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For it to be successful, your saltwater aquarium will require a commitment from you. Coral reefs provide one of the most stable environments on earth for the fish that inhabit them. You must dedicate yourself to providing as stable an environment as possible for your home marine aquarium. This will require regular maintenance of the tank. It is a good idea to establish a maintenance routine by setting up a schedule to make sure you don’t forget to take care of anything and to give yourself the opportunity to catch any problems early on.

Water Changes

Performing regular water changes is one of the best ways to keep your aquarium up and running, as it is one of the most efficient nitrate reduction methods. In most cases, frequent small water changes are better than infrequent large water changes. Most experts recommend changing about 10 percent of the water every two weeks. In a very large system, a monthly water change might do the trick, but a biweekly schedule is safer.

Changing the water in a saltwater tank is a bit more complicated than changing the water in a freshwater tank. However, this task is much easier now than it was in the past. Previously, to add water to a saltwater aquarium, the hobbyist would have to attempt to mix up their own salt water concoction by combining various chemical elements, or they would have make a trip to the beach to collect natural salt water. Thanks to modern technology, saltwater changes today are not nearly so challenging. One-step salt mixes are widely available, making it easy and inexpensive to perform as many water changes as a tank requires.

To change the water, you will first need to disconnect all power to your tank. Then, remove and clean the cover glass and clean any other glass panels that are due for a cleaning. Siphon at least 10 percent of the water out of the tank and into a bucket, and then rinse any filter media in the bucket. At this time you should also clean and rinse any pumps, hoses, or other attachments using aquarium water, and clean "salt creep" from the top edges of the aquarium. Using a commercial salt mix and dechlorinated tap water, mix a batch of new salt water. Once you’ve made sure the temperature and salinity of the new water match that of the current aquarium water, you can slowly add the replacement water into the tank. Finally, turn the power back on and return the cover glass.

Daily Maintenance

Some maintenance tasks will need to be completed more often than others. Every day, you should check the water temperature and adjust when necessary. You should make sure all equipment is running properly, clean "salt creep," top off water lost due to evaporation, and check the residents of the tank for signs of distress or disease. You should also remove any uneaten food before it begins to decay.

Weekly Maintenance

Every week, you should test the water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. You should also rinse off any prefilters to remove clogs of uneaten food or debris. Scraping algae from the front pane of the aquarium should also be a weekly task.

Biweekly Maintenance

Every two weeks (at least!), you should perform a 10 percent water change. At the same time, you can gently vacuum the substrate. A few days before or after completing the water change, you should remove and/or replace any mechanical filtration media. Clean the cover glass at this time, removing salt buildup, calcium deposits, dirt, etc, to improve the look of the aquarium as well as to increase the amount of light that is able to shine through the glass. This is also a good time to check your power sources and make sure they are working well and are free of "salt creep."