Saltwater Aquarium

Starting a Saltwater Aquarium

bucketThis is a guide from start to finish on the steps we took to setup our saltwater tank. First we did research on how expensive, difficult and time consuming it would be to maintain a saltwater tank. It gets pretty expensive pretty fast and it will take some time and effort, but I think it is worth it. After researching and talking to people at our local fish store we decided we were going to do it. We made a list of equipment & supplies we needed to buy.

Required Materials:

  • Tank
  • Hood & Light
  • Stand
  • Sand
  • Salt – We have always used Instant Ocean and had good results
  • Water Heater
  • Water Filter
  • Hydrometer


5 Gallon Bucket

At our local fish store we found a good deal on a 29 gallon tank, hood & light and stand combo. We got 40 pounds of sand, 15 pounds of salt, a 150W heater and an appropriate water filter.

Once we got all the equipment and materials home we had to figure out where to place the tank the room. It is recommended that the tank be in a place where you see it often so you have an extra reminder to maintain it and feed the fish daily. Also because of the heavy weight of the tank you will want to make sure that the floor will be able to support it. Finally, the last thing we took into consideration were the fact that we will need to be able to do water changes easily.

Now we had the tank on the stand and in the right location in our room. We dumped in all 40 pounds of sand and smoothed it our with our hands. Next in our 5 gallon bucket we mixed 4 gallons of saltwater following the specifications on the bag for the salt. Our bag said 1/2 cup of salt for every gallon of water. We mixed the 4 gallon solution and checked its salinity with our hydrometer to make sure it was correct and then poured it into the tank. We did this with the idea that if each 4 gallon load had the right salinity then the whole finished solution would as well, and it did. We did this 7 times and that filled it up pretty close to the top, we didn’t do any more than this even though the water level wasn’t quite high enough yet. The reason is because we had been planning on adding about 30 pounds of live rock, live rock will be used to start and speed up our nitrification cycle. Now that we had probably about 28 gallons of saltwater and 40 pounds of sand it the tank’s water was very stirred up and cloudy. We unpacked and setup the filter and heater, set the heater to about 80 degrees and in about 8 – 10 hours the tank was pretty much all cleared-up.

The next day we went back to our fish store and picked up 22 pounds of live rock and added it to our tank, trying to make a lot of nice caves and areas for water & creatures to flow through easily. This stirred up the tank again and took about 6-8 hours to clear up. We then let the tank sit and filter for a day and on the 4th day of having it setup we bought another 12 pounds of live rock and added it. This put it pretty close to the recommended level of 1.5 pounds of live rock/gallon of water.

Check your aquarium often as it will go through a nitrification cycle, it is important to wait for this to complete before adding any coral or fish.

Addition Materials & Equipment Added Later:

  • Digital Thermometer
  • Saltwater Master Test Kit
  • Magnetic Tank Scrubber

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