How to Start a Saltwater Home Aquarium

1. Become an Information Consumer

Fortunately, information about home aquariums can be found easily and in many different formats. In addition to digital media, there are plenty of hobbyist magazines and journals. Make it a priority to read as much information as you can. You should study the science and biology, but don’t neglect personal reports. Many aquarium owners share their experiences online, mistakes and challenges as well as discoveries and solutions. This information is invaluable, and can help you avoid making the same mistakes yourself.

2. Consider How Large an Aquarium You Can Accommodate

This needs to be your first consideration. Where is the aquarium going to be placed? How big is the area? How large of an aquarium can the space accommodate? Contrary to what you may think, you should begin with as large an aquarium as your space can handle. You don’t have to fill it up right away with sea life, take your time. But a larger aquarium gives you more room for any potential mistakes you may make as you are learning. When considering the location, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the temperature steady or does it fluctuate? Your aquarium’s temperature should remain steady.

  2. Is there enough or too much sunlight? Direct sunlight will increase algae build-up, which will require more maintenance. Too much algae also creates toxins that are dangerous to your fish.

  3. Are there enough electrical outlets for the aquarium? Make sure there is no danger of shorting out or tripping over cables, the results could be catastrophic for your fish.

  4. What is the floor made of? How strong is it? An aquarium that holds 55 gallons of water, for instance, will weigh around 440 lbs., not including whatever you place inside. Be sure the floor can hold this much weight. You are also likely to experience multiple water spills. Make sure the surface is easy to clean and water resistant.

3. Decide What Kind of Saltwater Home Aquarium You Want

When it comes to a saltwater home aquarium, you have three basic choices: fish only, fish and live rock, and coral reef tanks.

  1. If your reason for creating a home aquarium is simply a love of saltwater fish, then a fish only aquarium could be the choice for you. It’s also the least expensive option of the three, but not necessarily the easiest to maintain.

  2. A fish and live rock aquarium is a good place to start if you think you want a coral reef aquarium but are just beginning to learn about saltwater home aquariums. In addition to your fish, you can place some live rocks to serve as a biological filtering system for your aquarium.

  3. A coral reef aquarium is about as close as you can get to bringing the ocean into your home. Your aquarium will be filled with saltwater fish, stunning corals, and invertebrates, all living together in perfect harmony. This is the most expensive option, and it requires a commitment to be constantly engaged. Each species has its specific needs, and you will have to be vigilant to address issues right away. Coral reefs aquariums also have more complex lighting and filtration needs.

4. Visualize Your Saltwater Aquarium

The next step is to visualize how you want your saltwater aquarium to look. Make a sketch that includes all the sea life you want for your aquarium. Do some research to learn the space requirements of each species, as well as any distances they need to keep from each other. This will guide you as to the minimal size of aquarium you need to buy. Take your list and sketch with you when you go to the store. Make your purchases according to your plan, not on a whim. It can be easy to get distracted once you arrive at the aquarium store, but if you make an impulse purchase you could be placing your fish at risk.

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