For The Amateur Marine Enthusiast: The Easiest Way to
Setup a Saltwater Aquarium

Establishing the Basic Needs of the Tank

If you are a marine enthusiast that admires those large saltwater aquariums every time you visit your doctor, dentist, or favorite seafood restaurant, you may be thinking that tackling one of these aquariums yourself would be far too much work to bring one into your own home to enjoy? Fortunately, this is not the case. While the process of establishing a saltwater aquarium can be a costly one, in terms of manual labor there is a very simple method which almost guarantees success, even for the amateur marine enthusiast. Step 1: Assemble and prepare the equipment. During packaging and production, the aquarium and all of its corresponding parts have almost certainly been exposed to various pollutants, such as dust and chemicals, which will be very harmful to the fish if it is allowed free reign in the aquarium. Prior to use, every piece of the aquarium should be washed with hot, fresh water and cleansed with a soft piece of cloth to prevent scratching.

Step 2: Place all of the components in the tank WITHOUT adding any of the decorative features. Then fill the tank to the fill line (which may or may not be already marked on the aquarium ... 2 to 3 inches from the top is generally adequate to prevent major spillover when the tank is cleaned or the fish fed) with saltwater (as a marine enthusiast you may wish to make your own saltwater solution for which there are instructions on how to do this below). Turn the tank on and allow it to run for 24 hours to ensure that all components are fully functional.

* For All Marine Enthusiasts - How To Make Your Own Saltwater *

Ocean water is the natural habitat of all saltwater marine animals and, consequently, the best water source for any saltwater aquarium. If ocean water is not available however, and the owner of a saltwater aquarium does not wish to purchase a pre-made saltwater solution, it is possible to make saltwater. It is important to use a sea salt mixture that is free of impurities rather than table salt when creating saltwater in order to reproduce the natural environment as accurately as possible. These mixes can be purchased from any store that specializes in the sale of tropical fish.

Step 3: Landscape your aquarium.. Organic substances are not only more aesthetically pleasing than their plastic counterparts, they provide a more pleasing environment for the fish as well. Keeping in mind that fish generally use what humans consider to be decorations as shelter when in the wild it is important to consider the types of fish which will be inhabiting the tank prior to choosing its decoration.

Step 4: Start the 30-day cycling process, during which the ammonia should be tested regularly. This can be done with or without fish in the tank.

Following these simple steps will allow the amateur marine enthusiast to place aside their fears and enjoy the benefits of a happy, healthy aquarium in the privacy of their own home.

Establishing Live Rocks in an Aquarium

Aquariums are beautiful in their own right, particularly ones which are large enough to make the marine enthusiast feel as though they have been transported into an underwater wonderland. For many individuals and marine enthusiasts, the inside of a clear glass aquarium is as close as they will ever come to the wonders of the world beneath the ocean's surface, and for that reason an aquarium which is as close to the natural habitat of its inhabitants as possible is a joy unto itself.

Live rocks, rocks which are covered with both micro- and macro- organisms which help to digest the waste produced by the fish, are a vital part of every natural ecosystem. For that reason it makes sense that they would be an important part of an aquarium environment as well. It is not as simple as dropping a rock into an aquarium and allowing all manner of things to grow on it, however. There is a process that must be followed to ensure optimal benefits for both the large aquarium and the live rock.

It is very simple to cure live rock before placing it in the aquarium, but this is an important step that must be taken in order to prevent a build up of ammonia in the tank which could negatively affect the fish. To cure live rock first select a plastic container that is of a suitable size to hold the amount of live rock which you are working with, then fill it with saltwater. Then place a heater and water pump in the "tank" for optimal temperature and circulation. Once the water has reached the desired temperature remove the heater and pump and half of the water content, then pre clean the rock in a bucket of saltwater by swishing it around to remove any lose organisms and debris and place it in the prepared water. Then reinstall the heater and pump and allow nature to do its thing!

The process is done when an ammonia reading of the water in which the rock resides is at zero and it is no longer giving off an unpleasant odor. At this time it is safe to place the rock in your aquarium and allow Mother Nature's perfect filtering system to work for you.

The 30-Day Cycling Process

The importance of the 30-day cycling process cannot be understated; this is a vital part of establishing the ecosystem of each individual aquarium. The exact processes which are occurring during this cycle, however, are often not well explained, or else they may be a little too well explained and no one without a degree in organic chemistry can understand a word that is being spoken.

The truth is that while the nitrogen cycling process is a complex one, it is not by any means impossible for the amateur marine enthusiast or other average citizen to understand. James Kostich of Aquatics Unlimited took the time to gather together a thorough, day-by-day explanation of the processes which are occurring during the 30-day cycling process in a manner that is simple for even the amateur aquarium designer or marine enthusiast to understand. This process is briefly summed up below.

If you are using fish to stimulate the cycling process, take a great deal of care. While on the first day there is likely to be no ammonia in the tank, by the end of the third day these levels will have reached near toxicity. It is important to carefully monitor the fish during this crucial state; it may be even better to use an artificial source of ammonia to trigger this process. This will allow you to establish the proper balance in the tank without placing your aquatic friends at risk. While ammonia levels are beginning to rise first stage bacteria are beginning to grow.

By the fifth day these first stage bacteria will have begun to metabolize the ammonia into nitrite. This process will be well established by the end of the first week. At the end of the second week ammonia levels will be completely safe for the fish and nitrites will be at their peak. From here until approximately day 27 the second stage bacteria will be working to begin metabolizing the nitrite to nitrate. By day 30 ammonia and nitrite levels should be all but non-existent as nitrate levels reach their peak and the bacterium are well able to handle maintaining the chemical composition of the water.

This is an example of minimizing Mother Nature's perfect filtration system in order to provide your fish with the perfect habitat. Hopefully, as a marine enthusiast, you have chosen to artificially stimulate the cycling process so that it is well established prior to inserting your fish. If you haven't, it is very important that you keep a very close eye on them while the tank is undergoing its cycling process. The spikes in ammonia and nitrite levels can be severely harmful to fish if they are exposed to it for too great a period of time, and they will likely begin to show signs of distress during these periods of the cycling process. If this becomes severe their conditions can be aided by changing a portion of the water in order to dilute the concentration of these products.

For more articles for the marine enthusiast click these links:
Aquarium Fish Care
Caring for Bubble Coral in an Aquarium

The Different Types of Saltwater Aquariums

Marine Aquarium Care: Invertebrate Tanks

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