Skip to main content

Beginners Guide to Saltwater Aquariums


Anyone looking to start a saltwater fish aquarium should be armed with the right knowledge and the proper equipment. At least this is what many people believe. Usually individuals are concerned with the fact that they need to expert assistance in order to get a saltwater tank set up.

Tank Size

The size of the fish tank is where it all begins. It has been said that a larger aquarium is easier to maintain. The trouble is a one hundred gallon tank does not come cheap and is likely not something a beginner would want to invest in immediately. Furthermore what people who own larger tanks fail to mention is that although maintenance is easier, the cost is quite steep. Aside from the tank itself, there are other items that need to be procured such live rocks for filtrations, lighting, etc. Smaller tanks, such as a fifteen gallon one is cheaper to setup but will however require several water changes.

Types of Tanks

There is a difference between a tropical reef tank and a tropical fish tank. Deciding on what your setup is going to be is important. Regardless of what you select, some kind of filtration is necessary for the aquarium. There are three basic kinds of saltwater tanks. The first one is called FO or Fish Only tank. This simply means that the tank will be filled with decorations such as fake corals and will contain only fishes. FOWLR is the second kind of tank; Fish Only With Live Rock is the type where fishes are accompanied with “love rocks” that come from the ocean. These rocks offer a natural and built in system of filtration that is biological. The third one is the full-fledged reef aquarium, the focus of this tank lies more on the corals rather than on fishes.

Specific Gravity

With an aquarium at hand, one only needs to fill it up with store bought salt and some water. Dry salt can be bought from you nearby fish stores along with a tool for measuring. This is essential so that you are able to find a gravity that is specific. This gravity simply entails that the weight of the water and the salt in it is comparable to the content level of salt that is found in the ocean. Using live rocks as well as other types of filtration is necessary.



Thirty days should be the number of days for a tank cycle. The fastest method to filter or cycle your tank is by using live rocks that are left to sit in the water for thirty full days. Once the tank is cycled, your first fish can be added in. those who wish to start a reef tank should at this point have some lights. Similar to lighting for greenhouses but are designed specifically for corals are what you will be in need of.

Follow the basics

Many novices have found that all it takes is to follow the basics and you will soon have your aquarium up and ready. It doesn’t matter if it is a freshwater or saltwater tank, the idea is that the hobby is to relieve stress therefore it should be equally stress free to set up.


Stephanie from Canada on January 28, 2013:

Scroll to Continue

I actually am a beginner to this an plan to have a saltwater aquarium soon so this is very helpful. Thanks!

Shea on January 21, 2013:

I've always wanted a saltwater tank. I keep looking and learning. My sister had one and I ended up taking care of the fish. It wasn't that hard actually, but if you made and error in something it affected the fish immediately.

Ms._Info from New Jersey on January 16, 2013:

I love the look of that built into the cabinet aquarium. It doesn't seem to take up too much space.

SolveMyMaze on January 16, 2013:

Nice hub! That tank is bloody huge, and I wish I had the space in my flat to have one that big, it looks great.

I didn't have a clue that you had to wait thirty days before putting the first fish in. It's a shame that you need to wait that long, but I suppose it's worth it in the end.

Megan Garcia from Florida on January 14, 2013:

Wow, I love that picture of the aquarium built into the house. It is gorgeous. I might own one if I could build it like that!

Related Articles