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How to Plan a Saltwater System

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Step 1: Decide What Kind of System You Want
How to Plan a Saltwater System
The first step in planning a saltwater aquarium is to decide what kind of system you want to keep.

  • Fish-Only tanks are the simplest, but can be a starting point for a more complex system at a later time.
  • Fish-Only With Live Rock tanks are just that: a tank with fish, invertebrates and live rock.
  • Reef Tanks require more light in the right spectrum for corals (the "reef" in Reef Tank) and some invertebrates. A reef tank can be one of the simplest tanks (see Jaubert Live Sand Filtration) to set up.

The photo above is of a Anthony Miralles' 18g Reef Tank. Anthony has proved that you don't have to have a huge aquarium, in order to have an outstanding reef tank.

Step 2: Buy Some Good Starter Books

In our opinion a hobbyist can never have too many good books to refer to when it comes to keeping any kind of saltwater aquarium, but putting together a good reference library can be rather expensive. After you get started with your first aquarium, as you progress in the hobby, so too will your reference library grow. Our last count was 28 books!

To save money in the beginning, here are the types of books you'll want to start with:

  • Overall Aquarium Keeping Books: Look for publications which will provide you with specific information and complete details about the kind of system you have decided to set up.

  • Fish and Invertebrate Care Guides: Before selecting fish or other marine life for your new aquarium, you need to learn about them first. You'll want to buy an overall combination or some individual fish and invertebrate profile books. The best publications to buy here are those that contain full color photos of the animals, and includes details about their average size, compatibility, dietary requirements, and other important must know captive care information.

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