Saltwater Aquarium Parameters

Maintaining Proper Water Quality

Saltwater aquarium

The key to success for saltwater aquariums is providing proper water quality. Keeping saltwater aquarium parameters in range is crucial to the overall health and well-being of your fish, coral and invertebrates. Most saltwater inhabitants can not tolerate even small fluctuations in the aquarium’s water parameters. This makes it necessary to routinely test the aquarium’s parameter on a regular basis.

I have created a FREE PDF file weekly maintenance/reference chart for you to use at home. This way you’ll always know the proper parameters for a saltwater aquarium.

Maintenance and Parameter checklist  (PDF download)

Water Parameter



Calcium (Ca) 380-450 ppm Calcium is an fundamental element for your coral’s and invertebrate’s health. The wild coral reefs tend to have calcium level between 380-420 ppm.  
Alkalinity  8-12 dkh Higher alkalinity help control PH levels alkalinity is the amount of bicarbonate available in the water. Which is essential for coral and invertebrate health.
Ammonia (NH3) 0 ppm Ammonia is toxic to your aquarium’s inhabitants and only should be present when you first cycle your aquarium.
Nitrite (NO2) 0 ppm Nitrite is a byproduct produced by the aquarium’s beneficial bacterial consuming ammonia. Nitrite is toxic to your aquarium’s inhabitants and only should be present when you  are in the cycle stage of your aquarium.
Nitrate (NO3) <10 ppm A properly cycled aquarium will have a small amount of nitrate present. This is a sign that the aquarium is fully cycled. However nitrate can be toxic to aquarium inhabitants at high levels.
PH 8.0 – 8.4 It’s important to ensure that the pH remains stable in your aquarium. Large fluctuations in PH can cause health problems for your live stock.
Phosphate <0.3 ppm Phosphate can act as a fertilizer for algae and cyanobacteria outbreaks and higher level of phosphate can inhibit coral growth.
Salinity 1.023 – 1.025 sg. The average ocean salinity is 35 ppt. At 80°F salinity of 35ppt equals 1.023 sg. (specific gravity).
Temperature 78-82 The environment of the wild reefs is a even keel environment with very small fluctuations throughout the year, this makes it very important to avoid fluctuations in your aquarium’s temperature.


When testing your saltwater aquarium parameters the most important thing you can do with the information you find is use it. It will be your aquarium’s way of telling you what it need more of, or less of. Whatever the case my be, taking the time to make adjustments will make you a more successful saltwater aquarium hobbyist. 

Save a reef… Grow your own.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.