Everything You Need To Start a Successful Saltwater Aquarium

Everything You Need To Start a Successful Saltwater Aquarium

When you decide that you may want to start a saltwater aquarium it may seem to be very overwhelming. Just like anything else, research is key. In the aquarium industry, there are thousands of different products. The abundance of products often confuses the consumer. In this article, I am going to explain the basics of what you need to start a saltwater aquarium.

Fish only or Reef?

The first thing you need to ask yourself is do you want an aquarium that only has fish in it, or do you want a reef tank. This will determine what products you need and how to design your system and filtration. Below is a list of my suggested items you will need to get started on both.

Reef Tank

  • Tank (reef ready)
  • Stand
  • Glass canopy (optional)
  • Wood canopy (optional)
  • Lighting suitable for corals (I would recommend LED lighting)
  • Refugium
  • Macro Algae (I would recommend Chaeto)
  • Refugium light
  • Plumbing Materials (bulkheads, standpipe, pvc, elbows, check valve, ball valve, etc.)
  • Return pump
  • Protein Skimmer
  • Auto top off (optional but recommended)
  • Heater
  • Filter socks, or filter pads (depends on sump set up)
  • Sand (live sand recommended when starting)
  • Live rock
  • Saltwater (I would recommend using a high quality reef salt)
  • Dosing system (optional depending if on types of corals and what kind of salt is being used)
  • RODI system

Fish Only

  • Tank (reef ready)
  • Stand
  • Glass canopy (optional)
  • Wood canopy (optional)
  • Lighting (I would recommend LED, you do not need to spend too much money on this)
  • Bioball style sump
  • Bioballs
  • Plumbing Materials (bulkheads, standpipe, pvc, elbows, check valve, ball valve, etc.)
  • Return pump
  • Protein Skimmer
  • Auto top off (optional but recommended)
  • Heater
  • Filter socks, or filter pads (depends on sump set up)
  • Sand (live sand recommended when starting)
  • Live rock or decor ( You do not need live rock with bioballs, depends what you prefer)
  • Saltwater
  • RODI system

These are the essential components of a saltwater aquarium. If you did your research you will see there are many other items that can be purchased such as a uv light, media reactor, etc. In my opinion I would purchase these essentials listed above and then if you have any problems you can always add new components to your system down the road. A mistake that many people make is over purchasing products.  It often leads to complications. The more you have in your tank, the more things that can break, or cause problems. This is only my opinion, but I believe in keeping things simple. Many extra products only mask an overlying problem. I prefer to try and solve the problem at the source. For example, if you are having a hard time keeping phosphates down, rather than going out and purchasing a media reactor with phosphate remover, check where you are getting your water from. There is a good chance that the RO you are making your water with is not doing its job and filters need to be changed. There are always exceptions where it is beneficial to having extra products when needed.

Now get out there and start your saltwater aquarium. It is a hobby that many peopleabsolutely love and get hooked on. Take this checklist and go out to your local aquarium store and get to work. Welcome to the hobby.