|Many people are intimidated by the implied difficulty associated with
maintaining a marine or saltwater aquarium. This may have been a fact of
the past, but that was a time when hobbyists were limited by the available
tools and education. At that time, the hobbyists that kept marine life
often lived near the ocean, as constant water changes seemed necessary for
success. With our understanding of the nitrogen cycle and the extensive
improvements in filtration, the only big difference in keeping freshwater
fish and saltwater fish is the salt.
Maintenance is almost always the biggest concern of those about to become
involved with keeping saltwater fish. Knowing specifics of the fish's diet,
temperament and preferred water conditions are still important. Most
filters used in freshwater aquariums are also appropriate for saltwater
varieties. The most daunting task seems to be the monthly water change.
This fear, however, isn't justified; the water change process is the same
as freshwater, just with a little more planning.
To change the water, you'll need a clean mixing container for mixing up the
saltwater - this should be a container that has not and will not be used
for anything else; it is also important that there is not exposed metal in
or on the container. The synthetic sea salts available today are complete
and consistent enough for you to just add water. Fill the container with an
amount of water equal to ¼ of your aquarium volume and add the salt slowly,
as directed. Mix until all salt is dissolved, which should take roughly 24
hours. Use a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity, and then add water
or salt until the level is between 1.020 and 1.025, preferably the same as
Just like freshwater, you'll need to acclimate to make sure the new water
is the same temperature as the aquarium water. Also, use a dechlorinator if
your source water contains chlorine.