How to Set Up a Saltwater Fish Tank

Learn how to set up a saltwater fish tank with the help of aquarium expert Joseph Caparatta in this Howcast video.


To set up a salt water aquarium. Well, obviously you need an aquarium. You need the right life support for the types of animals that you're going to be keeping. Now there's a fish only system and there's the living reef. That's something you want to decide in the very beginning. Whether you're going to have crustaceans and invertebrates and live coral. That set up is going to be a little bit more involved than a typical fish only system.

I do recommend a living reef it's a more balanced ecosystem. And I think you'll get a lot more joy out of it. And now with the technology and the equipment we have you'll find it's a lot easier in fact probably just as easy to keep marine reef animals as it is to keep just a fish only system.

You're going to need a very strong stand. I do recommend buying the stand that compliments whatever aquarium you're buying. If you're trying to do piecemeal and buy an aquarium and stick it on a piece of furniture you have. You have to make sure that stand is strong enough to support the weight of the aquarium. Water weighs eight point three pounds per gallon approximately, so a hundred gallon tank you're up almost to a half a ton, a thousand pounds.

As far as filtration, there are many different kinds of filters. There's wet dry filters, canister filters, under gravel filters. All of them are great and all of them serve a purpose in the type of aquarium that you're setting up. You definitely want to put the majority of your money into filtration if you're on a budget. Other types of filtration include protein skimmer. A protein skimmer is going to physically remove a lot of dissolved organics in the aquarium. A lot of these organics would have to be broken down with bacteria which would result in high nitrates in the end. So buying a protein skimmer will actually save you some money and save you some headaches by removing a lot of the waste from the water before they have a chance to get broken down. So I do recommend a protein skimmer.

I'm not a big fan of the hang on the back protein skimmers because a lot of them dump fine bubbles in the tank and that can actually irritate the fish. It'll just stress them out their eyes can pop out from it. And it also gives the tank water a cloudy appearance. So you want a good filtration system that is an overflow style. You want the water to be overflowing from the top of the tank into a designated overflow box. And that'll bring the water down into your base in the stand where your wet dry filter or your reef sump is and that is where your return pump, your carbon filtration, your protein skimmer, your biological filtration all that stuff is housed below in the aquarium.

As far as lighting, there are a lot of options LED lights are great. Try to go with a lighting source that doesn't emit a lot of heat so that hopefully you can avoid purchasing a chiller. But if you find that your water temperature runs too warm in the summer months then you're going to need a chiller. You're going to need a heater to. So you're going to need a heater, chiller, protein skimmer, a good sump preferably a wet dry filter and that should be able to take care of most of your needs for salt water aquariums.

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