Saltwater Aquarium FAQs 3

Saltwater Aquarium FAQs #3

Keep sending those questions in to

Question: Hey Hi, I have 15 years of experience in fresh water aquariums & now wanna start a saltwater aquarium, but I can only keep a 2.5 feet length aquarium ( I can compensate in height though). Is this size okay to start with?

Secondly, I am worried as people say marine aquarium are usually not a successful. Even a slight change in temperature or salinity could cause big damage. Water changes should be done once every 2 weeks or else it could harm the fish?

Thirdly, I am slightly worried about maintaining the filtration system, protein skimmer and to add the salt in proper proportions during every water change.

Awaiting your revert. Should I start a new saltwater aquarium or should I stick to my current freshwater aquarium?

Answer:  2.5 feet is fine, but I would keep the fish population down to avoid overcrowding and stress.
 Certain active fish such as Tangs would also require more room and should be avoided. For reference, check for fish that would live happily in a smaller aquarium. Unlike freshwater, saltwater aquariums are better off if you understock the tank. In my first marine aquarium which was a converted 2 foot freshwater tank, I kept only 3 small fish. A little boring for freshwater keepers used to seeing a dozen fish in a small tank, but the corals certainly made up for the small fish population.
 Temperature fluctuation is always an issue in a smaller aquarium so it is a good idea to have the tank in a room where the temperature is relatively stable throughout the day and night. If this is not possible, and depending on where you live, a chiller and/or heater may be required to keep the temperature between 25-27 degrees C. If you don’t plan on keeping corals, you fish should be fine at a slightly higher temperature 28 or even 29 degrees C.
 I wouldn’t worry too much about salinity fluctuations in a 2.5 foot tank — it’s more of an issue in small nano tanks. Get your salinity to 1.022 – 1.024 SG, mark the water level on the side of your tank or on your sump if you have one, and top off with RO or DI fresh water every time you see a slight a drop below the mark. Auto top off devices are also available to do the job for you, requiring only a small container to hold top-up water which will save you from having to manually add water to the tank every couple of days. Remember to top-up with freshwater and not saltwater!
 Measuring the amount of salt to use for water changes is easy. Get a water container with a lid, fill it with RO/DI freshwater, then add salt gradually with a dedicated cup until you reach the required Specific Gravity. Make a note of the number of cups you had to use for your particular sized water container. That will be your salt benchmark for all future water changes, being sure to double check salinity with a refractometer or with a reliable hydrometer when making up a batch of saltwater.
 With a decent protein skimmer and a small fish population you will be able to go longer than a month without water changes once your tank is mature at 9 to 12 months. On newer tanks I would stick with a regular fortnightly 10% water change for the first 6 months or so. We change water in our saltwater aquarium not only to bring down nutrient levels but also to ensure that trace elements are at healthy levels for the fish and corals.
 I wrote a quick guide to setting up a marine tank which you can read here:
 Good luck with your new saltwater aquarium!
Question:  I started a new tank a couple of weeks ago, a black sand 55 gallon and a 1/4hp Arctica chiller. I’m on a second floor apartment and everything seemed fine until last night. When my chiller kicked on, all the fish went to the other end of my tank and started breathing hard. No nitrates or ammonia showed up on my tests and the salinity is 1.023.
I almost lost a flame angle, but after I put it in my hospital tank it recovered quickly. What could be causing this? My chiller was cleaned with fresh water for a couple hours after I bought it from a shop where the owner passed away. I tested it and back flushed it before installing it. I’ve had problems in the past where nothing is detected but the fish seemed stressed, prior to this event.

Answer:  That’s an unusual problem indeed.

I would get the chiller checked out — there are several possibilities here.  Refrigerant might leaking and somehow getting into the cooling coil and into the water, or there is an electrical leak in the chiller. Whenever it kicks on, an electrical charge is being sent into the water. A dangerous situation.


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