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Video:How to Set Up a Salt Aquarium

with Jonathan Wolf

There are a lot of considerations to keep in mind and decisions to make when setting up a salt aquarium. Here are some tips for when it's time to set up your salt aquarium.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Set Up a Salt Aquarium

Hi, I'm Jonathan Wolf for Blue Planet Aquarium Services in Chicago, Illinois, for About.com. In today's video, we're going to discuss how to set up your salt water aquarium.

Salt Aquarium Set Up Materials

Items you'll need:
  • Aquarium and cabinetry
  • Filtration
  • Lighting
  • Décor and/or live rock
  • Items such as salt and water conditioners

Setting Up the Aquarium and Cabinet

After you get your new aquarium installation home, there's a few things to check out before we get started. First off, make sure the location is one that doesn't get a great deal of direct sunlight, because that will affect temperature and algae growth in the future. Also, make sure there's power at the location. Check and make sure there's a year-round stable temperature. And also, after the cabinet is in place, make sure it's level and stable for the aquarium.

Installing Filtration in Your Salt Aquarium

In today's example, we're going to be installing a saltwater fish-only aquarium. As you can see, it's a 75 gallon with a built-in overflow, which is how water drains in and out of the aquarium. Water passes through the overflow through a surface extractor, which helps keep debris called surfactants from settling on the surface of the water. Next, water will pass through a wet-dry filter, which is an excellent source of biological filtration. The bio-balls in this wet-dry filter will house colonies of bacteria that, ultimately, will keep water conditions safe for fish to live in. Then, as water passes through the wet-dry filter, a portion will be run through a protein skimmer which is a chemical filter that will pull out debris that normally passes through other filter media.

Pumping Water Through the Salt Aquarium

Next is a pump. Typically, we want to push the entire contents of the aquarium through the filtration system anywhere from six to ten times per hour. In this example, our water on its way back out to the aquarium passes through a micron filter, which is kind of like an air filter for your car or furnace. Pieces of debris will be trapped, which we will clean out at a later time. Then, in this example, we have an ultra violet sterilizer, which is an excellent option on any salt water fish aquarium. A UV sterilizer will kill virtually all free-floating pathogens, which could not only get your fish sick, but also might cloud the water. Then, water is returned to a black nozzle and the filtration cycle is complete.

Setting Up the Salt Aquarium to Add Fish and Coral

After the aquarium is installed, it will be very important to monitor temperature. If we have a hard time keeping temperature below 80 degrees in a salt water aquarium, we might have to look into adding a chiller. If temperature is below 74 degrees, a simple submersible aquarium heater will be a good investment. As you can see in this installation, we have a low-profile LED light fixture. These sleek light fixtures are gaining a great deal of popularity as they're very low voltage, have no bulbs to replace, and cost very little to run over the course of the year.

Set Up Decorations in Salt Aquarium

When adding water and salt to the aquarium, be sure to completely dissolve all salt before adding decorations and gravel. Any un-dissolved salt will be dangerous to fish, and as it dissolves, will raise your salt level. After you've mixed salt and water, use a hydrometer to get a range of 1.020 to 1.024 at a stable 75-ish temperature. After dissolving your salt and adding water, make sure your aquarium is full and the wet-dry filter is full 75% of the way. After your decorations and gravel are in, it's time to fire up the pump, check for drips anywhere in your plumbing, and you're ready to go.

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