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Maintaining a Salt Water Tank

Articles on general fish keeping

Maintaining a Salt Water Tank

Postby Mick » Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:00 pm

Once you have set up your marine aquarium and are happy with the layout of the rock, you're tank is cycled, the fish are in, all of the equipment is running properly, its time to put your feet up and just sit and watch the tank and its inhabitants at your leisure. If only this was the case, as with fresh water tanks you still have to maintain your salt water tank to keep it at it's best and running efficiently with the highest quality of water parameters that you can achieve. Whether I am keeping tropical fish, cold water fish or marine fish I have always found it extremely beneficial to keep a log of which tasks need doing when. Trying to keep things in your head is going to backfire on you eventually as forgetfulness is unfortunately a weakness of mankind, if things are written down and a maintenance schedule is checked off each time a task is performed there can be no room for errors and you can sleep easy knowing that you have completed all of the require tasks for a particular day , week, or month.
Some tasks are needed to be performed on a more regular basis than others so compiling a list of daily, weekly and monthly tasks will help you breeze through the tasks and your tank will benefit in the long run.

Daily tasks
Look at your tank, do all of the fish look content, are they behaving oddly or in the worst scenario, has some of your tank inhabitants gone missing. If you are running a reef tank, are the corals opening properly, are they showing any signs of a meltdown. All of these things need to be checked, catching any problems early will inevitably lead to a quicker diagnosis and more effective treatment.
Check the temperature of the water and adjust the heater/heaters if required.
Check the substrate of the tank for any food that has not been eaten, remove it asap as decaying food will produce ammonia in the water.
Check all of the equipment that is running in your tank, power heads and protein skimmers etc. can break down unexpectedly.
Top up the tank as required, many keepers will mark the water level on their tanks so that they can quickly see if the level has dropped through evaporation.
Wipe the inside glass of the tank with an algae cleaner, this will prevent an algal colonies from getting a foothold in your tank.
Empty the collection cup of your protein skimmer and rinse it out to remove any clumps etc..

Weekly tasks
Perform a 10% water change, this is essential to control your nitrates and to replace vital minerals into your tank.
Test your water with a reliable testing kit, this will provide you with essential information as to the quality of water in your tank. If the nitrates are not being controlled by 10% water changes it may be necessary to increase the percentage of your weekly water change.
Remove any salt that has built up around the top of the tank from the water evaporating, this will clump eventually and can fall back into the tank affecting the salinity level of the water.
Add any required trace elements to the tank such as calcium, iodine etc.

Siphon the substrate to keep it clean and check the corals if you are running a reef tank, gentle siphoning can help to remove detritus on the surface of the corals.
Clean out your protein skimmer thoroughly, detritus can build up inside the skimmer, this needs to be kept clean to run efficiently.
Wipe down your lighting units including the tubes or lamps with a damp cloth. Dust will build up gradually and not only will this reduce the efficiency of the lighting unit but it also runs the risk of the dust falling into the tank and contaminating the water.
Replace the lighting bulbs if required.
If you are running external filters or HOB filters, these will need to be cleaned every 3 months, while you are doing this check the impellor and the impellor shafts for signs of breaking, replace as required. Check the pipework of your filters for splits or blockages.

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