1. Get your cleaning supplies ready. Saltwater aquariums have special needs in addition to the basic supplies you'd use for a freshwater aquarium. Gather the following supplies:
· Properly prepared water in the quantity you'll need to replace.
· An algae pad for cleaning the glass inside the tank.
· A large bucket (5 gallons or 10 litres, or bigger) dedicated for this purpose.
· A simple siphon-type gravel vacuum (NOT a battery-operated gadget).
· Filter media (cartridges, sponges, carbon packets, and so on) if you're changing the filter this time.
· Aquarium-safe glass cleaner or a vinegar-based solution.
· Salt mix.
· PH strips.
· A refractometer, hygrometer, or salinity probe.
· A thermometer.
· 10% bleach solution in a separate container (optional)
2. Clean off the algae. Use the algae pad to remove algae residue from the inside of the tank. Use a razor blade or plastic blade to scrape off built-up residue that's difficult to remove.
3. Siphon out the water. For a saltwater aquarium, change 10% of the water every 2 weeks. This should be sufficient to eliminate nitrates from the water. Turn on the siphon and let the water run into a large bucket.
4. Clean the gravel. Push the gravel vacuum through the gravel. Fish waste, excess food, and other debris will be sucked into the vacuum. If you have very small, weak, or delicate fish, you can put a never-worn stocking over the end of the syphon (but be sure the mesh is large enough to get the debris). For sand substrate, use just the hose part of the siphon, not the plastic tube, holding it under an inch from the surface to suck up waste without disturbing your sand.
5. Check for salt creep. When the salt water evaporates at the top of the aquarium, it will leave behind a crusty residue known as salt creep. Clean it off with an algae sponge and add back the lost water.
6. Mix a saltwater solution and add it to the tank. You need to ensure that the temperature, salinity and pH of the water are all within an acceptable range for your fish. Start this process the night before you clean your tank
· Buy distilled or reverse osmosis water. You can purchase these at Saltwater Heaven. Place the water in a clean plastic bucket, preferably used only for this purpose.
· Heat the water with a specialized heater, purchased at a pet store.
· Add the salt mix. One-step salt mixes are available at SWH. Follow the instructions on how much to add based on how much water you are using. The rule of thumb is 1/2 cup of mix for every gallon of water.
· Let the water aerate overnight. In the morning, check the salinity with a refractometer, hygrometer, or salinity probe. The ideal reading is between 1.021 and 1.025. Also, check the temperature with a thermometer. For saltwater fish, it should be between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (23 and 28 degrees Celsius).
***Available at Saltwater Heaven***