Taking the mayhem out of marine fish keeping
The start of your new marine tank
How much time will your new marine hobby tank up?
Time is another important factor to consider. If you were buying a dog you would be questioning how long you would need to spend with it, train it, feed it and walk it.
Fish are no different, granted they don't need training (some corals do but I'll talk about that on the 'Stocking Your Tank' page, but there is potentailly a larger time demand put on you by your tank than yu might think. This will be influenced by the type of system you keep or indeed, if you know you don't have a lot of time to spare each week then your time budget will influence your finished tank. The last thing you want is to have aspirations for a type of tank that will take you and hour a day to maintain only to be broken hearted when you have to strip it down and start again when you realise you can't keep on top of it.
Of course I'm only talking about basic tanks here, there are tanks out there that are on almost fully automated systems but their set up and maintenance are beyond the scope of this website.
So you've checked your budget but time will be your next most limiting factor. Even if your budget is unlimited there is no point going for the largest, most demanding system if you can only spare 25 minutes per week. maintaining it.
You will probably find that more time will be required during the initial set up phase when you have to deal with tweaking things and the inevitable algae outbreaks that almost every new tank goes through at some time or another.
Once your system is up and running the day to day feeding should take between five minutes (putting food straight into the tank) and an hour (if you go for a set up where many of the corals require target feeding with tweezers or turkey basters). The time you have available each night to feed your tank will, therefore, also influence your stocking list.
It takes me approximately ten minutes per night to feed, half an hour every three or four days to clean the glass and a comfortable three hours every weekend to carry out a full water change. Add to this once a month removing all powerheads and stripping down the protien skimmer, cleaning them to ensure optimal performance and getting them back in can take one to two hours.
You should be aware that many people will tell you there is never enough time to tinker with the tank. Indeed there always seems to be something that requires furtling with but the times explained above will hopefully give you an indication of the absolute minimum time required to maintain a healthy marine tank
So you know how much you can spend, how much time can you give it?
Always try to plan your final tank with a full understanding of it's requirments in terms of time.
Don't fall into the trap of buying something because you like it then realising too late that it will add an hour onto your time every night whilst you need to target feed it with a morsel of mysis shrimp
TIME - in a nutshell
This website is focused on explaining that you don't necessarily have to have the largest budget and all the time in the world to successfully keep a marine tank
Don't underestimate the amount of time needed to maintain your tank, there is always something to tinker with or an irritating blob of something nondescript on the inside of the glass that needs removing
If you have a stable, simple tank that can be maintained just by water changes, after you become familiar with it and it's inhabitants you could probably get away with missing the odd weekly water change
Remember that different stock will require different amounts of time, there is a big difference between throwing a bit of food in each night and having to target feed thirty LPS (large polyped stoney corals) with various implements
Never try and rush a water change with a marine tank, accidents WILL happen!