Saltwater Aquarium Setup

How is a Saltwater Aquarium Setup?

Saltwater aquarium setup is pretty straight forward, just be sure that everything has been well planned out and conceived in detail in your mind’s mind. Conceptualization of a saltwater aquarium may or may not take into account the resources available to the hobbyist. It’s not everyday, that a hobbyist has all the equipment right on hand and may be the type who wants to do some conventional improvisation. However, the general rules around healthy saltwater aquariums are very simple. How about reading a few books?

  • Hygiene and sterilization are of essential importance in order to maintain the artificial ecosystem.
  • One thing at a time! Use an order of inclusion, from saltwater, aquascape, rock, coral, fish, crustaceans, invertebrates; only do one addition at a time, from the least complex organism to the most.
  • Throwing a bunch of stuff together like in a freshwater aquarium can lead to serious disaster and as the stakes are far higher in saltwater aquarium hobbying, that should mean simply be more attent and cautious.

    Planning the idea of what the saltwater aquarium is to look like and do when it is finally finished is the key to understanding the whole setup process, as it is in the creation stage that organized procedures can be most fully organized. But once it is fully known what the hobbyist is looking for in their tank project, everything from buying all the equipment to maintaining the ecosystem healthy and stable once a month can be as fun as following an old pirate’s treasure map. Even if black and white images of Errol Flynn’s (1935) Captain Blood don’t go sailing through your mind, an adventurous spirit of the ocean’s mysteries will help define in detail what should come first, second and third. For example, if there is an old aquarium castle half broken and unused in the utility shed, and piled over by a mountain of saltwater aquarium books, it could just be the element of inspiration needed to start planning; the point is to plan around what is available, both in the mind’s eye and old equipment.

    Aside from the human imagination, the setup will include equipment. Buying what is needed at the local aquarium hobby shop isn’t the end all to everything in this hobby. An aquascape reminiscent of “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” can be done just as effectively by the scrounging country teenager bent on sustainable utopian green living in Southern Dakota, as by the multimillion dollar marine biologist building a 300,000 gallon saltwater aquarium for the corporate elite in Tokyo, Japan. But ingenuity can go a long way in any project, no matter what size.

    When getting down to the hard-nose work of setup, procedures must be followed. This means following the basics, hygiene and order. ONE THING AT A TIME! And BE SURE IT IS CLEAN BEFORE USING! Because a saltwater aquarium is a very sensitive ecosystem and the more sensitive the livestock and plants, the more these rules MUST be kept clearly in mind. Of course the equipment must be working as well, so usually the first thing is making sure the tank to be used doesn’t leak. This is called EXAMINATION of all equipment parts. It would be unfortunate if the water was all set, ready to go and the tank started leaking. So be sure everything is working properly and all necessary parts are available.

    Sanitation is the next issue; be sure everything has been well cleaned to kill germs, like in a hospital. Water is a vibrant media for life on earth, so be sure that the only thing living in it will be WHAT IS PUT IN IT MANUALLY. This can be done by scrubbing everything; the tank, the plastic plants, castles, wreaked sea ships, pumps, tubing, filters… everything. A teaspoon of bleach for every five gallons of water being used in sterilization should be fine, then rinse thoroughly.

    Once clean, follow the directions on the filtration system box, unless using an alternative system, and get the tank ready for substrate by sanitizing it and pouring about one pound of gravel for every one gallon of water that the tank holds. Make absolute certain that the water to be used is fresh and has NO chlorine or chemicals of any kind; pure water. Put the plants in the substrate by anchoring them (just push their roots gently below the surface of the substrate and collect enough gravel around the plant base to keep it from floating to the top of the tank. Now take a look at the hydrometer (a device used to tell how much salt has been dissolved by the water), and add salt until the desired density (the name for this is not salinity, because absurd amounts of salt effect buoyancy), usually for most projects approximately 1.020 to 1.023 Kh.

    Fill the aquarium to about one inch from the top and begin pumping air through the filtration system. Install the thermometer and heater to the correct temperature in accordance to the chosen marine environment (most marine life prefers 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This should run for around 72 hours to make sure the water is moving and the temperature constant throughout the aquarium. Cycling is a delicate procedure and needs to be done in order to make sure that all the chemical levels are at the proper settings for the desired underwater marine aquascape inside the saltwater aquarium. It is the slow formation of beneficial bacteria inside the filter and other areas of the aquarium that do the job of keeping things clean.

    Is the biological cycle correct? That depends on the choice of livestock, live rock, live sand, and how powerful the filter is. Sometimes a protein skimmer is necessary, to cut down on pollution when really dirty fish are used. But the ecological equilibrium is the most important aspect and it is as sensitive as the time given to run through cycles. Sometimes adding different fish, coral or anything else means making sure that it has been isolated from the rest for some period of time to be sure that that organism will adapt to the aquarium’s artificial ecosystem.

    Summing up saltwater aquarium setup, be sure and KEEP CLEAN, by CYCLING and HYGIENEZATION. And plan to setup things ONE AT A TIME! Ideas, plans, equipment, hygiene, water, live sand, live rock, coral and livestock… Use cycles between each addition to maintain balance; once finished, the hobbyist can be Captain Nemo, trapped inside his sub with the giant squid attacking… An explorer into the mysteries of the oceanic world so alien to those of us trapped on land. If anything, once setup, the world of saltwater aquariums can reveal the unknown, and bring us just that much closer to setting up freedom.

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    Posted in Articles on August 17, 2005.

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