How To Set Up A Salt Water Fish Tank
Need to know how to set up a salt water fish tank? Setting up a salt water fish tank is not for the easily daunted. This endeavor requires time, money and patience. There's a whole lot of science involved in setting up and maintaining your salt water fish tank, so be prepared to start some serious study. The rewards, however, of setting up a salt water fish tank are well worth the effort. The payback is a hobby that provides beauty and serenity to you and your home. There are volumes of books available on setting up a salt water fish tank. You will want to pick up a few of these to iron out the inevitable glitches that you will encounter along the way. And make a new best friend at your local aquarium store. His help will be needed and appreciated.
To set up a salt water fish tank, you will need:
- A commercial aquarium
- A scenic background for the tank
- A carpenter's level
- Substrate (gravel)
- A filter
- An airstone to make bubbles (optional)
- A protein skimmer
- Water conditioner
- Commercial marine salt
- A hydrometer
- A water heater
- A fish tank thermometer
- Choose an appropriate location for your salt water fish tank. It must be out of direct sunlight and away from drafts and heating vents. The more stable the water temperature, the better luck you will have with your fish. Make sure you have a strong floor underneath. A 55-gallon fish tank can end up weighing around 550 pounds when filled! (If you're renting, check with your landlord.) You will also need adequate electrical outlets behind your tank. Leave room behind the tank for access to the filters, etc.
- Clean and rinse your tank thoroughly before using. Fish are sensitive to contaminants.
Your fish tank must be level. Use a carpenter's level to check this. Why is this so important? Once the tank is filled, any uneven stresses on it could cause the tank to leak or crack. Check for leaks by filling it up a third of the way.
- Set up your filter according to the manufacturer's directions. It's not time to plug it in yet.
- Add substrate. Don't mess around with this. Buy a good quality substrate (gravel) for your salt water fish tank from the aquarium store. This must be clean and rinsed before using. A kitchen colander works fine for this.
- Now add your fish tank decorations. Yes, this is the fun part! At this point you may also add your airstone (if you would like to produce bubbles).
- Follow the manufacturer's directions for your protein skimmer. Insert it now.
- Fill your tank with water. Now it really looks like a fish tank!
- Add water conditioner. Follow the directions for the appropriate amount.
- Add commercial marine salt to your salt water fish tank. Do this just a little at a time, being careful to add the correct amount.
- Now is the time to use that hydrometer. Use it to check the specific gravity reading (in basic terms, the ratio of salt to water). It should be around 1.020. Your goal is to maintain a reading of between 1.020 and 1.026. It may take up to 24 hours for that reading to stabilize.
- Insert the fish tank heater according to manufacturer's directions. Don't plug it in yet. Insert the aquarium thermometer at the opposite end from the heater.
- Plug in! Start with the filter, lights and air pump. Wait twenty minutes. Then, plug in the heater and protein skimmer.
Yikes! Still there? By now, you're itching to add fish. Well, you can't! Wait at least 24 to 48 hours for a stable water temperature before even buying your fish. There must be no cloudiness in the tank. Ready? OK, add the fish!