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How to Set Up a Saltwater Fish Tank

Ningthoujam Sandhyarani Nov 18, 2018
Setting up a saltwater aquarium is easy, provided that you understand the basic requirements of its inhabitants. Some of the concerning factors for a marine aquarium are equipment, filtration, temperature, light, salinity, substrate, plants, and fish.
For many hobbyists, saltwater aquariums are more fascinating than the traditional freshwater fish tanks. The marine fish and reefs are highly spectacular as compared to the freshwater counterparts. However, the former requires specific maintenance.
Marine fish and reefs are susceptible to mild changes in their environment. Hence, you need to closely monitor the water chemistry, light, and temperature to ensure a stable marine aquarium. On a safer note, it is advised that you understand the basic maintenance tips before setting a saltwater aquarium.
Though a saltwater aquarium is expensive, it is worth setting up one. You can also convert a freshwater fish tank into a marine aquarium. In any case, clean the fish tank by using a solution of pure bleach.
You can scrub the tank, rocks, decorations, and plastic plants (if any) before introducing them into the tank. Following this, rinse them with clean water several times. Never wash the tank, equipment, or other items with soap and detergent.


The equipment for a marine aquarium should be durable, so as to withstand the salt content in the water. In order to avoid getting rusted by salt, any equipment made up of metal is strictly not recommended.
You can select stainless steel, plastic, or metal-coated with plastic equipment rather than pure metal ones. Install other necessary equipment like filter system, sump, powerhead, and heater by following the instructions of the manufacturer.


The water should be filtered and sterilized at the same time. For this purpose, you can consider ozone filtration and protein skimmer. Filtration should be performed in such a way that some useful bacteria and microbes are retained in the water. Protein skimmers clean the organic debris before they get converted into plant nutrients.


Majority of the marine fish are active between 75 to 80 degrees F. Accordingly, you can set the temperature of the heater. Monitor the thermometer level thoroughly for any change in the temperature.


The aquarium should be placed away from the window or any opening from where direct sunlight is received. Sunlight is a major triggering factor for the growth of aquarium algae that are very difficult to control. You can place it near an electric outlet, so as to provide easy access for any external light or temperature fixtures.

Water and Salinity

For preparing the saline water, purchase aquarium salt and mix it with water as per the instructions. A hydrometer is necessary in order to monitor the gravity and/or salinity. As evaporation occurs, the saline concentration can be maintained by adding water to a specific level.

Substrate and Plants

Use one pound of gravel per gallon of water that the aquarium holds. Vacuum clean the gravel before adding in the aquarium. Once the substrate is added, place the decorative live plants by inserting their lower portion on the substrate.

Saltwater Aquarium Fish

Marine fish are more expensive than the freshwater aquarium fish. There are wide varieties of saltwater aquarium fish and invertebrates to choose from. 
Nevertheless, the criteria for selection of aquarium inhabitants should not be solely on the appearance and color of the fish. Rather they should be selected after understanding their basic requirements in terms of food and environmental conditions.
Some of the spectacular varieties are angelfish, tangs, gobies, clownfish, butterflyfish, dragonfish, rays, and wrasse. If you want exotic and poisonous fish, you can consider leaf fish, lionfish, scorpionfish, and rockfish.
While pairing them, ensure that the fish requirements match. You can also introduce coral reefs or other live rocks in the aquarium. Before adding these inhabitants, allow the stabilization of the temperature, light, and water chemistry in the aquarium.