Saltwater fishes require water that resembles seawater, which is their natural environment. However, your marine aquarium doesn’t need to be filled with ocean seawater as a synthetic concoction of fresh water and a salt mix can work well.
Ocean water may be unsafe for your home aquarium. If collected from shorelines near urban areas, this seawater often contains pollutants, parasites, and bacterial cultures which will make the aquarium environment unstable for the marine creatures.
Even if one goes further out, the untreated ocean water may still require filtration and aging in the dark; most likely, it will require chlorination, filtering, and de-chlorination before it can be used in your tank.
For starters, synthetic seawater is not merely water containing dissolved sodium chloride, i.e. table salt. Marine fish will not survive in this “salty” water as it lacks the complex composition of ions and trace elements that is found in ocean seawater.
Based on studies by marine biologists, seawater contains both major ions (e.g. chloride, sodium, sulfate, magnesium, etc) and minor ions (bicarbonate, bromide, borate, etc). In addition, many trace elements crucial to the health of aquatic life are present, such as fluoride, zinc, copper, phosphorous, chromium, etc.
Thus, to replicate seawater the synthetic way, a good salt mix is important. Avoid cheap brands as these could be deficient in certain essentials and tend to give inconsistent results. Do not compromise quality here as the health of your aquarium inhabitants depends on it.
Never add dry salt mix directly into an aquarium tank that is already populated. Doing so can damage the gills of fish and shock the delicate invertebrates. Always prepare synthetic seawater upfront, allowing it to aerate for a day before introducing it during a water change.
Keep your saltwater aquarium beautiful and thriving with aquatic life with good aquarium fish care tips and lots of patience. The resulting enjoyment and satisfaction are often the best rewards.
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