10-Step Guideline to Start a Home Saltwater Aquarium

Home Saltwater Aquarium

Instead of having cats or dogs in my house, I’ve always wanted to have a saltwater aquarium. Such tanks with exotics fish species look bright and impressive both in the living rooms and even in the office. I am sure you’ve heard many people saying how difficult and time-consuming it is to set it up and most importantly maintain life in a tank.

And I truly can’t contradict this saying. Just imagine that the installation process may take you up to 2 months not to say that you will always be obligated to keep the right salt balance in the water and take care of plants. Why does it take so long to install? – you would probably ask. The answer is simple: right after you purchase the aquarium, before placing fish inside, you have to filter the water and wait until it’s suitable for life.

But hopefully, this “tiny little” difficulty won’t stop you halfway through, because the result is going to be stunning and definitely worth completing all of the 10 steps I have written below.

Saltwater Aquarium Setup

Saltwater Aquarium kit

 1. Think of the Location

The most important requirement for a perfect location of your aquarium is a place with a limited sun exposure. Direct sunlight can be a reason for growing algae in the water, which can negatively affect the fish and the overall water balance. Also, think of the room with a good ventilation and cooler temperature.  Take this question seriously because once you install the tank in a certain area, it will be extremely difficult to move it to a different location.

So, if you want to reduce sunlight in some home area, check my post about the best Roman shades.

Also, think of the room with a good ventilation and cooler temperature.  Take this question seriously because once you install the tank in a certain area, it will be extremely difficult to move it to a different location.

Take this question seriously because once you install the tank in a certain area, it will be extremely difficult to move it to a different location.

 2. Purchase an Aquarium

There is so right shape or size of the aquarium, so here you are free to make any decision based on your own preferences and needs. For instance, you have to understand that large species of fish or the ones that will eventually grow longer would feel more comfortable living in large tanks. a

There is one misconception: people consider small-sized tanks as a saltwater aquarium for beginners. They’d like to start with a small tank and then switch to a bigger one. However, I would recommend you to buy larger aquarium right away because as I have mentioned before, you’ll spend a lot of time bringing the salt water in the right condition, and starting all over again would be a big pain.

3. Choose the Aquarium Stand

The major factor a good stand for an aquarium is steadiness and support. The good thing is that most large aquariums are sold together with a stand, which means the latter ones fit the aquariums perfectly. The stand should have enough shelves for saltwater aquarium supplies, space for placing the filter and possibly holes that provide you with an access sockets to switch on the lighting and the filter.

4. Clean Your Aquarium Before Filling the Water

It’s significant to clean your tank before you fill it with the salt water and insert the plants and fish. You don’t need to use chemical cleaners, though – there’s a risk that you don’t wash the chemicals off the aquarium and they will get into the water. A simple wet cloth will be enough to clean the tank from remaining dust and dirt.

5. Clean Off Gravel

Gravel for your aquarium contains lots of dust, therefore make sure you rinse the gravel before placing it at the bottom of your tank. A cleaned gravel is the best substrate for an aquarium. Speaking of how much of gravel you’re supposed to put inside, consider at least 1 lb of gravel for each gallon of your tank.

6. Fill In the Salt Water

As a beginner, mixing water and salt can be a tricky business, which is why I advise purchasing a pre-mixed saltwater that already contains the right balance of sea salt. However, the price for such mix is rather high and if you can’t afford to fill in the whole large aquarium with that mix, the first option would be your only choice.

Such mixes come together with saltwater aquarium kits. But if there isn’t any, here are some basic recommendations on how to create a proper saltwater mix.

First, don’t use traditional salt from your kitchen or the water from the tab. Instead, purchase a specific type of salt in one of your local fish stores and let the water sit overnight before it gets rid of chlorine and other toxic substances for your fish.

Once your water and salt are all set up, don’t hurry to fill in the whole aquarium with it. Pour one-third of the water first to check the water gravity. Insert all the necessary equipment such as a water filter, heating, and lighting systems before you add the rest of the water. This would allow you to test the gear and see if it works fine to run the aquarium life.

7. Decorate Your Tank

Out of everything, the decoration part is the funniest one. The freedom for your phantasy is endless. A great idea for each aquarium will be a live rock, which does not only represent a piece of decoration but is the tank’s natural filter. The rock you are going to insert inside a saltwater fishes aquarium must be cured, in other words, cleared from toxic compounds. Otherwise, it may kill your fish.

8. Cycle Your Tank

During this stage, you’re supposed to add ammonia to your aquarium in order to run the nitrogen cycle. Some people would use a pair of fish that produce ammonia, although it can affect their health. Fish lovers recommend buying maturation fluids instead.

They can increase the levels of ammonia or decrease them as soon as the water contains enough nitrite levels. Watch out for the latter – nitrites can turn into nitrates and this will no longer be good for the aquarium life. The cycling process lasts approximately 2 weeks, so keep patient here.

It’s a creative process and can become an excellent hobby for women.

9. Purchase Healthy Fish

fish for Saltwater Aquarium

Congratulations! Now you can finally put fish in your saltwater tank. While you are heading off to your local fish store, be extremely careful when buying some because you don’t want unhealthy fish live in your aquarium and intoxicate everything you have been preparing for such a long time.

When you purchase specific fish species, make sure you know how to take care of those. Respectively, NEVER buy a fish that you don’t know anything about. By the way, for your convenience, you can purchase and saltwater fish online.

10. Adjust Your Fish to the Environment

Unfortunately, decorating your tank isn’t the last thing to do. The final stage is acclimatizing your fish to your aquarium, which can be as tiresome as cycling your water.

To acclimatize your fish properly, first place the bag in which you bought the fish to the side of the tank but don’t forget to poor the half of the water out of the bag before.

After several minutes, add to it some of the aquarium water. Wait approximately 10 minutes and then add a little more again. Afterward, make sure the water from the bag has the same temperature, pH, and salinity as your aquarium water. Place the fish without the bag and here we go – the tank is all set up!

Seems like a long and exhausting process? Believe me – the final result is worth your efforts! Let me know if you succeed at making your home saltwater aquarium in the comments below! Hopefully, my husband and I would do our own one very soon!

Sincerely yours,

Irene Kot

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Ashley M.

I always wanted to buy an aquarium in my house but I always delayed that moment. And now that I found your step-by-step guide I wanted to get one just now. My friends have one, so every time I come with my two younger sons to their house, they love staring at fish and feeding them. I just felt like it’s a very complicated process to install one and maintain the right environment for just one aquarium but it’s definitely worth it. Also, you don’t have to clean after fish like you do it with dogs or cats =) Anyway,… Read more »