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Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 016 | Aquarium Care Tips for a Holiday or Vacation, a Fish, and Some Problems

Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 016

Finally! It’s here! Here is another Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast filled with aquarium tips to help you set up some automatic aquarium systems so that you don’t have to worry about topping off the evaporated water or feeding your fish when your away from your fish tank! In fact, you can even keep these systems set up when you aren’t away from your tank, and you’ll have more time to just enjoy your aquarium.

In the last podcast we recorded, Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 015, I talked a lot about the first few fish that I added to my 30 gallon saltwater tank. Not only has it been over 2 months since that last podcast was released, but its almost been 3 months since those fish were added to the tank. In that time I’ve added a Coral Beauty Angelfish to my aquarium, and I’ve had to be away from my tank so that I could go on vacation over the holidays. Everything is explained in the podcast, so go ahead and take a listen while you scroll through some of the pictures and check out all of the links below!

Adam Puli's 10 Gallon Freshwater Aquarium

Adam Puli’s 10 Gallon Freshwater Aquarium

Adam Puli of Melbourne, Australia reached out to me, gave me a few pointers for the podcast, and sent me a few pictures of his 10 gallon freshwater aquarium. He was worthy of a podcast shout out and including one of his pictures in the show notes!

The Components of a DIY Freshwater Auto-Top-Off System

The Components of a DIY Freshwater Auto-Top-Off System

In this episode of the Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast I talk about setting up a freshwater auto-top-off system. For now, I’ve included a picture of the necessary components, but check back soon for a set-up video!

Coral Beauty Angelfish head on

Coral Beauty Angelfish head on

Coral Beauty Angelfish from the side

Coral Beauty Angelfish from the side

Above are some pictures of the Coral Beauty Angelfish that I added to my aquarium. I encountered a few problems about 2 weeks after it was added. I think, and I hope, all of my problems are gone!

Equipment and Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Aquarium Tips of Note in this episode:

  • Turn off and unplug the equipment that you’re maintaining
  • Test all DIY projects as soon as they’re complete
  • Test all automatic systems for a few days before leaving your tank unattended
  • Purchase tank-bred fish whenever possible

Do you have some automatic systems set up on your aquarium? Which ones? Leave some comments below!

TJ

 

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Easy Cleaner Crew Acclimation

A little while ago we shared some aquarium tips and pictures about acclimating aquarium livestock and the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System here. A few days later, I added some peppermint shrimp to my fish tank. This time, it was time to add the rest of the cleaner crew to my 30 gallon saltwater aquarium. Of course, even the snails, red-legged hermit crabs, and blue-legged hermit crabs need to be acclimated. This time, I decided to make a video of the acclimation process!

This method of aquarium livestock acclimation works great for small fish, cleaner crew, and small coral frags. However, not all fish are small and the big fish need to be acclimated as well. For larger aquarium livestock it would probably be wise to drip acclimate into a bucket. Say tuned to Aquarium Tip Tank and the Aquarium Tip Tank YouTube Channel! We will  share more aquarium tips and show you how we acclimate the big fish when we get one!

Any questions about acclimating your livestock? Leave comments below!

TJ

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Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 015 | The First Fish in My Aquarium

Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 015

In the last episode of the Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast we talked about several tips, tricks, rules of thumb, and the method I like to use for stocking an aquarium. Well…I’ve added the first couple of fish to my 30 gallon saltwater aquarium, and in this episode I share my fish selection story! This podcast is jam packed with aquarium tips and fish facts!

About a week ago, I came home from the local fish store with a Six-line Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataeniaand) and 2 Tank-Bred Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris). Go ahead and listen to the story about the experience that my wife and I had picking out our new pet fish, and below you can check out some pictures of our new pets getting acclimated to their new home!

Floating Fish Bags While Gathering Acclimation Equipment

When we first arrived home I immediately floated the bags at the top of the tank, and turned the lights off. There were a few pieces of equipment that I had to gather and get ready before I started drip acclimating the Six-Line Wrasse, and I wanted to make sure that I started regulating the temperature as soon as possible.

Six-Line Wrasse Drip Acclimating

I only have one Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System. I could only drip acclimate one fish at a time. I decided to drip acclimate the Six-Line Wrasse first. I figured that the Six-Line Wrasse likes to dart through rocks, explore, forage, and find hiding places a little more than the clownfish does. The clownfish were tank-bred so maybe they were more used to the conditions found in home aquariums and  they might withstand floating in a bag for 15 0r 20 minutes longer than the Six-Line Wrasse. Note: The 2 Clownfish were bred together, lived together in the same tank in the fish store, were put in the same bag to be brought home, and are being referred to as one single fish for acclimation purposes.

After about 20 minutes of drip acclimating the Six-Line Wrasse, the drip cup was out of water and it was time to get the Six-Line Wrasse out of the bag and into the tank! I unattached the bag from the acclimation system, captured the Six-Line Wrasse in a small net, gently pulled it out of the bag, and released it into its new home!

Six-Line Wrasse happily foraging on live rock.

I made sure that the Six-Line was swimming around and exploring the aquarium, but I had to quickly start drip acclimating the Clownfish now that the acclimation system was available.

Ocellaris Clownfish Drip Acclimating

It took another 20 minutes to finish the drip acclimation process for the Ocellaris Clownfish. Once the drip cup was empty, I grabbed the small fish net and transferred the Ocellaris Clownfish to the aquarium!

2 Ocellaris Clownfish happy in their new home!

All of the fish seemed to be healthy and happy when first introduced to the aquarium, and a week later they are still doing great! They have been exploring all of the holes, crevices, nooks, and crannies of the live rock. They come right out to the front of the tank to say hello every time I’m in front of the aquarium!

Aquarium Tips of Note in this episode:

  • Get your family involved and share the fun!
  • Angelfish are best as the last addition to an aquarium
  • Select Tank-Bred fish whenever possible
  • Have 3 or more of each schooling fish
  • Inspect the fish tanks before selecting the Local Fish Store that you purchase your fish from
  • Have a deep sand bed for a Six-line Wrasse
  • Tank-bred Ocellaris Clownfish can be kept with a variety of other tank-bred clownfish, as long as they are introduced into the aquarium at the same time.

Did you recently add some fish to your aquarium? How did it go? What fish did you add? Leave comments below!

TJ

 

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Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 014 | Stocking a Fish Tank

Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 014

It’s about time to put some fish in the tank. The 30 gallon saltwater aquarium has been running for 2 months. I’ve added a complete cleaner crew and I need to figure out what fish I want to put in the aquarium!

In this episode of the Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast I talk about the scientific art of stocking a fish tank. I try to explain why there are limitations to the number of fish that you can keep in one fish tank. I also discuss some of the rules of thumb that are used for stocking an aquarium, their exceptions, and how I like to go about putting fish in my tanks.

Aquarium Tips of Note in this episode:

  • Don’t overstock your aquarium
  • Stock your fish tank slowly
  • Perform water quality tests on a regular basis

Is it time for you to put fish in your tank? Do you have any questions or comments? Leave them below!

TJ

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Adding Peppermint Shrimp to a Saltwater Aquarium

A couple of days ago at Aquarium Tip Tank I wrote about using the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System to acclimate all new livestock to the water conditions of your tropical fish tank. What I didn’t tell you is that I first used the system to acclimate 3 Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni)! These were the first of the cleaner crew, and the first of any livestock that I added to my 30 gallon saltwater tank. Today I will share some pictures and some aquarium tips for adding Peppermint Shrimp to a saltwater aquarium!

I have to admit, I had originally planned on adding a much larger cleaner crew to my tank. Unfortunately, when I asked my Local Fish Store (LFS) about a cleaner crew, the aquarium salesman said, “Well, we just took down our cleaner crew tanks and we’re about to start setting them back up. So, we probably won’t have much as far as cleaner crew goes for about 4 weeks.” My thoughts were, “Great. I’ve been cycling my tank for 4.5 weeks. I’ve got some diatoms blooming, and some algae starting to grow all over the live rock, live sand, and walls of my tank. Do they have anything in here that might eat some of that and help clear my tank up a little bit?”

Luckily, the LFS at least had some Peppermint Shrimp. While the Peppermint Shrimp is best known for enjoying a meal of nuisance Aiptasia, it will also scavenge the aquarium picking at the live rock and live sand for detritus, uneaten food, other nuisance algae, and decomposing organic material. Peppermint Shrimp have also been successfully tank bred.

While 3 Peppermint Shrimp won’t be a complete cleaner crew for my 30 gallon aquarium, it is at least a start. Like many invertebrates, Peppermint Shrimp can’t tolerate copper-based treatments or high nitrate levels. I’ve done some water testing and my water parameters are suitable, but I also know that if the Peppermint Shrimp survive, then some fish will survive too! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to put any aquarium livestock into unsuitable and stressful conditions. However, Peppermint Shrimp are abundant, have been successfully tank bred, and are sustainable. I’ve done everything that I can to ensure that aquarium conditions are suitable, and its time to acclimate these 3 Peppermint Shrimp and add them to my tank!

The bag of Peppermint Shrimp Hanging for Temperature Equalization while Dripping Aquarium Water Into it for Chemical Equalization

To read a little bit about acclimating new livestock check out what I wrote here.

2 Peppermint Shrimp in Corner of Bag being Acclimated

When the Peppermint Shrimp were done acclimating it was time to get them into the main tank. Whenever you do this with any livestock DO NOT just dump all of the contents of the bag into the main display tank. If the original water in that bag came from your LFS you have no idea what might be in there. If the water in that bag came from your quarantine tank, then it might contain the remnants of some copper based quarantine treatments (more on that later). Grab your trusty aquarium net, scoop up the Peppermint Shrimp, let the bag water drain back into the bag, and swiftly but gently add the Peppermint Shrimp to your main display tank!

One of the Peppermint Shrimp worked its way over to the corner of the tank under the heater.

Hopefully, the Peppermint Shrimp start exploring their new home and scavenging food from the live rock and live sand immediately after being added to the tank.

Peppermint Shrimp Hanging Out Upside Down Under Live Rock

Are you adding new tank mates to your aquarium? Show us! Leave comments below.

Stay tuned to Aquarium Tip Tank for the next round of cleaner crew additions!

TJ

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Unpacking the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System

If you follow along here at Aquarium Tip Tank you know that I have been going through the process of setting up a 30 gallon saltwater aquarium. A couple weeks ago, I decided that it was time to start adding a cleaner crew to the tank. At that point the aquarium had been cycling for about 5 weeks, there had been a few nice diatom blooms, and it was time to add some hardy invertebrates that like to feed on some of the algae.

As with any livestock that is going to be added to an aquarium, I needed to make sure that all of the members of the cleaner crew were acclimated to the conditions of my saltwater aquarium. I started to investigate and do some research into ways to make my own acclimation system until I did a quick search on Amazon. There, I found the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System for only $20.

Sure, I could’ve gone to the hardware store and found some small diameter tubing, a drip valve, and all of the other materials necessary for this project. However, I probably would’ve spent $20 or more at the hardware store and a whole lot more than the 2 days that Amazon takes to deliver items to my doorstep.

The Doradon Acclimation System all boxed up

The Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System allows users to equalize new aquarium livestock to both the temperature and chemical conditions of your fish tank simultaneously. It holds the bag that your local fish store sent your new fish, coral, shrimp, or invertebrate home in, allowing it to float in your aquarium water to equalize temperature while keeping the top of the bag open to equalize the chemical conditions by dripping water from your tank into the bag.

Opening the Box of the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System

The Doradon Aquarium Acclimation system includes all of the necessary parts and pieces to hang an open bag in your aquarium water and drip your aquarium water into the bag. All of the parts and pieces are also different colors! This helps make the included instructions easy to follow. The three main parts are the blue aquarium frame with the silver thumb screw, the green bag holder, and the clear dripping cup with flow control nozzle.

The parts assembled with the directions, but still in the box.

Above, you can see all of the parts assembled. The green bag holder has a hook that slides onto one of two spots of the blue aquarium frame. The clear dripping cup has two holes at the back that allow it to slide onto the pointed cup supports at the top of the blue aquarium frame.

Blue Aquarium Frame on the Tank

To start getting the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System on the tank, you should first put the blue aquarium frame on one wall of your aquarium by itself.

Thumb Screw Used to Keep the Aquarium Frame Upright and Level

The thumb screw allows the acclimation system to be used on various aquarium wall thicknesses. Adjust the thumb screw so that the blue aquarium frame stays upright and level on your fish tank with a little bit of pressure pulling the aquarium frame forward. After all, you’re eventually going to hang a bag with livestock in it from this frame. You don’t want it tipping over, and ruining your plans to acclimate your livestock.

Livestock bag attached to bag holder.

The next step is to pull the top of the livestock bag through the bottom of the green bag holder, open the bag and wrap the open end of it out and around the outside of the green bag holder. Use the pointed arrows of the green bag holder to poke holes in the top of the livestock bag so that it can be held securely by the green bag holder.

Livestock Bag floating in Aquarium water and being held by the green bag holder and blue aquarium frame.

Next, you can pick the green bag holder up with the livestock bag attached to it, and slide the hook on the back of the bag holder over one of the holder supports on the blue aquarium frame. At this point, you should have a bag of livestock floating in your aquarium water with the lights off. The temperature is equalizing, and its time to start equalizing the chemical conditions with the drip cup!

Dripping Cup with Aquarium Water hung from Aquarium Frame and dripping into livestock bag.

All you have to do is dip the dripping cup into your fish tank to collect some of your aquarium water, hang the dripping cup on the blue aquarium frame of the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System, and adjust how fast your aquarium water drips into the livestock bag using the flow control nozzle at the bottom of the dripping cup.

Acclimation to your Aquarium Conditions in Process

Now, just let the acclimation system do its work for at least 15 to 20 minutes. If there is still water in the dripping cup after 15 to 20 minutes, just leave everything alone until the dripping cup is empty. I actually like to let everything acclimate for about 30 to 45 minutes. The temperature will come to equilibrium in about 15 to 20 minutes, but it usually takes a little longer for the chemical conditions to equalize.

I hope you made it this far because I have a couple more aquarium tips about acclimating your livestock. First, use a quarantine tank. No, a quarantine tank may not be absolutely necessary for your first round of cleaner crew. However, a quarantine tank should definitely be used for every fish that you place in your display aquarium. Yes, I’ll admit that I’m guilty of not always using a quarantine tank with new fish, but you never know what kind of disease, parasites, and stress the fish store has given the fish that you just brought home. That disease will quickly spread to the rest of your fish tank and you’ll end up scrambling to set up a quarantine tank to keep your display aquarium alive and thriving. Its much easier to just use a quarantine tank first, get rid of all the fish diseases, then acclimate from your quarantine tank to your display tank.

Second, acclimate livestock that comes from different tanks and systems of your LFS separately. For example, you may stop by your LFS and pick up a cleaner crew from one tank or tank system while also picking up a fish from another tank or tank system. Or maybe you purchase a fish from one wall of your LFS and another fish from another wall of your LFS. Do not put them in the same bag and acclimate them together. Acclimate livestock from different aquarium systems separately. Sure, that one wall of tanks in your LFS is probably working off of the same filtration system with the same sump, protein skimmers, filters, etc. The other fish that you get from that other wall of tanks is probably running off of an entirely different system and the water characteristics may be different. Acclimate them separately and they will go through a much safer, and less stressful acclimation process.

Finally, acclimate between every tank. Acclimate between your LFS and your quarantine tank, and acclimate between your quarantine tank and your display tank. Your fish and your aquarium will be much happier, and much healthier if you take just a few simple steps.

Putting fish in your aquarium? How do you acclimate them to your tank? Leave comments below.

TJ

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Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 013 | Elite Reef and Marine-Engineers Interview with Michael Rice

Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 013

We’ve been saying that we’re going to have some interviews here on the Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast since the start. I’m excited to say that for our first interview we were able to talk to a reef store manager and the owner of a marine aquarium hobbyist news website all in one! In this episode of Aquarium Tip Tank Michael Rice was kind enough to take some time to talk to us. He has a website at marine-engineers.org, he manages Elite Reef, a reef hobby store in the Denver, CO area, and he’s got several years of experience with home aquariums.

Michael shares the story about how he got started in the marine aquarium hobby as well as some aquarium tips about the types of tanks to purchase, stocking a tank with sustainable livestock suppliers, and making sure you do a little bit of research about the fish and aquarium equipment you want to purchase. Elite Reef and Marine-Engineers.org also hold an annual Elite Reef fest that is all about fun and helps raise some money for some great charities.

Where to find Michael Rice:

Sustainable Marine Fish and Invertebrate Suppliers mentioned in this episode:

Charities that Elite Reef Fest has raised money for:

What did you think of the interview? Leave some comments below!

TJ

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How To Make Saltwater for a Small Marine Aquarium

Yes, this one is pretty simple. However, there are a lot of people that shy away from starting a saltwater aquarium when they realize that they have to somehow make, or acquire, actual saltwater to fill their fish tanks with. In reality, mixing up some saltwater takes less time than running water through an RODI filtration system to get purified water. Some people don’t want to take the time to use an RODI filter, but we recommend an RODI filter to purify all of your water for any type of fish tank that you have, be it freshwater or saltwater.

Once you have your canisters of RODI purified water, it really only takes a few minutes to measure your salt mix, pour it into the purified water, mix, and test for specific gravity and salinity using a hydrometer or refractometer. I use Instant Ocean Reef Crystals Reef Salt and literally just follow the directions on the back of the bag. Below, I’ve included a video about how I mix my saltwater.

In the end, it ends up that it takes almost exactly 2.5 cups of salt mix for me to make a 5 gallon bucket of saltwater. These days, I go ahead and put 2 cups straight into my RODI purified water, mix up the salt, do a quick specific gravity and salinity test, and add another 0.5 cup of Instant Ocean Reef Crystals Reef Salt. Obviously, I’m still starting out on the low end of specific gravity and salinity when I only have 2 cups of reef salt in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Personally,  I just like to test, and make sure that everything is mixing correctly.

So what do you do if you have a larger tank and you need to make more than 5 gallons of saltwater at a time? There are a few options here. One is to have several 5 gallon buckets of water. For example, if you have a 100 gallon home aquarium, you would need 20 gallons of saltwater to perform a 25% water change. You would need to make 4, 5 gallon buckets of saltwater and make sure that the water conditions all matched.

Maybe you have a 20 gallon container for your saltwater. Hopefully it has wheels. Just fill it up with RODI purified water and add 1o cups of Instant Ocean Reef Crystals Reef Salt.  You may want to start with 9 cups, do some specific gravity and salinity tests, and add more salt mix until you get to the correct water conditions. Try this the first couple of times and you may end up finding out that you’re adding that 10th cup of salt mix every time you go to make a 20 gallon container of saltwater.

Whatever way you decide to make your saltwater, and whatever type of salt mix you choose to use, it really isn’t very difficult to mix up some saltwater. Just follow the directions on the salt mix container, and remember to do a few quick checks of your water conditions while your making your saltwater.

Most salt mixes state that the saltwater you make with them can be used immediately. This is true, and some people do this without any detrimental effects to their saltwater tank. However, I like to let my saltwater sit for a little while before placing it into the tank. I like to make sure that all of the salt and all of the beneficial trace elements, and vitamins are properly dissolved in the water. This also allows the saltwater to have some time for gas exchange and oxygenation before pouring it into the tank. If you let your saltwater sit in a container for several days, make sure that you test the water conditions one more time before pouring it into your tank just to make sure that none of those water conditions changed unexpectedly.

How do you make your saltwater? What salt mix do you use? Leave comments below.

TJ

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The Finding Nemo Sequel and our Responsibilities as Coral Reef Lovers and Aquarium Hobbyists

Rumors have been flying around that Pixar is in the process of ramping up production on a Finding Nemo sequel, that film writer and producer Andrew Stanton has signed up for the directing job, and that television writer Victoria Strouse will be writing the script. I call them rumors because Pixar does not comment on development.

There is a double-edged sword to these rumors. On the one hand, I love it. I loved the first Finding Nemo, and it is still one of my favorite Pixar films. Of course I do, I love most things about coral reefs, tropical fish, and ocean life. I also think Pixar does a fairly fantastic job at creating all of their animated films.

Sure, us nerdy ocean and aquarium lovers can pick apart some of the inaccuracies of such movies. But Pixar did a pretty good job with the original Finding Nemo of entertaining my 2.5 year old nephew, me, and my 60 year old father while incorporating a few scientific names and some of the basics about ocean life and underwater ecosystems.

Underwater is a place that most people don’t look at and see very often. Therefore, it was out of sight and out of mind for a majority of people until Pixar released Finding Nemo in movie theaters across the globe and put those ocean ecosystems right in front of toddlers, teenagers, parents, and grandparents across the world.

Finding Nemo was also fantastic for the aquarium hobby. Kids wanted to go “find Nemo” at the public aquariums. They started dragging their parents past the puppies and into the fish section of pet stores. Tanks, stands, aquarium filters, and all sorts of aquarium equipment started flying off the shelves like never before. The added interest and money pouring into the industry allowed for advances in husbandry, technology, and research.

So, the other edge of that sword? The downside to all of this is that all of those fish that people now want to keep in their home aquariums come from somewhere. Did anybody realize that the whole movie was about a tropical fish being snatched out of its natural environment by a SCUBA diver, ripped from its family, and placed in a small tank thousands of miles from home? We learned some great things about the oceans on the journey to find Nemo, but he just wanted to be out of that tank and back at home with his family and friends.

Luckily, the aquarium hobby didn’t seem to take much heat for that. In the end, the clownfish populations did. Those new aquarium hobbyists were looking for the “Nemo” fish left and right to put into their new aquariums, and these new hobbyists mostly lacked the proper setup and care knowledge. Then, if one of their ocellaris clownfish died, they would just go grab another one from their LFS. Clownfish populations were practically wiped out in certain parts of the world. There are also new advancements and technologies that have made fish keeping better, and easier.

As tropical fish lovers, coral reef lovers, and aquarium hobbyists we have a responsibility to educate about conservation, proper aquarium setup, and proper aquarium maintenance this time around. Luckily, breeding of tropical saltwater fish has come a long way since the first Finding Nemo. It kind of seems like every other person in the aquarium hobby is breeding clownfish these days.

If people start asking us questions about setting up new tanks we should take the time to show them how to do it correctly. We should educate new hobbyists about the oceans and underwater ecosystems. We should teach them about fish and reef compatibility, the nitrogen cycle, water chemistry, and water quality so that new hobbyists can keep their fish happy and alive. Most importantly, we should teach them about conservation, fish breeding, and tank bred fish.

Aquarium Tip Tank will be here to help. If you are new to the aquarium hobby please ask questions, and let us know what you need help with. That is what we’re here for. If you have been keeping fish for a while, and you’d also like to help, get in touch with us. You can comment below, send an email to support@aquariumtiptank.com, say hello to us on Facebook, say hello to us on Twitter, or find us on YouTube.

TJ

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Freshwater Aquarium vs Saltwater Aquarium

Here at Aquarium Tip Tank we talk a lot about saltwater aquariums because that is what most of us keep, I have a small one that I am keeping, and I am in the process of setting up another 30 gallon saltwater aquarium. However, many of the aquarium tips, tricks, and advice that we give can be used for both freshwater and saltwater tanks. Therefore, we figured that we would list some benefits to keeping a freshwater fish tank, explain those benefits, and compare to a saltwater set-up. Here we go.

Freshwater Aquarium Benefits:

  • Not much need for specialized lighting.
  • No need to mix salt into water.
  • Hardy fish that are usually easier to care for than marine fish.
  • Majority of freshwater aquarium fish are tank bred.
  • Freshwater aquariums are generally less expensive than saltwater aquariums.
  • Freshwater aquariums are generally easier for beginners to care for.

When I look at the list above, I realize that almost all of the freshwater aquarium benefits can be grouped under the last two. Freshwater aquariums are generally less expensive and easier to care for. All aquariums require a tank, substrate, filters, lights, test kits, food, nets, scrapers, and possibly a quarantine tank. A saltwater tank requires a few more pieces of equipment such as a hydrometer, power heads, a protein skimmer, extra test kits for calcium and alkalinity, and possibly some live rock and sand instead of the cheaper gravel that is used in a freshwater tank.

Obviously, all of this extra equipment costs money, and has to be maintained in properly working order. This is also only for a fish only with live rock (FOWLR) set up. If you want to keep a reef tank with corals and other invertebrates you will need a lighting system that will deliver more light to those light hungry invertebrates. You will probably also want more live rock, a refugium, and a reverse osmosis (RO) filter unit – we recommend RO filtering all of your water for freshwater or saltwater tanks, but you will definitely need one for a reef tank.

Now lets talk a little bit about ease of care. I don’t want to scare you out of keeping a saltwater aquarium so I will first say this…I honestly don’t think that the maintenance of a saltwater tank is that much more difficult. There are a few extra maintenance tasks to take care of for a saltwater tank, but in my opinion, they don’t take a long amount of time, and they aren’t that difficult.

First, water changes for a freshwater tank are a little bit easier. This is mainly due to the fact that you don’t have to make your saltwater. You can keep a beautiful freshwater tank by using dechlorinated and filtered tap water. With saltwater aquariums you have to dechlorinate and RO filter your tap water into storage buckets to mix the salt in. This saltwater making process is usually done a few days before a water change.

Second, the livestock of a freshwater aquarium is generally a little bit easier to care for. The vast majority of freshwater aquarium fish are tank bred and tank raised. The Aquariums are their homes and where they are used to living. They are used to being fed and eating aquarium foods. They were not transported from a reef halfway around the world. Therefore, freshwater fish are much less stressed about their aquarium environment and end up being hardier fish that are a little bit easier to care for and keep happy.

You also won’t be able to keep any corals with specific demands for  lighting and water conditions. Sure, you may want to keep some live plants, but you can still keep some live freshwater plants with NO fluorescent lights and dechlorinated and filtered tap water. Some freshwater plants may require more light intensity for photosynthesis, but it is not near the light intensity necessary to keep corals and other sessile invertebrates.

Finally, please don’t let any of this dissuade you from keeping a saltwater aquarium. Once you have your tank and your equipment and it is all set up, cycled, and the proper lighting and water conditions have been established, the maintenance tasks for keeping a healthy marine aquarium are not that much more expensive or difficult than keeping a freshwater aquarium. You can always buy your saltwater from a LFS instead of making it yourself. You just have to have containers to keep it and transport it in. If you choose and care for your fish wisely, marine fish also aren’t that much more difficult to care for. Just remember, a lot of marine fish in your LFS are probably taken from the Earth’s reefs. Keep your fish happy and healthy so that you’re not the aquarium hobbyist depleting those reefs of tropical fish.

Comments? Got some cool pictures of your tanks? Leave a comment below!

TJ

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