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Tank Maintenance

ABC Guideline for Marine Aquarium Maintenance

Daily Maintenance
Feed, check operations of pumps, lights, chiller  and equipments, remove any extra food.

Daily Feeding Tips
Marine fish must be fed adequately and in the correct frequency if they are to flourish. The best way to accomplish this is to feed a variety of quality foods. When marine fish are fed properly they will be active, colorful and alert. Inadequate feeding can lead to sunken bellies and increased susceptibility to disease. Examples of nutritional food are : ReefMax Marine pellet and Freeze dried marine seaweeds for marne fishes and Reefmax Coral Bloomer , phytoplankton and Rotifer for Corals and filter feeding invertebrates.

If you have a saltwater tank with a mixed group of fish and corals we suggest you feed them twice a day. You can even feed them more frequently as long as you make sure that all the food is consumed. Small feedings of 3 or 4 times a day is very effective.

Observe your fish at feeding time. You will gradually learn how much your fish will eat in one feeding. Try adding small amounts, and wait until each bit is consumed. After the fish begin to lose interest you can stop without having to clean up any excessive food. Be sure to remove any extra food after 15 minutes. Overfeeding will cause food to decay on the bottom, which can be disastrous to a marine tank.  An occasional missed feeding will not harm the fish. In fact, if you go away for a day probably the safest thing to do is let the fish fast. As long as you have been feeding them well a short fast will not harm them. Prolonged inadequate feeding is much more detrimental to the fish than an occasional one or two day fast.

Do not allow inexperienced people to feed your fish. If you go on vacation, measure food packets carefully and tell the person in charge of feeding to use only pre-measured packets. Automatic feeders are available for vacation use. Check to see that every fish is getting something to eat. Occasionally one fish will establish social dominance, harassing the other fish and hoarding most of the food. Try to feed the dominant fish until it is full, then feed the others.

Partial Water Changes
Partial water changes are an important part of aquarium management.
How Much: We recommend a 25% water change once every 4 weeks.  An alternate method is to change 10% of the water weekly. Use a good instant seasalt like Reefmax Reef Salt for a safe water change.
How to change water: Siphon water from the bottom of the tank.  Use a siphon tube designed for aquarium use such as the Open Mouth with hand Pump type – economical and easy to use.  Remove the detritus/mud by gently placing the siphon tube into base and suck  the water.  Do not stir the gravel.  Make purified tap water using NSW purifier into a pail, add salt  Stir until the salt is all dissolved.  The temperature should be within 3 degrees of the tank temperature. Add the synthetic salt water slowly into Tank .Alternatively Use sterilized Sea water , simply pour into tank until required level.

Salt Level
The salt concentration should be checked weekly with a hydrometer.  The level at which the hydrometer floats in the water indicates the salt concentration.  The hydrometer reading should be kept between 1.020 and 1.023.  The salt concentration can be corrected by adding either fresh water or more sea salts.  If the reading is below 1.022, add more salt.  If it is above 1.025, add purified freshwater.

For a Coral  tank leave your lights on 10-12 hours a day. A regular photoperiod is recommended.Fishes period can be lesser between 6-10 hrs.

The pH of the water should be 8.0 to 8.5. We suggest you check the pH at least once a month. A periodic partial water change and the addition of some “Sea Buffer – ReefMax A,B & C” once a weekly should be enough to keep the pH in the safe range.  If your pH drops below 8.0, review your management procedures. Overcrowding, inadequate filtration, inadequate aeration, overfeeding, etc. will cause the pH to drop.

Maintain a temperature of 26-29 degrees. Beneficial to invest in a good chiller .

Green algae is beneficial to a marine aquarium for the following reasons:

* It provides a food source for many fish (Angels, Butterflies, Tangs, Clowns)
* It utilizes nitrates in the water and helps maintain good water quality
* It provides a more natural environment for the fish.                              Allow algae to grow on the sides and back of the tank. Scrape algae from the front glass only. If a mat of algae grows over the gravel surface remove it.

Algae can be removed by: Fluidised Reactor ,Activated charcoal , phosphate Media, Snails, Abalone and Algae Blenny and high performance skimmer.

Unwanted Algae: While some species of algae grow mostly from light, most undesirable species grow as much or more from nutrients. Nutrient accumulation is the most common catalyst for algae blooms. Overfeeding, overstocking, infrequent or absent carbon use, improper or absent protein skimming, inadequate filtration, infrequent water changes, and poor water movement all contribute to algae outbreaks. Changes in lighting rarely cause or cure algae blooms.

Generally speaking, a change to better (brighter) quality lights will help an algae problem by promoting the health and growth of more desirable algae/plants and photosynthetic invertebrates (corals, anemones, etc.) who may then out- compete the undesirable algae for nutrients. Decreasing the photo-period (lights) in a tank with anemones or coral is not a recommended solution to an algae bloom.

Gravel Bed
Do not allow excessive debris to accumulate on the gravel surface. An easy way to remove debris is with a siphon, such as the “Python Water Changer.”  When you siphon water from the tank use the end of the siphon to gently pick up loose debris. We recommend “Aragonite” gravel because it is does the best job at buffering the pH.

Protein Skimmer Maintenance
Most skimmers require a daily check. You may have to tinker with the air-flow or water flow frequently to maximize performance. Clean the collection cup weekly, and change the airstone about once a month. Use a High performance protein Skimmer like BM Skimmer to improve water quality.

Fluidised Reactor  (FR)
The media in a FR should be changed more frequently in a saltwater tank than in a freshwater tank. (About every 3 months.) Activated carbon is very effective in marine tanks. It should be replaced at least once a month.

It is very important to avoid contaminating the tank with chemical impurities. Always wash you hands before working on the tank and use clean buckets for changing water. If you have to paint near the tank ventilate the room well and cover the top of the tank with plastic. Avoid the following near the tank: insecticides, commercial glass cleaners, any metal contact with water, soaps or detergents.

Complete Tank Breakdown
With good tank maintenance you will rarely have to completely dismantle the tank. Many of our customers have maintained a successful tank for years without a complete cleaning.
If the tank is dismantled and the gravel replaced your tank will have to re-establish its biological filter. If you have several fish you will have to move the fish to another established tank as the tank goes through its new break-in period.Alternatively , use Reefmax Super bacteria to reestablish the biological filter immediately.

Moving Your Tank
If you are making a local move, or moving the tank within your home it is not necessary to completely dismantle the tank. Catch the fish and bag them in aquarium water. Transport them separately in a box or buckets. Drain the water from the aquarium saving as much as possible. Move the aquarium with the gravel in place, making sure the gravel remains moist. Set up the tank in its new location and fill it with the saved water and newly mixed saltwater.

Testing Water Quality
Every marine hobbyist should own a test kit for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. If you experience a problem you should test the ammonia and nitrite levels of your tank.


Aquarium Marine Water Testing Guidelines



Salt Content


Ammonia NH3/NH4+

Nitrite NO2

Nitrate NO3

Recommended Test Kit

Use Hydrometer or Refractometer





Why Test

Salt levels must stay within range.

pH that is too acidic can stress fish.

Ammonia ion NH4+ is very toxic to fish- test determines how well your biological filter is converting ammonia into nitrite.

Nitrite NO2 is produced when ammonia is oxidized. Test determines how well your biological filter is converting nitrite to nitrate.

Not a concern for most fish tanks, but very high levels can stress certain fish. Coral and some invertebrates are more sensitive.







When to Test

Twice a month, or when a problem arises.

Once a month, or when a problem arises.

Once month or when a problem arises.

Week 2,4,6,8 in new tanks; thereafter only when a problem arises.  Nitrite testing in new tanks helps determine when biological filter has been established.

Four times a year for standard fish tanks.  In “reef tanks” or tanks with anemones, angels, butterflies and tangs, check monthly. Also check when algae blooms.

Acceptable Reading



0- .25- OK

.5+ -correct, and test daily

0- .25- OK

.5+ -correct, and test daily

Varies with species Most fish tolerate up to 60 ppm- corals to 20ppm.

How to avoid unacceptable readings

Mix salt properly, do partial water changes properly

Good filtration, aeration, proper management techniques, coral gravel in tank

Adequate biological filtration, proper management, add fish gradually to new systems.

Adequate biological filtration, proper management, add fish gradually to new systems.

Good aquarium management, allow some algae to grow in tank, consider use of protein skimmers and tap water purifier.

Correcting problems

Add more salt to increase salinity. Add fresh water to lower it.

Partial water change, remove debris from gravel, check filtration, add pH buffers, check daily until proper range is reached. Use Reefmax ABC to increase and stabilize PH

High ammonia must be dealt with immediately. Do partial water change of 25-75% depending on severity of problem, determine cause of problem and correct. Add Reefmax Bacteria

Nitrite is less toxic than ammonia, but can still be a problem. Do 25% water change, make sure biological filter is adequate for fish load; consider adding more Reefmax Bacteria

Partial water change of 25%,
protein skimmers, Use BM Denitrator reactor.


Marine Water Testing Guidelines Continued





Recommended Test Kit



Why Test

A concern mainly for “Live Coral Systems.” Small amounts can cause algae blooms and kill live corals.

Therapeutic copper levels are used to treat certain parasitic disease.


below 0.15ppm

below 0.02ppm

When to Test