For many first-time aquarium builders, keeping a saltwater aquarium can be challenging. Not only do these displays have stricter chemical requirements to abide by, but the corresponding marine life is also more sensitive to small environmental changes. These factors alone mean that saltwater aquariums require significantly more maintenance than freshwater builds—and there are many more opportunities to make mistakes. These are some of the most common saltwater aquarium mistakes made by beginners and how to avoid them.
Using the Wrong Size Tank
The size of the tank you ultimately decide to use for your build influences a lot more of the process than people tend to think. In fact, while it’s easy to assume that a smaller tank would require less work to maintain, they actually require more effort to keep the environment stabilized. So, to ensure you aren’t getting yourself into a larger commitment than you can handle, it’s important that you do some research to determine the best course of action.
Choosing the Wrong Corals
Being able to keep beautiful coral specimens in your home is one of the main perks of putting together a saltwater tank. However, it’s important to remember that corals require their own set of specific conditions to thrive. These needs can vary depending on the type of coral you want to purchase, and knowing how to properly care for your specific type is key to success. For beginners, LPS corals are the highest recommended category because they don’t require as much light or water flow.
Incorrect or Irregular Salinity Levels
Salinity is the amount of salt dissolved in a specific body of water. If you’ve owned freshwater fish up until this point, it probably wasn’t something you even needed to consider. For saltwater environments, though, salinity is crucial to keeping your marine life alive. For the most authentic, ocean-like habitat for your organisms, your tank salinity should measure approximately 1.026 and remain at that level. If it becomes too high or too low, you risk throwing off the chemical balance of the environment and making your fish sick.
Forgetting About Water Changes
Another of the most common saltwater aquarium mistakes is forgetting to perform regular water changes. Saltwater aquariums all need a series of chemicals in order to sustain life. However, between fish waste, excess food, and naturally growing algae and bacteria, these chemical levels will rise and fall on their own, putting your marine life at risk. So, to keep the water concentration consistent, saltwater aquarium owners need to conduct partial water changes. This process removes some of the excess chemicals in the tank and dilutes the rest by replacing it with cleaner water. Just be sure that the new water matches the ideal chemical mixture of the tank before adding it in.