101 Tips to Beginning and Maintaining a Saltwater Aquarium

Discussion in 'New Hobbyists' started by lion_crazz, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    A little while back, I decided to begin an informational post that would cover all aspects of a marine aquarium from beginning it to maintaining one, in order to ease the stress of a new hobbyist. Beginning a marine aquarium is a wonderful journey to embark upon, but after one sees the many aspects and facets of beginning an aquarium, it is very easy to become overwhelmed and want to give up. I have already posted a thread that contains a ton of fabulous links to read if there is any one aspect that you are not sure of. However, you look at all of those links and that can be a bit overwhelming. Where would you start? In this informational thread below, I have listed 101 tips and bits of advice that will greatly help any aquarist. It starts with a table of contents below of all of the tips and then below them is a more detailed statement that explains the tip. You can read straight through the tips, and if there is any one that you want more info on, just scroll below, find the number, and you can read up on it. This thread is going to be edited and added to as it sits here. I want your suggestions and comments. If I forgot anything, tell me and I will add it, of course giving you credit for the suggestion. This thread is not meant to be read all at once. It took me quite a while to compose and took up many, many pages on my computer (I actually deleted some things that I felt were unneeded or redundant).
    *Please note: All tips and bits of advice below are from my experience both in the hobby and from years of working in the commercial end of fish keeping as well. I have a ton of experience in the hobby, plus, I have listened to stories and experience of thousands of others.
    Many will disagree with some of the things said, and that is okay with me. I am not writing this as an end all, be all. If you don’t agree, no problem. There will be some people who say that they have done some of the things that I do not recommend below. And to them, I say, nothing is impossible, but the odds are certainly stacked against you. Many people have alternate ways of doing things, but the methods below will serve as a nice guide to make your fish keeping experience easier, more fun, and less stressful. They are tried and proven by not only the experts, but by highly experienced aquarists as well. Thanks for reading and please feel free to ask any questions on anything you read.*
    All rights reserved and no information in this entire thread may be copied or distributed without author's written permission. The only exception to this is printing strictly for personal use.
     
  2. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    The Tips
    1.The first thing you should do is find out what you like.
    2.After you know what you want to do, get a good book to explain the basics.
    3.Save a list of acronyms and abbreviations for quick referral.
    4.Be prepared to spend money.
    5.Do not spend money without first shopping around.
    6.Get the biggest tank you and your wallet can afford.
    7.Do not skimp on filtration.
    8.Natural is always better.
    9.Do not waste your time and money on a cheap protein skimmer.
    10.Flow is key in keeping a healthy tank.
    11.Pick your substrate wisely.
    12.Buy two smaller heaters as opposed to one larger one.
    13.Own a refractometer.
    14.Set up a quarantine tank and use it.
    15.Quarantine all new additions for no shorter than three weeks.
    16.“Reef safe” medications do not work like advertised. Do not believe the gimmicks.
    17.More lighting is always better than not enough.
    18.A chiller may be needed if your tank is in a warm area.
    19.UV sterilizers are not necessary.
    20.Air bubbles are bad for a saltwater tank.
    21.When you go to fill the tank, fill it first with tap water to perform a leak test.
    22.Use RO or RO/DI water in your tank.
    23.Always premix water before adding it to your tank.
    24.Live rock is one of the most important things in a saltwater tank.
    25.Strongly consider a refugium for your aquarium.
    26.When placing live rock in your tank, do not put it on top of your substrate.
    27.Own your own test kit and know where your water levels should be.
    28.Test strips are not accurate.
    29.Patience is key when beginning a new tank.
    30.Do not cycle your tank with damsels and do not add any fish until your cycle is over.
    31.Support the good aquarium stores and stay away from the bad ones.
    32.Get to know the staff at your favorite stores.
    33.Get to know the operations at your favorite stores.
    34.The first thing in your new tank (once it is cycled) should be a clean-up crew.
    35.Before you pick your first fish, read my guide of which fish to absolutely avoid.
    36.Research the needs of the fish before you buy it, not after.
    37.If necessary, carry a small fish guide with you in the LFS.
    38.Be very selective when choosing your fish.
    39.Always watch a fish eat at the LFS before buying it.
    40.Only add one fish at a time.
    41.Pick up a variety of fish foods.
    42.Pick up some garlic and vitamins to use in fish food.
    43.Acclimate your new fish to your tank properly.
    44.Create good habits for doing water changes.
    45.Always keep some back up equipment in case something breaks.
    46.Have a battery powered air pump.
    47.Never feed a fish freshwater feeder fish.
    48.If necessary, gut load any live feeders.
    49.The more you can automate, the easier your tank will be to keep.
    50.Always use freshwater (not saltwater) to top off your tank for evaporation.
     
  3. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    51.Know the difference between salinity and specific gravity.
    52.Never add any chemicals that you cannot test for.
    53.Nitrates are lowered through proper water changes.
    54.Do not begin to buy hard corals (LPS or SPS) until your alkalinity and calcium are where they should be.
    55.Create the proper light schedule for your aquarium.
    56.Know which animals are poisonous/venomous so that you do not put yourself or others in danger.
    57.Lionfish will eat fish that are smaller than them.
    58.Triggers and lions do not mix.
    59.Do not attempt to keep two different species of clowns together.
    60.Before buying an anemone, make sure your tank is ready for it and that you are selecting the right one.
    61.Tangs need a lot of swimming space. Choose your tang appropriately.
    62.Butterflies need very mature tanks.
    63.Angels are not a reef safe fish; add them to your reef with caution.
    64.Pseudos and basslets have attitudes; add them last if you must have one.
    65.Do not expose puffers to air.
    66.Provide puffers with hard-shelled foods to grind their teeth down.
    67.Sharks and sting rays do not mix with angels, puffers, triggers, wrasses.
    68.Starfish have very specialized needs.
    69.Many crabs will nip at corals.
    70.Tangs of the same family do not usually mix well.
    71.Do not attempt to keep more than one angel per tank.
    72.Be aware of what fish are jumpers so that you can prevent them from winding up on your floor.
    73.There are different snails for different tasks.
    74.Provide empty shells for hermit crabs.
    75.Kill the aipstasia and majano anemones as soon as you see them.
    76.Remove flat worms the second you see them.
    77.If interested in sea horses and pipefish, set up a separate tank for them.
    78.Mandarins need tanks with an over-abundance of copepods.
    79.Replace your power compacts every 6 to 8 months.
    80.Replace your metal halides every 10-14 months.
    81.Replace your T-5 bulbs every 16-24 months.
    82.Never, ever, ever add copper to your display tank.
    83.There are certain fish that you cannot put through copper.
    84.There are only two ways to totally kill marine ich.
    85.Brooklynella is a serious disease that needs to be treated immediately.
    86.Lymphocystis is easily curable; don’t use medications.
    87.There is a big difference between salts. Test yours before adding it to the tank.
    88.Calcium in powder form works better than calcium in liquid form.
    89.Running carbon in your tank is always a good idea.
    90.Always have a small thermometer in your tank, regardless of whether you have a digital reader or not.
    91.SPS corals need very high light and extremely strong water flow.
    92.Always dip your corals before placing them in your tank.
    93.Keep schooling fish in a school; they will do much better.
    94.Bio balls are not always bad; don’t believe the myth.
    95.Know what corals/inverts need to be spot fed.
    96.Get the right Kelvin bulbs to fit your needs.
    97.Deep sand beds can be very beneficial in a reef tank.
    98.Have a grounding probe and use it to prevent stray voltage.
    99.Use a GFCI on your tank.
    100.Use white vinegar to clean out old pumps, filters, tanks.
    101.Share your experience in this hobby as much as possible.
     
  4. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    1.FIND OUT WHAT YOU LIKE. Know what you like and what you want to keep. Do you like fish or coral? What do you want your tank to be mostly of? This one step will make everything else much easier. It will allow you to choose the right size aquarium, the right type of set-up, and will allow you to buy the right equipment in order to keep everything that you want. Many things in the saltwater hobby are not compatible, so, knowing what you want will allow you to set up a tank that gives you the things you want to keep the most.
    2.GET A GOOD BOOK TO EXPLAIN THE BASICS. Once you know whether you want your tank to be centered around fish or corals, pick up a book to get yourself acquainted with all that is the saltwater hobby. This does not mean that you need to be an expert after reading the book, but you should know the basic terms such as protein skimmer, live rock, flow, lights, etc. All of this can be very overwhelming when you know nothing about saltwater. A good book will give you a little preview of what you are getting into. Some books that are very worthwhile are “The Conscientious Marine Aquarist” by Robert Fenner, “Aquarium Corals” by Eric Borneman, or “The New Marine Aquarium” by Michael S. Paletta.
    3.SAVE A LIST OF ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS FOR QUICK REFERRAL. There are many abbreviations in this hobby. Seeing SPS, FOWLR, PC, QT, LFS, and MH all over the place can get confusing. Have a list available so that you can refer to it until you learn what all of the acronyms mean. We have a great one right here on this website. https://forums.saltwaterfish.com/t/42388/bulletin-board-acronyms
    4.BE PREPARED TO SPEND MONEY. Get it in your mind that you are going to spend a substantial amount of money setting up your saltwater aquarium. If you go into this hobby thinking that it is an inexpensive one, you will be lying to yourself, and ultimately, will make your experience a very unhappy one when you try to cut corners and save money. The only way you are truly going to save any money is if you look for used equipments on classified sections of message boards, online, or in the newspaper. Any other way you try to save money, such as getting a less effective piece of equipment, will do only negative for you and your tank. Get the best you can afford if you really want to do this right.
    5.DO NOT SPEND MONEY WITHOUT SHOPPING AROUND. With these four things done, now you are ready to purchase your saltwater aquarium. Before doing this, compare prices of some of your local stores. You may think that they are all around the same price, but this could not be any farther from the truth. There is sometimes a huge difference in price from shop to shop. If you are going to buy your equipment new (and not used), comparing prices is an absolute necessity. You will see a huge difference in prices and this will save you greatly. Take all of those savings and put it towards good equipment.
    6.GET THE BIGGEST TANK YOU AND YOUR WALLET CAN AFFORD. Now that you have found a store that has reasonable prices, you are ready to buy your tank. Buy the absolute biggest tank that you can afford. It may seem like a lot of work, but quite the contrary, the bigger the tank, the easier it is to keep. With a bigger tank, you are allowed much more room for error. In a smaller tank, when one thing goes wrong, it can greatly impact the water quality because there is less water to make a change in.
    7.DO NOT SKIMP ON FILTRATION. There are many ways to filter a saltwater tank. Many of them work, but some of them work much better than others. For example, when going with a larger tank, a sump or wet/dry is an absolute must. If planning a reef tank, a sump with a refugium is your best bet. If it is just going to be fish with live rock, a wet/dry will do just fine.
    8.NATURAL IS ALWAYS BETTER. Setting your tank up naturally is always better. A sump with a refugium, live rock, and sand replicates how the ocean operates. This is what you want to achieve. The ocean has been there for millions of years. It must work well. Not that the unnatural way is bad (wet/dry with bio balls), but it will definitely be more work (cleaning the bio balls, cleaning ornaments, etc.).
     
  5. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    9.DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME AND MONEY ON A CHEAP PROTEIN SKIMMER. There are dozens of protein skimmers on the market. Do yourself a favor and get a good protein skimmer right from the start. Avoid Seaclones, Red Sea Berlin skimmers, Visi-Jets, and all of the other junky skimmers on the market. Coralife and AquaC are good brands for smaller tanks, while ETSS, GSM, Deltec, and EuroReef are all great bands for larger tanks. (And yes, there are tons of people who use the “cheap ones” but you need to know how to adjust it and modify it if it is going to work decently. Save yourself the headaches.)
    10.FLOW IS KEY IN KEEPING A HEALTHY TANK. Having adequate amounts of flow in your tank will largely determine how clean your tank stays. If you do not have enough flow to keep the water movement and to prevent dead spots, you will deal with algae issues, detritus and debris build-up, and nitrate issues. Shoot for at least 15 times the turnover of your tank volume per hour, but preferably, 20 times. This means that if you have a 55 gallon aquarium, you want to be turning it over 55 times 20, which equals 1100 gallons per hour coming from your filter, powerheads, skimmer, etc. Anyone with a larger tank or who does not like the look of powerheads should consider running a closed loop (which is very simple to set up).
    11.PICK YOUR SUBSTRATE WISELY. There are a few different types of substrates out there. Crushed coral is the thickest, followed by finer aragonite, and then very thin sand. The type of tank you have will determine what kind of substrate you will need. If you are planning a reef aquarium, you want a fine substrate so that you can get tons of critters to sift through it and keep it clean. However, if you are planning an aggressive fish tank, you want something more on the coarse side so that you are able to keep it clean on a weekly basis. In an aggressive tank, you will not be able to rely on other animals to keep the substrate clean. This will be your job, as the aggressive fish will eat your cleaners.
    12.BUY TWO SMALLER HEATERS INSTEAD OF ONE LARGER ONE. Take the size of your aquarium (in gallons), and multiply that by five. This is how much wattage you need in heaters. If you need 600 watts in heating, it is always much better to go with (2) 300 watt heaters as opposed to (1) 600 watt heater. This is due to the fact that if one heater fails, you still have the other to back you up. Also, if one heater sticks on, you will only have 300 watts of heat pumping consistently until the problem is realized, and not 600 watts.
    13.OWN A REFRACTOMETER. This is an absolute must. Simply put, hydometers are an inaccurate tool. Don’t buy a hydrometer. Refractometers only cost $30 more than a hydrometer and unlike hydrometers, a refractometer will always be accurate and will never need to be replaced. You can find a great refractometer, new, for $40. Invest in one when you begin your tank.
    14.SET UP A QUARANTINE TANK AND USE IT. Not using a quarantine tank is a sure way to introduce disease and parasites into your aquarium. You are either going to set up a quarantine tank when you begin your tank and prevent disease from entering, or you will set one up when you notice that you have a parasite in the tank. By quarantining all new introductions (fish, inverts, live rock), you will not have to worry about any kind of parasite in your display. A large tank is not necessary unless you plan on keeping very large fish. Usually, a 10 to 20 gallon tank will work just fine. Put a small hang-on power filter on the back, a little heater, and some fake decorations, and you have yourself a very simple, yet effective quarantine tank for $50-$70. That’s a small price to pay to greatly protect your animals and aquarium. And what’s better is this – you do not need to keep it running 24/7. Use it when you need it. Put a big block sponge in your sump or wet/dry to accumulate biological bacteria. Everytime you get a new animal for your tank, take the block sponge out of your tank and put it in your quarantine tank. This will move enough biological bacteria from your display to your quarantine in order to prevent disease. NOTE: Corals do not need to be quarantined UNLESS they are kept in tanks or a system that also has fish in it. If there is fish in the system, they too can carry a parasite with them.
     
  6. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    15.QUARANTINE ALL NEW ADDITIONS FOR NO SHORTER THAN THREE WEEKS. While we are on the subject of quarantine, make sure that everything gets at least a three week quarantine. Keep a close eye on fish while they are in quarantine. If you notice any sign of disease, treat them appropriately and immediately. As for quarantining inverts and corals, no observation is needed. Though inverts and corals can carry a disease on their shell or rock, parasites cannot host an invert or coral. Thus, after three weeks, the parasite will die off without a host.
    16.REEF SAFE MEDICATIONS DO NOT WORK AS ADVERTISED. DO NOT BELIEVE THE GIMMICKS. Marketed “reef safe” medications do not always “work”. There are many times when people have reported that they have actually hurt more than things than they have helped. There are even some cases where they have wiped out a person’s entire tank. When in doubt, do not take the “convenient” or easy way out.
    17.MORE LIGHTING IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NOT ENOUGH. If you plan to have corals, clams, anemones, etc., you will need very good lighting. Always get more than enough. If you try to get away with “just enough” light, your tank will show it. Small polyp stony (SPS) corals and clams NEED metal halide lighting, as do many anemones. Bite the bullet when setting the tank up and spend the extra few hundred dollars for the higher end lighting if this is what you like or plan to keep. It will pay off in the long run.
    18.A CHILLER MAY BE NECESSARY. This one relates to tip 17. If you get high-end, expensive lighting, you may need a chiller. Metal halide lights give off some heat. You do not want your tank fluctuating wildly every day. Anything more than a couple degree fluctuation will qualify you for a chiller. If the tank is going in a warm area in the house, a chiller needs to be in your budget.
    19.UV STERILIZERS ARE NOT NECESSARY. You do not need a UV sterilizer on your tank. Though they do help in making the tank crystal clear and somewhat help kill parasites, your tank can be just as successful without a UV. UV sterilizers do not have the value of a good protein skimmer, RO unit, live rock, or water flow. The aforementioned things are essential. UV sterilizers are just very helpful.
    20.AIR BUBBLES ARE BAD FOR A SALTWATER TANK. This means that you want to make sure your sump has baffles to prevent bubbles, and you definitely do not want any air stones in your marine aquarium – whether it be just fish or reef. Air bubbles cause problems to fish and corals alike. The negatives of an air stone/bubbler are: air can get lodged in a fishes gills, air stones do not give you gallon per hour turns - like powerheads do, can cause bubble algae (air bubbles all over your live rock - not the bubble algae emerald crabs eat), can cause stress to the fish (popeye), cause salt creep which in turn causes irregular salinity/SG, and when bubbles pop the water can get on your lights causing the life off your lights to decline rapidly. Some periodic air bubbles are not harmful, but constant ones are.
    21.WHEN YOU GO TO FILL THE TANK, FILL IT WITH TAP WATER FIRST TO PERFORM A LEAK TEST. This is always a good thing to do so that you can make sure the tank does not have any cracks before you completely set it up. Get the tank set-up and let it run with the filter for a little while to make sure there are no issues. I recommend that you fill it with tap only so that you do not waste your RO water for this step. Don’t worry, the tap will not hurt anything. You are only draining it when you are done letting it run, anyway.
     
  7. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    22.USE RO OR RO/DI IN YOUR TANK. Reverse Osmosis, or Reverse Osmosis De-Ionized, are the two purest types of water. You can either buy RO water at a grocery store, local fish store, or Wal-Mart, or you can buy your own unit to make your own water at home. Your average unit will cost about $180-$200 and if you have a larger tank, it will pay for itself in less than a year. Most stores charge 50 cents to a dollar per gallon of RO.
    23.ALWAYS PREMIX WATER BEFORE ADDING IT TO YOUR TANK. You never want to just mix water with salt right on the spot and just add it to your tank (except for just setting it up – since nothing is in the tank). You need to premix it because if you do not, you may be drastically changing the water levels and making the water very unstable. Always premix the water and make sure the salt level and temperature is exactly where it should be before adding it to your tank.
    24.LIVE ROCK IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN A SALTWATER TANK. I strongly do not suggest you skip this step. There are not many that I would stress very strongly, but this is definitely one of them. Many times, people say, ‘What does live rock do?’ The better question is, ‘What does live rock NOT do?’ Live rock serves as the best biological filter, it serves as a natural habit for the fish to hide, swim and sleep in, and allows many grazer fish an excellent place to pick on all day long. If you are worried that you do not have the money for all the live rock you will need, buy a bunch of base rock to serve as a base. Base rock is much cheaper and will become live if it is placed in a tank with live rock. It will become covered in coralline algae (good algae) and you will not even know it was base rock. I do not however recommend using many of the freshwater rocks (such as lava or slate rock) since they are inert in a saltwater aquarium.
    25.STRONGLY CONSIDER A REFUGIUM FOR YOUR AQUARIUM. Refugiums can be fantastic and helpful tools to have for your tank. A refugium is a tank where you can house macro algaes and allow them to grow in order to remove excess nutrients from your system. They can greatly help reduce nitrates and phosphates and are very easy to set-up. Refugiums are also great places for copepods and other critters to grow without the threat of being eaten.
    26.WHEN PLACING LIVE ROCK IN YOUR TANK, DO NOT PLACE IT ON TOP OF SUBSTRATE. Always place live rock right on the bare glass of your tank. This is so that if you ever get a fish that digs in the gravel (almost all gobies, some eels), you do not have a landslide in the process of the fish digging away.
    27.OWN YOUR OWN TEST KITS AND KNOW WHAT YOUR WATER LEVELS SHOULD BE. Having your own test kits is important so that you can check your water levels as much and at any time that you want. If you have a problem with your tank at 2 in the morning, you can test it right then and there and know exactly what is going on. You will also know how old the test kits are (for accuracy reasons – since test kits expire after a year). The basic kits you should own are pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Once the tank is up and going, you will also need alkalinity and calcium, and possibly magnesium and phosphates later on. (The latter two are not always needed). Copper is only needed if you run copper in a quarantine tank for a diseased fish. Proper water levels are:
    Proper water levels:
    pH - 8.2
    ammonia/nitrite - always 0
    nitrate - under 20-30 for fish only, under 10-20 for a reef. Preferably, if possible, 0.
    kH - 8-12 dkH, 143-214 ppm, 2.86 - 4.29 meq/l
    calcium - 400-460 ppm
    magnesium - 1200-1280
    salinity 34-36 ppt (refractometer)
    specific gravity - 1.025-1.026 (hydrometer)
    temperature - 76-82 (stability is more important here)
    28.TEST STRIPS ARE NOT ACCURATE. Period. Don’t believe anyone who says that they are. When dealing with something where thousands of dollars are invested, you will definitely want to be accurate.
     
  8. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    29.PATIENCE IS KEY WHEN BEGINNING A NEW TANK. Many people try to jump right into the hobby and have fish in after a few days. Do not do this. The more patient you are, the better your tank will be and the less money you will spend. Nothing good, and I mean nothing, comes when you rush into this hobby. This is one of the most important steps on this whole list.
    30.DO NOT CYCLE YOUR TANK WITH DAMSELS AND DO NOT ADD FISH UNTIL YOUR CYCLE IS OVER. Cycling your aquarium with damsels does work (I won’t argue that), but there are many reasons why you should not do it. It is unethical. Damsels die for no reason when you use them to cycle your tank. And if they do not die, their gills are burned. On top of that, using damsels is expensive (since you need one for every five gallons), and you will spend a lot of time trying to get them out of your tank once your tank is cycled. You do not want to leave them in there since they are so nasty, and they are terribly fast. Cycling your tank with live rock and/or an uncooked cocktail shrimp is the way to go. You should not add fish to your tank before your cycle is over (ammonia and nitrite have spiked and come down to 0) because the chance of them living is incredibly low.
    31.SUPPORT THE GOOD AQUARIUM STORES AND STAY AWAY FROM THE BAD ONES. A knowledgeable, clean, well-kept aquarium shop is a wonderful thing. Support them with your money and loyalty and stand up against the unkempt and unhealthy ones by not going to them. Great, all-around fish stores are very difficult to find. Cling to them when you find them. Too many stores out there constantly have unhealthy fish, poorly kept aquariums, and employees who are only there to sell you something. Be careful when walking into a new store, no matter how much of a recommendation it comes with. Ultimately, the fish you buy there will be going to your aquarium and will be paid for with your money – not the person who recommended the store to you.
    32.GET TO KNOW THE STAFF AT YOUR FAVORITE STORES. The easiest way to find out whether a store is a good one or not is to spend some time speaking with the employees. And no, I am not talking about the sixteen year old kid who is scrubbing tanks and bagging fish. I am talking about the stores “experts”, the ones who have been there for three or four years, the managers, the owner. This is how you will tell whether the store is worth coming back to. Ask them friendly questions. Do they have fish tanks at home? How long have they been working there? Likewise, if you get to know these people and have a good relationship with them, if you introduce yourself and exchange names, your experience at the LFS will be ten times greater and you will actually find yourself wanting to go there just to chat with the employees, even if they do not have much in stock at the time.
    33.GET TO KNOW THE OPERATIONS AT YOUR FAVORITE STORES. This is next way to determine whether you should return to the new store you just entered. Check out their daily operations. How do they acclimate fish? Do they drip their fish for hours or float the bags for 30 minutes? How often are water changes done? Are they clean with their set-ups, or is everything run on the same filter system? These are the things that will tell you whether their store is a good one or not.
     
  9. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    34.THE FIRST THING IN YOUR NEW TANK (ONCE IT IS CYCLED) SHOULD BE A CLEAN-UP CREW. Before any fish enters your tank, you should definitely get a clean-up crew. Once your tank’s ammonia and nitrite spike and come back down to 0, you need to get a beginner clean-up crew to get a lot of the detritus out. A clean-up crew consists of snails, hermit crabs, and maybe a crab or even a shrimp, depending on your nitrate levels. If your nitrate levels are extremely high (above 40), you need to do a water change before ANYTHING into the tank.
    35.BEFORE YOU PICK YOUR FIRST FISH, READ MY GUIDE OF WHICH FISH TO ABSOLUTELY AVOID. I highly recommend reading my list, as I outline a large list of fish that you should not buy and the reason why this animal would not do well in your aquarium. It will help you avoid many regrettable decisions at the LFS. https://forums.saltwaterfish.com/t/232470/list-of-fish-inverts-that-hobbiests-should-avoid
    36.RESEARCH THE NEEDS OF YOUR PROSPECTIVE FISH BEFORE YOU BUY IT, NOT AFTER. Too many times, people see a really nice looking fish and decide that they have to have it for their aquarium. Well, they buy this unknown fish, take it home, and then go to look for information about it only to find that this fish will kill everything in their tank, is not compatible with what they have or want, or is extremely difficult to keep. To avoid all this, refer to my next tip.
    37.IF NECESSARY, CARRY A SMALL FISH GUIDE WITH YOU IN THE LFS. If you are the type of person who is an impulse buyer, bring Scott Michael’s fish handbook into all local fish stores with you. Don’t worry – you will not be the only person who does this. Working in fish stores for many years, I have seen a lot of people do this in order to help them make educated decisions. Too many times, there are people who work at local fish stores who just want to sell you something. When asked about the sweetlips, they will tell you that it is a great fish for your aquarium. They will “forgot to tell you” or not know that this fish is really hard to keep and if you successfully keep it, it gets over two feet. Then, when you try to return it, there will either be a no returns policy or they will give you a small portion of your money back in store credit. Most stores do ¼ or 1/3 store credit. To avoid all of this, carry a little handbook with you or ask the store to hold the fish for you until you can go home and research it.
    38.BE VERY SELECTIVE WHEN CHOOSING YOUR FISH. After you have determined the fish you want to add to your tank and you find it at the LFS, be very picky before buying it. How does this fish look? Is there any open wounds on it? Is it attentive to you or hiding in a corner? Is it swimming well or does it look like it is struggling? How do the fins look? Are they all torn or are they in good shape? How is it breathing? Is it breathing heavily? When did this fish arrive at the LFS? Did it just cone in or has it been there for a while? After you have gone over all of this, refer to my next tip.
    39.ALWAYS WATCH A FISH EAT AT THE LFS BEFORE BUYING IT. This is extremely important. If the fish you are looking at is not interested in eating at all or is spitting out the food that is being offered, do not buy the fish. An easy way to see if the fish is healthy is to watch it eat. If it does not eat, move on or ask the store to hold the fish for you until it begins eating.
     
  10. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    40.ONLY ADD ONE FISH AT A TIME. You do not want to put a strain on your biological filter. This will cause a spike in ammonia levels. The only exception to this rule is if you are adding a pair of fish (clowns, fairy wrasses), a school of fish (chromis, anthias to a mature aquarium), or when you are dealing with tangs.
    41.PICK UP A VARIETY OF FISH FOODS. I would bet that you would get tired of having pizza every night for dinner. Fish are the same way. Offer them at least 3 or 4 different foods. The best foods are formula frozen foods because they contain a high mix of different sea foods. This is what I would shoot for. Ocean Nutrition makes excellent formula foods (formula 1, formula 2, Very High Protein, angel formula, etc.).
    42.PICK UP SOME GARLIC AND VITAMINS TO USE IN FISH FOOD. This is an important step in keeping your fish fed well and healthy. These things will help the fish’s immune systems and help prevent them from developing nutritional deficiencies. As far as vitamins, Zoe, Selcon, ZoeCon, and VitaChem all work great. For garlic, nothing is better than fresh garlic from the grocery store. See Beth’s instructions for using garlic, here: https://forums.saltwaterfish.com/t/127007/faqs-fish-diseases-treatments-quarantine-health-info#post_1509974
    43.ACCLIMATE YOUR NEW FISH TO YOUR TANK PROPERLY. The best way to acclimate your new fish to your (quarantine) aquarium is to set up a slow drip from your tank into a five gallon bucket (via airline tubing) and allowing the fish to be in this drip water for at least 2 to 3 hours. Some animals, such as starfish (especially linckia starfish) need about five hours. Do not cut this step short.
    44.CREATE GOOD HABITS FOR PERFORMING WATER CHANGES. Water changes that are done improperly can result in stressed fish. Do your water changes properly. Get two trash cans and label one “Good” and the other “Bad”. Pick a day that you will be able to do water changes on and stick with it. Two days before your water change day, fill up your good trash can with water and mix in the salt. Put a heater and a powerhead in this trash can in order to aerate the water and get the temperature and salinity to the EXACT same as your tank. You cannot do your water change until both of these levels are exactly the same. The reason you want to use a powerhead is because when you dissolve salt with water, you use up most of the oxygen in the water. A way to replenish the oxygen is to have a powerhead in it to move it around.
    45.ALWAYS KEEP SOME BACK-UP EQUIPMENT IN CASE SOMETHING BREAKS. It is always a great idea to have a back-up heater and a few powerheads in case something breaks. If your heater breaks, you will want to change it immediately. If your main return pump breaks on you, putting some spare powerheads in the tank will give you enough time to get to the store and get a new pump. This is a step that should not be skipped and should be done immediately. You never know when something is going to break on you. On my first aquarium, I had three (three!) mag drive pumps break on me. If I told this to any experienced aquarist, they would think I am crazy because mag drive pumps are made to last. Yet, I went through THREE!
    46.OWN A BATTERY-POWERED AIR PUMP. You will never be able to predict when your house’s power will go out. Having a battery-powered air pump will be able to help you keep your tank alive while there is no power in your home. If you live in an area where the power goes out a lot (once a month or more), a small generator for your tank would be a good idea. You could run your main return pump and your heater on this so that your tank is okay during a power outage.
     
  11. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    47.NEVER FEED A FISH FRESHWATER FEEDER FISH. Freshwater feeder fish cause saltwater fish to get fatty liver disease, a disease where the saltwater fish’s live gets so large that it can no longer process any food. Usually, goldfish, rosy reds, or guppies are used to feed lionfish, groupers, triggers, wrasses, puffers and other aggressive fish. This is not a good practice but one that will eventually lead to the death of your fish.
    48.IF NECESSARY, GUT LOAD LIVE FEEDERS. If a fish does not eat prepared foods right away (lionfish, butterflies, angels, anthias, etc.) ghost shrimp and brine shrimp are acceptable live foods to use. However, before giving these live foods to your saltwater fish to eat, give the feeder shrimp a nutritious meal first so that when your fish consume them, they will also get this nutritious meal in their body. For larger shrimp like ghost shimp, give them whatever you want your saltwater fish to eat. For brine shrimp, soak them in a vitamin such as Zoe, Selcon, ZoeCon, or VitaChem for 24 hours.
    49.THE MORE YOU AUTOMATE, THE EASIER YOUR TANK WILL BE TO KEEP. Automatic top-off units are a wonderful investment. They are cheap and will keep you from having to top off your tank everyday after evaporation. Having to manually top off your tank everyday gets to be a strain but is necessary to do. Get a top off unit to do it for you. Also, make sure to get timers for your lights.
    50.ALWAYS USE FRESHWATER (NOT SALTWATER) TO TOP OFF YOUR TANK. Remember, salt does not evaporate. Just the water does. For this reason, you only ever want to use freshwater when topping off your tank. The only exeception to this is when you are trying to raise your specific gravity. When trying to do this, put a little salt in your top off water and this will slowly begin to raise your salinity.
    51.KNOW THAT SALINITY AND SPECIFIC GRAVITY ARE NOT THE SAME. Reading your salt level can be done two different ways: by reading your specific gravity (with a hydrometer) or by reading your salinity (with a refractometer). Know which is which. Too often, when telling someone their salinity, people say 1.023. The ideal salinity is 34-36 ppt, and the ideal specific gravity is 1.025-1.026.
    52.NEVER ADD ANY CHEMICALS THAT YOU CANNOT TEST FOR. Do not just dump bottles of chemicals into your tank. This is never a good route to take because you never know what you are adding to your tank or how much is too much.
    53.NITRATES ARE LOWERED THROUGH PROPER WATER CHANGES. If you want to get high nitrates down, don’t try to dump a lot of things in your tank to get them down. A series of large water changes is required, followed by regular, routine small water changes to keep them down. On top of that, it is also very important to figure out what was causing the high nitrates to develop in the first place. Doing both of these things will help you effectively lower your high nitrates.
     
  12. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    54.DO NOT BEGIN TO BUY HARD CORALS UNTIL YOUR CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM, AND ALKALINITY LEVELS ARE WHERE THEY SHOULD BE. These three levels are essential for hard corals (LPS and SPS). If you are getting into keeping corals, get your own test kits for each. You need a carbonate hardness between 8 and 12, magnesium about 1200-1250, and a calcium between 400-460. Also have the proper buffers for these levels as well, in case you need to buffer one or the other.
    55.CREATE THE PROPER LIGHT SCHEDULE FOR YOUR AQUARIUM. Having the proper light schedule is very important for your aquarium. A fish only aquarium is different from a fish only with live rock which is different from a reef aquarium. Make the right light schedule for whatever you have. If you have a reef tank, you do not want the metal halides running all day long. Get some timers and put all of your lights on timers. Make sure your actinics run for a good 1-2 hours before and after the metal halides come on, so that the fish and corals do not get stressed by the metal halide lights. Moon lights are also nice to have to help the fish from being in complete darkness and being stressed at night time.
    56.KNOW THE COMMON ANIMALS THAT ARE POISONOUS/VENOMOUS SO THAT YOU DO NOT PUT YOURSELF OR OTHERS IN DANGER. There are many animals in this hobby which are very dangerous. Know which ones they are. Lionfish, stonefish, scorpionfish, rabbittfish, foxfaces, boxfish, cowfish, soapfish, fire corals, many nudibranches, and coral catfish are all among the most common poisonous or venomous animals.
    57.LIONFISH WILL EAT SMALLER FISH THAN THEM. This is going to happen. Don’t think that your lionfish is less aggressive, etc. Lionfish are ambush predators that can eat up to half their body size.
    58.LIONFISH AND TRIGGERS DO NOT MIX WELL. Mixing these two species of fish has been done so many times and almost all times, it does not fair well at all for the lionfish. Triggers are attracted to the long, flowy fins of the lion and triggers will indeed rip them apart. However, you may be able to get away with it if it is a “peaceful” trigger such as a bluejaw, sargassum, crosshatch, or pinktail. If you try a clown, queen, titan, or undulated though, the odds are incredibly stacked against you.
    59.DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MIX TWO DIFFERENT SPECIES OF CLOWNFISH. Another one of those things (of the many on this list) that have been done, but it is not recommended because the success rate is so marginal. Clownfish do best when they are kept in a pair or large group within the same family. When you begin to mix different types, fighting usually ensues.
    60.BEFORE BUYING AN ANEMONE, MAKE SURE YOUR TANK MEETS ITS’ REQUIREMENTS AND THAT YOU ARE SELECTING THE RIGHT ONE. So many people buy anemones without first making sure their tank meets the proper needs for that anemone. First off, if you are getting an anemone for your clown to host, first, make sure you are absolutely getting the right type of anemone for your species of clown. Compatibility charts are available. Check with these or ask around, first. Then, make sure your tank has two things. Stability (which comes from having an established tank) and strong lighting (most anemones need metal halide lighting). I cannot stress enough that you should absolutely do your research on anemones before buying one. Some anemones have even more specific needs than others – such as sebae anemones needing a sandy substrate.
     
  13. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    61.TANGS NEED A LOT OF SWIMMING SPACE; CHOOSE YOUR TANG APPROPRIATELY. There are several different families of tangs. You can usually tell by body shape. For example, purples, yellows, scopes, and sailfin all have an oval body shape and all belong to the Zebramosa family. Other families include Acanthurus, Ctenochaetus, and Naso (which actually includes the naso, unicorn, and vlamingi). It is very important that you pick the right type of tang for your tank. For example, zebramosa tangs need much less swimming space than acanthurus tangs (powder blues, browns, sohal, etc.)
    62.BUTTERFLIES NEED VERY MATURE TANKS. If there is one fish that needs a highly established aquarium (besides mandarins – but we will get to that later), it is certainly butterflies. Butterflies are one of the hardest fish to get to eat, as most rely on having hundreds of pounds of established live rock to pick off of constantly. If you do not have live rock that is overgrown with worms, sponge, and things of that nature, a butterfly is certainly not for you. I am very cautious to ask “how long has your tank been set-up for?” because you could have purchased extremely established live rock from a fellow reefer and have had your tank set up for 6 months. The important thing with butterflies is that your water is stable and your live rock is filled with critters to pick at.
    63.ANGELS ARE NOT A REEF-SAFE FISH. ADD TO YOUR REEF WITH CAUTION. Let me preface this. There are a few ACTUAL reef safe angels. They are the japanese swallowtail, the zebra angel, and the lamarck angel. That’s it (as far as COMPLETELEY safe). If anyone tells you that the common dwarf angels are safe (flame, coral beauty, lemon peel, etc.), they are mistaken. While these guys can go in a reef tank, the potential for them to nip at your corals is always there and it is definitely a possibility. Risk this at your own caution – but remember, once you do it, it is quite difficult to get the fish out of your tank if it begins nipping. Do you really want to have to rip apart your reef tank if that one fish begins picking on your coral?
    64.PSEUDOS AND BASSLETS HAVE AN ATTITUDE. ADD THEM LAST. Being related to groupers, these fish can be very territorial. If you really want one (since they actually do have quite nice colors), make them one of your last additions, after all of your peaceful gobies, blennies, etc.)
    65.DO NOT EXPOSE PUFFER FISH TO AIR. There is a huge misconception that puffers “puffing” up is bad for them. This is not true. It is their natural defense mechanism. They do it when they are threatened or stressed. The thing that got them threatened or stressed is bad for them. Now, puffers “puffing” up out of water is VERY BAD for the puffer fish and could actually kill the fish. Do not net a puffer and take it out of the water because you run the risk of exposing it to air. If it sucks in air while attempting to puff and the air gets lodged in the fish, that may be it for the puffer.
    66.PROVIDE PUFFERS WITH HARD SHELLED FOODS TO KEEP THEIR TEETH WORN DOWN. Puffers teeth grow very quickly. If you do not provide them with hard shelled foods frequently, their teeth can actually out-grow their heads and make them unable to eat.
    67.SHARKS AND STING RAYS CANNOT BE KEPT WITH PUFFERS, ANGELS, TRIGGERS, AND WRASSES. Sharks and sting rays cannot be placed with any of the above animals because those types of fish are too aggressive and will actually pick the eyes out of the shark or ray and then rip their fins apart.
    68.STARFISH HAVE VERY SPECIALIZED NEEDS. There are many different types of stars out there. It is very important for you to research the needs of the one that you want before you buy it. For example, many are not reef safe (chocolate chip, red general). Others are incredibly hard to keep (fromia, linckia).
     
  14. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    69.MANY CRABS WILL NIP AT CORALS. Again, don’t just buy a crab without knowing anything about it. Many crabs are not reef safe and will pick at your corals. Once they are in the tank, they are almost impossible to get out. Don’t put them in unless you are absolutely sure they will not nip.
    70.TANGS OF THE SAME FAMILY DO NOT MIX WELL. I am not saying that you cannot mix them. This would be very untrue. Many tanks have purples and yellows together, or sailfins and yellows, etc. However, be careful when mixing tangs of the same family. If possible, add them at the same time so that one is not more established in your tank then the other. This will help with aggression issues.
    71.DO NOT ATTEMPT TO KEEP MORE THAN ONE ANGEL PER TANK. Angels are very territorial and can be very aggressive. Unless adding them to a very large tank at the same time, do not attempt this. It does not work well at all. Angels will chase and potentially kill other angels because they are that territorial.
    72.BE AWARE OF WHAT FISH ARE JUMPERS SO THAT YOU DO NOT LOSE A FISH DUE TO ITS JUMPING. There are many fish that are escape artists. Firefish, anthias, gobies, eels, and wrasses are among the common fish that aquarists find on the floor behind their aquariums. Before buying one of these fish, be ready to have all small wholes in your top covered so that the fish cannot jump out.
    73.THERE ARE DIFFERENT SNAILS FOR DIFFERENT TASKS. There are a ton of different algaes out there. If you have a certain type of algae, get the right snail for the job. Turbos are great for hair algae. Nassarius and cerith are wonderful in the sand bed. Margaritas and bumble bees are great for small crevices and small bits of algae on the glass. Get the right type of snail and you will get rid of your undesirable algae.
    74.PROVIDE EMPTY SHELLS FOR HERMIT CRABS. This is a very important step if you do not want all of your snails being killed by your hermit crabs. Most stores sell empty shells. Buy them and put them in your tank for your crabs.
    75.KILL AIPSTASIA AND MAJANO ANEMONES AS SOON AS YOU SEE THEM. You do not want these things multiplying in your tank. They are terrible pests and multiply very quickly and can become quite uncontrollable. My best advice: keep a bottle of Joe’s Juice on hand at all times. If you see a nuisance anemone in your tank, blast it with the Joe’s Juice. Nuisance anemones can kill corals, and injure fish and inverts by stinging them.
    76.REMOVE FLATWORMS THE SECOND YOU SEE THEM. If you thought nuisance anemones grew quickly, flatworms spread ridiculously and are even harder to get rid of. When you see any of these, get a turkey baster and suck them all out.
    77.IF INTERESTED IN SEAHORSES AND PIPEFISH, SET UP A SEPARATE TANK FOR THEM. Seahorses and pipefish are so delicate and have such highly specialized needs that they absolutely must have their own tank set-up for them if you plan to try to keep them. Also, know that neither of these animals are very easy to keep and you must do a lot of research on them before attempting them.
     
  15. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    78.MANDARINS NEED AN OVER-ABUNDANCE OF COPEPODS TO SURVIVE. Mandarins are very picky eaters who 99 times out of 100 will only eat live pods that are found in your tank and on your live rock. What’s worse is that mandarins eat a lot of copepods daily, so it is important to have a refugium so that you can continue to replenish the stock in your display when the mandarin eats them all. The good news is that many stores and online places (SWF.com) sell live copepods for a very cheap price. Buy a few portions to get your stock to begin breeding and accumulating. However, once you buy the copepods, do not plan on buying the mandarin for at least a few months. A good rule of thumb is that your tank should be up and running for 10-12 months before adding a mandarin.
    79.REPLACE YOUR POWER COMPACT BULBS EVERY 6 TO 8 MONTHS. This is the general rule of thumb if you want the absolute best quality from your bulbs. Otherwise, they do not put out the proper light for your corals and your tank will begin to see unwanted algae growth as well. Make it a habit to change the bulbs as necessary, depending on how long you run them every day.
    80.REPLACE YOUR METAL HALIDES EVERY 10-14 MONTHS. This is the general rule of thumb if you want the absolute best quality from your bulbs. Otherwise, they do not put out the proper light for your corals and your tank will begin to see unwanted algae growth as well. Make it a habit to change the bulbs as necessary, depending on how long you run them every day.
    81.REPLACE YOUR T-5 BULBS EVERY 16-20 MONTHS. This is the general rule of thumb if you want the absolute best quality from your bulbs. Otherwise, they do not put out the proper light for your corals and your tank will begin to see unwanted algae growth as well. Make it a habit to change the bulbs as necessary, depending on how long you run them every day.
    82.NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER ADD COPPER TO YOUR DISPLAY TANK. This is a grave mistake that many hobbyists make. The problem with copper is that it kills most bacteria on live rock, as well as all inverts and all corals. And the second problem is that the silicone in the seams of your tank absorb copper and can release it into the tank in the future. Thus, when you dose your display tank with copper, you are making it forever a fish only tank, one that can never have live rock, inverts, or coral. It is also very important to know that when you buy a used tank, always be sure to ask the owner if they ever put copper in it. Most people who have freshwater tanks do not think twice about dosing copper. If they did dose copper at one point, do not buy the tank. The value of the tank is very little because there is not much you can do with the tank, now.
    83.THERE ARE CERTAIN TYPES OF FISH THAT YOU CANNOT PUT THROUGH COPPER. Copper can have a lot of negative effects on fish. It can burn the insides of gobies, and drastically affect the intestines and digestive systems of tangs, angels, and butterflies. Copper can also kill mandarins, eels, and hurt puffers.
    84.THERE ARE ONLY TWO WAYS TO TOTALLY KILL MARINE ICH. The only two ways that truly remove ich from a fish is copper or hyposalinity. Neither can be done in a tank with live rock, inverts, and corals. Hyposalinity is the treatment method of choice because it is much less dangerous and lethal to your fish and inhabitants. It must however be done with the use of a refractometer.
    85.BROOKLYNELLA IS A SERIOUS DISEASE THAT NEEDS TO BE TREATED IMMEDIATELY. Brooklynella is also commonly called “clownfish” disease because it affects clowns the most. However, other fish can get it. The only effective treatment against brooklynella is a series of formalin dips on the infected fish and quarantining of all the fish in the tank.
     
  16. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    86.LYMPHOCYSTSIS IS EASILY CURABLE; DON’T USE MEDICATIONS. Lymphocystsis is a stress-related disease. It is usually brought on by poor water quality, poor nutrition, or another stressor in the aquarium. Remove the thing that is causing the fish to be stressed and the lymph will stop growing and go away.
    87.THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SALTS; TEST YOUR NEW BATCH BEFORE ADDING IT TO THE TANK. Every salt brand is different, and most batches of salt within the same brand are very different also. When you make up water for a water change and let it mix for the recommended two to four days, you will be able to test it for things like alkalinity, calcium, pH, and magnesium and buffer appropriately so that you do not stress the fish with different water.
    88.CALCIUM IN POWDER FORM WORKS BETTER THAN CALCIUM IN LIQUID FORM. This goes for most products that can be found in both powder and liquid form. Magnesium, alkalinity, strontium, and most elements are the same way. Powders are more concentrated than liquids are, and usually, liquids are a little more watered down. You will get more use out of powder products since they are more concentrated.
    89.RUNNING CARBON IN YOUR TANK IS A GOOD IDEA. Using carbon in your tank for at least a few days out of the month will help remove any harmful toxins or pollutants that may have gotten into your water. Many people use carbon 24/7 and this is also an acceptable practice.
    90.ALWAYS HAVE A SMALL THERMOMETER IN YOUR TANK, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU HAVE A DIGITAL READER OR NOT. Many times, digital readouts can fail or read wrongly. It is always good to have a second source to check that your digital is working properly.
    91.SPS CORALS NEED BOTH VERY HIGH LIGHT AND VERY STRONG WATER FLOW. Both of these things are incredibly essential to keeping acropora, montipora, and other SPS corals. Metal halide lights are almost always required (unless high-powered T-5’s are used) and it is essential to have at least 20 X the turnover rate for flow. However, it is preferred that there is even more flow for SPS corals. Some people even run their tanks at 25-35 X the turnover rate.
    92.ALWAYS DIP YOUR CORALS BEFORE PLACING THEM IN YOUR TANK. Many LFS take corals from other hobbyists and because they have corals coming in from so many different places, the chances of them having red bugs, or flatworms, or nudibranches, or other harmful critters is very high. When you take home a coral from the LFS or get a coral from another hobbyist, dip it in an Iodine solution for 5-8 minutes to kill any and all harmful hitchhikers. Many companies make a coral dip so that you do not have to try and make the Iodine solution yourself. SeaChem makes a very good coral dip, as does Kent (Tech D).
     
  17. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    93.KEEP SCHOOLING FISH IN A SCHOOL; THEY WILL DO BETTER. Schooling fish school for a reason. They feel more comfortable and protect each other. It is going to be the same way in your aquarium. Chromis and anthias should absolutely be kept in a group. Also, be sure to keeping pairing fish in pairs, as well. Things like twinspot gobies absolutely need to be kept in pairs in order to do well.
    94.BIO BALLS ARE NOT ALWAYS BAD; DON’T BELIEVE THE MYTH. Many people say that you cannot use bio balls under any circumstance because they cause nitrates. This is untrue. Bio balls tend to accumulate dirt and detritus, and this is when they become a problem. As long as you practice regular maintenance on your bio balls by cleaning them in some “bad” water change water (the water you remove), you will be able to keep your bio balls clean and still usable.
    95.KNOW WHAT CORALS NEED TO BE SPOT FED. There are many different coral foods on the market because there are many different types of corals that need strong feeding. Acroporas are among one of the corals that appreciate good feeding and nutrient-rich water. Young clams also do better when they are fed, goniopora and alveopora are the same, and any filter feeder needs to be fed as close to daily as possible. Sun corals, carnation corals, and other non-photosynthetic corals absolutely need to be fed. Also, be sure to remember inverts like flame scallops. They need to be fed well, also, whereas, filter feeders such as feather dusters will just filter feed out of the water column.
    96.GET THE RIGHT KELVIN BULBS TO FIT YOUR NEEDS. Aquarium bulbs come in many different Kelvin spectrums. You can buy bulbs that are 6500K, 10000K, 14000K, and 20000K. The Kelvin bulb that you buy will determine what “color” your tank looks. The closer to 0 you are, the more yellowish your tank will be. 10000K is a yellowish white, 14000K is a blueish white, and 20000K is deep blue color. With 10000K you get very good growth but the color does not look great. With 20000K, the color looks excellent but you will lose a lot in growth. Any of the bulbs will “work”, the choice is up to you.
    97.DEEP SAND BEDS CAN BE INCREDIBLY BENEFIFICAL IN A REEF TANK. Deep sand beds can greatly help in de-nitrification and can serve as a home to many critters in your reef tank. Deep sand beds should only be used in fully stocked reef aquariums because you cannot really clean them. You need to rely on the critters in your tank to keep them clean. In a fish only with live rock tank, a deep sand bed will not work because in a tank like that, you need to be able to remove all the detritus from the substrate.
    98.HAVE A GROUNDING PROBE AND USE IT TO PREVENT STRAY VOLTAGE. Just in case one of your electrical devices sends electricity in the water, have a grounding probe so that you can get rid of it quickly and hopefully prevent any harm being done to your fish.
    99.USE A GFCI ON YOUR TANK. A GFCI will cut power immediately in the event water spills on your electrical outlets. Absolutely essential to have to prevent fires.
    100.USE WHITE VINEGAR TO CLEAN OUT OLD PUMPS, FILTERS, TANKS. White vinegar is safe to use in an aquarium and cleans old items out very well, removing any possible toxin or harmful chemical.
    101.SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THIS HOBBY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. I figure this would be a great way to end the 100 tips. No one will ever be able to learn from their own mistakes if they do not take the advice from others. This advice from others comes from past experience. Always share experiences because you may be teaching someone something they did not know. It is impossible to know everything in this hobby. If you think you know everything, you are being close-minded and you will eventually not be able to maintain a successful aquarium.
    If anyone has anything to add, please post and I will add it to the list, giving the credit to whomever suggests it. If anyone has any questions about anything I said, post away!! I am sure that I may have missed some things. If you can think of something that I did not cover, please, please don’t be afraid to post it!! I am always up to suggestions and comments and even criticism. I know there is going to be a lot of people who say that they have successfully done things that I say that you should not. This is fine. I expect that! It is a huge part of this hobby. All of the things I have recommended above are tips. They are not facts. They are tips to help this hobby be more enjoyable and easier. Along the way, rules will be broken by some and this is fine. You will see this in anything you do in life. Nothing is guaranteed except death and taxes. Never take anything for absolute fact, but always be open to suggestions or better ways of doing things.
     
  18. lion_crazz

    lion_crazz Active Member

    The END
    (I just wanted an extra post at the bottom to add to the list when you all make wonderful suggestions to my list. This way, everything can stay at the top.)
    EDIT - January 18, 2008: A few typos corrected, as I continue to re-proof read this post.
    Also, I have another 50 tips to add to the list to make it 150 tips to beginning and maintaining a marine aquarium. I am working on it and it should be done shortly.
     
  19. bjoe23

    bjoe23 Active Member

    Wow, that is alot of helpful info. Alot of stuff even experinced people will learn from. Now when newbies ask on how to start a aqaurium up we can just link to this thread.
    Good job Lion Crazz
    EDIT- Why isnt this a sticky?
    How long did it take you to work it out to be exactly 101 tips?
     
  20. al mc

    al mc Active Member

    Excellent Lion. My only regret is that this list was not available when I started in SWF.
     

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