How To Plan A Saltwater Aquarium Setup

Step by Step: Planning your first saltwater aquarium setup.

saltwater aquarium setup

Why Plan Your Saltwater Aquarium Setup?

Making a plan for your saltwater aquarium setup is the best place to start before you buy anything. Your saltwater aquarium setup should be based on what you want to keep for livestock (fish, Invertebrates and Coral). It’s important to choose your livestock first because their requirements will dictate the type of system and environment, you will need. This will also point you in the direction of what size aquarium you will need as well as equipment.

Sadly, I have seen on more than one occasion, where an individual walked into a fish store, pointed at the display aquarium and said “Thats what I want,  …now!” Then they leave the shop with an aquarium under one arm and bag of fish in the other. Obviously, any real fish store (looking to stay in business for the long run) would advise against this sort of behavior, but that does’t stop it for happening.

Reckless behavior such as that, is not only irresponsible, but will most likely end in failure and disappointment. Adding to the long list of individuals who think keeping a saltwater aquarium is next to impossible.

When it comes to saltwater aquariums, I can not stress enough that impulse shopping at any point, for any reason, will break your heart and your wallet. Make a plan and stick to it.

Educating yourself about saltwater aquarium setups.

One of the most important things you can do as a new hobbyist is learn as much as you can about the hobby. Become a consumer of all the information you can find. Your using a great saltwater aquarium resource right now, and I’m not just talking about my website 🙂 The internet, is full a great information on saltwater aquariums.

Deciding what type of saltwater aquarium setup you want.

There are three defined types of saltwater aquariums, that you my choose from. Each of them have their benefits and drawbacks, that should be considered before you decided which one is suitable for you. If you are looking to get into the saltwater aquarium hobby, take a monument to learn the basics about these saltwater aquarium setups and find which one suits you best.

The three types of saltwater aquarium setups:

Make a budget for your saltwater aquarium.

Just like most things in the world today, you can put as much money as you want into setting up a saltwater aquarium as you want, but for most of us you will be more than likely starting out on a budget. Saltwater aquariums do run a higher cost than a freshwater aquarium but thats because a saltwater aquarium setup is more complex and requires more up keep.

The cost of a saltwater aquarium will depend on your desires of livestock, aquarium size, equipment and so on. This makes it hard to estimate what the the cost could be, speaking from my own experiences if you where frugal about your expense you could start a 55 gallon saltwater aquarium around $500.00.

Make sure to do your research to get a better understanding of starting costs.

Make a fish wish list.

Most people looking to get a new puppy spend hours researching breeds to find the perfect match for them. Qualities such as the size of the breed, activity level, temperament and overall care needs are all considered before “adoption”. After the potential dog owner creates their list of potential candidates, they make their decision based on the breed best fit for them.

This is not the case when it comes to the aquarium industry and selecting fish for your saltwater aquarium. Often, saltwater fish are bought on a whim without any consideration, leading to disappointment results.

If you’re thinking about starting a new saltwater aquarium the first step I would recommend is making a wish list of fish you would be interested in keeping. Ideally, this would be done before you purchased the aquarium because the needs of the fish, will dictate the size of the aquarium, equipment need and habitat requirements.

Here is a free download so you can put together your own Fish wish list (PDF download).

Find a local Fish Store.

Finding the the best fish store  for setting up your own saltwater aquarium can be a challenge. Where you choose to buy your livestock, equipment and find helpful advice will have a huge effect on your success as a saltwater aquarium hobbyist. Going to the right store is as important as any decision you will make when starting a saltwater aquarium.

Find a location for the saltwater aquarium.

Location, location, location…. This has often been the war cry of a Realtor when referring to house shopping. Well, it works for finding a appropriate location for your aquarium in your home as well. Where you place your aquarium needs to have some thought behind it and can offer you the things you need to serve you and your aquarium, well. Below you will find some questions that you need to ask yourself to find the right spot for your saltwater aquarium setup.

  • Is this location structurally strong enough? A gallon of water weighs 8 lbs. So a 55 gallon aquarium filled with water weighs 440 lbs. and thats before any live rock or substrate. The location needs to be able to handle that amount of weight.
  • Does the Sun shine directly on this location?  Direct sunlight can cause significant algae blooms as well as large temperature fluctuations.
  • Does this location have fluctuating temperatures? Locations next to heaters as well as air-conditioners are not ideal locations. Saltwater aquariums need to maintain constant temperatures of 78-80 degrees fahrenheit and locations of fluctuating temperatures can become problematic.
  • Is there an electrical outlets nearby (preferably GFI outlet)? Saltwater aquariums require multiple electrical outlets for equipment such as lights, power-heads and return pumps. Unless you have an electrician in the family, it can add to the overall cost, to install outlets.
  • Does this location have access to water? Take it for me, a location that is not easily accessible to water can and will, probably become one of the biggest headaches in your saltwater aquarium project. If it’s difficult to do a water change or top off water evaporation, your not going to do it.  These things are very important to maintaining a successful saltwater aquarium and need to be completed regularly.
  • What is the flooring made of? Can it get wet? I’m to keep this one short…  Do you want your carpet smelling like dirty salty old fish water? Wood floors are ok but tile in best.

The bigger the aquarium the more important the location and it ability to serve you and your aquarium. If you have a location that does not serve you well, you will have difficulties maintaining your saltwater aquarium setup. So, put some thought into the location of your aquarium, you’ll be glade you did. Location, location, location….

Planning your saltwater aquarium setup.

Once you have a basic idea of what type of saltwater aquarium, livestock and equipment you want, it’s time to start putting a plan together. Making a Plan for your saltwater aquarium setup shouldn’t become a chore but help you make a better informed decision for your situation. This will help you be vary successful with starting and maintaining a saltwater aquarium.

For more information on saltwater aquarium setup visit my Start Here page

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I Appreciate You!

I just wanted to wrap things up by saying that I’m here for you. I want you to succeed as you begin with your saltwater aquarium efforts. Feel free to contact me. I will do my best to respond to your emails and answer any questions you my have about getting started with  your saltwater aquarium.

Thank you so much for your support and I would love for you to drop me a line on my Facebook Page. I look forward to meeting you.

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