Marine Aquariums - A Beginner's Guide

Read Dan Everton's guide to keeping a successful and beautiful marine aquarium. It is much easier than people first believe although the words marine aquarium can sometimes send people running instantly.

Created by Dan Everton on Tuesday, 4th of March, 2014.
Updated on Thursday, 7th of December, 2017.


Marine Aquarium and fish.

I'm going to assume that you already have your marine aquarium and equipment, this will be a basic guide to make sure you have all of your measures in place to keep your marine tank healthy, happy and looking good.

Setting Up Your Marine Aquarium

When setting up a new marine aquarium you will want to leave it with live rock, substrate, salted water and your equipment running for a minimum of 3-4 weeks before adding any live stock.

This gives the aquarium time to cycle and any die-back from the live rock can happen without causing water problems which would potentially harm fish or corals.

Once you do begin to introduce fish and corals this should be done slowly over a period of time to prevent a crash which can be costly and devestating.

Salt Water in Your Aquarium

In your marine aquarium is salt water, this is vital for the survival of your fish, corals and invertebrates as this is the same as their natural habitat where they would be found in the wild in the ocean. Over time your water will begin to evaporate and when it does the salinity (salt levels) will rise because the salt will not evaporate and remains in the tank so you will need to top the aquarium back up with RO Water only to keep the salinity levels balanced at all times.

You will sometimes need to add salt water to your tank but this will be when you have taken salt water out, for example during a water change which I will talk about below.

Marine Aquarium Water Changes

25 Litre Jerry CanIt's recommended that you perform a 10% water change every week or a 20% water change every two weeks, whichever is more convenient for you. When you do this you will be removing saltwater and topping the tank back up with saltwater only, not RO water.

The reason for this is because unlike evaporation which leaves salt in the tank still, a water change removes saltwater so you need to add saltwater back in. If you only add RO water the salinity levels will drop causing problems.

We always advise that you invest in your own jerrycans, one for RO and one for saltwater and label them appropriately, that way you'll always have one free for the type of water you need and on top of that you won't contaminate one with the other.

You'll also find that aquatic stores will stock RO water, saltwater and loan out jerrycans if you do not want to buy one or make up your own water. We currently stock three levels of saltwater which are 1.022, 1.024 and 1.026.

Feeding Your Marine Fish

I always try to feed our marine fish frozen food, this is because it contains lots of nutrients and the TMC Gamma Frozen Food has been Gamma iradiated to remove any impurities which could cause problems for fish. If you're not careful these nutrients can increase phosphate and other levels.

The best way I have found is to defrost the food in a small tub of RO water and then once it has defrosted fully net the food and let the excess waste water drain out, this means less uneaten nutrients disrupting the levels in your tank.

Adding New Livestock

When buying any new livestock it will usually be sold to you in a polythene bag in the UK, this makes them easy to transport. New stock need to be acclimatized, this allows the water to reach the same temperature as it's new aquarium and the best way you can do this is by dropping aquarium water into the bag containing your new stock. Eventually the temperatures will be equal and this will prevent shock to the fish or corals which can kill them so this process is very important.

Further Information

Read our guide for Making Saltwater for Your Marine Aquarium.

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