How To Care For Saltwater Fish

Whether you’re planning on taking care of larger saltwater fish in a big aquarium or you’re caring for smaller fish in a tank, both circumstances require attention to detail, patience, and proper knowledge of care in order for the saltwater tank to be successful. Depending on the specific size of the saltwater fish you’re planing on keeping, each species tends to require their own specific treatment plan, equipment, and tank.

Given that, it can be difficult to maintain a saltwater aquarium on your own, especially if you have no previous knowledge of caring for saltwater fish. And saltwater aquariums require more care and maintenance than freshwater tanks, so be prepared for that. When they’re cared for properly, saltwater fish and saltwater aquariums have the ability to offer the most beautiful colors altogether. Because of this, you’re highly recommended to purchase saltwater fish of your own and care for them.

To help you along this journey, here is a complete guide on how to care for saltwater fish that I’ve composed myself based on my personal experiences taking care of saltwater fish. This guide will help you consider what specific types of saltwater fish that you want to care for, the equipment and tank you’ll need for those fish, and there is even some information on maintaining the health of your aquarium as well as the fish residing in it.

Benefits of Having a Saltwater Aquarium


Reduces stress

Having an aquarium in your room is capable of reducing the amount of stress that you experience because it’s able to offer calming effects when you look at it. More specifically, seeing all of the different colors and different types of fishing swimming around together can decrease your heart rate and muscle tension, allowing you to lessen the amount of stress that you feel.

Acts as a form of therapy

Simply being around an aquarium has the ability to produce the same effects as a form of therapy, for elderly people especially. Being around an aquarium has the ability to reduce your pulse rate, increase your skin temperature, and it can even reduce any muscle tension that you may be experiencing. Aquariums are even known for their ability to lower elderly individuals’ diastolic blood pressure.

Lowers anxiety

Saltwater aquariums are able to present a wide range of colors, since they typically contain various species of fish, different colors of coral, and they have varying colors in their gravel, house decorations, and even the tank itself can come in different colors.

Not only that, but saltwater aquariums also give off a calming sound, since they have a filter that’s constantly running. Given these features, aquariums are able to provide you with calming effects that can help reduce any anxiety that you may be feeling.

Acts as a form of art

Saltwater aquariums seem to even act as a form of art sometimes, since they contain large amounts of different colors, creatures, and movements. The fish in themselves can even be seen as art, since they come in practically all shapes and sizes, and there tend to be artistically-shaped aquariums on the market as well.

Improves productivity

Placing aquariums in office spaces, classrooms, and even on desks in study rooms seems to have a positive effect on individuals’ productivity. More specifically, completing work near a saltwater aquarium tends to improve your productivity, since it’s capable of decreasing your blood pressure and stress while also increasing your emotional and physical health while you’re completing this. Overall, this helps you further focus on the task at hand, rather than other problems that you may be encountered with outside of work (1).

Factors to Consider When Caring for Saltwater Fish


Overall, there are a few different general things that are important for you to consider before you begin your saltwater fishkeeping journey. Those areas tend to include the type of fish you’re planning on having, the type of aquarium or tank that you want, the type of equipment you’ll need to care for your fish properly, and you’ll also want to consider the level of maintenance according to the size tank that you choose as well as the specific type of fish that you have.

Saltwater Fish


Before you purchase anything for your aquarium, it’s important for you to consider which type of fish species that you want to care for in your tank. This is because certain fish species may have special requirements regarding the size tank they need as well as the type of equipment they require, the type of food they prefer as well as the other types of fish that they’re compatible with.

Overall, you’ll be the most successful while caring for your fish if you best replicate their environment in their natural habitat in the wild. That being said, you’ll need to purchase the correct equipment, tank, and other fish as well.

Factors to Consider About Saltwater Fish


Your level of availability

Since each fish species requires varying levels of attention and care, you should consider how much time you have to take care of your saltwater fish. For instance, if you’re not available everyday throughout the week for a few hours a day, then you shouldn’t consider purchasing a type of fish that requires large amounts of attention. That being said, you should consider purchasing a fish that requires a certain level of care that works with your personal schedule and availability.

Their adult size

Considering the type fo fish size that works well with your tank is important because the size of your tank as well as the sizes of the other fish in your tank will affect whether your fish are comfortable in their new home. More specifically, you’re recommended to put fish of similar size in the tank together because this will prevent there from being any problems with the fish eating or attacking each other.

Each fish species’ personal requirements

It’s important to consider what each of your fish species requires specifically. Each species may differ in their required amount of light, food, temperatures, and even their environment sizes. Some fish require larger, open spaces or they get stressed, while others prefer to be in darker, cooler environments, so having fish houses and other decorations may be beneficial.

Fish’s individual diets

Considering the type of diet that each fish species requires is important because you want to tailor to each of the fish personally so that they remain healthy and happy all the time. That being said, you may find it beneficial to choose fish that have similar feeding requirements, like the specific type of food that they eat as well as the times of the day that they eat (2).

Best Types of Saltwater Fish for Beginners



These types of saltwater fish are recommended for you because they’re small and friendly. They tend to travel in pairs too, so they’re beautiful to watch swim and interact with each other. Not only that, but these fish are also able to consume a variety of different foods, and they are small enough to hide away from other fish if there is a possible negative interaction.

Clown Gobies

Gobies in general are a great type of fish species to keep in your tank if you’re a beginner because they’re friendly and easy to care for. Clown Gobies are even more friendly and they’re able to withstand a variety of different tank environments, since they can interact nicely with various other species.

Yellow Tang

Yellow Tangs are one of the most common saltwater fish species because they’re beautiful and can get along with practically all other types of fish. This is why they’re one of the most popular saltwater fish species found in most saltwater aquariums.


Aside from their popularity in the famous Disney movie, Clownfish are commonly in most saltwater aquariums because they’re not an aggressive species and they have the ability to consume a variety of different food types. They do thrive the most within larger aquariums though (3).



Having the proper aquarium in general is important to provide your fish when you’re caring for them. This is generally the next step in the process of maintaining a healthy environment for your fish, since you’ll need to choose the correct type of aquarium for your fish in particular.

Aquarium Considerations


Type of ecosystem

You’ll need to think about what type of ecosystem you want in your tank. For instance, do you want an aquarium that’s classified as fish-only, fish-only with live rock, a reef tank, or a different type of tank?


Consider what level you’re at in the fishkeeping industry. If you’re a beginner, then you should consider purchasing a saltwater tank that measures between 40 to 55 gallons. The smaller the tank, the more difficult it is to maintain the water balance. You should also consider the tank size according to the location you plan on putting it as well as the budget that you’re planning on spending (4).

Equipment and Accessories


In addition to having the proper aquarium, tank, and compatible fish species, you’ll then need to make sure that you have the proper equipment to run the tank as well as the preferred accessories from your fish. For instance, you’ll need to offer fish that like dark, cooler spaces a place where they can relax, which can be anything from a fish house to a hollow log. Regarding equipment, you’ll need to ensure that you have the right type of filtration system, lighting sources as well as a thermometer and a heating source (4).

Maintenance and Care


When it comes to caring for your saltwater fish, you don’t only have to have the correct types of fish, equipment, or the right aquarium in order to make your fish happy and healthy. Rather, providing them with the proper care, maintenance, and treatment is just as important as these other factors.

After you’ve provided your fish with the correct aquarium, equipment, food, and other fish to interact with, there are treatment plans that you will need to commit to participating in daily, weekly, and bi-weekly. There may also be specific treatment factors that some of your fish require, so you should keep that in mind if that pertains to you and your situation.


Check the temperature

You should check your saltwater aquarium’s temperature on the thermometer everyday because this is the one factor that has the ability to fluctuate the most, and it can cause the most damage to your aquarium’s ecosystem. Different circumstances can cause the temperature of the aquarium to either raise or lower, which can cause your fish to either become sick or even die.


Obviously, you’ll have to feed your fish at least once a day, and some fish even require more than that. Because of that, you’ll have to make sure you accustom to their feeding schedules. Having saltwater fish that require similar feeding schedules may be beneficial simply for this factor. It’s also important to feed your fish the food that they prefer because some fish tend to be more picky than others when it comes to consuming food.

Typically, your saltwater fish should consume saltwater or marine-geared food. Additionally, you shouldn’t feed your fish too much, since they won’t actually overeat. Any excess food that they don’t consume within three to five minutes should be removed from the tank in order to prevent any pollution from occurring.


Test the water

Since the water in the tank can fluctuate according to its temperature and chemical nature, you should test the water for nitrites, nitrates, and pH levels in order to offer the healthiest environment for your fish.

Top up your tank

In saltwater tanks, water evaporation occurs throughout the week. Because of this, the water level is lessened, and you should replace it in a method called Top Up. You should never Top Up with saltwater, since the amount of salt in the water is already higher than before, given that it doesn’t evaporate with the water. Instead, you should add water conditioner to tap water when replacing lost water throughout the week.


Change water in tank

Given that the balance of chemicals and other elements of the water is important for your fish, you should only replace about one gallons of water every two weeks. This prevents the possibility of there being any problems with the chemical balance in their environment. In order to change the water correctly, you should follow these steps.

  • 1. Have previously mixed saltwater ready
  • 2. Unplug all of the aquarium equipment to ensure safety
  • 3. Scrub the inside of the tank walls while the dirty water is still in there to remove any algae buildup
  • 4. Siphon out the water in the gravel to clean the gravel
  • 5. Slowly fill the tank back to the recommended depth with the saltwater you’ve previously mixed
  • 6. Rinse off the saltwater from the cleaning equipment

You may also find this YouTube video beneficial on how to mix your own saltwater specifically for water changes.


Overall, having a saltwater aquarium can offer you a wide range of benefits, including the ability to calm you down, reduce anxiety and stress, and it can add a beautiful and natural look to practically any room. Given the fact that saltwater aquariums require more attention and maintenance than freshwater tanks, it’s important that you have all of the required equipment in order to offer your fish the proper environment and treatment.

This guide on how to care for saltwater fish can make this process easier to handle. The maintenance and care may seem like a busy schedule, but it’s completely worth it once you get the hang of it.

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