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How to Set-up Your First Saltwater Tank


This topic might not be something new under the sun but we still found some people confused about beginning with their first saltwater aquarium. There are doubts and queries regarding reef keeping, its maintenance, expenses, care and the set-up. There are worries if they will be able to get it right or end up with nuisances and blunders. You really need not worry if you have done your research well and know the basics. So, just for the beginners, we thought of recapturing those details which we must have talked about previously but needed to be summed up at once. Here you go:

Do not buy fish or any other livestock along with the tank. The set-up needs to be completed before these things go in.

1. To begin with, choose your location where you prefer the aquarium to sit. Once you are done with that, measure the space that is offered at that location and accordingly you can decide the size of your tank. For saltwater tank, you must abstain from places that are near to natural source of light like doors and windows. Choose a cool, well ventilated room. It’s better if you begin with larger tank as small tanks are really difficult to handle. Make room for electrical connections as you choose your aquarium stand. Stand should be strong enough to support your heavy tank well.

2. Once you have your tank home and fitted it at the proper location, clean it well with fresh water and sponge. Now it’s time you get the equipments ready, the most important one being lighting. For reef tanks, there are numerous options while choosing lights ranging from metal halides, to fluorescents and LED. Make sure you buy them from a good source and from a well reputed brand. Corals will need high intensity lighting so its better you be ready with a good light according to the size of your tank.

3. Get a good skimmer for your tank. For large sized tanks, protein skimmers are a must as it is difficult to change water on a regular basis. Get filters and saltwater rated pumps, making sure they hail from a reputed brand that has a good in the reef industry. Get chillers and heaters too. You can check our previous posts where we regularly introduce you to leading saltwater tank equipments and new releases and launches.

4. Fill the tank with freshwater and make sure all of the equipment works. Leave the water for 2 days and pay attention to any faulty equipment or probable leaks. The water temperature should be within 2 degrees of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 degrees Celsius). Empty the water out of the tank after 2 successful days.

5. Prepare saltwater in buckets using a good aquarium sea salt brand and purified water with a Reverse Osmosis or R0/Deionization Filter. Take a reading with the hydrometer. An ideal salt level will be from 1.020 to 1.023. After adding this water in the tank, let it rest for a day. Turn on your pumps.

6. Next day you can begin adding sand bed and gravels. You can add live rocks and any other decoration that you like.

7. Now allow your tank to cycle. This means you will need to wait until the water tests negative for ammonia and nitrite. You can refer to our previous article on cycling so be sure of the entire process.

8. Once this is done, you can add cleaning creatures likes snails and small hermit crabs along with few fishes but only after you have quarantined them for a few days. reefland advises you to add corals to a tank only after it is a month old and mature as you really don’t want to be dealing with blunders after adding them. Quarantine any new coral before you add them to the main tank.

9. Do not hurry! Any livestock should be added one at a time and not in bulk especially if you are new to the reef keeping hobby. Observe them closely to see how they are doing in the new environment and research on the species so give them a stress free condition.’

10. If you have any questions or confuisons, feel free to discuss with the Reefland community.