When stocking a saltwater fish aquarium, there are four main areas to consider before you invest in your first fish. These four very important aspect of stocking a marine aquarium are : Oxygen levels, filtration system, water temperature and the fish ( or specifically the size and quantity of fish ). The following discussion covers these topics in a clear and concise manner. So that you will be quickly on your way to successfully stocking marine aquarium.
The first and probably most important thing to take into account is the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water and it’s replenishment rate. This is especially true in the case of tropical saltwater fish. As they are used to extremely high levels of oxygen in their water. One must also keep in mind that the warmer the water the less dissolved oxygen that it can hold. But bubbles into the water that this will increase oxygen levels. When it fact the bubbles quickly rise to the surface where they release the oxygen back into the air. The absolute best method to introduce oxygen into the aquarium is through surface water movement generally in the form if a rippling effect.
Do to this fact is very important to have good amount if surface area relative to the amount of fish being kept in the aquarium ( something to think about when choosing a tank design ). It is generally thought that for ever 1 cm of fish body length ( excluding the tail ) that the aquarium should have 120 cm squared of water surface. Of course a good filtration system will greatly reduce this number. The use of sump can increase oxygen levels by increasing overall water volume. Be sure to provide high levels of oxygen in order to keep dissolved oxygen levels high. And to facilitate proper biological filtration by aerobic bacteria.
Filtering the water to remove the build up of fish waste and toxins is extremely important in the aquarium environment. Where relatively small amounts of water mist support a closed community of fish and invertebrate species. Marine filtration consist of biological, chemical and physical filtration. The most common filtration methods for the marine fish aquarium are protein skimming. Which is the removal of dissolved proteins before they have a chance to break down and fowl the water and biological filtration. It is the methods of using beneficial bacteria to breakdown waste products in the water and convert them into the relatively harmless nitrate. Which is then removed or diluted through water changes.
In term of stocking marine aquarium, the amount and type filtration you have will ultimately play a large part in how many fish you can keep. Be sure to use filtration products that are rated for your aquarium size or larger. Also be sure to combine filtration technique in order to provide the maximum water quality possible. You will have to use a water test kit to measure your filtration effectiveness and to monitor it on an on going basis. Remember to go sloe when building up your fish stock, especially at the early stages of your aquarium. As your biological filtration and nitrogen cycle will be immature an unable to perform properly.
Another main factor involved in stocking levels is the temperature of the water. As stated above the warmer the water the less dissolved oxygen that it will hold. Also as stated above cold water specimens require more oxygen than tropical species. In general most tropical reef species will do best in water that is maintained at constant 770 to 790 range. Warmer water will decrease the amount of dissolved oxygen. As well as promote the rate of chemical breakdown of physical wastes. Which cause ammonia and nitrate levels to raise. Do your best to kept the aquarium water at a constant temperature. As temperature fluctuations will put stress on the fish.
The last aspect to keep in mind is the type of the inhabitants being kept in the aquarium. Fish species vary greatly in the amount of waste they produce as well as their individual oxygen and water quality requirement. In the beginning of an aquarium life it is recommended that only extremely hardy specimens are kept until the water has adequate time to mature. Some examples of very hardy fish which are tolerant of all. But the worst water conditions are : damsels, chromis, clown fish, triggers, and groupers. Keep in mind though that due to their size and feeding habits triggers and groupers can quickly deteriorate the water quality of an aquarium.
Also be sure to add specimens a few at time and with at least 2 to 4 weeks between additions. It’s to allow the aquarium biological filtration bed to adjust to the new inhabitants. This is especially critical in the first 6 months of the life of the aquarium.
A safe formula to use in stocking a fish only aquarium in the first 6 months to a year. Is to add only 1 inch of fish every 5 U.S. gallons that the aquarium holds ( regardless of the filtration ). After the first year the amount of fish can be doubled. But be sure to allow time for the filtration system to adjust to the increased load placed upon it. Keeping in mind all this information the minimum size of marine aquarium should be no less than 30 gallons.with at least 432 square inches of surface area. This will allow enough room for various species to stake out their own territories and co-exist happily without too much squabbling. Lastly be sure to allow for some hiding spots, so fish can retreat to safety when they feel threatened.