Welcome to the second part of my saltwater aquarium series! I hope you enjoy reading this! I gathered most of my information from this post.
First of all, you can’t forget water testing. You should test your pH and alkalinity very week. The ph is regulated by dissolved carbonate buffers. The alkalinity is the measure of those carbonate buffers. Some things in the tank produce acids that will neutralize the buffers, but don’t worry this is natural. As the alkalinity goes down, the pH will go down as well. That’s when calcium levels come in.
A healthy reef aquarium means the corals are removing calcium and alkalinity from the water and creating coral skeletons. Calcium correlates with alkalinity. Both will drop over time. I would recommend that you test pH, alkalinity and calcium once a week for the first month or so. Write down the levels so you can see trends over time. You will see that alkalinity varies, while calcium is relatively constant. This is to be expected. Beware of progressively decreasing alkalinity. Then, replenish alkalinity (and calcium) with a balanced calcium and alkalinity additive. This will stabilize pH as a result. After a few months you can decrease the testing to once a month. By this time you will know when the levels change and you will know when to provide the supplement. Just make sure you test the water beforehand to ensure it is needed.
Ammonia and nitrite. When cycling your tank it is vital to watch these levels so you know when the biological filter has been established. Once the biological filter is fully active, these tests cam be diminished to once a month.
Nitrate. You only need to test nitrate once every 2 weeks. Once the biological filter is established in your aquarium you will see nitrate levels rise, so regular water changes are recommended to keep nitrate levels in check. Once your tank has been running for several months, you only need to test it once a month.
Phosphate. Test for phosphate once a month, and make water changes using a phosphate-removing chemical.
Cleaning. Clean your filter and protein skimmer once a month. Some aquarists like doing frequent, small water changes and some prefer rare, large water changes. It’s up to you! I personally do around 10% water change once a week or every other week, but it all depends on the stock, personal preference, etc.
Well that’s about it for maintenance. I hope this was helpful! If you noticed anything missing, please comment so I can add it on. Thank you for reading!