Saltwater Aquarium Care – How to Maintain the Health of Your Saltwater Aquarium Plants
Good saltwater aquarium care means taking care of the fish and water quality in your tank but it also means taking care of your aquarium plants. Not only do your aquarium plants create an interesting home and shelter for your fish, they are also essential for the health of your fish, water quality and the tank as a whole. Proper, saltwater aquarium care, therefore, must always take into account the health of your marine plants.
Some marine plants are hardy and easy to care for while others need quite a bit of practice and experience. If you are a novice aquarist it is a good idea to start with hardy plants, as these are easier to care for. Once you have a bit more practice in correct saltwater aquarium care you can move on to fussier varieties.
The first thing to do is to decide what you want to achieve with your marine plants. You should do this even before you buy your tank. If you want big, healthy plants make sure you know what equipment you need, what sort of saltwater aquarium care is required and how much time it will take you to achieve these results.
If you are more concerned with the fish in your tank than plant life then it might be a good idea to invest in one or two plastic plants instead. Responsible saltwater aquarium care means knowing what you want and getting the balance right.
While most marine plants do grow into lush, healthy plants they all need good lighting. This is so that they have enough energy for making their own food by means of photosynthesis. Without sufficient light for photosynthetic activity your plants will remain stunted or die. So part of correct saltwater aquarium care involves making sure that your aquarium provides sufficient lighting for plant growth.
To make sure that your plants are getting enough light keep the following rule of thumb in mind: For each gallon of water in a tank you will require 3 to 5 watts of light. Most aquarium lighting systems are below that level, however so you may need to shop around to find adequate lighting to make sure you are providing the proper saltwater aquarium care for your plants.
In the natural aquarium the fish and plant populations are perfectly balanced and compliment each other. Marine plants create shelter, shade, and even food for your fish! Plants that are well lit will give off oxygen and this creates a good environment for your fish. So proper saltwater aquarium care makes your tank healthy and provides optimum conditions for plants and fish alike.
The fish will, in turn, feed off the carbon dioxide released by the fish. Plants also feed off the waste that fish produce. This helps to absorb some of the waste that might become toxic to your fish. So as you can see proper saltwater aquarium care means maintaining a healthy balance for all the life in your tank.
To provide proper saltwater aquarium care for your plants and fish you need to make sure that conditions in your tank are optimal. Plant growth needs water which is at the correct ph levels. It also needs the water to be at the correct temperature for growth and survival.
Unfortunately this might not fit in with the temperature requirements of the fish species you want to keep. So you might have to decide between plants and fish in some cases. Again, good saltwater aquarium care is always about finding the happy medium.
Fish also eat or tear away sections of plants and this might actually ruin the aesthetic appeal of your tank. Plants may be uprooted by the foraging activity of your fish. So plant care can be a bit tricky and does require some patience. One of the most frustrating aspects of saltwater aquarium care is the occurrence of marine algae.
Algae can really be a problem for the marine aquarist. Sometimes despite the best saltwater aquarium care – lights, substrate additives, fertilizers and CO2 systems – instead of lush plant growth you are confronted with algal growth. Algae can be very difficult to get rid of once it has taken root and it can really limit the growth of other plants.
Usually the aquarist employs various methods of saltwater aquarium care for combating this scourge. These might include using algicides, bleach dips, antibiotics (for cyanobacteria), manual removal or fish or invertebrates that feed on algae.
During an algal attack the amount of food and light is decreased and different amounts of fertilizer are tried – sometimes with success. Correct saltwater aquarium care results in some sort of balance being reached.
The best form of saltwater aquarium care and algae treatment is to provide the tank with a water change. In fact if you could change the tank water daily it would be ideal but this is obviously not very practical. You should change 25% of the water at least twice weekly, however. If you can stick to this schedule the amount of algae in the tank will be reduced and your fish and plants will be healthier. A water change should form a part of routine saltwater aquarium care whether you have an algal problem or not.
So what kinds of plants can you grow in a saltwater aquarium? A variety of plants are suitable for a saltwater aquarium. Choose from grape algae (Caulerpa racemosa), Halimeda Halimeda sp, shaving brush algae (Penicillus capitus), fan algae (Udotea flabellum), corralline bush algae (Galaxaura sp.), sea grass, red gracilaria (which your fish can eat) and many others. Proper saltwater aquarium care means making sure that your plants and fish co-exist in perfect harmony.
Proper saltwater aquarium care means really getting to know your marine tank. Do as much research as possible to ensure that your marine plants and fish have everything they need to grow, stay healthy and be happy. If you get it right, your aquarium will provide you with many hours of entertainment, fun and pleasure. Good luck and enjoy your aquarium!