How much time does a saltwater aquarium need?
When most people who have never owned an aquarium (or have only owned a freshwater aquarium) see a saltwater aquarium for the first time, the following question often asked after the initial astonishment:
- How much time does a saltwater aquarium actually take?
- How much time do you need to keep THAT all going?
The simple answer is: Not as much as you might think
For some reason, people always think maintaining a seawater aquarium is a lot more complicated than it actually is. This is probably how the myth arose that you can only successfully keep a saltwater aquarium if you spend every free minute in front of your tank, cleaning, caring for, and polishing it and, best of all, worshiping a small Neptune statue.
All hobbies take time
Don’t get me wrong: A successful saltwater aquarium definitely takes time – but it is the same with any other hobby. It doesn’t matter whether you play soccer, go diving, have a model railway or like to draw. You always need time for your hobby, in order to acquire the basics and to practice your hobby.
The only difference with a pet is that you have to invest a minimum amount of time every day, whether you feel like it or not. You can skip a soccer training session without anything bad happening. Feeding your fish is not easy.
But that is the case with every pet. And believe me; the absolutely necessary work only takes a few minutes a day.
So how much time are we talking about?
Once an aquarium has been run in well, the daily work is very little. The basic maintenance of a 300 liter aquarium takes maybe 10 minutes a day: feed the fish, clean the glass, empty the skimmer, and check whether everything is OK. It’s all done really quickly.
And everything that goes beyond that, e.g. topping up with water, adding more chemicals, pH monitoring, … all of this can be automated with a little technology.
This guarantees you enough time to simply sit in front of your aquarium and enjoy the salty fruits of your labor.
Once a week, you should also take time to change the water, make repairs, and clean everything thoroughly. These weekly chores can quickly take an hour. The time you need to do this depends mainly on the size of your pelvis. Because of course 5% of a nano tank is exchanged faster than 5% of a 2000 liter reef.
But this important “water change day” does not have to be a waste of time.
Often we are just a little lazy during the week and postpone smaller tasks to the “water change day” – such as preparing salt water, cleaning the windows, cleaning filters or emptying the skimmer. During the week, all of this often happens on the side and in and of itself only takes a few minutes; you just have to do it.
Fish and corals require different amounts of time
Of course, the time required also depends on the type of your aquarium. If you have several large tanks or technically demanding systems, your time investment will of course be greater than if you only own one nano aquarium.
Above all, the number of people in your aquarium determines how much time you have to spend every day. In general, tanks with corals take longer than tanks without corals. The calcium-hungry SPS and LPS corals in particular need intensive care and the replenishment of various substances. And even if you have demanding fish that have to be fed by hand, this of course takes extra time. By the way, in my fish overview you will find the most popular aquarium fish and how easy they are to care for.
New aquariums take more time
I wrote above that the daily work on well-run-in aquariums is very little. However, an aquarium needs a lot of time during the run-in phase. You can expect to spend several hours in front of the aquarium for the first month. And that’s usually not a bad thing, because you’ve just bought your tank and want to spend a lot of time with it anyway.
Some things you should plan extra time for during the break-in phase:
- You still have to familiarize yourself with your new equipment , your work steps are not yet clear
- You operate a separate quarantine tank (at least I recommend that you do that). That requires frequent water changes and close observation
- You have to get some fish used to their new environment first , some maybe also to certain types of food
- You have to measure the water values very often and, if something is wrong, take control measures
However, once you have successfully done this, a saltwater aquarium is really no longer a big time waster. You just have to do a few little things on a regular basis.