Top 10 Saltwater Aquarium Myths

If you're interested in keeping a saltwater aquarium, you undoubtedly have many questions about what this popular hobby involves. And as you swim deeper into the subject, you will likely encounter some common myths and misconceptions about the challenges of maintaining an aquarium and saltwater animals. While some of these concerns may have been true in the past, the science of saltwater aquaria has increased by leaps and bounds, and many of the old problems or ideas are no longer relevant. Here's a look at some of the most common myths about aquariums and why should not take them at face value.

  • 01 of 10

    Cycling a Saltwater Aquarium

    Tropical Fish swimming in aquarium
    Andrew Holt/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

    MYTH:
    It takes 6 weeks to cycle (establish the biological filter) in a new saltwater aquarium.

    FACT:
    The original method used for cycling a tank consisted of putting a fish or two in a new tank, then waiting up to 6 weeks for the nitrobacter and nitrosoma bacteria to form and grow. Today, there are a number of methods for cycling a tank in as little as one day.

  • 02 of 10

    Water Changes to Reduce Nitrates

    MYTH:
    Water changes are the only way to reduce nitrates, which are the end product of the nitrification process in a saltwater aquarium.

    FACT:
    There are a number of methods that can be used to reduce or even prevent nitrate buildup without performing a water change.

  • 03 of 10

    Reef Tank Temperature

    MYTH:
    The ideal reef tank temperature is between 76 and 78 degrees F.

    FACT:
    The water temperatures of most of the reefs where your corals came from are a lot higher than 78 F.

  • 04 of 10

    Tangs (Surgeonfish) and Nitrates

    MYTH:
    Tangs (Surgeonfish) are more sensitive to nitrates than other fish.

    FACT:
    Surgeonfish are no more sensitive to nitrates than any other species. Tangs have endured nitrate levels of hundreds of ppm for extended periods of time with no ill effects.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Water Changes

    MYTH:
    Massive water changes to quickly reduce nitrates and other toxins are harmful to saltwater fish and invertebrates.

    FACT:
    While a rapid change in salinity, temperature, or pH can be harmful to fish and invertebrates, a rapid reduction in nitrates does not adversely affect them.

  • 06 of 10

    Coral Banded Shrimp

    MYTH:
    Coral Banded Shrimp kill fish.

    FACT:
    The Coral Banded Shrimp is a scavenger as well as a parasite picker and may attack other shrimp, but it will not normally attack fish. Many people who find their ​Coral Banded Shrimp consuming a dead fish or invertebrate assume that it was killed by the shrimp. However, the shrimp is just doing what it does for a living: scavenging.

  • 07 of 10

    Trusting Your LFS

    MYTH:
    You can depend on the people who work in your LFS (local fish store) to be knowledgeable and always give you good advice.

    FACT:
    There are a great number of LFS owners/employees who are well experienced in saltwater aquariums and will give you good advice. However, a lot of LFS and pet store employees (especially younger staffers) have little or no knowledge or experience in this subject, which requires time to develop.

  • 08 of 10

    Bio-Balls Create Nitrates

    MYTH:
    Bio-Balls or wet/dry filters create nitrates.

    FACT:
    Bio-Balls and wet/dry filter material can trap detritus and other tank debris, which break down and eventually create nitrates. However, if the Bio-Balls are cleaned regularly, they are not a significant source of nitrates.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Micro Bubbles and Popeye

    MYTH:
    Micro bubbles in aquarium water cause popeye (a condition that causes the eyes of fish to protrude abnormally).

    FACT:
    Popeye is caused by secondary bacterial infections in a fish's eye(s), caused by ammonia burns or other physical damage.

  • 10 of 10

    Transfer of Ich

    MYTH:
    Ich can be transferred through the air from one tank to another.

    FACT:
    Ich (Cryptocaryon and Oodinium) can be transferred from one tank to another via contaminated surfaces, such as nets, hands, fish, etc.