Top 10 Tips for Setting Up a Marine Fish Tank
Several friends have tropical aquariums, but you are a non-conformist. You are planning a marine fish tank. You have made a list, shopped, and double checked that you purchased all the necessary equipment. Read all your instructions before beginning work on your aquarium; reread, if necessary. As you begin your assembly, here are some tips to help with the task of setting up a marine fish tank.
1. Move your stand to where you want it to sit in your home. Be sure that it is level and has enough clearance for equipment and that the electrical connections will not make contact with the water. Use freshwater and soft cloth to clean the tank. If you want to decorate the back of the tank, now is the time to do it.
2. Your top-off system, if you are planning to use one, should be installed before attaching the sump and placing the tank on the stand. When installing the sump equipment, be sure to add the accompanying materials to the wet/dry trickle filter. Connect the ends of the overflow hose to the tank and the sump. Connect the return pump and hose; consider installing an adjustable valve to control the water flow. Now move the aquarium tank to the stand adding a pad under the tank if necessary.
3. It’s time to install the remaining aquarium equipment, but do not add the lighting system until after the substrate, sea salts and decorations are in place. Connect the sump mounted skimmer and the aquarium heater. Connect the power strip/light timer and attach the filtration system and power heads.
4. Run a wet test of the system to verify everything has been properly connected, is in working order and there are no leaks. Find any problems before adding the sea salts, substrate or live rock to the tank. Make sure all hose connections are tight. Fill the tank and sump with freshwater. Dry off the tank exterior, plug all power cords into the power strip, turn on the power strip and make sure none of the connections is leaking. Check the protein skimmer for bubbles and test the corresponding pump. Simulate a power outage by turning off the power strip. If water overflows from the sump, turn on the pump again and take some water from the sump. Turn the power back on and retest.
5. When you are satisfied that there are no leaks, turn off the system and remove several gallons of water from the tank and the sump. Add the substrate to the tank. The sea salts are added next; pour the sea salts into the sump and turn on the return pump to circulate water over the sea salts to help dissolve them. Add sea salt and test until you see the recommended salinity level register. If you are using “live sand,” pour it in the tank. The water will turn cloudy but will clear up after you start the filtration system. Non?live sand needs to be rinsed with freshwater when setting up a marine fish tank.
6. You are ready to add clean cured live rock to the aquarium and to begin your aquascaping. If you are using uncured live rock, take the time to clean the rock in clear water. Run the tank again by turning on all equipment: the pumps, filters and protein skimmer. The water should start clearing up when the filters remove the fine particles from the water. You can add your little creatures to the tank in the following week.
7. While waiting for the water to clear, you can add the lighting for your tank system. Lighting requirements are flexible for aquariums containing only fish. Day and night cycles can be preset on a timer, so your fish have a period of darkness for sleeping. You could install a light for reef tanks at this point, if you are planning to add corals in the future. Reef lighting has higher requirements. Corals require certain periods of light and a spectrum of light. The light fixture can be attached inside the hood or on top of the tank. Plug the light fixture into your light timer and set the trippers on the timer for the light/dark cycles. Let there be light!
8. Once the water in the tank has cleared, it’s time to add your wildlife. Do not add too many fish at a time, especially at the beginning. Give the aquarium’s filter time to build up a solid biological base of good bacteria. Start with a couple of small fish. They will provide ammonia to start multiplying the bacteria and to populate the filter. Find out the best fish to help this process, and check out a chart of saltwater fish compatibility. You can get nitrifying bacteria to help with nitrification. Be sure to use the recommended amount of nitrifying bacteria at the suggested intervals. Turn off your protein skimmer during this period to help the bacteria build up in the filter.
Hermit crabs and snails help to control waste and algae. Slowly introduce new arrivals to your aquarium. If you chose reef tank lighting, you can add corals if you wish. A little research will help with your coral selection because coral are sensitive to their surroundings.
9. Your fish may eventually become bored and need a change of scene. Accommodate them by adding more fish or other creatures for company. When the water level drops, add freshwater. Frequently check ammonia levels and general water quality. Watch the fish for frayed fins, a lack of appetite and cloudy eyes which are indications that the fish are stressed. Do not add creatures until your wildlife recovers. New fish may fall victim to parasites, therefore, prepare yourself to counter the conditions.
10. You have a responsibility to these little critters now that you have your nonconformist’s aquarium up and running. Try not to disturb the biologic filter during the first month. After the first month of setting up the marine fish tank, initiate a schedule for maintaining your tank.
For free help and advice pop into Perry’s Aquatic Centre near Lincoln. We’ll even test your water for free so remember to bring in a fresh sample from your aquarium.