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Checklist of Items Needed to Start a Saltwater Aquarium

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Checklist of Items Needed to Start a Saltwater Aquarium
Tropical fish and coral in aquarium
GK Hart & Vikki Hart/Photodisc/Getty Images
The items listed here are pieces of equipment and components that are fundamental for setting up and running a saltwater aquarium or reef tank system.

  1. Aquarium/Tank
    You need to decide where you want to put your aquarium, determine what size you want or may only have room for, whether you want an acrylic or glass tank, and choose a style that will best fit into the spot you have picked out to display it.
  2. Lighting
    The type of lighting you choose will be based on the type of system you have planned to set up, as well as what kind of livestock you will be keeping in it.
  3. Skimmers, Filters & Filtration Equipment
    Once again, what type of system you are going to set up will help you determine which kind of filters and filtration system to choose.
  4. Powerhead
    Depending on the size of your aquarium, the use one or several powerheads is an excellent way to provide good water circulation throughout the system.
  5. Live Rock & Substrate
    Here you need to decide on what type of material you want on the bottom of the tank, as well as whether you want to start with a live or non-living medium.

    Live Rock plays an important role in a marine tank. Many marine animals, fish in particular, can be quite territorial. It is important to provide ample shelter or places where the animals can hide, sleep, and avoid potential problems with aggression from other tankmates in the confined space of an aquarium.

  6. Sea Salt Mix/Saltwater & Hydrometer
    Sea salts are what make an aquarium a saltwater or marine aquarium. Also referred to as a salinity tester, this item measures the specific gravity or salt content of the water.
  7. Heater & Thermometer
    For smaller aquariums one heater works well, but for larger systems the use of multiple units is advised. With stick-on, floating, multi-function remote digital sensor, and many other types of units to pick from, the material a thermometer is made of is an important factor when choosing one as well.
  8. Air Pump & Air Stones
    Only needed if you are going to run a piece of equipment that requires these items, such as a counter-current protein skimmer.
  9. Test Kits, Additives & Supplements
    For live rock and reef tank systems, calcium (a.k.a. limewater/kalkwasser) needs to be added. Other supplemental vitamins or additives that are beneficial to the health of certain marine inhabitants you may be keeping, such a iodine for crustaceans, are important as well.
  10. Maintenance Tools & Supplies
    This category includes having items on hand such as a various sized plastic buckets or containers, tank cleaning tools such as a siphon tube/hose, an algae scaper or magnet, as well as nets of different sizes, spare equipment replacements parts, and so on. A good way to keep track of what maintenance tasks you have preformed and when is to keep a log book or record of everything you do.

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