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People in general, think that keeping marine fish is a difficult task. In some cases this maybe true, because saltwater fish needs a bit more time, work and equipments in comparison to freshwater fish. But freshwater fish also needs the same sort of attention and care, especially, if one wants to breed them or keep delicate fish. On the other hand, there are several marine fish species which are easier to handle once you are able to understand the correct way of maintaining the saltwater aquarium, and establishing a stable environment.
The Basic Parameters
Marine fish are more sensitive to variations in their surroundings. The basic parameters for marine fish tank are pH, salinity, nitrite and temperature. At the time of cycling process, nitrate and ammonia can be a problem. These elements are same as is in freshwater tank, only the degree of intensity differs largely. For keeping marine fish one should be vigilant towards the pH of the water, and it should not fluctuate more than 0.2 each day. Most of the marine life likes pH ranging in-between 8.0 to 8.4. So, it should never drop below 8.0. Other critical parameters such as nitrites, salinity and temperature, should be around 20 ppm, 1.022 and between 75F to 80F respectively.
The Basic Components
The basic components for keeping marine fish are synthetic sea salts, filters, lighting, decorations and test kits. One of the most important items for saltwater aquarium is the size of the tank, the bigger the better. Larger tanks provide more stability and room for mistakes to be rectified; anyway, tanks should never be less than 20 gallons. Usually, fish enjoy long, wide tanks; the greater surface area assist in better gas exchange. Another thing that must be kept in the mind is that the tank should never be overcrowded; saltwater live stock should be much lower than the freshwater fish tank. And always use a good substrate such as crushed coral, marine sand or dolomite.
The first step for keeping marine fish is setting up a tank in the appropriate place and position. Make sure that the stand is equal from all direction; you can usually do this with Styrofoam under the tank. Next, install the filtration, either inside the tank or outside, according to the type of filter. Add substrate after rinsing it with plain water and then arrange the decorations. Now the tank is ready for adding saltwater, this can be done a few ways either ready mix the synthetic sea salt with reverse osmosis water or from a purifying unit in the tank or containers but it is advisable to place a plate on the substrate before pouring water into it. Then let the tank become stable for about two days and keep testing until test shows positive readings, before adding live stock.
Fish kept in tank are confined to a very small amount of water and so contaminants such as scraps of uneaten food or ammonia released from fish’s gills, feces raises the toxic level of the water very soon. Keeping marine fish in such a condition is harmful for proper development of the fish. Regular change of water can help containing contamination, but maybe impractical due to size and frequency of water changes required. The best way of tackling this problem is by installation the best aquarium filtration you can afford – be it under gravel filtration (UGF) or wet/dry filter.
Selecting a Saltwater Fish
Keeping marine fish are usually more expensive than freshwater fish, so it is very important to get them home alive and maintain their longevity. Never purchase a sick fish, always look for a healthy and vivacious fish in the store, and check, if any irregular patches, spots or wounds on the body. Torn fins are not a problem, they will heal up soon, but other symptoms may kill the fish or even infect other fish of the aquarium.
Experienced aquarists suggest that one should always keep a quarantine tank, particularly for saltwater fish. Sick fish needs isolated treatment, because medications or copper etc. may contaminate the fish tank which could be detrimental for the health of other fish. Remember source water is also necessary for saltwater tank. Tap water contains chloramines and chlorine which has harmful effect on marine fish; it also helps in massive growth of algae. Keeping marine fish needs some extra precautions, but this helps to keep the tank full of lively inhabitants.