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Brackish Water Aquarium Basics

One of the aquarium topics that seems to create a great deal of confusion amongst our customers is what is a brackish aquarium, and what do you need to successfully keep brackish fish. To shed some light upon this niche of aquarium keeping, I would like to welcome Lexi Jones back to our blog, to share this article about brackish aquarium basics that she has written.
Welcome Lexi!
You might ask, “What is brackish water?”

Brackish water is a mix of freshwater and saltwater, as in estuaries, mangrove swamps, or brackish rivers. The salinity is higher than freshwater, but less than salt water. The specific gravity should be kept between 1.005 and 1.015 for a brackish water aquarium, depending on the type of habitat. You may have to increase the salinity of the water over the fish’s lifespan; this also depends on the type of fish you plan to keep.
Owning a brackish water aquarium is very unique. It is also easier to keep than a saltwater aquarium, being that the fishes in these habitats are used to fluctuations in salinity and water parameters.

The basic supplies you will need to start a brackish water aquarium are as follows:

Aquarium– Brackish aquariums can be set up in just about any size aquarium, I would start with at least a ten gallon size. As with any fish that you plan to keep in an aquarium, you should know the adult size of the fish, and make sure that you have chosen an appropriate match for the size aquarium you have.
Filter– Hang on the back bio-wheel and mechanical power filters, or canister type filters are the best types for a starter brackish water aquarium.
Substrate– sand. This can be any saltwater aragonite sand or even children’s play sand. This sand will help to stabilize the pH of the aquarium, which should be between 7.6 and 8.4 depending on the type of habitat.
Heater– The temperature should be about 80- 82 degrees Fahrenheit. You need to make sure the heater is adequate in size. A rule of thumb is 5 watts of heat per gallon. You will also need a thermometer to make sure the temperature stays constant.
Any tank should have a Glass top or hood. Brackish water aquariums will evaporate water faster than most freshwater aquariums, given the higher temperature recommended. The use of a hood will help to reduce evaporation as much as possible.
Lighting is another requirement, but how much you need varies. If you are only keeping fish, a simple fluorescent bulb fixture will suffice. However, if you plan on keeping plants more intense lighting is required. Also, the light should only be on for around 10 hours a day.
Marine Salt– I use Instant Ocean at home, but any brand of marine salt will work. DO NOT use freshwater aquarium salt; this is not the correct salt to use for brackish or marine tanks.
Hydrometer or Refractometer Hydrometers and refractometers are devices that measure the salinity and/or specific gravity of your aquarium water, and allow you to make sure that you are maintaining the proper salt levels in your brackish aquarium
Water Conditioner– This will remove chlorine and chloramines that are in tap water. Prime and AmQuel are both good water conditioner products to use.
Bacterial Supplement– Products such as Stress Zyme, Stability, or Cycle add beneficial bacteria to the aquarium. The bacteria in these products help to jump-start the aquarium by breaking down organic waste. It may take up to 6 weeks to start a large aquarium. For more information look up Cycling an Aquarium.

That will help you start. If you have any questions feel free to call us, or send us an e-mail

Thanks Lexi
Until next blog,