Interested in making the plunge to saltwater? I encourage you to read this article by Stan & Debbie Hauter. They offer some excellent tips to get started in keeping saltwater aquariums.
1) Moving Too Fast
“Patience” is a requirement with just about anything that you do with a saltwater aquarium. Far too many people report problems after they have put a tank together, because they are just moving too fast! Far too often we have read aquarists comments like, “I need test kits? What for, and what kind?” Of course this is after they have had a tank for some time. A high percentage of people do not take the time to read and study up on the hobby before getting started.
2) Overloading the Tank
A problem that goes hand-in-hand with moving too fast, craming too much livestock and/or live rock into the aquarium all at once, especially in a tank that is not fully cycled, or has just completed the cycling process. Even in a well established system, placing too many new additions into the tank to quickly can cause new tank syndrome. Slow down! Saltwater aquaria keeping is not a timed event, so take it easy, and work on your patience skills.
3) Misdiagnosing Diseases
When it comes to diagnosing diseases, saltwater ich is the biggest problem. It is easy to confuse Oodinium (Amyloodinium ocellatum – a.k.a. Marine Velvet or Coral Fish Disease) with White Spot Disease (Cryptocaryon irritans). They are similar, but two quite different types of saltwater ich, and each responds to different types of treatment. It is important to properly diagnose and treat these parasites, as well as other diseases.
Way too often one or more remedies are just thrown at a sick or ailing fish without knowing what the problem is. Medications should only be used when necessary, and whenever possible in a quarantine tank. The most important factor with medications is to be sure and use one that is formulated to “target” the specific disease or diseases you are dealing with.
5) Inadequate Filtration
Having sufficient biological filtration is the one of the keys to success in keeping a saltwater aquarium. There are a number of filtration methods to choose from, but not making the right filter selection for the bio-load planned for your tank can lead to a wide variety of problems. Whether it be biological, mechanical, or chemical, it’s better to have more, rather than too little filtration.
6) Purchasing Animals Without Knowing Anything About Them
It never ceases to amaze us how often people select new additions for their aquarium without knowing what the animals are, how to care for and feed them. Before purchasing anything, take the time to obtain information about it first. You shouldn’t buy on impulse because you like the pretty colors a fish has, how cute or stunning it looks, or for any other “touchy-feely” reason, or if a sales person can’t provide you with critical information you need to know about a particular animal.
7) Livestock Incompatibility
Statements like my wrasse ate my hermit crab, my tangs just won’t get along, and similar ones are all too frequently heard. Purchasing livestock without knowing whether or not they will peacefully reside with other tankmates can lead to dead or injured animals, as well as stress related diseases. Use common sense and learn about the compatibility of animals you are considering for your aquarium, before putting them together!
8) Purchasing Animals in Poor Health
One of the easiest things to do when selecting a critter is to determine whether or not it is healthy. In a simple phrase, most sick fish don’t eat. Before purchasing a fish or other animal, it is best to have a sale’s person in a store show you that it is in fact eating. On your part, learn how to recognize the symptoms or outward signs of common illnesses so you know what to look for when inspecting livestock to buy.
9) Using a Poor Quality Freshwater Source
Although many aquarists do so, choosing to use straight tap or another unpurified freshwater source for making up saltwater solutions and topping-off a tank can lead to many water quality problems in aquariums. Using a water purification filter, buying clean natural sea water or prefiltered RO/DI water from a reliable source to make up salt mixes with is a good investment.
10) Lack of Proper Tank Maintenance
Well maintained saltwater systems seldom experience high nitrate, bacterial outbreaks, or other water quality issues. To avoid the usual pitfalls with problems in this area of aquaria keeping, set up and follow a regular maintenance routine.