Starting a reef aquarium at home is a beautiful sight to behold. The color and beauty of the ocean right inside your living space helps you relax. Even then, it would need a bit of work to do.
You want to add the best, hardiest corals for your first reef tank. If you want reef fish tanks, there’s a way to do it without damaging the ecosystem.
There’s never a bad time to start a coral reef fish tank at home. Doing it would need your attention, however.
In this guide, we’ll teach you how to do proper reef tanks set up. We’ll work on everything, from the saltwater tank for beginners to find the right décor and fish.
Are you ready? Here’s how you do it.
1. Budgeting Your Reef Tanks Setup
The first thing you need to learn is how to make a saltwater tank. Depending on your skills, it’s best to prepurchase a tank instead of making it from scratch. Only if you’re confident of your glass-making skills, it’s best to get a premade tank.
You would want to get the right size tank for your needs and aquarium budget. Budget is crucial, as you might waste not only money but marine life if you don’t have the right reef tanks set up. Here’s a good rule of thumb:
When it comes to a saltwater fish tank set up, the most basic setup should have a per gallon budget. If you want something decent, you want to set aside around $25 to $30 per gallon. Yes, it’s 30 dollars, and here’s why.
For proper reef fish tanks, you want the right materials. You even need phytoplankton or macroalgae to create a healthy ecosystem. You want to have the right:
- Water composition materials
- Temperature control systems
- Cleaning systems
- Reef corals
- The substrate, live rocks and pebbles
- Décor and other aquascapes
Once you have the right budget for your needs, buy the right sized saltwater tanks for beginners. Get it into position and set it down an aquarium stand – not furniture.
Clean the tank with fresh water and a clean cloth or a sponge. Once you have the tank ready, it’s time to start adding everything.
2. Setting Equipment for Your Saltwater Tanks for Beginners
The first thing you want is to add the tank’s backing. How to make a saltwater tank background design depends on you. You may start by painting the backside or adding a piece of artificial vinyl as covering.
The next thing you want is to set your equipment. You want to start with a protein skimmer, also known as a filter. If you’re adding phytoplankton, you can forego the skimmer after you add them to keep the ecosystem working.
You would also want a thermostat that can help control the water temperature.
A circulation pump can help refresh the water and remove contaminants. There’s also the aquarium light to provide not only illumination. It can help the biome in your saltwater tank for beginners thrive.
3. Add Saltwater To Your Reef Fish Tanks
For reef tanks set up, you would want to add the saltwater now. A saltwater fish tank set up would need a sea salt mix together with reverse osmosis water. Use purified, mineral water instead of distilled water, as distilled water goes through copper during filtration.
Follow the package instructions for the sea salt mix. For reef fish tanks, use a hydrometer and add salt or water up to half of the tank. You want a salinity reading of 1.025 for your saltwater fish tank set up.
Filling up half also takes into account aquascapes, pebbles and decor. Corals and phytoplankton go only when you add the fish and live creatures.
4. Start Cycling the Water for Your Saltwater Fish Tank Set Up
You want to start the filtration system before adding rocks and pebbles for 24 hours. This allows for fishless cycling of the water and to test your equipment. If any of your equipment fails, you can troubleshoot it during this time period.
The first 24-hour cycle also allows for cleaning of dust particles and proper water purification. Once you finish the first 24 hours of filtration, add your pebbles, aquarium lighting, live rocks, and aquascape. When making a saltwater tank for beginners, you want to fill up to a third of the entire tank.
Fill the rest of the tank with salt water, then test again to put it to 1.025. Cycle the water for another 4–6 weeks. Clean the filter daily, then once dirt lessens, reduce it to once a week.
Change the water with new saltwater where you can. Do not add fish and live creatures during this cycling period. Patience is key on how to make a saltwater tank.
During this period, buy a pH, ammonia, and nitrate testing kit. Check the water until ammonia and nitrates go to 0.
5. Add the Fish, Live Creatures and Corals
Once you have everything set up, add the fish, the coral reef and the phytoplankton. This should be the time to remove your skimmer as well.
Use algae-eating creatures like snails. The ratio should be around 1 algae eater for every 10 gallons of water. The corals will start eating the phytoplankton during this stage as it grows.
Put 2 weeks between every new creature you add to your reef tanks set up. Every creature creates a bioload into the aquarium. Overcrowding can push nitrate and ammonia levels to higher levels, so it’s best to introduce little by little.
Check the stats of your reef fish tanks every day. Check for temperature, water level, salinity, and fish health. Make this a part of your day to day routine.
It’s Never Too Late to Start a Coral Reef Fish Tank
When it comes to a coral reef fish tank, you need careful consideration before you even start. Check for budget and dedication, as you need to do it right. Start on the hobby only if you know you can dedicate time to it.
If you want to learn more about taking care of saltwater tanks for beginners, check out other guides and give them a look. You’ll find nuggets of awesome information that can help you decide on the right move.
Give our resources a good look. Following them can ensure that you get only the best, whether it’s for reef fish tanks or something else. Check it out now.