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General Care for
Saltwater Fish

Saltwater Fish

Left to right, Pacific Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus), Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris), and Emperor Anglefish (Pomacanthus imperator).

By Tony Griffitts


Saltwater for marine fish is created by adding synthetic sea salt to tap water.  A hydrometer is used to measure the salt content in your marine aquarium.  Your salt content should measure around 1.023 (+/- .002).  The more salt you add to the aquarium the higher the reading on the hydrometer.  If you have too much salt in the aquarium, take some water out and replace it with de-chlorinated tap water.  Fifty percent water change is recommended every 3 to 4 weeks.


70° to 85° F (21° to 29° C)


8.2 to 8.3

Habitat/Proper Aquarium Set up:

The aquarium should have coral or aragonite sand to help maintain a high pH.  For most saltwater fish, the aquarium should be decorated with lots of rocks and/or coral heads to provide plenty of caves for the fish to hide.  Plastic plants can be added if so desired.


Most saltwater fish will eat frozen brine shrimp and dry foods.  For fish that like algae in their diet (Tangs, Angelfish) you can give them Romaine lettuce, or Nori Seaweed.  Larger fish like Groupers, Lionfish, Moray Eels, and Snappers can be offered krill, silversides, large shrimp, small strips of raw fish, clam, and squid.  Live food such as goldfish and ghost shrimp can also be offered to some fish that may be reluctant to eat prepared foods.

Special Note:

When you bring home a new saltwater fish it is highly recommended that you first quarantine them in a small aquarium (10 or 20 gallons) for 3 weeks before you add them to a larger display tank.  The quarantine tank should have copper in the water to kill any common saltwater parasites that may be on the fish.  If you notice any parasites on your new fish you can also give them a freshwater bath for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  This will often kill many of the parasites that are on the fish.

Published - 2003

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