Home > Reptile and Fish Safety > Saltwater Fish Safety

Saltwater Fish Safety

By: Sandy Bolan - Updated: 20 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Compatibility Corals Salt-water Tank

Bringing the wild into our homes is never an easy task, especially when it comes to aquatic life. And no environment is more particular, and difficult to maintain, than the marine/salt-water aquarium.

Everything from which light source you choose, to aquarium size, the choice between real or synthetic salt water, as well as which specimens of invertebrates are compatible with each other are just some of the questions that need to answered, well before you purchase any equipment.

Captivity

Without meticulous care, most salt-water species will not survive beyond a few weeks. As such, there are some species that still won't make it - such as the Shrimp or Razorfish, Bandit or Multi-barned Angelfish, Lined and Ornate Butterflyfish, Long-nosed Filefish and the Blue Ribbon Eel.

There are, however, more hearty specimens that will live quite well in captivity, providing all of their special needs are met. They include the Carnation corals, which require lost of feedings; an Octopus requires a highly specialised tank to prevent escape; and Jellyfish need to round tank with good water flow to them moving (they have little self-propulsion capability).

Compatibility

Compatibility is dependant, largely, upon tank size. The smaller the tank and/or habitat space, the greater the chance for aggression.

When introducing new specimens, closely observe the tank for two to three days following the addition to see if any problems arise. If fighting occurs, the tank's newcomer must be removed.

The following are some examples of incompatible species, according to Dr. Adrian Lawler, author of the Operational Manual for the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium in Mississippi.

  • Puffers nip many species, including other puffers, spiny box fish, hogchokers, flounder, seahorses and other slower moving animals
  • Pinfish and Sheepshead fight amongst themselves and pick on smaller fish
  • Pigfish fight each other and sometimes pick on other species
  • Seahorses and Pipefish can't compete with the more active fish for live food
  • Spadefish can pick on, and potentially kill, stingrays, hogchokers and flounders
  • Gags will kill other gags and try to eat new/smaller introductions
  • Bullminnows will attacks smaller fish, pick on hogchokers and small flounders
  • Male tilapia, once mature, will chase and kill other fish in the tank and make nests/holes in the substrate
  • Cocoa damsels are territorial and will pick on most new species added to its tank
  • If there are two male snapping turtles in the same tank, the larger one will pick on the smaller one

Lighting

The type of lighting you choose is dependant on the type of organisms houses in the tank.

A reef tank consisting primarily of mushroom anemones and soft corals may do all right with very high output (VHO) fluorescents, but compact fluorescent (CF) or metal halide (MH) lighting is preferred, according to Frank Greco, author of Frank's Aquarium.

If you plan to keep mostly stony corals, especially small polyped stony corals like Acroporas or Stylophoras, CF or MH are best - both will help maintain the intense coral colours.

If you just want to view the inhabitants, then normal fluorescent lighting will suffice.

Photoperiod

The photoperiod, or the recurring cycle of light and dark periods, needs to only be about 8-10 hours. More than that and you run the risk of creating algae at the tank's bottom and/or stressing the corals due to too much light. Too little photoperiod and corals may not get enough nutrients via the UV. The easiest way to regulate the tank's photoperiod is to put the lights on a timer.

Over time, bulbs dim. As such, corals become accustom to the lower intensity light. When changing the bulbs, the tank inhabitants are blasted with high radiation and visible light, which is the primary cause of 'coral burn', in particular when using MH lighting. To avoid this, when installing new bulbs, raise the fixture over the tank. During the next 1-2 weeks, slowly lower the fixture back to its original location. This gives the corals a chance to adjust to the new light.

If raised lighting is not possible, place a sheet of glass or UV blocking acrylic between the bulbs and corals.

Feeding

Feeding corals planktonic food is ideal, however, when too much is fed, an algae outbreak can occur. If the tank has a large protein skimmer, it has the ability to pull so much waste out of the water, the addition of plankton food to the tank is inconsequential. In fact, according to Jason Kim, founder of Aqua C, "adding this extra food to the tank might even benefit the overall health of the tank, especially the vitality of your soft corals."

However, if the tank is without a skimmer, or has one that is not 100 per cent efficient, add food slowly and monitor the water quality to see how far you can push the limits without creating extra algae growth.

Safe Handling

Aquariums are to be admired and not for little hands to be dunked into. Let children admire and learn about the tank's inhabitants, but do not allow them to tap the glass, touch the lights or any of the other controls (such as the heater). As well, keep the food out of the child's reach. Over-feeding can cause death in many of the species.

Anytime you handle the equipment or put your hand in the tank, thoroughly wash your hands, as fish and tanks have many of the same bacteria and pathogens as dogs and cats. Before putting your hand in the tank, also wash. But do not use soap or hand cream - they can all harm the inhabitants.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Kas
    Re: Introducing a Kitten to Other Cats
    We lost one of our cats to cancer 2 months ago and the other day we found a kitten abandoned and on her own in a rubbish…
    19 September 2018
  • snowflake39
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    my neighbour has 11 husky dogs in a three bed they have not much garden only walked twice a day cant be right can it x
    16 September 2018
  • SaferPets
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    Annie - Your Question:Is it lawful to leave dogs locked in a house alone overnight?ThanksOur Response:
    10 September 2018
  • Annie
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    Is it lawful to leave dogs locked in a house alone overnight? Thanks
    8 September 2018
  • Blod
    Re: Dog Health
    My mate has 3 dogs on a top floor flat and doesn't walk them it like once every 3 months except for her pup she walks him about 2 to 3 times a month and…
    26 August 2018
  • Gichee
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    Hi, I would have a question. I am planning to move with a friend to Edinburgh, into a flat that I will buy, so it would not be rented. (We both…
    24 August 2018
  • Dana Zillova
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    Hi there.I would like to ask for an advise. My dog Staffie was in a fight with a another dog and unfortunately bitten the other dog.My dog was…
    20 August 2018
  • Emma
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    Hello, can someone please give guidance? My son was in the park yesterday with his 11 week old cockerpoo Ralph, he was playing with another…
    12 August 2018
  • MSP
    Re: Important Vaccinations for Your Cat
    This article help me to enrich my knowledge about vaccinating of a cat and its procedures . I am thankful to you who…
    10 August 2018
  • SaferPets
    Re: Introducing a Kitten to Other Cats
    Ronel - Your Question:Jude B - thank you for your response to my posting. My kitten, Shadow (three months old) is a little…
    9 August 2018