Top 5 tips for keeping a successful saltwater aquarium

Keeping a successful saltwater aquarium: check out these 5 tips

I asked members of the Saltwater Aquarium Blog Newsletter Community, “What is the best tip you ever received about keeping a successful saltwater aquarium?” You shared A LOT of tips–many of them were variations on a similar theme.

Top 5 tips for keeping a successful saltwater aquarium


Here are the top 5 tips for keeping a successful saltwater aquarium

These are the top tips that you shared about keeping a successful saltwater aquarium.

  1. Building a successful saltwater aquarium requires patience
  2. It is important to do the proper research before you buy
  3. The name of the game is keeping high-quality water parameters
  4. Weekly water changes are the key
  5. Having the right gear is important

1. Building a successful saltwater aquarium requires patience

The theme of being patient or having patience was a common element in the majority of aquarium tips shared by the blog newsletter community. Here are some of the quotes:

“Be patient.”

“Have patience.”

“Patience is a virtue in this hobby.”

“Go slow.”

“Take your time and don’t rush it.”

In my opinion, this is great advice. I’ve heard this phrase repeated before–nothing good happens quickly in the saltwater aquarium hobby. Problems happen when you rush into things or change things too quickly. If you’re interested in starting your own successful saltwater aquarium or if you’ve recently felt the urge to go buy a bunch of stuff, listen to your fellow readers and try to have some patience.

research before you buy, a helpful tip for a successful aquarium

2. It is important to do the proper research before you buy

Another common theme in the advice shared by the saltwater aquarium blog newsletter community was how important it is to do the proper research before you buy anything.

“Do research.”

“Do the research ahead of time to make sure that each and every animal you add to the tank is compatible”

“Research before you start and then research more.”

It may seem a bit self-indulgent here, for a saltwater aquarium blog and information site to highlight the importance of doing the proper research here, but I can certainly attest to the value of this advice, provided to you from the community, in my own experience as well.

A few of the biggest mistakes I made were from not doing the proper research before making a purchase–and ending up with fighting or dead fish and invertebrates. We have to keep in mind that these are living creatures we are purchasing and keeping in our aquarium–and we have a responsibility to provide them with the best care.

Properly researching the needs of each animal before adding them to our aquarium is an important step and should be considered a requirement.

3. The name of the game is keeping high-quality water parameters

I’m glad to see that the saltwater aquarium blog community is focused on maintaining reef tank parameters for their aquarium water. Here are some of the tips they provided:

“Focus on water parameters.”

“Be sure to keep on top of checking your water parameters and temperature.”

“Water parameters are everything!”

I think that last quote sums it up magnificently. Water parameters are everything. In a lot of ways, we don’t really keep saltwater aquarium fishes, corals, and invertebrates, we care for a giant glass bucket of water in our houses and keep the fishes, corals and other invertebrates in that water. But a big, big part of what we do is focus on keeping that water clean and of sufficiently high quality. Without that, everything else breaks down.

Weekly water changes are the recipe for a successful saltwater aquarium

4. Weekly water changes are the key

It’s good to see that the community is also focused on doing the chores it takes to keep those water parameters up. Water changes are the key:

“Keep a strict maintenance schedule (water changes, etc.,)”

“Do regular water changes every week and clean your filter every 2 weeks.”

“Water changes weekly.”

“Water changes, testing the water to maintain quality, don’t rush it.”

weekly water changes are key to a successful aquarium

There is absolutely no substitute for the weekly water change and there is probably nothing better for your tank than to replenish the life-sustaining water with new water. Dilution may be the solution to solution, but weekly water changes are the recipe for a successful saltwater aquarium.

5. Having the right gear is important

This is the only category of advice that wasn’t universally consistent, among the community–but the advice shared is important, nonetheless (I love the word nonetheless, it feels great not to bother putting spaces in between those three words).

“Add an algae scrubber.”

“Get a skimmer.”

“Get RO/DI in your home.”

“Not too much light when first setting up.”

“Size really does matter when it comes to your aquarium, protein skimmer and heaters.”

“Cheaper lights and equipment can work as well as overpriced, big brand equipment. Read the specs always, much of it is the same.”

As you can see, the gang here is still very much focused on having the right equipment to keep the water quality high, as well as ensuring you have the right size at the right price.


The most obvious conclusion here is that I’m fortunate to have the smartest and best-looking community out there on the world wide web that Al Gore invented. In all seriousness, I hope you find the tips and advice shared here to be as helpful as the members of this community did.

  • Be patient
  • Research everything before you buy
  • Keep your water quality high
  • Do water changes
  • Get the proper gear


Written by Albert B. Ulrich III.

How about you, what is your # 1 tip?

Please leave a comment below to tell us your best tip







4 responses to “Keeping a successful saltwater aquarium: check out these 5 tips”

  1. Jake Papp

    My tip would be never change too much water at once, I do no more than 25%, and will only do 10 to 20 percent of I am doing it more diligently. Minor differences in the large amount of water you are introducing can feel like drastic changes to your pets. Even when responding to a crisis, do more little water changes over time than one or two big water changes.

    1. Jake, thanks for that tip. Stability is key and big water changes can impact that if the water from the changes is different from the tank water. Appreciate your perspective on managing a crisis.

  2. Dale Boyd

    Albert, I just found your site and joined and have found it very informative, thanks for all the effort. I’ve been doing salt water reef tanks for about 10 years now, starting with a 55 gal, then a 90 gal and currently have a 120 gal. I have also just recently purchased a 180 gal that I am in the process of building a stand for.

    A couple of things I might add. Setting up a new tank is when patience is the most important. People just want to rush when setting up the first time and this is a big mistake. They need to learn all the phases a tank goes through before it is ready for adding livestock (fish and corals) to the environment. I’m not sure if you have covered it but it might be beneficial to let people know the phases of cycling a new tank and what to look for and what to expect at each phase.

    The second thing is, LED lighting. I’ve found you should forget everything you may have learned about lighting when it comes to LED’s. Make sure you get LED’s that are adjustable in intensity until you know how your livestock will react. It’s easy to burn your precious corals with LED’s if not done correctly.

    Thanks for a great site and I will be checking in often.

    1. Dale, thanks for the comment and compliment! The effort here, like our hobby, is a labor of love. You give some great advice here. Patience is critical important, as is learning the phases of the tank. Your point about LEDs, if you’re buying ‘the good stuff’ is also quite candid and true. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, I really appreciate it.

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