So you’ve decided to enter the wonderful world of saltwater reef tank ownership? Please read this article “3 reasons you need to know before set up a reef tank“ before you continue reading this page.
So, if you are already convinced to start a saltwater aquarium, please continue reading below.
Now it’s time to start assembling the required equipment to get your saltwater tank ready for fish. I’ve assembled a list of the essential things you’ll need to get your saltwater fish tank setup running properly. There is always some disagreement over what is essential and what isn’t, but I think this is a pretty good list of the “must-haves” for setting up a saltwater aquarium kit.
1. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) – Water and electricity don’t mix. Be sure you install one of these in any wall outlet you’ll be using for your tank. Technically, this is not essential as you can just plug things into any wall outlet, but it’s not worth the risk. A GFCI can be a life saver.
2. Power strip / surge protector – Between heaters, lights, skimmers and more you’re going to need more than two outlets for your required equipment. Invest in a good power strip so you can plug in all your equipment, and that also has surge protection functionality to keep supplies from getting fried.
3. Tank – Can’t have a marine fish without this one! My advice is to get the largest size tank you can afford, 20 gallon maybe right for the beginner to start.
4. Tank stand – Before continued your reef tank setup, you need reliable aquarium base or stands because when you fill them up with water, your tanks can get very heavy, so need to make sure you have your tank on a solid foundation. Our recommendation, you can use Petco Brooklyn metal aquarium stand for the best aquarium base cabinet. Besides, salt water tanks will leave salt residue around the outside, so putting them on furniture or a counter may get messy and cause corrosion.
5. Reverse Osmosis Unit or Deionizer – Tap water won’t cut it. You need water that’s passed through an RO unit or deionizer to ensure good water quality for your marine tank, and it’s occupants.
6. Salt mix – You can’t have a saltwater tank without the salt! There are several salt mixes available that provide the salt and other essential elements your tank inhabitants will need.
7. Hydrometer – This handy little device will let you measure the specific gravity of the salt water so you can make sure it’s at the proper level.
8. Test kits – Saltwater fish are very sensitive to water parameters, so it’s important to stay on top of things and monitor water quality on a regular basis. At the very least you’ll need to test for pH, ammonia, nitrates and nitrites on a daily basis. You could bring water samples to your local aquarium shop, and if they’re nice, they’ll test for your for little or no charge. However, during the initial cycling, you should be testing the water on a daily basis, and it will be pretty inconvenient to bring water samples to the shop every day.
9. Buckets, Towels, Rubber Gloves – It can get wet and messy maintaining a reef tank so having buckets and towels on hand is a must for water changes, cleaning, new arrivals, etc. The gloves protect both you and the inhabitants of your tank.
10. Substrate – Not technically a have to have, but you’re probably going to want either live sand or crushed coral on the bottom. Various types of substrate you can use when setting up a marine aquarium. The most important point on building a reef aquarium is that sand is natural, your tank inhabitants will feel at home among the sand. Sand is also more aesthetically pleasing than gravel.
11. Live Rock / Decorative rocks or coral – your fish will need some stones or other decorative materials in the tank to give them a place to hide and feel safe. Also, read how much saltwater live rock you need.
12. Heater – Since you’re probably going be keeping tropical species of fish, you’ll need good aquarium heater for saltwater to make sure the water is warm enough for them.
13. Thermometer – Because you’ll need to know if that heater is doing its job or not.
14. Lights – There are some lighting options to choose from. Your choice will depend on what you’ll be putting in the tank (i.e., a fish only will not require the light intensity as a reef tank with live rock and coral). Read our latest LED Ocean Revive T247 review that suitable for the saltwater aquarium.
15. Powerhead – A good powerhead will create strong movement in the aquarium water. This important because it mixes the aquarium water, eliminates dead or stagnant areas and helps keep your fish healthy. You may also want an extra powerhead to use when mixing salt for water changes.
16. Protein Skimmer – Skimmers remove organic waste from your aquarium before they can break down and turn into nitrates which are bad for saltwater aquarium fish. Protein Skimmer also is known as foam fractionating is one important aspect of keeping your marine tank happy and healthy. If you want to keep your dissolved organic compounds (DOCS) to a minimum, you will need to invest in a quality protein skimmer.
Skimmers collect unwanted organic compounds before they begin to rot and raise your ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite. A protein skimmer is one of the most important things you can get for your aquarium, it physically pulls the “gunk” out of your tank, and after a month of use and seeing all of the stuff that collected it you will quickly find how expensive this piece of supplies salt water systems is.
17. Fish – You can’t have a beautiful reef aquarium without the fish! Be sure to choose carefully and make sure you don’t overcrowd your tank or get species that aren’t compatible.