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Easy Tips for Maintaining Your New Saltwater Aquarium

Your new saltwater fish are swimming merrily in their spacious aquarium. You’ve carefully set up your equipment and prepared the water, you’ve added aquarium décor, and you’ve successfully introduced your fish. Now what?

If you have the right tools, maintaining your new saltwater aquarium isn’t complicated and it isn’t time-consuming, but it is important to the health and well being of your fish. Take the time to follow these steps for a happy, healthy aquarium.

Provide the right nutrition

You are what you eat—or so they say. Give your fish the best possible nutrition by providing them with a variety of quality foods in order to create a balanced diet. Shop for a diverse blend of frozen food, fresh food, flakes, pellets, freeze dried or live food, and ask a pet care professional for suggestions on the best choices for your individual fish. If you maintain a mixed aquarium of herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores, be sure to provide food formulas that are suitable for each type. You might even want to include color-enhancing flakes to boost the color of your saltwater fish.

But as you strive to create a diverse diet for your fish, don’t make the mistake of overfeeding them. The Humane Society of the United States recommends feeding fish only as much as they can eat in a two-minute period. Overfeeding can cause serious health problems for fish.

Watch the water

The salinity (salt content) of the aquarium water is very important to the health of your saltwater fish. You’ll want to monitor the salinity on a regular basis (at least twice per week), but especially after changing the water. (Experts recommend that you change out approximately 25 percent of the water at least once a month.) Use a hydrometer to measure specific gravity and determine the salinity level, then adjust as needed to restore the level to its proper amount.

In addition to checking the salinity of your water, it’s also important to monitor the water temperature daily, and to regularly check your filter. In addition, water quality should be monitored once a week, using a water testing kit that can check your aquarium’s ammonia levels, pH levels, nitrites, and nitrates. Regular testing prevents your aquarium from reaching levels of toxicity or developing a pH imbalance.

Think twice before adding new fish

With any new aquarium, keep the population numbers low until you have cycled through the nitrogen cycle. Your aquarium is still in its infancy, and the levels of healthy bacteria need time to become established. By initially restricting your aquarium to only a couple of fish, you’ll allow the healthy bacteria to flourish without fighting to meet the demands of a larger fish population.

And remember: Young fish grow—sometimes a lot. Don’t overestimate the space in your aquarium by thinking only of the current size of the fish that you’re adding to the aquarium. As they mature, they may become considerably larger and crowd the current inhabitants of the aquarium.

Establishing a new saltwater aquarium is undeniably exciting, and maintaining it properly will help to ensure that your fish will enjoy long and happy lives.