Your First First Fish – Common Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)

The Amphiprion Ocellaris or Common Clownfish is a suitable first fish for beginners. They are considered as a small fish as their maximum adult’s size is about 4 inches. As such, they are suitable even for smaller saltwater reef aquarium tank and can be kept successfully even without a host anemone. The Ocellaris or Common Clownfish is not a very aggressive species and is quite easy to care for. They get along well with other small fishes such as blennies, gobies, damselfish, tangs, wrasses, etc. Although the Ocellaris Clownfish is among the least aggressive among the clownfish species, they can be quite aggressive with members of the same species or clownfish species in the tank when kept in a group. Visit this page to know more information about Amphiprion Ocellaris or Common Clownfish and it’s care.

Choosing Your First Saltwater Fishes

Once you have done all the hard work of setting-up your saltwater reef aquarium and have patiently waited until you tank has been cycled sufficiently i.e. when your tank water tested negative for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, the fun parts of adding fishes and corals begins. However, before buying the fishes and invertebrates, it is important that you consider their needs, maximum adult size, temperament and requirements first as having the wrong mix of fishes and invertebrates together in the same saltwater reef aquarium will cause lots of problems later. This is because some of them will fight with each others or become prey or predator for the others especially when they are kept in the small space of the aquarium. Visit this site for more information and guide about saltwater fishes temperament, care and information and if they are compatible with each other.

Phosphate in A Saltwater Reef Aquarium

Phosphate is another unwanted element in your saltwater reef aquarium that you need to be aware of and control. However, due to it’s relatively ‘harmless’ effects on the fishes or invertebrates, many beginners do no see the need to monitor and control their phosphate level until it causes problem to the tank.  High phosphate level in the saltwater reef aquarium will cause uncontrollable algae growth and interfere in the calcification process which is needed for the healthy growth of corals and invertebrates. High phosphate level will cause slower or stunted growth in the corals and invertebrates. The optimum level of phosphate to maintain in the tank for the healthy growth of corals, invertebrates and plankton is about 0.02 ppm. Visit this page for more information about phosphate and how to remove it in the saltwater reef aquarium.

Salinity Monitoring and Control

When talking about salinity, beginners often think only in term of the dissolved salts in the saltwater aquarium. However, it is important to know that salinity only gives you the value of the total amount of dissolved material in the water. It does not tell you the detail or the breakdown of the dissolved material or elements in the water. This means that you still need to monitor the other important element individually. Salinity in the saltwater aquarium needs to be monitored periodically as fluctuation in is value tends to stress the fishes and invertebrates which can be fatal in the long run. Due to the evaporation process of the saltwater, which cause the water to be lost while leaving all the minerals and solids behind, salinity value tends to increase over time. As such, regular monitoring and topping up of the tank with fresh and pure water is needed to ensure that the level is within the control. Visit this page for more information about salinity and how to control it in the saltwater reef aquarium.


Ammonia and Nitrite Monitoring and Control

The presence of ammonia and nitrite in the saltwater reef aquarium is often the main cause for the death of fishes and other creatures in the tank. For a healthy tank, the ammonia level should be controlled and maintained at zero ppm while nitrite level should be control to below 0.2 ppm. Immediate actions are needed to reduce the ammonia level if it is more than 0.1 ppm before the situation worsen and become out of control. Some common cause that might cause your saltwater reef aquarium ammonia and nitrite level to spike are:

  1. Overfeeding.
  2. Decomposition of left-over food.
  3. Inefficient protein skimmer.
  4. Addition of some medicines to treat diseases, especially antibiotics.
  5. Overcrowded tank, causing the natural nitrification capacity of the tank unable to cope with the existing load.

For more information about ammonia and nitrite and how to control it in the saltwater reef aquarium, click on the link.

Magnesium in A Saltwater Reef Aquarium

Magnesium is an important element that is often overlooked by the beginner saltwater reef aquarium hobbyist. It is the third most abundance element in natural seawater after sodium and chloride and is found in concentration of around 1,280 ppm in natural sea water. Magnesium is absorbed in very small amount by corals and other invertebrates such as coralline algae, snails and clams along with calcium carbonate for the healthy building of the structures of the corals and invertebrates. As such, maintaining an optimum level of magnesium in your saltwater reef aquarium is important especially if you are keeping an aquarium with lots of fast growing stony corals or SPS corals.  Even if you are not keeping lots of corals, it is desirable to maintain an optimum level of magnesium in your tank as it helps to slow down the calcium precipitation process and making the job of maintaining a more stable pH, alkalinity and calcium levels easier.  Visit this page for more information about magnesium and how to control it in the saltwater reef aquarium.

Optimum Calcium Value in a Saltwater Reef Aquarium

Calcium is another important chemical parameter that needs to be monitored for the long term success of your saltwater reef aquarium. It is needed by corals, invertebrates such as clams, snails, crabs, etc and even by some calcerous algae for the building of their calcium carbonate structures. These will ensure that these organisms can grow healthily. The optimum level for calcium in the saltwater reef aquarium is between 375 ppm to 475 ppm. When using additives to increase the calcium level in your saltwater reef aquarium, it is important that you also check the water pH value to prevent an increase in the alkalinity level. For more information and guide on the optimum calcium level and how to control it, click on the link.

Optimum Alkalinity Value for A Saltwater Reef Aquarium

Alkalinity is an indirect measurement use to check for the presence of bicarbonate in the water. Maintaining an optimum alkalinity value or level in a saltwater reef aquarium is very important as most corals and invertebrates get their carbon source from the bicarbonate in the saltwater. This carbon is needed in the building of their calcium carbonate skeleton for their healthy grow. Since bicarbonate is constantly absorbed from the saltwater, the alkalinity value tends to drift to the lowers side over time. As such, it is important that the alkalinity value are monitored periodically so that supplement or additive can be added to maintain the value at between 2.5 and 4 meq/L or 7-11 dKH or 125-200 ppm of dissolve bicarbonate. Visit this page for more information about alkalinity and how to control it in the saltwater reef aquarium.



The easy and simple to use alkalinity checker from HANNA


Optimum pH Value For a Saltwater Reef Aquarium

pH in the saltwater reef aquarium is the measurement of the water acidity or alkalinity level. This measurement is basically used as an indirect way to check for the level of dissolved carbon dioxide in the water. High level of dissolve carbon dioxide will cause the water to be more acidic and leads to stress and diseases among the fishes and invertebrates. The best pH value is at 8.3, which is the natural sea water value. However, due to the small volume of seawater in the tank compare to the vast ocean, this value will drift slightly through out the day with the value getting lowest during the early morning when carbon dioxide is produce but not remove during the night from the respiration of the tank inhabitants. For more information about pH and how to control it in the saltwater reef aquarium, click on the link.

Saltwater Reef Aquarium Water & Chemical Parameters Monitoring & Control

After you have successfully set-up your saltwater reef aquarium, you will need to monitor the tank water chemical parameters such as the pH, alkalinity, ammonia, nitrite and salinity. Constant checking  is required to ensure that the parameters stay within a certain tolerances and if not, proper action can be taken quickly to bring it back to the desired range before causing any harm to the fishes, corals or anemones. It is also important to keep the variations in the water parameters to as small as possible. Stability in the water condition and parameters is important to prevent stressing the fishes, corals and anemones. For more information about saltwater reef aquarium water and chemical parameters, click on the link.