Saltwater aquarium maintenance

Keeping your saltwater fish healthy and tank looking beautiful.

A large part of keeping your fish healthy is ensuring that their habitat remains healthy. Regular maintenance is key to keeping the aquarium environment safe. One roadblock for aquarium owners is knowing what maintenance they should perform. This is my recommended routine aquarium maintenance plan.

Water Change.

The most important part of saltwater fish tank maintenance is to keep water change as a regular routine. On average, changing the water of the aquarium should be every two weeks. It is recommended to use a siphon to vacuum the gravel and at the same time, be able to extract water. This will help remove toxic waste products such as fish excrement and uneaten food particles inside the fish tank.

It is recommended to test the water parameters of both the replacement water and the normal seawater. Check the trends. You can use tap water which has a combination of chloramine and chlorine. This is also rich in iron, phosphates, and other heavy metals. You can use a water conditioner to diffuse the chlorine. Ammonia remains in the water which will only be neutralized when placed inside the fish tank with the presence of nitrifying bacteria.

Saltwater fish tanks require periodic upkeep and cleaning to ensure the proper functioning and avoid unnecessary costs. The maintenance schedule would largely depend on your system type. These filter systems require different maintenance schedules.


  • Feeding the fish should be done twice a day.
  • Inspect livestock every day. Check on your fish to make sure that each one is accounted for and alive. Assess health conditions and injury.
  • Check on the gravity and temperature levels to ensure that everything is within safe parameters. Make the necessary adjustments when necessary.
  • Do a thorough inspection of the lighting, heating, protein-skimming, and filtration equipment to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Check for any leaks and ensure that all tubes are properly connected.
  • If you are maintaining other saltwater animals, then you must include buffering agents and calcium into the water. This would be unnecessary if you are exclusively handling fish.


  • Check the stability of your water compounds such as nitrate, phosphate, nitrite, and ammonia levels to ensure that everything is stable. Check on alkaline and calcium levels too.
  • Clean the fish tank glass panes using an algae magnet. This will help get rid of accumulated debris and maintain the quality of saltwater.


  • Clean the cover glasses, lighting, and acrylic shield of your fish tank. This helps declutter your fish tank and remove calcium and salt deposits that can contaminate marine life.
  • Soak the air intakes valves and hose on white vinegar solution to prevent clogging of calcium deposits. Brush the valves and hose after soaking to remove excess debris.
  • This is the time to conduct major or large water changes. This is necessary if there is a presence of heavy bioload or if pollutants are increasing and disrupting water chemistry and quality.
  • It is advisable to replace the mechanical filtration media tank after a few days that you have done a major water change. This is necessary to avoid nitrite and ammonia spikes.


Temperature: Make sure the tank’s temperature is maintained between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (23 and 28 degrees Celsius). Seawater fish thrive in those temperatures.

Salinity: Make sure the proper amount of salt is dissolved in the water. Salinity is measured in parts per 1,000 units of water. The ocean’s salinity is about 34 to 37 parts per 1,000 units of water. Your aquarium’s salinity should be as close to this as possible. You can measure your aquarium’s salinity with a refractometer or hydrometer. These can be purchased at most pet supply shops.

pH: Make sure the water has the proper pH level. pH is the measure of the amount of acid or alkali in water. You can measure the pH level with color-coded testing strips that can be purchased at most pet supply shops.


Checking your fish tank every day and recording observations of livestock or marine life in your logbook will keep you in the loop of the current condition of your fish and changes in water quality conditions. This will also keep you organized and help you stay on top of your monitoring schedule.

 When conducting major cleaning of your fish tank, take time to inspect your entire system. Be very meticulous and check every inch of your fish tank. Don’t leave any stone unturned. Protect your floor from water damage when cleaning by putting old towels underneath and in front of the tank. Start from the insides of the fish tank and all throughout the system.


  • Check on the fish’s appetite, activity, eye condition, color, and fins.
  • Check for the water quality and circulation.
  • Check to ensure that the following are within safe parameters:
  • Ammonia
  • Salinity
  • Alkalinity
  • pH
  • Iodine
  • Nitrite
  • Calcium
  • Nitrite
  • Phosphate
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