How To Set Up a Saltwater Aquarium Without a Professional

Setting up a Saltwater aquarium can be intimidating. But once you put beautiful fish into it, you forget all the trouble you faced while setting it.

The saltwater aquariums have a unique look. The behavior of the corals makes them more attractive. Beginners may step back to set up a saltwater tank as it is more expensive and difficult to maintain.

But don’t worry. This article will learn many things to set up saltwater aquariums.

So, Follow this article till the end.

How To Set Up a Saltwater Aquarium Without a Professional

Lets us look at the step you should follow that will make your work easy:

I. Plan your Aquarium

Before buying anything for your saltwater tank, make a plan. Planning makes your work much more manageable. Plan the size of tank you want, best fishes that will suit your tank size.

Because once you decide the tank and the fish you want to have, the rest of the things will fall in place.

II. Prepare the Tank

The first and foremost thing is to select the tank. There are two options here. Glass and acrylic. Acrylic tanks never break. But for a newbie, glass tanks are best because glass tanks are affordable and scratch-resistant. 

For larger aquariums or experienced aquarists, acrylic tanks are best because acrylic tanks are light and easy to repair.

And since you have planned your aquarium, now you can rush to the market. You can also try buying marine aquariums online.

III. Cleaning the Tank

You may think new tanks do not need cleaning. But no, new tanks do need cleaning to clear the tiny dust particles. Never clean your tank with soap or household cleaners. They are poisonous for the fish and the corals.

Suppose you have an acrylic tank. Clean with a lint-free microfiber cloth because acrylic gets scratched.

IV. Check for Leaks 

To check for leaks, fill the tank with water up to 2-inches in height and leave for an hour. If you find any leakage, fix it with an aquarium sealant or Change the tank.

V. Select a secure Location

After cleaning and checking for leaks, the most crucial step is to position the aquarium in a safe place.

Remember, a full-filled tank is heavy, becoming very difficult to move. So find a place that can hold the heavyweight of the tank. Also, make sure that the surface is flat, and your tank won’t fall.

VI. Add Live Rocks and Substrate

Apart from adding an aesthetic appeal, substrates play a very crucial role. They help in chemistry, filtration, and wellbeing for your aquatic inhabitants.

Add the substrate very carefully to avoid scratches. First, add a thin substrate layer at the bottom and then add the rest.

Live rocks also play their part in the tank. They act as shelter for your fish and other inhabitants.

VII. Add Water

After you have added your substrate, fill the tank with water. You can fill it using a faucet. Use a dechlorinator or use treatments to de- chlorinate the water. The next step is to add salt-mix to your water.

Salt-mix is available in pet shops selling fish supplies. While adding water, it may become cloudy. But don’t worry, it will clear after some time.

IIIX. Add Necessary Equipment

Only saltwater and substrate will not work. You also have to install some other equipment.

It will help your saltwater aquarium sustain itself for a long time after set-up. The points below will give you all the details: 

  • Filters

The water gets toxic as the waste produced by fish and corals has ammonia. It kills the inhabitants. A filter will break down ammonia into less-harmful nitrate.

You can install the following filters: Canister filters, Gravel Filters, and Sponge Filters.

  • Heater

Now place the heater on one side of the tank and place the thermometer on the opposite side. It will reveal whether the temperature inside the aquarium is average.

You can even search for the Best heaters for saltwater aquariums online before rushing to the market.

  • UV sterilizers

UV sterilizers prove to be very helpful if you struggle to control the algae growth in our reef tank. Also, they help you to prevent bacteria and parasites in your tank.

The following are some best UV sterilizers: Aqua UV advantage, Green Killing Machine, and Aqua UV Classic

  • Protein skimmers

This is essential equipment to keep the water clean and prevent ammonia production. You can use it to remove organic waste, fish excrement, undigested food, etc.

You can search for some Best protein skimmers online. There you will get a better idea about them, their price details, and much more.

  • Powerheads

Powerheads are essential equipment used in the aquarium for water circulation and oxygenation. Powerheads help get rid of residues and other matter settling down the tank.

Powerhead circulation helps the matter get circulated throughout and suspended by mechanical filters. Also, the water movement is a source of exercise for the fish.

IX. Add Lights

Lights are one of the essential elements in the aquarium. Apart from giving it an aesthetic look, it plays a vital role in the lives of its inhabitants as well.

Lights sustain the photosynthetic life of the aquarium. Also, the corals seek a deep blue light spectrum to thrive. Refer to best-LED aquarium lighting

X. Give time for Stabilizing

Now your aquarium is ready. But before adding fish into it, wait until the temperature in the tank gets stable.

Give it at least 24-48 hours. If the water gets cloudy, wait for the cloudiness to disappear. After the water gets clear and has a stable temperature, the tank is ready for further steps.

XI. Cycle the Aquarium

You have done almost all the necessary things for your aquarium. And now you are a step ahead to put your favourite fish into your tank. But wait ! you have the most degree still left, i.e., cycling the aquarium.

Cycling helps to build up bacterial cultures for biological filtration. It also converts ammonia to nitrites and nitrates to nitrites. Nitrates are toxic in high quantities, partial water change keeps the levels low.

XII. Add fish in the Aquarium

After going through all these steps, you have come to the most exciting part and, of course, your favorite one.

It’s time to add the fish. fBut, you have to keep in mind that fish are susceptible. So, you have to handle them with care.  

Do not add too many fish to the tank. Since they are sensitive, you need to assimilate them before putting them inside the tank.

The Types of Saltwater tanks Explained

Before jumping on the steps of setting up your tank, let us have an idea of the types of saltwater tanks:

I. Fish only tank

As the name suggests, this tank contains only to fish. It is the most basic, inexpensive salt water system you can have. Since nothing other than fish is present, you need to take little extra care. Change the water on a regular to maintain the quality of the water.

II. Fish only with live Rock

This tank contains fish and living rock. You can use stones for decoration purposes. They play a very crucial role.

They keep the aquarium water clean by introducing beneficial bacteria into the water. Though they are pretty expensive, they are worth buying.

III. Reef Tank

Saltwater and reef tanks are different, and their difference lies in corals. Reef tanks contain corals, which are living organisms.

Setting this aquarium can be an expensive affair. It is because corals are costly and they need some extra equipment too. Beginners do not plan for this because of its expense.

The best option for beginners:

If you are a beginner and want to experience the saltwater tank in your house, start with a fish-only tank. Corals need high maintenance, which may seem challenging for a newbie to handle.

Once you get a grip, try experimenting with new things. But if you are passionate and want to try at the first shot, you can try an aquarium with a live rock and reef tank.


You may have heard that setting saltwater aquariums is not everyone’s cup of tea. But what do you feel after going through the article? You may agree that there is nothing special about setting up a marine tank. Proper research and a bit more carefulness will help you set up your favourite aquarium.

Be a little careful about installing the equipment. Make sure you position the kits in a correct manner for effective functioning. Be cautious while handling the fish. Choose the best fish for your tank and enhance the beauty of your corner.

So, buckle up and bring the beautiful members to your home without any second thought.

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