Stocking Your Saltwater Aquarium
Before deciding what plants and animals you want to put in your saltwater fish tank, choose between a fish tank and a reef tank. Most beginners should choose fish tanks, which are simpler to maintain, but a reef tank presents a more complete picture of marine life, using coral or anemones as the main attraction.
Good starter saltwater fish include damselfish, clownfish, and mollies (which can also survive in freshwater). From there, move on to triggerfish, grammas, wrasses, and tangs.
If you’re looking to add some non-fish, consider hermit crabs, shrimp, starfish, and sea urchins. On the other hand, some of the “big name” fish are especially hard to care for, so beginners should probably avoid them.
Angelfish, jellyfish, clams, anemones, seahorses, eels, and octopi all require a lot of special care.
Don’t buy fish from a pet store that displays sickly fish or poorly maintained aquariums or that has unknowledgeable salespeople. When you purchase fish, make sure you get all the requisite care instructions.
What type of food does this species eat? Does it need water of a specific pH level, salinity, or temperature? Will this fish be aggressive towards my other fish (if so rethink your purchase)?
Be patient adding fish to your saltwater aquarium. Change stresses fish, so only add a few fish at a time, avoid overstocking your tank, and don’t add fish until the tank has cycled (i.e. the ammonia and nitrite levels are at zero).
The general rule is that you should have two to three inches of fish for every ten gallons of saltwater. In other words, a thirty-gallon tank could hold four one-inch clown fish, two two-inch triggerfish, and a starfish.
The first two steps to taking care of your fish are feeding and watching them. The feeding habits of different species vary, but in general, you should feed saltwater fish approximately every three days, making sure to vary their diet with items such as romaine lettuce and cut-up shrimp.
In addition, watch your fish eat and swim so that you will notice any changes that might indicate sickness.
Saltwater ich and other common saltwater fish diseases can be medicated; remember, however, that fish do not have the human lifespan.