If you are considering starting a saltwater aquarium, you probably have heard a lot of the horror stories about them. In the earlier days of marine tanks, there were many difficulties getting things right. But by now, everything has been tested nine ways to Sunday. With all the scientific and technological advancements that have been made for keeping a saltwater aquarium, it is really hard to go wrong.
If having a marine aquarium is a dream of yours, then plan for it. There are a few key steps you need to take before making the final leap. Avoid one of the novice hobbyist's biggest mistakes: setting it up in the wrong spot. Picking the right location and a few other things—like getting the right tank for you and making sure you are able to have a tank in your home—are really your first hurdles. Learn more about why these things really matter.
Find the Best Location
Above all things, you need to figure out where you will put your new aquarium. And, be as sure as you can be. Although it is not impossible, it is a giant pain to move several hundred pounds of water, coral, and fish even a few inches. You need to make sure that direct sunlight will not shine on it, especially in the hot summer months. Think about putting it in a place where the tank can be easily seen and enjoyed from the sitting areas in the room. A number of people make their aquarium the primary focal point of the living room and the television secondary.
You should think about the effect the weight of a tank and water will have on the floor structure in that part of the room. A larger tank (55 gallons) weighs about the same as two to three large adult men—roughly 625 pounds. The most common size for saltwater aquariums is a 55-gallon tank. If you do not feel comfortable with a few of your heftier friends standing next to each other in the middle of your living room floor, then you might want to place the tank against a load-bearing wall (usually an outer wall). That is the strongest part of the floor.
Next, measure the amount of area that you have for the tank. Remember to keep in mind that you will need sufficient space or access to the tank for cleaning and maintenance and you will need to take into consideration where your electrical outlets are.
The Right Tank for You
Second, you will want to shop around for a tank, lighting, and the type of stand you will use to display your aquarium. Take your measurement notes with you and look for something that will fit what you have the space for. Do not make your decision at the first store you come to. Check several stores to see what they have to offer, both tank and price-wise, before making a final decision. Generally speaking, saltwater fish do much better in larger tanks, at least 55 gallons or so. The normal measurements for a 55-gallon tank are about 4-feet wide by 16-inches deep.
If you prefer to shop online, you will find resources with information on the top 1- to 50-gallon aquariums and top mini/nano aquarium kits as a good place to start. There are a number of new and innovative aquarium designs on the market. There are corner tanks, coffee table tanks, and hexagon tanks. There is even a series of tanks that are connected by acrylic tubes that allow the fish to swim from one tank to another that looks like gerbil mazes that you see in pet shops. Some people even install their tanks inside the wall. These in-wall tanks are impressive, but make sure that you really want to make the long-term commitment before you start making structural changes to your home.
Aquariums today are being constructed with one of two basic materials: Glass or acrylic. Acrylic is stronger, but the surface has a tendency to scratch if you are not careful. Glass is less expensive, but it is more prone to breakage and cracking as well as being much heavier. If you fancy yourself as a Do-It-Yourselfer, you can even make your own DIY glass tank.
Can You Even Have a Tank?
If you are renting your home, check with your landlord before spending any money on an aquarium and its components. You might have a "No Pets in the House" clause in your lease. Do not automatically assume that your landlord means only cats or dogs. Some landlords do not want fish tanks, which can break and leak and seep water through the flooring. Be sure that if you have a "No Pets" clause that your landlord is fine with it. You might even want that in writing to protect yourself should anything go wrong.