Our last article talked about starting an aquarium in general. There was also the mention of two types of aquariums: freshwater aquarium and saltwater aquarium. Today, we are diving deeper into the topic and focusing on how to start a saltwater aquarium.
Saltwater aquariums are live replicas of the marine ecosystem. These require higher resource investment and maintenance when compared with freshwater systems.
Let’s dive right in to understand what goes into starting a saltwater aquarium.
There are mainly three types of saltwater aquariums – fish only, fish with live rock, and reef system.
Fish-only aquariums are the simplest ones to start. They typically are free from much of the other marine elements like reefs and corals along with rocks and invertebrates. A fish-only setup can be complete with just the fish, the substrate (tank bed setting), filtration, and heating systems. Due to the lack of additional elements, they are very easy to set up and affordable. There's a lack of visual in this configuration with only the fishes being the main center of attraction.
Fish with live rocks setup promises a bit of the panache that the fish-only system lack. Incorporating live rocks serves dual purposes:
With the live rocks, you get pronounced aquatic greenery. This setup is suitable if you want a compromise between the fish-only system and the reef system.
Reef systems are the best form of marine life presentation. The mixture of fishes moving around within the confined artificial marine environment comprising of various rocks, reefs, corals, and invertebrates is a pleasure to the eye. A reef system shines the best in your drawing room while being displayed.
Whatever the budget, if you want real oceanic life view, go for reef aquarium systems.
Mainly, there are three essential elements to a saltwater aquarium setup, namely:
These three elements are vital for any marine aquarium to come alive.
You can rarely go wrong with your choice of fish unless you are thinking of hosting multiple species. If that's the case, then you need to check their compatibility to avoid injury or even dead fish.
Before going shopping for your aquarium tank, first, assess the space where you intend to have the aquarium. Remember, saltwater aquariums are quite massive; not something you would be able to or should be moving around. Measure the space to get a rough idea of the shape and size of the aquarium you are going to need. Also, make plans for the aquarium stand. The stand needs to be strong to withstand the heavy load of the saltwater aquarium.
This entire system is responsible for sustaining a suitable environment for your fishes to live in. The support system comprises of the following subsystems:
It is the heart of the aquarium, being primarily responsible for removing the harmful elements from the water. A good filtration system ensures the well-being of your aqua buddies. You do get some options, each having their pros and cons. Learn about the filtration systems and then make an informed decision.
Your marine buddies need adequate warmth for maintaining good health. An aquarium heating system along with thermometer helps you to do that. The heating system raises the water temperature to the required level, and the thermometer helps keep track of the temperature.
The illumination systems provide light for aquarium setup thereby helping two causes:
There are numerous illumination options, but LED setups are the most efficient.
A powerhead is solely responsible for circulating water around your saltwater aquarium. Aquariums lack the natural oceanic water movement. A powerhead helps to achieve this water movement which is necessary for sustaining the natural ambiance of your artificial marine ecosystem.
Protein skimmers complement the filtration system and make their work much more relaxed. It acts on the dissolved ‘protein' and separates it from the water thus cleaning the water in the aquarium. Protein skimmers for dummies is an excellent place to acquaint yourself with these cleaning agents.
Salt is the only thing that transforms freshwater into saltwater/marine water, and there's a specific amount to it. The artificially maintained water in the marine aquarium needs an appropriate amount of salt content. The salt content of water is examined by measuring the specific gravity of the water. A hydrometer helps to measure the specific gravity of the water.
The substrate forms the ‘ocean bed' in your saltwater aquarium setup. Here too you get a lot of options, but you need to consider some factors, especially weight and size.
Know more about what substrates are and what to look for when buying substrates.
Live rocks aren't actually alive. They aren't even rocks. Live rocks are the calcium carbonate skeletons of dead corals and other calcareous organisms. They host numerous forms of microscopic and macroscopic organisms which are responsible for performing biological filtration of the saltwater in the aquarium.
Saltwater aquariums are a bit demanding which can be sometimes overwhelming for a beginner. Aquarium kits provide a simpler option for enthusiasts who want a saltwater aquarium with the least amount of time investment. That said, you would be very much rewarded for your efforts by starting an attractive saltwater aquarium that keeps turning heads around. Also, through the process, you will get to learn new things and add experience to your fishkeeping journey.
As a beginner, keep things simple. Remember, an aquarium consists of three basic elements – inhabitant (fish), enclosure (tank) and the support system. Once you have all the things in place, it is just a matter of sustaining the setup through regular cleaning and maintenance.