Interested in Starting a Marine Aquarium?

Interested in Starting a Marine Aquarium?

By Zachary Graham

Marine aquariums offer many advantages to those who keep and maintain them. Some include the satisfaction of creating a beautiful ocean ecosystem in the confines of five sheets of glass or acrylic. Another important role played by the marine aquarium is its ability to release the tensions and pressures of everyday life. What could be better than watching the waves and the currents flow inside your miniature coral reef or fish tank?

Apart from its obvious beauty, the marine aquarium is also quite educational. It is one of the best ways to teach children and adults about the amazing partnerships and friendships between the coral reef inhabitants. It teaches them to respect the coral reef and makes them aware of the hazards of neglecting or abusing it. It also shows them how to enjoy the rainbow colored creatures that God so carefully and creatively made.

Starting a marine aquarium can be simple, cheap, and exciting. Most basic equipment for the marine aquarium is relatively reliable and economical. You usually don’t need all the “bells and whistles” you see on show tanks such as calcium reactors, automatic fish feeders, etc. You usually can do without these, and they can decrease the time you spend maintaining the aquarium, which is one of the best reasons for having an aquarium.

The most necessary piece of equipment for the new marine aquarium is the tank itself. It is critical to choose your tank carefully and wisely, since factors like the tank’s construction, size, and shape will have an impact on the number of organisms you will be able to keep in it.

Tanks must not include any toxic chemicals. Try to resist buying the old-fashioned metal-lined aquariums. The saltwater will splash on the metal and cause a chemical reaction quickly rust and corrode the metal, releasing toxic substances into the water.

The constraints on buying an aquarium are the size of the space you can allot to it and your budget. People are told to purchase “the biggest they can afford”. The recommended starting size is 55 gallons, but you can successfully keep your creatures alive in an aquarium larger or smaller than 55 gallons. However, be aware that a smaller volume of water requires more diligent maintenance.

The general shape chosen for tanks is a rectangle. The common rule is to buy one as long and low as you can, making more horizontal swimming room for fish than vertical. Also having a relatively low tank also allows you to keep more light hungry corals in invertebrates closer to the bottom. Many people choose the compactness and good looks of a tall aquarium. This is a poor choice, as it will not provide much swimming room for your fish.

Next, you need to purchase a light fixture. For the fish-only aquarium, standard fluorescent tubes would be fine. However, if you want to keep a mini-reef, lighting plays a crucial role. The most common fixtures are power compact fixtures, which are more intense than normal fluorescent, and metal halides. Metal halides are ideal, and usually necessary for keeping the most photosynthetic creatures, as they replicate natural sunlight more than the others.

Another very important factor in the aquarium is filtration. Some people use hang on tank filters, but they steal some of the natural beauty of the aquarium. Other options are canister filters, and under gravel filters. Canister filters can be hidden in an aquarium cabinet, but they are somewhat expensive and it can be difficult for a beginner to change the media. Under gravel filters are losing popularity in the marine aquarium hobby because they require a coarse bottom, so that the plate doesn’t get clogged, and many people like the tropical island look of fine sand. Many people also choose to use only live rock and sand as their filter.

Next, you must buy a heater. The ideal temperature for the water that contains coral reefs is between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The bigger of a tank, the higher heater wattage you’ll need. Once you have your aquarium set up, you will be ready to buy live rock. Live rock is chunks of coral that break off of a reef or are aqua cultured. They contain millions of beneficial organisms that are crucial for the marine environment. Live rock is completely optional, but it is highly recommended. It partially serves as a base for your corals and invertebrates to attach themselves to.

After you partially fill the aquarium with mixed salt water, according to the instructions on the box, you can add the sand or other substrate, then live rock. Be sure to keep the live rock wet so you don’t kill the creatures living in it. Once you have the aquarium up, plug in the filter (if you choose to have one) and the heater and let it cycle for a few weeks, changing a percentage of the water each week, before putting any creatures in it so that the bacteria may be given a chance to grow and mature, which will help rid your aquarium of fish and invertebrate waste in the future.

Once the tank has finished cycling, then you can add your first fish. Several easy and hardy fish include the damsel, with it’s striking blues, greens, and yellows. The clown fish, with it’s comical looks, and the firefish, which looks like it is “on fire.”

Be sure to do your research before you go out and buy a marine aquarium. There are a plethora of excellent books out there, and this article only skims the surface of the world of marine aquariums. So, what are you waiting for? Get reading!

Zachary Graham is a student in southeast Minnesota. He likes to spend time with computers, writing, learning languages, and maintaining his marine aquarium and his website.

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