Upgrading From a Freshwater Tank To A Saltwater Tank

It seems eventually every successful freshwater aquarist thinks about moving on to a marine tank. It’s easy to see why- the ocean’s bounty is vast with all manner of interesting and often incredibly colorful creatures. But few actually go on to actually set up their first saltwater aquarium. They’re held back by their concerns. These concerns would be perfectly valid were you to dive right in with little to no knowledge or strategy as happens far too often. But with the proper understanding and planning setting up your first saltwater aquarium can be much easier than you had hoped.   … Continue reading

What Is A Protein Skimmer And Why Do You Need One?

If you’ve even considered setting up a saltwater aquarium you’ve probably already heard the words “protein skimmer”. But what is a protein skimmer anyway? Essentially it’s a type filter. It removes organic compounds before they have a chance to break down and further degrade the water quality or fuel algae growth. But instead of using a filter pad or something like that it employs something know as foam fractionation. Basically, the waste molecules that a protein skimmer excels at removing are bipolar, meaning they have an unbalanced charge. In the context of the aquarium this leads to one end of … Continue reading

Great Fish For Your First Saltwater Aqaurium

If you’re considering a saltwater aquarium then you probably already have some ideas of the fish you want to keep. You may not know all their names but you at least have a mental image of what they look like and can picture them swimming happily up and down your tank already. But before you get too far ahead of yourself, let’s take a closer look at those fish and see if you’re headed for a tropical paradise or a underwater disaster.   What makes a good starter fish? First, we need to determine just what it is that makes … Continue reading

008: Adding Fish, Corals, And Invertebrates To A Saltwater Aquarium

Once your saltwater aquarium is fully cycled and the rock fully cured it’s finally time to start stocking it with life. Hopefully you already have in mind at least a general idea of what you want to keep. But regardless of whether you plan on only keeping a few simple fish or a full reef a good first addition is a cleanup crew. This will consist of several varieties of snails, crabs, and other detritivores that will keep algae and detritus buildup at bay. Not only will these critters help finish cleaning up the fresh rock but they are also … Continue reading

007: Curing Live Rock And Cycling Your Saltwater Aquarium

Once your tank is up and running it’s ready for life, although maybe not the life you’re thinking of. Every aquarium, whether it be saltwater or otherwise, requires a large amount of bacteria to function. These beneficial bacteria will consume the toxic waste products produced by the inhabitants of your tank and convert them to less harmful substances. The best way to establish sufficient quantities of beneficial bacteria is with live rock. Live rock is essentially pieces of rock that have broken off of a natural reef, typically during a storm. While technically not absolutely necessary, the use of live … Continue reading

006: Essential Parameters For a Saltwater Aquarium

Now is a good time to talk about the essential parameters that must be maintained to successfully keep a marine aquarium. Seawater is a complex mixture, containing every known element in a plethora of compounds. Matching that makeup is crucial to the success of any marine tank. While a good salt mix will come very close to matching natural seawater initially, the makeup can quickly change as the inhabitants of the aquarium consume and change them. Here is a quick breakdown of the essential parameters that are typically monitored for a saltwater aquarium.   salinity/specific gravity: 34-36ppt/1.025-1.027 Both are a … Continue reading

005: Setting Up Your Saltwater Aquarium

By now you should have your tank setup on its stand ready to be filled with water and a bunch of equipment ready to be hooked up. Before you begin adding water, however, you’ll want to hook up your sump if you decided to include one in your setup, especially if it’s going to be hooked up to a built in overflow. Simply connect the overflow to the sump with some appropriate sized tubing and hose clamps. If it’s an external overflow, also hook up the siphon pump with some airline tubing. Connect the inlet to the overflow and run … Continue reading

004: Saltwater Aquarium Equipment Part Four: Water Movement And Tools

Lots of water movement is crucial to just about any marine aquarium. The region of the ocean where the creatures we aim to keep come from is in constant motion. Even if you only intend to keep fish, some powerheads dedicated to providing water movement are necessary. For corals the aim is to replicate the turbulent flows of a reef. Powerheads will generally have a flow rating in gallons per hour. Aim to have enough combined flow to turn over the water in the tank once every couple minutes or between ten and twenty times an hour. You may also … Continue reading

003: Saltwater Aquarium Equipment Part Three: Lighting

When it comes to lighting for a saltwater aquarium there are lots of choices, probably more so than for any other item you’ll need. Options include various types of florescent, metal halide, and LED lights. For a setup without any corals or other light craving invertebrates lighting can be pretty basic, even a simple florescent fixture with a few full spectrum bulbs will do. However, for full reef setups proper high power lighting is crucial.   The first category of high intensity lighting we’ll explore is florescent. Florescent lights come in a couple different sizes. Let’s look at the two … Continue reading

002: Saltwater Aquarium Equipment Part Two: Temperature Control

In a saltwater aquarium a consistent temperature, somewhere between about 76 and 80 degrees, is especially important. Changes in temperature affect the salinity of the water, and quick changes in salinity are very hard on most marine creatures. The most effective way to maintain your tank’s temperature is with a heater and a chiller. To pick an appropriately sized heater, take your aquarium’s size, in gallons, and multiply it by five to calculate the wattage. Most heaters will work fine, but do not pick one with a stainless steel outer case. The steel will rust in the saltwater environment.   … Continue reading