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E-Course - Saltwater Aquariums 101

Day 1: Getting Started


E-Course - Saltwater Aquariums 101

5.5 gallon Reef Tank

John Hakim
Saltwater Aquarium 101 Quick Links:
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 |

Welcome to the five-day e-course "About Saltwater Aquariums 101 Getting Started." This course will guide you through setting up and starting your new saltwater aquarium. If you prefer an email class format where the daily lessons are emailed to you on a daily basis, you can sign up for those classes at Saltwater Aquariums 101 - Getting Started.

Today we will be determining the type of aquarium you will be starting as well as the right location for your new tank. But first, let's dispel some rumors that you may have heard.

Myths and Common Mistakes

To put your mind at ease, over the years, many inaccurate legends (myths) have been generated about how difficult saltwater aquariums are to keep. Top Saltwater Aquarium Myths details a number of these myths and explains why they are inaccurate.

A freshwater aquarium is a bit simpler to set up and maintain than a saltwater aquarium. However, if the 10 Most Common Mistakes are avoided, they are really not all that difficult.


While you can create a marine aquarium system that uses every possible piece of equipment on the market, the Sample 55g FOWLR Saltwater Tank demonstrates how a basic aquarium system can produce equal or even better results. The old saying "keep it simple, stupid" certainly applies with aquariums.

Fish Only, Fish Only With Live Rock, or Reef Tank?

To get started, you will want to decide which type of system you want. Even if your dream is having a Reef Tank, complete with corals, fish, and invertebrates, you can start with a basic Fish Only (FO) or Fish Only With Live Rock (FOWLR) tank, upgrading it over time. You can also create a Mini-Reef Tank which has all the basic equipment, will fit almost anywhere, and is more affordable for some.

Your New Tank

If you haven't decided what you want your tank to look like in the end, you can surf through the photos in the Top Reef Tank Photos Galleries.

Choose Your Tank Location

Now that you have decided what you want your tank to look like, you will want to Choose Your Tank Location. Keep in mind that moving a saltwater aquarium is not a simple process, so pick your location carefully.

Choose Your Tank, Stand & Hood

Now that you have decided where you will be placing your new tank, you can Choose Your Tank, Stand & Hood which will work for the space you have. There are a number of aquariums (compare prices of Mini/Nano Kits, 1 to 50 Gallon Aquariums and Showsize Display Aquariums) on the market which may work for you. If you enjoy creating things on your own as well as saving money, DIY Glass Aquarium Plans and DIY Aquarium Cabinet/Stands may be for you.

Start a Tank Log Book

Keep detailed notes on everything you do with your tank, from construction to equipment to adding critters and test results. As time goes on, you will thank yourself for keeping a detailed log of everything you do with your tank. There are a number of freeware and shareware tank logbook programs available. Pick the one that works best for you and start logging today.

Get Help in the Forums

If you are having difficulty making a decision or would like ideas from other aquarists, the About.com Saltwater Aquariums Forums is an excellent place to find information, opinions and share experiences with other forum members. Take a couple of minutes to register for free, making a note of your member name and password in case you forget it later.

That's it for today! Tomorrow we will be learning about and choosing the heart of your new aquarium: the filtration system.

Saltwater Aquarium 101 Quick Links: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 |

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