How to Clean a Salt Water Aquarium - TLC Products - for Aquatic Systems -

How to Clean a Salt Water Aquarium

Posted December 14, 2023
TLC Products Saltwater Aquarium

We previously presented a guide to cleaning your fresh water aquarium, but what about the maintenance needs of a saltwater aquarium? Keeping a saltwater aquarium can be rewarding, offering a slice of the ocean's beauty in your own home. However, as experienced fishkeepers can attest, marine tanks offer their own unique maintenance challenges. These include all the considerations that go into a freshwater aquarium, plus the question of proper salinity and the more specific pH and other parameters required by some marine species.

Your tank inhabitants' well-being depends on maintaining a clean and healthy aquatic environment, whether for fish, live coral, anemones, or other ocean dwellers. Here's a comprehensive guide to cleaning your salt water fish tank, featuring essential products like StartSmart for Instant Cycling, Aquarium Optimizer, and DeChlor & Conditioner.

Items Needed:

Steps to Clean Your Salt Water Aquarium:

  1. Testing the Water
    Before you start cleaning, test your aquarium water using a saltwater test kit. Check your water parameters, including pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and salinity. In general, a saltwater aquarium's pH should sit somewhere between 8.0 and 8.4. Ammonia and nitrate should always test at zero in any healthy tank, while water changes assist with keeping nitrates low. Ideal salinity varies, but the majority of hobbyists aim for a number between 32 and 35ppt (parts per thousand), a level of salinity comparable to actual seawater.

    Reef tanks also require certain levels of calcium in the water in order to grow and thrive, so we recommend using an accurate calcium checker as well. Knowing your tank's parameters will assist you in understanding the stability of your aquarium, and aid in diagnosing any problems that may arise.
  2. Removing Algae
    Natural algae growth is normal, especially in a tank with any sunlight exposure. However, if algae becomes overgrown, you can use a siphon, algae pad, or scraper to clean the inside walls of the aquarium. Be gentle to avoid scratching the glass.
  3. Siphoning the Substrate
    Use a siphon or gravel vacuum to clean the substrate (sand or gravel). This removes food particles, waste, and other debris, helping to avoid ammonia spikes. A thick layer of sand in particular requires occasional stirring to prevent the formation of gas pockets that can be released suddenly, which can be hazardous or deadly for the tank's live inhabitants.
  4. Changing the Water
    For weekly water changes, remove around 10% of the water from the tank and replace it with clean, dechlorinated saltwater. Alternatively, for water changes every other week, remove and replace about 20% of the total water volume. The amount of water you change and the frequency of changes depend on the size of your tank and the number of inhabitants, with smaller tanks requiring water changes more often. Large water changes should generally be avoided in saltwater aquariums to avoid shocking fish and other residents with abrupt temperature or parameter shifts.
  5. Conditioning New Water
    When adding new water to the aquarium, use DeChlor & Conditioner to make the tap water safe for your fish. This product instantly neutralizes chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals, chemicals that can be lethal for sensitive marine organisms even in small doses.
  6. 6. Replacing Filter Media
    If your filter media is due for a change, replace it after cleaning the aquarium. To preserve beneficial bacteria, avoid changing filter media at the same time as a water change.
  7. Adding StartSmart for Instant Cycling
    When setting up a new tank or if circumstances require a significant water change, add our saltwater version of StartSmart for Instant Cycling. With the correct dose, this product aids in cycling the aquarium instantly, thus eliminating ammonia and nitrite toxicity. A maintenance dose of StartSmart also serves as a biological clarifier, providing crystal clear water and helping to reduce the need for water changes and full cleanings.
  8. Using Aquarium Optimizer
    Use Aquarium Optimizer regularly as part of your aquarium maintenance routine. The live bacteria in Aquarium Optimizer digests organic sediment, which helps keep ammonia and nitrite levels down, and reduces disease-causing bacteria associated with sludge buildup. Routine use of this product can assist in keeping your saltwater tank clean, healthy, and beautiful.
  9. Checking Water Parameters Again
    After the cleaning process, retest your water parameters to ensure all numbers fall within the ideal range for your marine tank's inhabitants.

Tips for Ongoing Maintenance:

  • Regular Monitoring: Keep an eye on water parameters with weekly testing, or more frequent testing if issues become evident.
  • Consistent Cleaning: Stick to a regular cleaning schedule to prevent algae build-up and maintain water quality.
  • Observation: Regularly observe your fish for any signs of stress or illness, as these can be indicators of water quality issues.

Maintaining a saltwater aquarium involves dedication and attention to detail. By using the right products, such as StartSmart for Instant Cycling, Aquarium Optimizer, and DeChlor & Conditioner, and following the steps listed above, you can enjoy a clean aquarium with a thriving marine environment.

Remember, a clean and well-maintained aquarium can be pleasing to the eye, but good maintenance is also essential for the health and happiness of your marine life. TLC Products also offers treatment and maintenance products for ponds, fountains and septic tanks. Experience the difference with TLC Products' treatment supplies today.

More BlogsAll Blogs