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Video:How to Start a Salt Aquarium

with Jonathan Wolf

A salt aquarium can be a lot of work and commitment to set up and cultivate. Here are instructions to follow when you're trying to start your salt aquarium.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Start a Salt Aquarium

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

Set a Budget for Aquarium Equipment

So you've decided to get off the sidelines and start your own salt water aquarium. Good for you. First off, there are a few things to check out before making your purchase. Buying the biggest aquarium you can afford, anticipating adding equipment, lighting and filtration later, is not such a good idea. Ultimately, it is going to lead to problems, frustration and disappointment. Very generally speaking, the aquarium, cabinetry and tops will cost just as much the lighting, filtration, and décor. Keep that in mind when establishing a budget for your aquarium purchase.

Pick the Size and Type of Salt Aquarium to Start

If you have a small budget and want to get started, these smaller nano-tanks might be a good decision for you. They include filtration, lighting, the aquarium, and are a small kit that are good to keep a few small fish and live corals. Salt water fish only vs. reef aquariums: If your budget dictates that you can afford a larger aquarium, we do need to differentiate between two typical styles of aquarium. In a salt water reef aquarium, I usually tell folks to imagine a beautiful, underwater Japanese garden. There are colonies of corals and polyps growing; tentacles swaying back and forth in the water; fish popping in and out of interesting live rock; shrimps, crabs, snails – a great deal of things happening, but not so much by way of the larger ornamental fish. In the salt water fish-only aquarium, we are going to replace all those live corals with a variety of different fish – polka dots and stripes and all sorts of different colors under the sun.

Nitrogen Cycle in Salt Aquariums

The nitrogen cycle begins after we've taken home our aquarium, installed it and added our first live rock or fish to the aquarium. Unfortunately, I usually tell folks, this is also the worst time of aquarium ownership you'll encounter. This is a time when the ammonia given off by that live rock or fish will begin to grow, and naturally occurring nitrifying bacteria will grow and consume that ammonia, ultimately converting it something non-toxic. As eager as you are to add live fish and corals to the tank, don't do it. We have to wait until we test and find that there is no ammonia or nitrite present, before it's safe to add fish. Regarding the nitrogen cycle, there are several products on the market that will help speed up this process, but typically speaking, it can take anywhere up to two months before it's completed, and adding more fish is safe and stable. But always test your water before adding fish, just to make sure.

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