Jump to content

I Got A Job


Recommended Posts

  • Regular Member

I am taking over aquarium maintenence in January. I'll be taking care of 4 freshwater tanks (easy...) and 3 marine tanks. I don't really know anything about marine aquariums but they assured me I'd learn fast and its not that different from fresh. I had my "training" today but it was really just question and answer so I feel I have a lot of learning to do. She will have me go on rounds with her to change all the tanks etc one day before winter break. So this is what I learned about routine maintenance on the 175gal saltwater:

Feed flakes/defrosted brine shrimp 1Xday

Check temperature and for wellness 1Xday

Clean glass with razor or scrubber about 2Xweek as needed

Test salinity 1Xweek and the couple days after a water change

Test other things (I forgot what they were) about once every two weeks and add supplements as needed

Change about 1/4-1/3 water once every 2 months, matching salinity before replacing water

Top off the tank frequently with RO water

kill pest polyps (forgot what they were called) with syringe of...something lol

regularly pluck green hair algae and purple cyanobacteria

marine has a nitrogen cycle but its in the live rock instead of a filter

dunk powerheads in bleach about every 2-3 weeks

rinse protein skimmer (in tap or RO?) 1xweek

there is no "sump" (but I don't know what a sump is)

Anything else? Does this sound correct? What are some common problems and diseases in a saltwater tank I should look for? Common mistakes beginners make? I'm really excited about this job but a little scared. Once I ID stuff I'll let you guys know so maybe you can better help me. All I know is that there are corals, live rock, (I think crushed coral as a substrate), anemones, fish, and starfish, urchins, crabs, and shrimp so there's a lot going on in there.

Most people have the opposite problem, they want a saltwater tank and have to go through all that waiting and setting up etc. I'm just jumping in! Any advice or articles would be much appreciated. I'll try to get a picture of the 175 later.

Edited by Ponderosa Power
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Well it sounds like you learned a lot from that Q&A session!! Topping off is one of the most important things you can do with a sw tank because (as we know with freshwater) the water can evaporate out quickly. In a sw tank, the water evaporates but the salt remains, so the salinity content climbs higher and higher. Are you using a hydrometer or a refractometer to check the specific gravity (most people refer to it as salinity but in fact it is the measure of all dissolved solids within the water). If it's a hydrometer be sure and rinse it with fresh water after each use or it won't measure correctly.

I'm wondering why the tank regularly has cyano in it. In a well maintained, properly balanced tank, you shouldn't have any cyano. Being that you're feeding the tank once a day, I would guess that the problem lies there, or in the fact that there is insufficient circulation. SW tanks need a LOT of circulation in them. In our 75 we had three large powerheads to do the trick.

The pest polyps you refer to are probably aiptasia. They are pest anemones that come in on live rock and feed off excess nutrients in the tank. It's probably kalkwasser or something similar in the syringe which actually burns and kills them. But really the best way to get rid of them is to figure out what's causing the excess nutrients in the tank. Again I'm inclined to think it's being overfed. Most people only feed SW tanks every other day or a couple times a week.

Now, is there live coral in this system, or is it fish only? I'm wondering if the other supplements you mentioned are calcium or magnesium. WIth coral and live clams, you need to carefully monitor all those levels because as they grow, they use up all the available nutrients in the water.

Are you adding some sort of buffer with each water change, do you know? That is also really important, constantly monitoring pH and KH within the tank.

ANy idea what sort of fish and creatures are in these tanks?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Oh man! That is quite a terrifying honour. At least, I personally would be scared witless. Salt water is so beautiful and so scary. I don't know anything about marine tanks, but I just wanted to wish you luck, can't wait to see the pictures!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

I used to think that, too, Chloe. I got a job at a petstore knowing NOTHING about SW and suddenly had to help customers and take care of a huge SW section!! I was cleaning out a tank and one of the guys said, you know those fish are venomous, right?? No!!!

But SW chemistry and maintenance isn't too different from freshwater. We already are familiar with water changes and testing the water chemistry. It's just a few extra steps. When you start keeping invertebrates like corals, then it gets a bit more complicated, knowing what sort of lighting they all require.

I would recommend the book Marine Fishes by Scott W. Michael. I have it and it's been an invaluable resource. The fish are grouped so you can quickly flip through and find what you need. He gives minimum tank requirements, what they eat and what they are compatible with. I thought I knew a lot about marine fish till I started reading it!!! It's a great companion piece, and also makes a good coffee table book. LOL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Sounds awesome! Thanks for the recommendation, jsrtist! I will seek that book out. I'm dying to give SW a try, but it's a big investment, and I want to at least have some grasp on what's involved before I take the plunge.

I love educational coffee table books!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member
The pest polyps you refer to are probably aiptasia. They are pest anemones that come in on live rock and feed off excess nutrients in the tank. It's probably kalkwasser or something similar in the syringe which actually burns and kills them. But really the best way to get rid of them is to figure out what's causing the excess nutrients in the tank. Again I'm inclined to think it's being overfed. Most people only feed SW tanks every other day or a couple times a week.

That's right for both! I doubt I can physically change (or advise to change) anything in the tank and I'm certainly in no position to. I will try feeding every other day and see how that goes.

It is a hydrometer, something like this: http://www.nnnn.com/graphics/product_i...3761875r200.jpg Thanks for the tip, she didn't mention that!

Yes there is live coral in the tank. Magnesium and calcium are two of the additives, and there is at least one more.

She did not mention any sort of buffer to add to water during water changes.

Thanks for the advice these will be good questions to bring up to my boss.

As for critters...I am looking them up now. Fish: a schooll of blue-green chromis, a couple clown fish, green mandarin, yellow tangs, cardinals (spotted maybe? they look more grey), flame hawkfish, and maybe more I'll get back to you on that.

Apparently nothing is poisonous and I don't need to wear gloves if I don't want.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Admin

There might be Poisonous fish in the tank, but be careful. There are bristle worms, some coral if touched can leave a stinging or burning effect. When I deal with my SW tank I always were gloves, got hit by a bristle worm once and its like having tiny bits of glass in your skin....Please were gloves hun.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member
Good luck to you in your new job!

I've received feedback in the past from people telling me that goldfish are more difficult to take care of compared to SW fish. :P

Ed :)

Haha I can agree with that already! I pretty much gave up on goldfish because every fish I brought home ended up with some sort of parasite. I prefer tropicals anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Ink Fish

WowEXclamationwiggle.gif 3 marine tanks!

Is getting the water balance right very hard. it sounds complicated, loads of equipment! I have always wanted to be able to set up a marine tank, I am very inexpeirienced with the whole concept. i find doing the salt for my pufferfish hard! If I tried to set one up I think everything would go horrificly wrong!

I'm sure your really goot at that though! Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
  • Regular Member




I went in today and took some pics of the 175gallon. Pardon the quality, my camera doesn't have a screen andn I can't adjust settings either. I saw the other two aquariums yesterday and I think I like them better. I'll get pics of those in january when I get my keys.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
  • Regular Member

i posted this information on your other thread as well, i apologize for any redundancies... http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-05/rhf/index.php

although incredibly complex at times, this article is great to have and can be a life saver. learn it. love it. sleep with it under your pillow.

test for:


salinity/spacific gravity








the link provided above with show you exactly where you want to keep your levels at. all other levels will usually correct themselves after a water change. saltwater water changes are different from goldfish water changes because you do not change out 50% of the water at a time. once a week 10-20%. it is very rare to do anything more than a 30% water change on a reef tank.

calcium/alkalinity usually have an inverse effect on each other; if one is high, the other is low. magnesium is the wildcard (out of magnesium/alk/calcium), meaning if you are having trouble keeping alkalinity/calcium stable then you magnesium is out of whack...

i hope this isn't frowned upon, but here is a link to (IMHO) the best saltwater forum around... http://www.nano-reef.com/

just make sure that when you explain your situation, they know it was your employers idea to stick you with 3 tanks, and you are willing to learn. trust me.

stick with the basics... water chemistry is very important.


2. research everything/anything before you actually do/add it

3. weekly 10-20% water changes will keep most levels in check

4. do not dose anything you are not testing for

5. rule of thumb: one clean up crew critter per gallon

6. good stuff doesn't come cheap

7. you get what you pay for

8. no tangs unless you have a bigger tank to move them to later

9. lighting 8-12 hours a day is a good idea

10. RODI > Distilled > RO > whatever else

11. cyano problems (red slimy algae, grows everywhere)

a. less feeding

b. 8 hour lighting period

c. more flow

d. more water changes

e. vacuum your sand already

12. don?t let the snail rot in your tank

13. refugium > no refugium

14. yes you are probably overstocked

15. water-changes weekly are a very good idea

16. get a refractometer already

17. variety is best for fish food

18. have at least two sources of water flow for better turbulance

19. don?t use bottled drinking water

20. don?t use spring water

21. don?t use tap water

22. less fish = more room for error when the unexpected happens.

23. the unexpected will happen

24. do not impulse buy

25. stability is key

26. bigger = easier to keep stable

27. no your pH doesnt have to be 8.2

28. pH of 7.8 -8.2 is fine

29. don?t add any supplements without testing

30. this includes pH buffer

31. 6500k yellow light

32. 10000k white light

33. 20000k blue light

34. no crushed coral. anywhere.

35. refugiums are nice

36. protein skimmers aren't required

37. protein skimmers are nice

38. cheato is a nice macro algae to use in a refugium

39. at least 1lbs of live rock per gallon

40. when in doubt refer to rules #1 or #25

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
  • Regular Member

Things are going better and I'm getting the hang of it now. The only thing is the pulsing xenia and some of the purple mushrooms are fading off. JJ thinks its the old lighting and we will hopefully get that soon. I'm STILL working on getting the water cleaner from last semester.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Glad to hear things are going well!!! Salt water fish/tanks are NOT my thing.. When I started working at the pet store, and the main fish guy left, I was like "oh noooo" because that meant I was responsible for the salt water system and this 300 gallon salt water show tank, and I had NO salt water experience at all... Then I found out they were taking out everything salt water from our store and I was sooo excited.. It sounds like something that could be learned but at the time I still needed to learn about every other type of fish besides goldfish and salt just made it overwhelming..

You are handling it well and the tanks look really amazing! : )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...