A saltwater tank filled with colorful, vibrant fish can be such a peaceful and enjoyable addition to your home. However, these tanks are more challenging to set up and maintain than freshwater tanks. You will need specialized equipment to successfully own a saltwater tank.
To begin setting up a saltwater tank, you will need to start by choosing the type of tank you want. You can choose an acrylic tank or a glass tank. Many saltwater enthusiasts prefer to use a tank made with acrylic, since acrylic is a better insulator, allows light to pass through more easily and is stronger and less prone to leakage than a glass tank. Of course, acrylic also costs a bit more than a glass tank, but if your budget allows it, an acrylic saltwater tank would be best.
You should purchase the largest aquarium you can afford, as a large aquarium is more stable and healthier for the fish. To decide how big your aquarium should be, you will need to know how many fish you intend to place in the saltwater tank. Make sure that for every inch of fish, you'll have at least three to four gallons of water available.
Now it is time to add the equipment. You will need to purchase biological, mechanical and chemical filtration systems to ensure your tank will be less toxic, clear and clean. If you plan to add live rock to the tank, you will also need to use a protein skimmer. The skimmer will remove waste products before they break down in the water.
You will also need substrates such as sand, crushed coral and aragonite. You will need to add a heater, air pump and thermometer to your saltwater tank. If you want to add decorations, be sure you do not purchase any plastic ones, as a saltwater fish is likely to eat them. You will need to purchase a saltwater test kit, which will be used to determine pH balance, nitrate level, calcium level, ammonia level, temperature and alkalinity of the saltwater tank. You'll also need a hydrometer and a saltwater mix to measure salinity.
Clean the tank, equipment and decorations thoroughly with water, but do not use any soaps or detergents, as they may be harmful to the fish. Next, place the saltwater tank on a stable stand in a well lit room. Avoid placing the tank close to windows or open vents, as these could affect the lighting and temperature of the tank. Put the filter in place and put the substrates into the tank. Then add water to the tank.
Now, you will need to test the water for chlorine and salinity. Salinity should be around 1.022 and the pH balance should be around 8.2.
Add the other equipment and decorations to the saltwater tank. Then allow the tank to run for at least 72 hours. During this time, retest the pH balance, nitrate, calcium and ammonia levels, and temperature at least once a day. Add the fish only when the levels are at the right place. Continue to monitor these levels as you add more fish.
It would be a good idea to start off with inexpensive fish to get a hang of maintaining your aquarium. You will want to learn how to care for the fish and saltwater tank without losing a lot of money due to fish deaths that may occur due to inexperience or problems with your tank.