Installing a Saltwater Aquarium
It is said that nothing will catch the attention of your guests rather than a gorgeous saltwater aquarium filled with a variety of colors, shapes and species. The main secret behind having a healthy and colorful aquarium is being informed, patient and responsible.
Here is a small guide that will help anyone in need of installing a saltwater aquarium and has no idea where to start. Keep in mind that installing it is not a difficult task, you are just required to research the information related to this topic and put a little effort into it.
It’s now time to discuss the first steps you should take before going out and start purchasing different items and devices for your saltwater aquarium:
- Carefully plan the location, size and support of your aquarium – this information should be based on the types of fish you plan on buying, the temperature and light in that room.
- Choose between an acrylic or a glass aquarium –the best option is choosing a glass made aquarium as it is far more resistant and it does not scratch easily. It goes without saying that you will still have to be very careful when you clean it.
- Decide what types of fish you want – this is important because you need to do intensive research about them, their necessities, tolerance towards other species, food habits and living conditions
- Go out and buy the main equipment you need to properly install such an aquarium. Here are a few suggestions:
- Live Rocks
- Saltwater test kits
- Different cleaning items such as aquarium vacuum, rubber gloves, a brush with plastic bristles
- Accessories and decorations – there are a wide variety of items to choose from when you plan on making a saltwater aquarium, but it is recommended that you only buy organic decorations, as they don’t cause any damage to the health of our fish and sustain a normal balance in the aquarium.
This is the moment where you need to start installing your saltwater aquarium, keeping in mind these next few tips:
- Prepare the aquarium
It is vital that you wash the tank thoroughly without using any types of detergents as the chemicals contained will harm your fish. Use a soft cloth or even a sponge. Do a quick test and fill it with normal water so you can check for any potential leak, and then remove the water.
A quick advice! Paint the back glass with a black paint so that the colors of your fish will stand out even more. A blue color will create the illusion of depth.
- Install the filters, heater and protein skimmer
Each device that you install in your aquarium comes with an installation manual that you will have to read carefully, no matter how much information you obtain from other sources. It is important to use a drip loop for all the power cords that you are using; after all it regards your safety.
Maintaining a correct water temperature means that you need to install a water heater in the tank. This is a must have device, especially if you want to have tropical fish. Before you buy it, check to see how much space you have in the tank and make sure the heater fits perfectly. To install it, check the instruction manual.
For tanks under 40 gallons it is not necessary to buy a protein skimmer, but in tanks over 40 gallons it is absolutely essential. A protein skimmer is a biological filtration device that uses the air bubbles in it, to strip the water of the undesirable bacteria.
- Choose the correct light
Even the reef aquarium must have light available; at least in the first part of the day, as the inhabitants require a perfect cycle ofoxygen and carbon dioxide. These plants require carbon dioxide to live a healthy life and to generate photosynthesis. It is possible that you install an artificial carbon dioxide producing device inside the tank.
- Add the water
In a separate tank or large buckets, make the salt water mixture that is required for your tank capacity. Keep in mind that the water salinity in a saltwater aquarium must be between 1.020 and 1.024, and a perfect water temperature is around 75 to 80 degrees. Maintaining a good pH level is the most important factor, thus make sure the level is between 8.0 and 8.4.
Buy the testing kits to determine the pH from the local pet store and also the chemicals needed to balance these levels. You don’t have any room for error in testing and establishing the pH level, so be patient and work slowly. Never add any fish or marine life to the tank if not all the results are perfect.
Here are all the reference parameters:
- Temperature: 75°F – 80°F (24°C – 27°C)
- Specific salinity: 1.020 – 1.024
- pH: 8.0 – 8.4
- Ammonia: 0
- Nitrite: 0
- Nitrate: 20 ppm or less (especially for invertebrates)
- Carbonate hardness: 7-10 DKH
It is also absolutely crucial that you don’t add any fish until the cycle is completely finished even is this process takes up to a month.
- Add the accessories and decorations
A saltwater aquarium that is well decorated is truly a great asset that will last for years, thus investing a considerable amount of money and energy, is well worth it.
Having a live rock in your aquarium is a great addition as it adds to the aesthetics of the tank and helps create a great ecosystem which is a vital part of the underwater life. This type of rock is covered with micro and macro organism that are capable of filtering the waste created by the fish, thus making the water clean.
Live plantsare also a great addition to a saltwateraquarium as they provide a few benefits, like absorbing the chemicals and oxygenating the water, creating hideouts for the fish, thus becoming playful, and they also filter the ammonia and any other chemicals. Plants also maintain the balance between all the substances in the water.
Coralsare an absolute gorgeous addition to a saltwater aquarium along with driftwood and sand, another two essential elements for the habitat of any saltwater fish
Adding natural plants, will give your fish the possibility of actually laying eggs, if you are lucky enough.
- Maintaining the saltwater aquarium
Every two weeks you absolutely need to check the water to see what are the levels of ammonia, nitrite, pH, nitrate and salinity. Once you purchase a fish, you will also receive he right levels he needs so he can stay healthy. It is important to also buy the necessary chemicals that will help you maintain the correct levels.
To maintain a proper salinity level, you need to add dechlorinated water and for low salinity you need to add salt. Remember that every week you must take about 10% of the water in the tank and replace it with dechlorinated water, and every 3-4 week, replace about 25%.
Maintaining a clean aquarium also meant keeping an eye out for the algae that appears inside. Make sure that all sides of the tank are free of algae and clean. Another thing to check is the filter pads and the alkalinity (things that are mentioned by the manufacturer). It is essential to maintain a clean and healthy environment for your fish, and everything will become much easier after you transform these actions into a habit.