marine salt water tank

Marine fish tank - What you need to setup a salt water reef tank

I know this is slightly off topic for a pond site but it is my latest project and a marine fish tank is very similar to looking after fish / water in your garden pond and is kind of like an indoor pond. I have always wanted to setup a marine tank as the results can be fantastic but have always been put off by how complicated it seems. In-fact when I first started out I found it quite daunting working out what you actually need and what the best setup is for your particular requirements. To save you a bit of the leg work here is a list and a brief description of the fundamental components of marine tank / salt water aquarium / reef tank (or whatever you want to call it:). See even its name has many different varieties?

The main tank 

Well this is the first decision you need make, think about where you want to put it and what shape you would like it to be. A general rule is the bigger the tank the easier it will be to maintain once it’s up and running. On the negative side the bigger it is the more expensive it will be for the tank and all the attachments and things you need to run it. You have therefore got to find a happy medium which will be different for everyone. As you may have found already there is lots of information out there on various sites and I will give you a few links to a few of them later on. Just be careful though as if you are new to this you run the risk of finding out too much information, not only that but some of it will be based on many people opinions all of which recommend something different and you never actually make a decision. At the end of the day people run successful nano reefs so anything is possible. I bought my tank based on what I wanted in my room making sure it was at least 150-200 litres or over. Alternatively find a cheap second hand tank and it doesn’t matter if you change your mind later and want a bigger tank. If you start of cheap you will reduce your initial cost and will soon realize if you want to spend more on this hobby and where you will need to spend it.

Sump tank 

This is a separate tank that sits under your main tank, usually within the cupboard. You don’t actually need this but it helps increase the total water volume in your tank and allows you to hide all the equipment (protein skimmer, heater etc) and leaves you more room in your main tank for fish, corals, live rock etc. Also depending on where you are locating the tank you can use the sump tank to increase your water volume if you want a smaller tank. For example if the room with your tank in it was next to your garage you could have a smaller main tank that had your corals and fish in it whilst linking it to a much larger sump tank in the garage. This would allow you to choose the correct size tank for your room but still have a large water volume to make the water easier to maintain.

Protein skimmer 

A protein skimmer basically filters the water and is generally used in most marine tanks.

Live rock and sand 

live rock and sand is a very important part of a marine tank which also helps filter the water.

Power head 

As the live rock and sand is part of the filter process it is essential that the water is circulated around it effectively. This is the job of the power head which is basically a pump that sits in your tank. The power head blasts your water around the tank ensuring the water is moved around your system the required amount of time.

Marine lighting 

Lighting is another essential part of your marine tank, for one so you can see what’s in there and another to keep your fish, live rock and corals alive as without the correct amount of the proper type of light they will not be able to survive. Again this is another area that can be a bit of a mine field with so many types of lighting that you can use for your marine reef including T5 tubes, metal halide, the older T8 tubes and maybe even LED’s. That’s before you even get into the different sizes and bulb output varieties for each of the types.

T5 bulbs come in the following lamp variations. 
24w (22"/550mm) 
39w (34"/850mm) 
54w (46"/1150mm)