the growth and health of corals. Substrate The most common type of FW aquarium substrate used is that made of course, large sized gravel or rock material, and comes in a wide variety of colors. It is very decorative, and it does serve as the biological filter base just as the substrate does in a SW tank. However, this type of media is not appropriate for use in a SW tank. Lights The lights used on a FW tank are usually standard or NO (Normal Output) fluorescent bulbs, which will work fine for a fish-only SW tank. However, you might consider adding an actinic blue bulb along side one of the standard tubes, or change over to 50/50's, as these type of fluorescent bulbs greatly enhance the visual look of the tank and the colors of the fishes. Other considerations are the material the light hood is made of, which may not hold up to the corrosive effects of SW, and if you want to upgrade to VHO, PC, or MH lighting, the standard aquarium hood will not hold them. If you are planning a reef system, lighting becomes much more critical, and expensive. Spend some time researching your potential lighting needs before running down to your LFS and laying out a lot of your hard earned cash. It has been our experience that the average salesperson working in an LFS doesn't have a clue to what the lighting requirements are for a reef system, which usually results in you ending up with either inadequate or unnecessary equipment. Heating Elements In all likelihood the heater(s) being used won't need to be replaced, just make sure this equipment is rated as safe for use in SW, particularly undergravel cable type units that are often used in FW plant aquariums. Decorations With the exception of large stones or rocks, most FW tank decorations are useless in SW aquariums, and some items such as plastic plants can even be dangerous to marine life. Most marine fish are "grazers" and have a tendency to nibble on everything, and it doesn't take too many eaten fragments of plastic to totally shut down a fish's digestive track. As far as items like castles, bubbling divers and sunken chests, if you are a "true" saltwater naturalist, adding these types of things are unheard of. Appropriate types of decorative rocks and corals either non-living or synthetic are generally used for decorating SW tanks, if you are not planning on adding live rock and/or keeping a coral reef system.
Test Kits FW test kits are useless in a SW tank. The chemicals used in FW test kits are totally different than those used in SW test kits. All in all, conversion from a freshwater to a saltwater tank isn't all that complicated. Additional items such as sea salt, a hydrometer, saltwater aquarium books, and a few other supplies will need to be purchased, but by being able to use "some" of the equipment you already have, you're off to a pretty good start. 11 Most Common Mistakes Made by Saltwater Aquarium Keepers No matter what kind of aquarium keeper you are, here is a list of the most common mistakes you may be making. These problems can be avoided if you're aware of them before you start an aquarium. 1. Overfeeding Fish and Invertebrtes Uneaten food just lies on the bottom of the tank, creating nitrates and overloading the biological filter. Not fully understanding the nutritional requirements of their fish, the tendency of many people is to "throw food" at fish in order to fulfill their requirements. If the fish are not accepting the food offered, many aquarists will "throw even more" at the fish, thinking that the fish just isn't seeing the food. Feed once, twice per day, or once every 2 or 3 days? How Often Should I Feed My Fish? Helps you understand a fish's requirements. Know what is in the food you are feeding by comparing the nutrients in commercial foods, purchase only high quality foods and feed only what your fish will consume in 2-3 minutes per feeding. 2. Moving Too Fast "Patience" is a requirement with just about anything that you do with a saltwater aquarium. Far too many people report problems after they have put a tank together, because they are just moving too fast! Far too often we have read aquarists comments like, "I need test kits? What for, and what kind?" Of course this is after they have had a tank for some time. A high percentage of people do not take the time to read and study up on the hobby before getting started. 3. Overloading the System A problem that goes hand-in-hand with moving too fast is craming too much livestock and/or live rock into the aquarium all at once, especially in a tank that is not fully cycled, or has just completed the cycling process. Even in a well established system, placing too many new additions into the tank to quickly can cause new tank syndrome. Slow down! Saltwater aquarium keeping is not a timed event, so take it easy, and work on your patience skills. 4. Inadequate Filtration and Water Circulation Having sufficient biological filtration is a primary key to success in keeping a saltwater aquarium. There are a number of filtration methods to choose from, but not making the right filter selection for the bio-load planned for your tank can lead to a wide variety of problems. Whether it be biological, mechanical, or chemical, it's better to have more, rather than too little filtration. This same concept applies to circulation of the water in the aquarium as well. The lack of good water flow throughout the system can lead to problems with low DO (dissolved oxygen), 15
the build up of slime or other types of nuisance algae, prevention of stationary animals receiving food, and more. The solution here? Add a powerhead or two, or a surge device. 5. Misdiagnosing Diseases When it comes to diagnosing diseases, saltwater ich is the biggest problem. It is easy to confuse Oodinium (Amyloodinium ocellatum - a.k.a. Marine Velvet or Coral Fish Disease) with White Spot Disease (Cryptocaryon irritans). They are similar but two quite different types of saltwater ich, and each responds to different types of treatment. It is important to properly diagnose and treat these parasites, as well as other diseases. 6. Overmedicating Way too often one or more remedies are just thrown at a sick or ailing fish without knowing what the problem is. Medications should only be used when necessary and whenever possible in a quarantine tank. The most important factor with medications is to use one that is formulated to "target" the specific disease or diseases you are dealing with. 7. Purchasing Animals without Knowing Anything about Them It never ceases to amaze us how often people select new additions for their aquarium without knowing what the animals are, how to care for and feed them. Before purchasing anything, take the time to obtain information about it first. You shouldn't buy on impulse because you like the pretty colors a fish has, how cute or stunning it looks, or for any other "touchyfeely" reason, or if a sales person can't provide you with critical information you need to know about a particular animal. 8. Livestock Incompatibility Statements like my wrasse ate my hermit crab, my tangs just won't get along, and similar ones are all too frequently heard. Purchasing livestock without knowing whether or not they will peacefully reside with other tankmates can lead to dead or injured animals, as well as stress related diseases. Use common sense and learn about the compatibility of animals you are considering for your aquarium, before putting them together! 9. Purchasing Animals in Poor Health One of the easiest things to do when selecting a critter is to determine whether or not it is healthy. In a simple phrase, most sick fish don't eat. Before purchasing a fish or other animal, it is best to have a sale's person in a store show you that it is in fact eating. On your part, learn how to recognize the symptoms or outward signs of common illnesses so you know what to look for when inspecting livestock to buy. 10. Using a Poor Quality Fresh Water Source Although many aquarists do so, choosing to use water straight from the tap or unpurified water of another source to make up saltwater solutions and to top off a tank can lead to many water quality issues in aquariums. Using a water purification filter, buying clean natural sea water, or prefiltered RO/DI water from a reliable supplier is an investment that will pay for itself in the long run.
11. Lack of Proper Tank Maintenance Well-maintained saltwater systems seldom experience high nitrate, bacterial outbreaks, or other water quality issues. To avoid the usual pitfalls with problems in this area of aquaria keeping, set up and follow a regular maintenance routine.
Conclusion: For it to be successful, your saltwater aquarium will require a commitment from you. Coral reefs provide one of the most stable environments on earth for the fish that inhabit them. You must dedicate yourself to providing as stable an environment as possible for your home marine aquarium. This will require regular maintenance of the tank. It is a good idea to establish a maintenance routine by setting up a schedule to make sure you don’t forget to take care of anything and to give yourself the opportunity to catch any problems early on. However, one who thinks maintaing a marine aquarium is very difficult task, so it is better not to go for it, he is a stupid. While you can create a marine aquarium system that uses every possible piece of equipment on the market, a basic aquarium system can produce equal or even better results. The old saying "keep it simple, stupid" (KISS) certainly applies with aquariums.
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