Fish & Aquariums

How To Setup a Saltwater Aquarium

saltwater aquarium setup
Written by Arlene S. Lane

Instructions for Setting Up a Saltwater Aquarium

They look cute, and beautiful, and add panache to your lounge or drawing room if placed properly. Yes, we are talking about pet fish. These calm and beautiful pet creatures are one of the cutest yet hard-to-keep pets. However, when you know how to take care of them before getting them then things will never be the same. Having an appropriate saltwater aquarium setup can be a great way to keep the fish in great condition. Plus, they can add a dash of style in that corner.

A saltwater tank setup can be an accent piece of furniture on its own in any house. If you set up was done in the most sensible and appropriate way possible. Continue reading down below to know about how to set up a saltwater tank?

Types Of Saltwater Tanks

Before we head to the guide to set up a saltwater tank, learn about the types of saltwater tanks first. So you will know what will suit you and your house the most.

Fish Only Setup

One of the most common reasons to get this setup is just a single species of fish. If you want to have only one kind of fish in your home then this tank setup is the most suitable for you. You can either go for a species tank if only have one type of fish you want to have or you can go for a communal tank.  A communal tank, regardless of its size, can contain different species of fish that can coexist together in the same aquarium. They come in a variety of sizes. Even being the most basic setup.

They will still require significant maintenance. Thanks to such a fish-only saltwater fish tank setup, they don’t require to have an extra rock or coral to get the useful bacteria that are helpful in cleaning the environment. Also, you will need to change the water regularly to keep the water quality great for fish.

Fish Only WIth Rock

This saltwater fish tank setup is about the fish with the live rock in the aquarium. Live rocks can introduce some beneficial bacteria to aquariums. They are helpful in keeping the aquarium clean because the bacteria can break down nitrates and ammonia into a less toxic substance. Some will be hesitant while buying the living rock as they may add new expenses to the aquarium setup. But they can be helpful in the long run. In saltwater tank setups, they can be helpful in maintaining the water quality in the tank and they can also give your tank an aesthetics to a boring aquarium setup.

Reef Tank Setup

Whenever someone says saltwater aquarium setup then most of us will suddenly think about what will come with this image in our minds. However, the major difference between such tanks and other saltwater fish tank setups is that it features corals in it. They are living organisms with their own requirements. If money is not the option then this type of aquarium is the most suited for you. This is because it is the most expansive aquarium tank setup.

Not just because corals are expansive but other accessories such as lighting, rocks, and pumps that can enhance the beauty and the cost as well. If you are new to the saltwater aquarium setup then this should be avoided. However, if you already have experience with domestic pet care requirements and can dedicate yourself to experiencing the frustration to keep it beautiful then this aquarium will be the most beautiful one that you can own.

How To Make Saltwater Aquarium

Setting up a saltwater aquarium is similar to the sweet ones. It can be the easiest one if you know what you are doing. Here is what and how you should do.

Know What You Want

When you will be planning to buy a tank for yourself then you are most likely to get a huge number of options, styles, and sizes. In a similar fashion, you will also get accessories and other stuff. But you cannot buy everything you like just because it looks fancy. You should plan your aquarium setup. Consider the fish types, size of the tank, and other factors such as budget so there won’t be any surprises and disappointment after getting one. 

Prepare the Tank

Once you know about your requirements regarding the tank and saltwater tank setup now is the time to get one for you and decorate it according to your taste.

  • Cleaning the New Aquarium

Even if you are getting a brand new aquarium for the fish, you will still need to clean it. After all small pet care should be as sophisticated as you can for large pets. However, avoid using any household cleaner and detergent while cleaning the tank because they may leave behind chemical residue that can be harmful to fish and coral and can even kill them. For new aquariums, you can use a wet cloth to wipe away any dust particles.

You can also go for natural glass cleaners for them that are considered to be safer options to clean the aquarium. For the acrylic tanks, you can also use the lint-free microfiber cloth to clean because acrylics are easy to scratch.

  • Finding the Leaks

You can check the tank for any leaks after cleaning. For this purpose, you add a couple of inches of water and leave it for an hour. If you found any leaks then you can fix them by using the aquarium sealant.

  • Selecting a Safe & Secure Location

Once your saltwater tank setup is checked for leaks and cleaned thoroughly then position the aquarium in the area you are happy to put it because if they are full then it can be hard to move them because of their weight. Also, the surface should be stronger enough where you are going to place should be strong enough that can hold the weight of the aquarium. The area should also have even levels to avoid falling due to wobbling. Some saltwater aquarium setup comes with a matching cabinet as well. These cabinets can be helpful in storing items required for aquariums.

Adding The Substrate

Once you have cleaned, checked, and placed your aquarium to its location, now it is time to add the substrate to your aquarium. You can find different types of substrate to spread. You should search for the right type of substrate, the quantity required for the tank size, and the way you want it to look. Make sure that your selected substrate should be cleaned before adding it to the saltwater fish tank setup. To avoid any scratching of the tank, it is better to put a thin layer first and add the rest of it slowly.

Adding The Water

Once your saltwater tank setup is cleaned and the substrate has been added to it, now is the time to add the water. But wait! You cannot add water from your faucet. The water for your fish should be de-chlorinated. You can buy the water that is reverse osmosis. Also, add the special salt for the water as well that can be purchased from any pet store that sells fish supplies. While pouring the water, the tank may seem cloudy for a little while. Don’t worry about this as you can simply just wait and the substrate will settle down and everything will be clear again.

Installing the Equipment

Now is the time to install the equipment in the aquarium. This mostly depends on the type of saltwater fish tank setup you own. But one of the crucial items that you should get is the filter. You will surely need to install it. You may also need a heater as well along with UV sterilizers, protein skimmers, aerators, and lights as additional accessories.

They will benefit the fish in long run. Though most of the saltwater fish tank setup accessories are easy to install, however, some types of filters are confusing. Though there are different types of filters to choose from and every filter has its own setting and installation setup. You should check the manual first for more guidance or else you can visit a local pet guide. While installing the heater in your saltwater aquarium setup, put a thermometer on the opposite side of the aquarium from the heater to get an accurate reading of temperature.

Adding the Decorations

Don’t just start to cycle the tank after these steps as you should add any decorations that you want for your aquarium before cycling. This is because decorations may affect the water. This is also a great time to turn your dream of having a specific type of saltwater fish tank setup with decoration and imagery that you think is all that you need. Add the plants and decorative items such as shipwreck, any pop culture props i.e millennium falcon or even cooler a broken or damaged DeLorean will give your fish tank setup an edgy and funky look. Just get as creative as you can but make sure not to stuff too much. Make sure to clean them before placing them in the tank.

Cycle The Tank

Now is the time to cycle the tank. This is the most important part of keeping the saltwater fish tank setup. Before putting your fish into it, cycle the tank to keep it clean and maintain the water quality. Cycling the aquarium will allow the building of bacterial cultures that will act as a natural biological filter. They will also be helpful in turning nitrates into nitrates. This is because ammonia is toxic to the fish so cycling will be helpful in keeping the aquarium environment safe for fish.

Adding the Live Rock

Now you should add the live rock into the aquarium. The tip is to add a type of live rock into the saltwater aquarium setup that is lightweight. This would be an indicator that it already has enough holes in it and it will be good enough to allow the growth of bacteria. Live rocks are also a good addition to any saltwater aquarium setup because they help in growing useful bacteria that are good for making the environment better for pet fish.

Adding The Fish

Now your saltwater tank setup is ready to have fish in them. Don’t add too many of them at once. This is because you might start the nitrogen cycle once again. The best way is to add them gradually over time. Since the fish are sensitive toward water change so you will need to make sure the fish has been adjusted in the tank for better before adding anything new. Now you can enjoy owning your dream saltwater aquarium setup. For further fish as pet care tips and guides, you can browse our blog. 

About the author

Arlene S. Lane

Arlene S. Lane is a veterinary technician and hospital manager with over 12 years of experience. Arlene has been contributed expert content to The Pet's Rise for over 10 years.
Arlene has worked in veterinary medicine since 2017. Arlene's veterinary experience ranges from routine wellness care and preventive medicine to emergency and specialty care, where she has performed duties ranging from specialized nursing to clinical administration.

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