STEP 1: Planning the whole aquarium system
- Performing market survey on equipment and other fish supplies by visiting different aquarium stores mainly to focus on price comparison.
- Select the type of marine fish for your aquarium, find out as much information as possible to learn about their behavior and the best way to care for them.
STEP 2: Choosing best placement and design of the tank
- Determine fish tank size based on the species that you intend to keep. (Note that for a decent saltwater setup, 55-gallon tank should be the minimum size.
- Ask yourself whether you want it to be a single-species tank or a community tank. If you are going for the latter option, make sure you check out as well on compatibility issue among different fish species.
- Find a suitable location for your aquarium.
STEP 3: Buying accessories and tank supplies
- Make a list of all the equipment and supplies needed for your saltwater fish tank. The selection of items prepared here can be referred to as a simple guide. If you decide not to shop for individual products, you can instead opt for saltwater aquarium starter kit that should contain all the basic and necessary items. Once you have finalized the list, you can then head over to aquarium stores in order to make the purchase.
- Aquarium Stand
- Tank Background
- Live rock
- Substrate (crushed coral or sand)
- Protein Skimmer
- Aquarium filter
- Filter Media (carbon, sponges, bio-balls)
- Water test kits
- Aquarium Salt
- Dechlorinator and water conditioner
- Water buckets
- Mini Hospital Tank
- Gravel vacuum
- Cleaning pad
- Fish foods
STEP 4: The setting up process
- Tank cleaning
- Put on the tank background
- Setup the stand to place the fish tank
- Install all the accessories like filter, heater, protein skimmer that you’ve bought earlier
STEP 5: Preparing the saltwater
- Fill the aquarium with filtered clean tap water until about one quarter full and then check for any leakage
- Add in conditioner to treat the water and then followed by aquarium salt
- Use hydrometer to measure the salinity (to target specific gravity of 1.022 to 1.026)
- Add in sand and crushed corals from established saltwater tank in order to introduce beneficial bacteria
- Put in some cured live rock as well and then work on the aquascaping
- Top up water to fill up the tank and then readjust again the salinity level
STEP 6: Using starter fish to jump start the nitrogen cycle
- Introduce some starter saltwater fish in which a pair of Damselfish (Family Pomacentridae) will do.
- Run the system and let it cycle for at least 3 weeks minimum
- Conduct periodic checking on the aquarium water to monitor ammonia, nitrites and nitrates level
- Check as well on pH and alkalinity (pH 8.0 to 8.4)
- Perform water changes if test parameters out of the desired test range
- Monitor as well on the health of your starter fish
Finally when the system stabilizes, the final part is adding your choice of saltwater pet fish. As you pick up experience along the way, you can then consider moving on to having marine invertebrates and also setting up a coral tank.
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