Selecting the Tank
Taking into account that marine fish are more sensitive to changes in the water, marine fish keeping requires a larger tank than one would normally need for freshwater fish. This size makes it easier to maintain chemical balance and lessens fish compatibility issues. According to experts, one should consider nothing smaller than a 30-gallon tank. However, if there are budget constraints, a medium-sized tank will do as long as complete equipment is provided. Nevertheless, if you have extra budget and there is more room to spare, going bigger than a 30-gallon tank is the best option.
The Heart of Every Aquarium: The Filter
The filter is inarguably the most important piece of equipment in your aquarium. Without one, your fish wouldn’t even last a couple of days. Just imagine your fish continuously urinating and defecating without having anything to sanitize the water. This explains why there are various types and ways of filtering aquariums. Here are the main kinds:
- Mechanical Filtration. Small and large particles are filtered and removed from the aquarium water through a wool or sponge. For maintenance, the wool or sponge needs to be washed weekly. If budget is available it is better to replace the wool weekly than simply cleaning it.
- Chemical Filtration. This type is the most commonly used. It involves elimination of liquefied wastes and reduction of unwanted odour from the water. The simplest way to do this is by using activated carbon in the filter. Regular replacement of carbon is necessary as using it for extended periods of time causes it to release the particles it has absorbed back to the water.
Biological Filtration. Considered as the most important type of filtration, this encourages the growth and containment of good bacteria and micro-organisms These highly contribute to the balance of the aquatic environment as the organisms devour harmful contaminants. In addition, good bacteria are essential for converting ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate.
Eheim are widely regarded as the Rolls Royce of filtration and equipment. We would certainly recommend you take a look at their product range either on Amazon or your local fish store.
Aquarium hoods keep harmful particles, objects and other pets out of the aquarium. At the same time, it keeps the fish, crabs, snails and other pets within the aquarium. I have had a guppy jump out of an uncovered aquarium once! These useful covers are widely available and come in different forms. There are simple covers or classy units that are partitioned to house the lighting and other equipment.
For the cover to be effective, it should have the right dimensions in proportion to the aquarium’s size. Openings to accommodate filters, heaters and lightings should be drilled carefully for a proper fit around them. The cover should sit on the inside lip of the top aquarium frame to avoid being knocked off. An important part of the cover is the glass which keeps the water from being in contact with the electrical environment. It is necessary that no metal parts are exposed because if these react with the water, the fish may become distressed or even die. Painting the exposed metal part with a non-toxic paint can easily solve this problem.
Picking the Right Lighting
Lighting is essential not only for aesthetics but for practical use as well such as a sufficient food source for corals in an aquarium. Lighting helps in replicating the natural environment of marine fish. In general, 12 hours of light a day is sufficient enough for marine fish. Fluorescent lighting is the most common light source for marine fish keepers as it provides light over a large area and do not become overheated when left switched on for long periods of time. Incandescent lighting is the most popular alternative to fluorescent which utilizes bulbs with tungsten filaments, similar to lamps used at home. The downside of incandescent lighting is that light bulbs require frequent changing as opposed to fluorescent lighting which lasts for several months.
The depth of a tank helps determine the amount of light needed to penetrate the water. Every 100 watts of light penetrates up to 12 inches of water.
Temperature Maintenance-Related Equipment
The right temperature is crucial for the health and survival of marine fish which is between 76 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit or 24-28 degrees Celsius for most marine species, though there are species which thrive in anything up to 85 degrees. Keeping marine fish in this range is a perfect compromise as some fish prefer slightly cooler water whilst some prefer slightly warmer water. Marine fish can endure gradual fluctuations in this temperature range however rapid fluctuations may distress the fish and affect the pH to change which can lead to disease.
Using heaters and thermostats is the easiest way to maintain the temperature of your aquarium. There are submersible and hang-on heater models that are both effective but latter are cheaper to buy. Many heaters are combined with thermostats but some hobbyists can purchase separate units of heaters and thermostats which have an advantage of being able to be individually replaced easily. In general, heaters have simple mechanisms for adjusting aquarium temperature for stability while more complex models have specific adjustments to assign an exact or preset temperature for the tank.
Adding Aquatic Plants to Your Tank
Aquatic plants are necessary replicate the natural environment of marine fish. Fish feel more secure when they are able to hide amongst plants making it a good reason to have lush aquatic plant growth in a marine tank. Aquatic plant species such as Balanse Plant, Anubais berteri, Dwarf Baby Tears and Anacharis are sturdy and adaptable making them perfect for beginner plant keepers. There has to be a good level of lighting and carbon dioxide are necessary for these plants to live. For light source fluorescent or incandescent lighting is suitable for keeping the plants healthy whilst for carbon dioxide, the marine fish will naturally produce this as well as waste containing nitrites which the plants will absorb and utilize. With more plants in the tank fish waste is minimized and the water quality of the marine tank is improved.
If you intend to buy or breed plant-eating fish species make sure to buy robust and quick growing aquatic plants, some popular ones can be found on Doctors Foster and Smith here.
Stay tuned for part 3 soon!