how to setup a saltwater aquarium

Following on from our introduction to saltwater aquariums this
segment is designed to give you some idea of a typical saltwater aquarium setup.

The type of saltwater aquarium setup you choose depends on a few factors. For example, the kinds of species you want to stock, the space you have available, and your budget.

In general you will want to buy the biggest saltwater aquarium
setup you can afford that will fit nicely into your living environment.

This is so that your fish and other animals can have the most comfort possible as they grow.

The fish and other invertebrates that you choose to stock your tank
with need enough space to swim and grow in and enough oxygen to survive.

When you choose a saltwater aquarium setup remember that these
two factors are determined mainly by the size of the tank.

So let’s talk about the oxygen component of a saltwater aquarium setup.

The amount of oxygen in the water is related to the tanks surface area.

This means the amount of area on the tank’s surface that is exposed to the air.

The greater the surface area of your saltwater aquarium setup, the
more room there is for exchange of oxygen to happen at the surface.

The more oxygen that is allowed to enter the tank and the more
harmful gases like carbon dioxide are allowed to leave the healthier
your saltwater aquarium setup will be.

The oxygen content of the water is also influenced by its temperature.

In general, the warmer the water, the lower the oxygen content will be.

Most marine species from the tropics like water that is 75 degrees or
higher so this means that less oxygen is going to be available to them.

This is when it becomes important to increase the surface of the
tank by making sure your saltwater aquarium setup is as large as possible.

How do you do this? There is no typical saltwater aquarium setup. Marine tanks come in a variety of shapes and size, but it is the
shape of the tank, not its volume that influences surface area.

This means that even where two tanks have identical volumes they
might not have the same surface area depending on their shape.

A saltwater aquarium setup that is tall and slender won’t get a good rate of gas exchange.

An ideal design would be one that is short and wide.

Once you’ve chosen your tank its time to start thinking about its residents. Of course the size of your tank is going to dictate how many fish and invertebrates it can house.

The main thing to avoid in your saltwater aquarium setup is overcrowding.

Too many inhabitants and your tank’s filtration system will be overloaded.

Fish living in cramped conditions become stressed and this can lead to illness and death.

You can calculate how many fish your saltwater aquarium setup will
hold by stocking one inch of fish per four gallons of water for a period of six months.

After this period increase the number of fish slowly to one inch per two gallons.

This means that a 40 gallon aquarium should not contain more than 10 inches of fish for the first six months.

So, for example, you might choose one 3-inch queen angel, two 1-
inch clownfish, one 2-inch regal tang, one 1-inch bicolor blenny and two 1-inch Beau Gregory’s.

Once the six month period is over you could increase the total
number of inches in your saltwater aquarium setup to 20.

Of course, your fish are going to grow so you have to adjust for the changing sizes of your fish.

The shape of your fish is also important. If your fish are likely to be
on the heavy side you will need to stick to the low end of the capacity of your saltwater aquarium setup.

A saltwater aquarium setup will cost you time and money so accept this and don’t skimp. Even if you devote considerable time and effort to a small tank you can still encounter problems.

If you choose the wrong one initially you will probably end up
having to buy another one and this may be discouraging.

In short, if you don’t have the money to buy a tank that’s at least 30 gallons, don’t invest any money at all.

When you choose a saltwater aquarium setup there are many options.

You can choose from glass and acrylic and you can even get reef-
ready styles complete with pre-drilled holes for equipment and plumbing.

Glass tanks sealed with silicon rubber cement are a common choice.

Rectangle designs are popular but they are also found in octagon and hexagon. They are non-toxic and don’t scratch easily.

The downside to a glass saltwater aquarium setup is that they are heavy.

This means that large tanks will have very thick glass. Try to find one with a plastic frame that will make the tank more stable.

Plated glass is shatterproof but not as strong as tempered.

An acrylic saltwater aquarium setup is molded with few seams so
they are more transparent.

However your view may still be distorted at the corners. Acrylic tanks are not as heavy as glass and so come in a wider variety of shapes and sizes.

Acrylic is also stronger than glass. On the downside acrylic tanks can get scratched and are more expensive than glass.

They are easily scratched by algae scrapers and decorations. It is possible to buff these marks out with a special kit.

Whichever saltwater aquarium setup you choose make sure it
provides a healthy environment for your fish.

You also need to make sure that you can afford to maintain it
properly and that it suits your lifestyle and available time.

Once you have everything set up correctly you will be able to enjoy
the colorful antics and shapes of your fishy friends, corals and other invertebrates.

Lighting considerations
Lighting the marine aquarium is both an art and a science.

In an ideal setup, the light should appear natural, and should
enhance the colors and forms of the tank occupants, but it must
also be of the correct intensity and quality to sustain life.

Achieving this balance requires some planning, especially in reef tanks.

The marine fishkeeper is presented with an apparently bewildering
variety of lighting alternatives; choosing the right one depends
largely on the types of marine organism housed in the aquarium.

Most fish are tolerant of a wide range of lighting conditions, so for a
fish-only setup it is usually enough to provide lighting that displays
the fish most effectively.

Light levels should not, however, be set too low, or the growth of
undesirable red/brown algae will be encouraged.

Lighting a reef tank is a very different matter. Many invertebrates
in reef aquariums, such as corals and anemones, only survive
because they form partnerships with tiny photosynthetic algae that
live inside their bodies (see box, below).

If the algae do not receive sufficient light, they die,

how to setup a saltwater aquarium

along with their hosts. In their natural setting—shallow reefs in
tropical seas—these organisms are exposed to bright light from the
sun for eight to ten hours per day, and these conditions must be
replicated with artificial lighting if they are to survive in a tank.

Using sunlight to illuminate the aquarium is not a viable option. Instead, special tubes and bulbs, usually mounted in a specially
made hood, are used to simulate both the intensity and the quality of light falling on a reef.

A natural coral reef has many different zones of light. Colored
corals predominate in the sunlight zone.

Deeper down, leather corals, anemones, tubeworms, and others
are more prevalent.

Darker areas are occupied by soft corals, sponges, and invertebrates that lack zooxanthellae.


LIGHT AND INVERTEBRATES how to setup a saltwater aquarium

Certain invertebrates, such as various sea anemones, corals, and
some mollusks, contain photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae in their fleshy bodies.

This is a symbiotic relationship in which the algae supply their host
invertebrate with food and oxygen, and in return receive shelter
and take up some by-products of the animals.

When a sea anemone (bottom left) opens its tentacles, the
maximum amount of light reaches its algal partners; the tiny
greenish bodies of the zooxanthellae are visible in the close-up of a
coral polyp (below right).

However, not all invertebrates in a marine tank thrive under high
light levels, and there should be suitable retreats in an aquarium if it is to house crabs and sponges.

how to setup a saltwater aquarium marine aquarium fish

A reef tank changes in appearance between day (left)
and night (right). When lit, corals and anemones open; in
the dark, they close up and fish may appear duller in color

The algae within corals and anemones need light at the blue
end of the visible spectrum (see box, right) to photosynthesize.

For this reason, marine aquarists tend to light their tanks with
fluorescent actinic tubes that strongly emit blue wavelengths.

Often, a more neutral daylight-simulating tube is used alongside
the actinic tube to replicate the viewing conditions under sunlight
and eliminate any bluish cast.

Regular domestic (tungsten or halogen) bulbs are not suitable,
because the light quality is inappropriate, and because they
generate excessive heat, which tends to increase water temperature and cause evaporation.

Fluorescent tubes are available in a range of lengths to suit almost any size of tank.

They have a long life-span (up to two years) and specialized tubes
are designed to deliver a consistent high output throughout their life.

In the case of marine invertebrate set-ups, however, powerful metal
halide bulbs may be the best option, but must incorporate an
ultraviolet filter for safety.

Mercury vapor lights are another possibility, but are costly and run
very hot, so need to be carefully mounted in order to disperse the heat produced.


Natural daylight is made up of a mixture of wavelengths (colors
of light)—literally all the colors of the rainbow.

However, most fluorescent tubes and light bulbs emit light at some
wavelengths in preference to others.

In the marine aquarium, it is vital to select lighting that supplies the
wavelengths of light that are needed by plants and by symbiotic algae.

If you are in any doubt, consult your aquarium dealer.

natural daylight spectrum

Sunlight contains more or less equal proportions of all wavelengths of light.

As it passes through water, red and yellow components are filtered
out, which is why reefs appear to be bathed in blue light.

To set up a reef aquarium, it is essential to duplicate these lighting
conditions using bulbs or fluorescent tubes (below).

artificial light spectrum

Siting and substrate

There are no firm rules about where to position a marine aquarium
in the home, but following a few simple guidelines will help
maximize the health of the fish, and ensure human safety.

The choice of substrate (such as gravel or sand) greatly influences
the overall appearance of the tank, and is more than just cosmetic.

Substrate composition directly affects water chemistry, and so
influences the long-term welfare of the fish.

Siting and substrate Place the tank on sponge matting Wash out the tank to remove dust or glass spicules.

Glass aquariums need to be rested on special sponge matting to
absorb any unevenness in the surface beneath.

Fit the undergravel filter Lay the corrugated plastic of the filter
plate, with uplift tube attached, on the base of the tank.

The plate can be cut to size, and should cover the whole base area.

Positioning the tank

Aquariums should never be moved if they contain water, sand,
or gravel because their great weight makes them prone to

The larger the tank, the longer it takes to empty and strip down for
moving; so for marine aquariums, which tend to be larger than
their freshwater counterparts, getting the location right the first time is particularly important.

As a general rule, set up the tank in the room where you spend
most time, and position it at eye level for the best views of the

Taller tanks provide eye-level interest whether seated or standing,
and are a good choice for compact rooms where there is only space for a tank with a small base.

Support the aquarium on a specially built stand or cabinet; if you
use an existing piece of furniture, make sure it is strong enough
to take the weight of the filled tank and will not be damaged
by spillages.

Allow enough space around the tank for routine saltwater aquarium maintenance—you
should be able to reach all inner and outer
surfaces of the glass without stretching.

saltwater aquarium

Marine aquariums may be used architecturally, built into walls, or set up as room dividers.

They should not, however, be sited in rooms where cigarette smoke
can build up, because this can diffuse into the water and harm fish and invertebrates.


Most marine aquariums are equipped with an undergravel filter, in
addition to a power filter .

The filter medium is the substrate itself—typically, crushed coral or
shell, covered with finer coral sand—which becomes colonized by beneficial aerobic bacteria.

A mesh net separates the two layers, thus maintaining the flow of water through the filter bed.

Always buy prepared substrate from a reputable aquarium dealer,
and check it thoroughly for foreign bodies, such as fragments of
plastic, metal, and glass, before placing it in the tank.

place the tank on sponge matting

1.)Place the tank on sponge matting Wash out the tank to remove dust or glass spicules.

Glass aquariums need to be rested on special sponge matting to
absorb any unevenness in the surface beneath.

Fit the undergravel filter

2.)Fit the undergravel filter Lay the corrugated plastic of the filter
plate, with uplift tube attached, on the base of the tank.

add course substrate

3.) Add coarse substrate Place a layer of calcareous substrate— washed in aquarium disinfectant and well rinsed—onto the filter plate to a depth of about 2 in (5 cm), and spread it out evenly

fit the gravel mesh

4.) Fit the gravel mesh Lay the mesh net over the coarse substrate layer, turning the edges down.This will prevent the sand from sinking and filling in the spaces between the coarser grains.

Cover with coral sand

5.) Cover with coral sand Pour fine coral sand onto the mesh to a depth of about 1 in (2.5 cm). Shape the sand layer to the desired form, typically sloping it forward toward the front of the tank.

The plate can be cut to size, and should cover the whole base area.

Avoid placing the aquarium where it will be exposed to direct
sunlight, because you will then lose control over the light
intensity and temperature in the tank.

Water and electricity don’t mix, so it is essential to keep cabling
short and neat; avoid using messy extensions and always consult a
professional electrician if you have any doubts about your system.

Never plug pumps or filters into switched outlets—it is
all too easy inadvertently to flip the wrong wall switch and
shut off the tank’s life support systems.


  • Keep the tank clear of heaters, air conditioning units, and windows. Sudden changes in temperature can be lethal to fish.
  • Be prepared to rearrange the room décor to display the tank to best effect.
  • Consider how easy it will be to service the tank.
  • Place the tank on a completely level surface.

acrylic tanks

Acrylic admits about 15 percent more light than glass of
comparable thickness, and it can be shaped into more unusual
forms with rounded corners.

Acrylic tanks are preferred by some marine aquarists.
They are lighter and easier to handle than glass, and holes may be
drilled through them to conceal inlet and outlet pipes.

However, they do scratch more readily than conventional glass
tanks, and are more expensive

Substrate matters
The substrate in a marine aquarium is not just for decoration.
Some fish, such as jawfish , like to burrow, so the sand or gravel used must be of a suitable texture.

The substrate is also important in maintaining water chemistry;
thanks to its calcium carbonate content, it acts as a buffer,
helping to counter the progressive acidification of the water. And, when an undergravel filter is used, the substrate also serves as a filter bed.

In this case, the size and depth of the substrate particles is key; the
substrate needs to be deep enough to be effective as a filter, and water must be able to pass between the particles.

Usually, the filter plate is covered with a layer of coarse material
(see below), such as crushed coral, shell, or dolomite chips (all of which are high in calcium carbonate).

Coral sand or aragonite sand is then laid on top of this to create a more natural appearance.


A tank’s inlet and outlet tubes are rather unsightly, but are easily
hidden behind a backdrop, stuck to the outside rear of the tank.

Commercially available backdrops made from fade-resistant,
waterproof plastics feature all sorts of images, from reef scenes,
which create a good illusion of depth, to tropical beaches and
even lunar landscapes.



Buy saltwater aquarium protein skimmer here Free shiping

How much does it cost to set up a saltwater aquarium?

The costs for setting up a habitat vary based on your tank size, the type of fish you want, and the overall appearance of your saltwater aquarium. Not including materials, the setup fee cost can range between $300 and $500 on average.

What is needed to start a saltwater tank?
Checklist of Items Needed to Start a Saltwater Aquarium
Aquarium/Tank. …
Lighting. …
Skimmers, Filters & Filtration Equipment. …
Powerhead. …
Live Rock & Substrate. …
Sea Salt Mix/Saltwater & Hydrometer. …
Heater & Thermometer. …
Air Pump & Air Stones.

Can any tank be a saltwater tank?
The aquariums themselves are not specifically designed for use as either a freshwater or saltwater tank. Therefore, you can use the same tank if you want to change the system type. However, freshwater aquatic creatures cannot live in saltwater set up.

Are saltwater aquariums hard to maintain?
You will need to perform regular water changes and tank cleans, in addition to running a protein skimmer. Providing you keep on top of your maintenance, algae won’t be a problem for saltwater aquariums. However, it is true that saltwater aquariums do tend to grow more algae than freshwater aquariums

Is it expensive to maintain a saltwater aquarium?
Saltwater aquarium in particular can be more expensive. And they are a bit more precarious to maintain than their freshwater counterparts. They generally require additional equipment, additional work during water changes and also require special lighting.

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