Saltwater aquariums provide challenge for fish tank enthusiasts
Saltwater aquariums house complicated ecosystems that, while beautiful, aren’t right for everyone’s skill level.
“Most saltwater fish are aggressive, that’s a general rule,” said Randy Sather, small animal, bird and reptile manager at Petco.
“Saltwater fish have the whole ocean to swim and most saltwater tanks only have about four feet,” added aquatics manager Jay Toel. “Close quarters lead to more aggression.”
“A bigger tank is easier for beginners,” added Toel. “I would recommend beginners stick with at least 40 gallon saltwater tanks.”
This is because the various water conditions that must remain stable are less susceptible to quick change in a larger tank.
Good starter fish for saltwater aquariums are clownfish, made famous in the Disney film “Finding Nemo,” and damselfish.
“We always call them the goldfish of saltwater because they’re hardy and don’t mind if the water changes a little bit,” Toel said. They are also less expensive than other saltwater varieties.
Fully stocking a saltwater aquarium with fish takes time as adding too many at once can alter water conditions too dramatically. Also, saltwater tanks can only hold an inch of fish for every five gallons, compared to freshwater tanks which can hold an inch of fish for every gallon due to a larger oxygen content in the water.
“The best thing to do is to do it slowly,” said Sather, who has a 180-gallon saltwater tank. “If you add one fish a month, you’re doing well.”
“Don’t go with the expensive fish until your tank is established,” added Toel. “You don’t want to spend a lot of money on a fish and then have it die.”
Compared to freshwater fish that can cost as low as a dollar, there isn’t really such thing as an inexpensive saltwater fish, however.
“A cheap saltwater fish is $10,” said Toel. “So, it’s not exactly cheap, but in comparison to others, it’s not bad.”