You just got home from the pet store with a new aquarium and your first Clownfish, Fred. It’s a brand-new tank – still in the box. You take it out and fill it all the way up with some water out of the faucet. You know Fred is a saltwater fish, so you throw some table salt in it and dump him in. You sit your tank next to your window because you want Fred to have natural light. The sun goes down and you tell Fred goodnight as he settles into his new home on your windowsill. The next day, Fred is dead. Your tank and heart are full of sorrow.
Obviously, there were several things that should have been done differently to avoid the tragedy of losing Fred. We hope if you are looking at setting up your first aquarium, you take the time to understand the commitment it takes. Setting up an aquarium requires a beautiful balance of art and science. If you treat your aquarium well, you will maximize your enjoyment.
IF YOU WANT TO SKIP THE READING, GRAB OUR HANDY INFOGRAPHIC HERE!
WARNING: DON’T CUT CORNERS
We’ve all cut corners on something at some point (hopefully nothing important…like the time my husband decided he wasn’t going to use the manual to set up our first kitchen table and decided all the hardware in the box were “spare parts”.) Avoid these serious consequences by setting up your tank correctly the first time. Read what could happen below if you cut corners.
HARM TO PLANTS & ANIMALS
If an environment doesn’t meet a fish or coral’s needs, the plant or animal may suffer. It’s important to be a responsible aquarium owner, and care for your animals like any other pets. You wouldn’t give a German Shepherd a bed made for a Chihuahua.
DAMAGE TO WALLET
Not only will your plants and animals suffer, but your equipment will too. If used incorrectly, some equipment will need to be replaced sooner than later. This kind of repair adds up over time, but it can be easily prevented with help from aquarium professionals. You may lose some fish and corals along the way, replacing them can be costly, too.
DAMAGE TO HOME
Avoid unnecessary damage to your home like scratches and leaks that cause water damage and salt creep.
AQUARIUM INSTALLATION: PRELIMINARY
The entire installation process must be completed in phases to ensure your tank is at it’s best before introducing your new fish, plants, or coral. The average tank we mentioned above takes about 6 weeks to setup as long as there are no snafus.
- Be sure location’s flooring is level.
- Know what floor structure is underneath your aquarium, especially for heavier tanks.
- Make sure an adequate power source is available.
- Determine the dimensions of a tank that will fit within the desired space.
- We do not recommend placing an aquarium in front of a window because it can alter the temperature of your aquarium and introduce extra light.
CHOOSE MATERIAL & DIMENSIONS
If you can think it, we can tank it. Most tanks come in square or rectangular shapes, but we can do more! Aquariums are made of glass or acrylic, and each has its own set of pros and cons, so be sure to choose carefully!
CHOOSE SETUP & EQUIPMENT
- Tank, Stand, & Canopy (Optional)
- Fish & Coral
- Pump & Sump
- Skimmer (Optional)
AQUARIUM INSTALLATION TIMELINE
PHASE 1 – INSTALLATION DAY
- Setup stand and aquarium.
- Add sand, live rock, water.
- Amount may vary depending on your goals for your aquarium.
- Add dosing bacteria.
- (Fritz – Turbo Start)
- Add plumbing and lighting.
- Confirm everything is in working order.
- Manage, and label all cables.
- Explain daily, weekly, and monthly responsibilities.
- Explain cable management, remote features, lighting and other equipment.
- Answer all customer questions.
PHASE 2 – FIRST CHECK-UP
- Schedule about 1-2 weeks after Installation Day depending on tank size, setup, location, & maintenance plan.
- Test Water.
- Top-off Tank.
PHASE 3 – SECOND CHECK-UP
- Schedule 2 weeks after last checkup.
- Test Water.
- Top-off Tank.
- If water tests okay, add small beginner corals and a few invertebrates.
PHASE 4 – THIRD CHECK-UP
- Schedule 2 weeks after last visit.
- Test Water.
- Top-off Tank.
- If you haven’t already, add small beginner corals and a few invertebrates. If beginner corals and inverts have been added, we may potentially add the first fish.
PHASE 5 – DIY
- Ensure the first fish acclimates before adding additional fish.
- Customers may now add fish and corals to their tank as they like.
AQUARIUM SETUP & EQUIPMENT
If you’re new to the aquarium hobby, finding out how to set up your first tank may be a little daunting. Of course, having the right setup is vital to your aquarium’s success. I talked to the pros at Parrott Aquatic to find out what they recommend in a beginner’s tank setup.
- LIGHTING: Kessil A360 lighting (x2) [READ MORE ABOUT AQUARIUM LIGHTING]
- TANK: Acrylic, 75gal, rectangle
- LIVE ROCK: Approx. 80lb, (1lb/per gallon)
- SAND: 80lb, Caribsea: Fiji Pink
- CORAL: This setup supports most LPS coral but is not ideal for SPS coral.
- FISH: Smaller Tangs, Clownfish, Gobi, Blenny
- When choosing fish, remember to consider how big your fish will grow.
- Also, remember to consider your fishes’ future needs. For example, tangs, need more room to swim, so we recommended a rectangular tank instead of a cube in this scenario to provide them with more swimming room.
- PUMP/SUMP: Simplicity DC Controllable Pump & Trigger Systems Sump
- CABINETRY: Tank Stand & Canopy
- SKIMMER (OPTIONAL): Eshopps PSK-100 Skimmer
PRO TIPS [DO’S & DON’TS]
- Wash your hands before handling anything inside the tank to avoid introducing harmful contaminants to your inhabitants.
- Aquarium lights should run about 8 hours per day and mimic light that occurs naturally in the ocean for best results.
- Check your aquarium’s temperature daily. The most common problem with aquariums is incorrect temperature. The sooner you know something, the sooner you can correct it.
- Check your water flow daily. Water flow is another leading contributor to an unsuccessful aquarium. Again, the sooner you know, the better.
- Top-off your tank with RO freshwater. Find out why you should use RO water instead of tap water in our other blog.
- Use natural, chemical free cleaners; we recommend using a damp cloth with RO water.
- Don’t add too many fish to your aquarium at one time because it could trigger stress-related diseases like ick.
- Don’t use aerosol sprays near your tank to avoid chemicals landing in your water.
- Always quarantine fish your purchase to minimize the risk of disease outbreak in your tank.
- Timers will most likely need to be reset after a power outage.
If you’re considering setting up your first saltwater aquarium, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s way smarter to setup your aquarium correctly the first time to avoid the headache and cost of repairs as well as avoid any stress on your inhabitants.
If you need help setting up your first saltwater aquarium, call Parrott Aquatic at (865) 253-2846 for an installation consultation today!