Most saltwater tropical fish are wild caught and are generally more colorful and larger than freshwater fish.
They need more live foods and a more varied diet than freshwater fish. These factors, along with the higher costs of
maintaining a saltwater tank, make the saltwater tropical fish hobby more expensive and less suited to beginners.
The saltwater aquarium hobby is damaging coral reefs around the world. The Hawaiian Audubon Society points out that while 2% of freshwater tropical wish are wild caught, 98% of saltwater tropical fish are captured in the wild. Of
those, 60% come the from Hawaiian Islands. Nearly 60% of the fish caught
will die in transport. With hundreds of thousands of fish caught in Hawaii
each year, the coral ecosystem is being destroyed by the saltwater aquarium
trade. Populations of Moorish Idols, Yellow Tangs, Potters Angels and
Longnose Butterfly fish have been drastically reduced in Hawaii. If you are starting
a saltwater aquarium, do your part to help the environment by purchasing tank
raised fish such as Clownfish and Damselfish. Observe the rest at a public
aquarium or on a snorkeling adventure.
For a beginner saltwater tank, you will need a tank, sand, a heater, salt mix, a hydrometer, a protein skimmer and a pH kit.
If you are keeping
fish only tank, standard fluorescent lighting will be fine. You can start the saltwater tank by introducing mollies or other brackish
livebearing freshwater fish, but you will need to remove them once you’ve established more aggressive saltwater fish in the tank. Make sure the tank is properly cycled before introducing more fish.
If you are stepping up to the more difficult, fish and mobile invertebrates,
or the most difficult,
reef tank (live coral), you will need proper lighting.
Following are rough guidelines for types of fish to keep. Beginners should start with damsels and clownfish. The fewer fish in the tank, the better the chance of success.