31-03-2020, 15:57
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What is required for the initial start-up of a seawater aquarium

Composition of equipment and components that are fundamental for setting up and operating a saltwater aquarium:

  • Aquarium

First of all, decide on the size of the aquarium, its shape and its location.

  • Lighting

The type of lighting depends on which fish and marine invertebrates you will keep in the aquarium.

  • Skimmer and water filter

As in the previous point, it depends on what kind of fish you intend to keep in the aquarium.

  • Water pump

Depending on the size of the aquarium, you may need a water pump to circulate the water.

  • Substrate and live rock

Decide here which type of material you wish to use as substrate, and whether you wish to initially place live stones in the aquarium.

  • Sea salt and areometer

Sea salt is what makes an aquarium marine, and an areometer is a salinity tester that measures the specific gravity or salt content of the water.

  • Heater and thermometer

A single heater is sufficient for small aquariums, but larger aquariums may require the use of several heaters. A thermometer that can be used to quickly check the temperature of the water in the aquarium is also helpful.

  • Air compressor and air atomiser

Only necessary if you intend to use equipment which requires aeration, e.g. a counter current protein skimmer.

  • Test kits and additives

Calcium (known as lime water) should be added for systems with live rock and reef aquariums. Vitaminizing additives that are good for the health of certain marine creatures, such as iodine for crustaceans, are also required.

  • Tools and maintenance consumables

Items such as plastic buckets or containers of various sizes, tools for cleaning the aquarium such as a siphon tube/hose, an algae scraper or magnet as well as suction nets of various sizes fall into this category.

Nautical aquarium set


Once you have decided where you are going to place your new aquarium, you will need to choose a size that fits the available space.

When purchasing a new aquarium, pay attention to what equipment (filtration, lighting, etc.) is included. Buying an aquarium complete with equipment can save you a lot of time and money.

For small spaces, Plug n' Play miniature / nano aquarium kits are a quick option to get just about everything you need for an aquarium installation.

Aquarium lighting

The type of lighting you choose will depend on the type of aquarium you plan to install, as well as what kind of inhabitants you will be keeping in it. If you are not buying an aquarium kit, you will have to choose the aquarium lighting yourself.

Aquarium lighting designed only for fish is the cheapest, while lighting designed for a reef aquarium is a bit more complicated and more expensive. When buying lighting, keep in mind that you may want to upgrade your aquarium from a fish-only aquarium to a reef aquarium in the future. Buying lights that can be fitted with more powerful bulbs in the future may be more profitable in the long run.

Protein skimmers, filters and filter equipment

Filters and filter equipment

Canister-type filters can be used with almost any type of aquarium.

The canister filters are easy to use, but their filtration quality is poorer than that of the canister type.

Protein skimmer

The Protein Skimmer removes dissolved organic compounds directly from the water before it is purified by the biological filter. Although it is not essential for an aquarium filter system, many aquarists find that skimmers do take over most of the load from the biological filter, thus increasing the population of fish and invertebrates in the aquarium.

Before purchasing a protein skimmer, consider where it will be placed in your aquarium.

Water pump

Depending on the size of the aquarium, using one or more pumps will ensure good water circulation throughout the aquarium.

Substrate and living stones

The best marine aquarium substrates

As substrate is more than just 'material at the bottom of the aquarium', it is important to choose the right substrate for your aquarium. There are many colours, types, densities and sizes of materials used for aquarium substrates.

Live rocks

Live rocks play an important role in a marine aquarium. Many marine inhabitants, in particular fish, may be rather territorial. It is therefore very important to provide ample hiding places or places where fish and invertebrates can hide, sleep and avoid potential problems with aggression from other aquarium inhabitants.

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