With the outstanding assortment of beautiful saltwater fish to choose from, it is no
wonder that so many hobbyists dream of maintaining a marine aquarium. This guide
is intended to answer many of the questions a novice marine aquarist may have,
and to provide some basic guidelines for selecting and caring for saltwater fish
and invertebrates. In addition, we hope that every saltwater hobbyist will read
several good, current books on the subject. Please ask us for suggestions.
What's the difference between saltwater and freshwater?
Whereas freshwater fish are found in rivers, streams, ponds and lakes, saltwater fish
are collected from oceans and seas. As such, their natural environment is quite
stable and they do not readily adapt to major changes in water chemistry or
temperature. In addition, since nearly all saltwater fish and invertebrates are
captured in the wild (many freshwater fish are either tank or pond raised),
there are greater risks associated with handling and shipping. The risks,
shipping and collecting costs, and supply-and-demand also make saltwater
specimens more expensive than their freshwater counterparts.
What equipment is needed?
Most modern aquarium equipment is designed to be functional in either salt or fresh
water, but it is important to select quality, reliable supplies. It hardly pays
to save six dollars on a heater or ten dollars on a filter system and risk the
loss of twenty or thirty dollar fish. Contrary to some opinions, undergravel
filters are not essential in saltwater aquariums. Many of our customers have had
success using the sort of equipment that we include in our "PRO" setups; deluxe
heaters, outside power filters and airstones. The only necessary additions to a
good freshwater setup are special gravel (crushed coral), sea salt mix, and a
Are saltwater fish hard to keep?
Just as in freshwater, there are some species that are usually quite sturdy and some
that challenge even the experts. The "Marine Care and Compatibility Table"
portion of this guide is meant to help the hobbyist choose fish and
invertebrates appropriate for his level of expertise. In addition, the
individual specimen should be observed closely before purchase. Sometimes an
individual or group of even the most hardy variety will have been subjected to
just one too many changes, and will become weak or sickly or will refuse to eat.
We will try to help in choosing healthy specimens as much as possible.
What size tank is needed?
Almost any size aquarium can be used, but generally a larger tank will be easier to
keep chemically balanced and has a lot more options when it comes to fish
compatibility. On the other hand, assuming the household budget is a factor, it
is better to set up a medium-sized tank with good equipment than to attempt a
larger tank with inadequate equipment. Many of the most popular saltwater sizes
are in the 30 to 55 gallon range.