common mistakes when starting your first marine aquarium
We all have to start somewhere and we all make mistakes when first setting up marine and reef aquariums. Here are some very common mistakes to avoid so you can get the best chance of making your first marine aquarium a success:
Rushing the cycling process:
It is very frustrating waiting to put your first fish into your aquarium but getting this process right the first time saves you time and money. Make sure your tank has gone through its full cycle and start adding stock very slowly whilst monitoring the tanks parameters. Taking the extra time to make sure your tanks filtration and bacteria are ready will make life so much easier in the future.
topping up with salt water instead of plain RO:
Its such an easy mistake that even experienced keepers have done by accident. Just remember top up with RO and replace the same amount of salt water if you do a water change. The water evaporates but the salt dose not so if you add salt water to the tank it will just keep raising the levels. When topped up with plain RO the salinity will stabilise to its original level before evaporation. (a auto top up unit is very handy to help keep your salinity stable throughout the day) and always clearly label your containers.
getting too larger fish for the aquarium:
this one often falls into both the keeper and the retailers fault. Always do research on any fish before you buy it unless you absolutely trust your fish store. and don't get tempted to put a very large fish into too smaller aquarium they do not grow to the size of the tank. They will just keep getting bigger and overwhelm your filtration if the water volume is not large enough.
remember to clean the areas you don't see all the time:
clean glass and sand is great but don't forget to routinely clean sumps where needed, replace filter socks, change filter wool, clean out filter media if needed and all the other behind the scenes areas of your tank. These areas if left unchecked can hold lots of NO3 and phosphate.
starting off with very delicate fish or corals:
If you see something that looks very unusual or you have never seen in any marine shop before chances are its very delicate or dose not do well in marine aquariums. Make sure to read up on the species before buying it as there are many species out there not suited to home aquariums or that are for expert keepers with specialist requirements.
Dip new coral:
when purchasing new corals always make sure to dip them in a recognised coral dip. it can save you lots of trouble and can potentially save your whole tank if you prevent any nasties from hitchhiking into your tank. even the best shops can harbour pests without knowing it even when everything has been done right. dipping the coral yourself is another insurance policy against getting unwanted pests. make sure to lightly brush or use a syringe to blow away anything clinging under the coral.
quarantine fish before adding them to your main tank:
if you have the space for it a quarantine tank is a very useful tool. Placing any new fish in your home quarantine system for a few weeks to double check everything is fine before adding them to your main tank can save you allot of trouble and again acts as another insurance policy to protect your main aquarium. Be sure to make sure your quarantine tank is fully cycled and running properly.