The lights used on a FW tank are usually standard or NO (Normal Output) fluorescent bulbs, which will work fine
for a fish-only SW tank. However, you might consider adding an actinic
blue bulb along side one of the standard tubes, or change over to 50/50's, as these type of fluorescent bulbs greatly enhance the visual look of the tank
and the colors of the fishes. Other considerations are the material
the light hood is made of, which may not hold up to the corrosive effects of SW, and if you
want to upgrade to VHO, PC, or MH lighting, the standard aquarium hood will not hold them.
If you are planning a reef system, lighting becomes much more critical, and expensive. Spend
some time researching
your potential lighting needs before running down to your LFS and laying
out a lot of your hard earned cash. It has been our experience that the
average salesperson working in an LFS doesn't have a clue to what the lighting
requirements are for a reef system, which usually results in you ending up with either inadequate or unnecessary equipment.
-- About Fish-Only Tank Lighting
-- More About Basic Fundamentals of Fluorescent Tubes
-- About Reef System Lighting
-- About Coral Lighting
In all likelihood the heater(s) being used won't need to be
replaced, just make sure this equipment is rated as safe for use in SW, particularly undergravel cable type units that are often used in FW plant aquariums.
-- More About Choosing & Using Heaters
With the exception of large stones or rocks, most FW tank decorations are useless in SW aquariums,
and some items such as plastic plants can even be dangerous to marine life. Most marine fish are "grazers" and
have a tendency to nibble on everything, and it doesn't take too many eaten fragments of plastic to totally shut down a fish's digestive track. As far as items like castles, bubbling divers and sunken chests, if you are a "true" saltwater naturalist, adding these types of things are unheard of. Appropriate
types of decorative rocks and corals either non-living or synthetic
are generally used for decorating SW tanks, if you are not planning on adding live rock and/or keeping a coral reef system.
FW test kits are useless in a SW tank.
The chemicals used in FW test kits are totally different than those used
in SW test kits.
-- Test Kit Recommendation Charts
All in all, conversion from a freshwater to a saltwater tank isn't all that complicated. Additional items such as sea salt, a hydrometer, saltwater aquarium books, and a few other supplies will need to be purchased, but by being able to use "some" of the equipment you already have, you're off to a pretty good start.
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