Saltwater fish are breathtakingly beautiful, with their unusual body shapes and bright neon colors. But, these marine fish are more difficult to care for and are more expensive than freshwater fish. Saltwater tanks have different requirements than freshwater tanks. Here are a few facts to help you decide if you want to try a saltwater tank:
1. Saltwater tanks have a higher initial cost for setup. You’ll need more sophisticated equipment, additional biological filters, live rocks or sand, and possibly a special lighting system.
2. You’ll need someone to feed your fish when you are gone. Auto-feeders won’t work on fancy saltwater fishes. Some saltwater fish need frozen foods in order to maintain their health. A few of the more unique saltwater fish won’t eat flakes or prepared dry foods and will only eat the specially prepared frozen mixes available at tropical fish stores.
3. You’ll need additional patience in first starting up your aquarium. A saltwater tank needs at least two months to cycle. The first two months are hard on the fish and you should add only a few fish during this time.
4. Do you already have some freshwater experience in keeping fish? Experience will help you to realize when something is wrong. In saltwater tanks the fish tend to react very quickly to declining water quality and diseases. Freshwater fish will give you several days to one week to correct the problem, but with marine fish you have one day.
5. Tank size is important. It should be larger for saltwater, usually 30 gallons or larger. Smaller tanks change temperature and water quality too rapidly for marine fish. Additionally, smaller aquariums foul rapidly and are less stable than larger ones.
Thirty years ago keeping marine fish was quite difficult. Today, however, it is easier than ever before. It’s possible to get quality saltwater fish from all over the world—-Figi, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Red Seas. Additional knowledge, more sophisticated equipment, new disease controls, salt mixes, and commercial diets, and state of the art filtration systems all have helped in making marine fish a lot easier to maintain.
The first step is to visit an aquarium store with lots of experience to help guide you and answer your questions. Next, buy a beginning saltwater handbook and learn the facts.
If you want a challenge and can meet the requirements, then saltwater fish are for you. Put trust in a local aquarium store with many years of experience to help you with your decisions on the correct equipment and saltwater fish for you. Happy fishing!
For more information, contact Congressional Aquarium, Inc. (301) 881-6182.