Home and Life

Setting Up a Salt Water Fish Tank


The beauty of the ocean right inside of your home

Emulating the beauty of the depths of the ocean by a salt water fish tank can be a daunting task at first. But if you follow the following steps you can be ensured that you’ll set up a saltwater or marine fish tank in a fairly easy way possible.


Placing the tank

A place where to place your salt water tank is very important, because it will directly affect the condition and the quality of the salt water fishes or other marine life that you’ll be putting inside your tank. Make sure that the location isn’t too drafty or too windy. Also, don’t place the aquarium in direct sunlight, or other sources of varying degrees of temperatures, like the kitchen for instance. Place your aquarium in areas that can receive the right temperature — not too hot or too cold. Don’t install the aquarium in a very busy place, but make sure that it should be highly visible for you and others to enjoy. Make sure that you leave ample space for the electrical connections and equipment.

How to set up a Saltwater Aquarium



11931466_f260Tank types, sumps and lighting

If your budget allows it, buy the biggest aquarium possible. Or an aquarium big enough to fit in your space. A big aquarium is recommended so that it will give a more stable water environment.

Whether you buy an acrylic or glass aquarium, make sure to have drilled (the acrylic tank being easier to drill). Some tanks are pre-drilled, or you can do the drilling yourself, or have it drilled by someone at the aquarium shops or pet stores. Better yet, buy an aquarium with an “internal overflow.” Choose a tank that is not too deep so that you can reach the bottom (e.g. as you are cleaning it). A sump (a second smaller tank) is not really necessary per se. However, including a sump will be a nice addition in hiding undesirable-looking equipement as to draw more water volume into your aquarium. If you have to buy a sump, better install it in a cabinet or stand at this time. Metal halide bulbs are recommended; bulbs with 250 watts are the most common for salt water aquariums. Other type of lighting used for aquariums is a high-intensity fluorescent lighting.

11931470_f260Filtration and heating

In setting up the filtration, get a good quality protein skimmer. This is very important because a protein skimmer is mostly effective in dissolving organic fish waste. This makes the quality of your salt water much cleaner and more improved. A protein skimmer is recommended only for sea water aquariums, never for freshwater ones. When installing a protein skimmer you should adjust its air-intake to get the most bubbles possible. All marine life in sea water aquariums is tropical, so it’s necessary to install a heater in your saltwater fish aquarium especially if you live in temperate regions. It’s recommended that you should use at least two heaters to prevent the risk of malfunction.

Water flow

Adjust the flow of your saltwater tank by adding pumps to return the water from your sump to the main tank. Internal or external pumps are ok. This is so because it will provide a brisk and energetic turbulent flow which is necessary for your marine life to survive inside the tank.

11931473_f260Preparing the tank and mixing water and salt

Have your tank cleaned with fresh water and sponge or cloth. Then test your tank if it’s leaking by filling it with fresh water, turning all the pumps, and shutting down the sump. If all seems ok, you can now prepare an artificial “sea water” by adding adequate salt into the water, which will depend on the volume of your water. Use only an aquarium sea salt of very good quality. Fill your tank ONLY with purified water with a Reverse Osmosis or R0/DeIonization Filter. Don’t use distilled water as it has traces of copper that can potentially harm fish, corals or other marine life in your aquarium.

Once you have your salt and freshwater mixed, let it rest for a day. This is done in order to have the salt completely dissolved into the water. Use a hydrometer to measure your water’s salinity level as well as specific gravity.

11931477_f260Adding sand, rock and “cleaning” creatures

If you want to add sand, there are a variety of options. If you intend to add sand before filling it with salt water, especially if it’s not a “live bed” kind of sand. But if it’s a “live” sand bed, add it after your salt and freshwater mixture is completely dissolved. Some people choose not to add sand at all. It may not be aesthetically pleasing, but this is an easier way to suck out all the wastes and debris by the siphons of your filtration system.

Then you may add artificial “live” rocks into your aquarium. You may add the rocks before or after adding the sand.

It’s also ideal to buy “cleaning” creatures such as snails, reef fish and small hermit crabs. They mostly come inexpensive but make sure that they should cohabiting nicely with other more expensive and exotic kinds.

11931481_f260Adding corals

According to expert aquarium hobbyists, corals should not be added until the tank has matured. So how can you tell if your tank is old enough for corals? Consider checking at live rocks. It may develop purple spots — the sign of a new growing algae, which means your tank is now amenable for corals.

Now you can enjoy your salt water fish tank. The considerable effort and costs will be all worth it when you’re having a relaxing view of your gorgeous, bubbling and well-lighted salt water fish tank.


How to Set up a Saltwater Tank Step by Step