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
  • Vorny54
    Re: We Cured Dog's Jealousy of New Baby: A Case Study
    My granddaughter is now 4 months old and my dogs behaviour has not improved ,he pants whines and…
    3 December 2018
  • Vall
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    I was at the park today with my 5 month old puppy, who is overly friendly in the sense of she loves everyone. She ran over to play with another…
    2 December 2018
  • Hippopig
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    I wondered if you could help... A 'friend' dumped their dog on us a year or so ago. Despite not asking after her or paying towards her care or…
    2 December 2018
  • Joni
    Re: Introducing a Kitten to Other Cats
    We have a kitten now 6 months. Female. One of my other adult females keeps attacking her. This has been going on for…
    30 November 2018
  • Violet
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    Somebody on this site mentioned that a new dog law came into force on 24/10/18. Apparently the new law states that all dogs must be put on a…
    27 November 2018
  • Sara
    Re: Introducing a Kitten to Other Cats
    I have a 4 year old male cat and we got a 8 week old female kitten, at first our older cat would hiss and swat at her…
    26 November 2018
  • Steven
    Re: Introducing a Kitten to Other Cats
    My six month old female cat can’t get on with 12 week old kitten, she pins it down and grabs it and kicks with her back…
    28 October 2018
  • Beth
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    I split from my husband and in Feb this year I needed support with my dog (4 1/2 years) we got her at 8 weeks old, I was working long days to…
    25 October 2018
  • Gypsy
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    I've been told today a new law has come into play about dogs from today 24/10/2018, that all dogs must be put on a lead in communal areas, the…
    24 October 2018
  • Lizzy the Wild Lizar
    Re: How to Train Your Pet Lizard
    im wondering how to tame a wild lizard i found outside but took in because it is severely hurt. i really want it to trust me.
    22 October 2018