Saltwater Aquarium Setup – By Lee Dobbins
Before starting the actual saltwater aquarium setup the owner should plan carefully and make all the necessary purchases. There is no right or wrong way to set up a saltwater aquarium, with some basic procedural exceptions, but it’s good to plan ahead before actually starting the setup.
The most important thing in the saltwater aquarium setup, and what should be the first step in the procedure, is for the new saltwater aquarium owner to decide what type of system she or he wants. There are three types of system and each requires a slightly different saltwater aquarium setup. The types are FO, which stands for fish only system. This aquarium system has fish but does not have any live coral or any rocks. In an FO system what replaces these live rocks and coral are non-living rocks and shells, as well as corals that are synthetic, artificial or dried. This saltwater aquarium setup quite often also contains cleaning janitors or crustaceans that are compatible such as true or hermit crabs and snail that eat detritus and some form of algae.
Those who decide on the FO saltwater aquarium setup have been known to change their minds later and so it’s advisable when choosing this type of aquarium setup to choose filtration, equipment and design choices with the thought of possibly transitioning to reef keeping later on.
The second type of saltwater aquarium setup is called FOWLR. This stands for Fish Only with Live Rock. While this aquarium system has no live corals, it does have, along with fish of course, some live invertebrate and crustacean janitors that are compatible with each other and some sessile invertebrates that grow on live rock.
The third type of saltwater aquarium system is called the Reef Tank setup. In this system, the aquarium includes live rock, corals that are either soft or stony, sessile invertebrates, as well as crustaceans and motile invertebrates as reef-compatible janitors. This type of saltwater aquarium setup might not even have any fish, or if it does it is generally just a few that are reef compatible.
Once the decision has been made about the type of system, the next setup step for the saltwater aquarium is the purchase of equipments and supplies.
In general, the aquarium owner is going to need the tank, lighting for the aquarium, filters and a system of filtration, substrate, a shelter for any livestock that is going to be in the aquarium, a heater, a thermometer, saltwater or sea salt mixture, an hydrometer, test kits, supplements and additives such as calcium, and supplies and tools for aquarium maintenance.
The saltwater aquarium setup could benefit from many other optional items too. They include a power head to make sure water circulates properly throughout the entire aquarium system and a protein skimmer that helps keep the aquarium free of any unsightly and yellowing waste products. A tap water filter is a good idea if tap water is being used to combine the sea salt mixture. An ammonia destroyer and dechlorinator is advisable as well.