Before setting up your first reef tank


Within the aquarium hobby, the holy grail of fish tanks is widely agreed up on to be a show quality reef tank.  Unfortunately, for newcomers to the hobby, the setup of such a reef aquarium is not an easy thing to accomplish.  Rushing into a first reef tank will ultimately result in wasted money and disappointment.  Fortunately, if you prepare properly and research before buying your equipment, you can expect to be rewarded with a fantastic display quality reef tank.  The goal of this article is to describe some of the important factors to consider before you setup such an aquarium.

Before setting up your first reef tank, the only thing that should be on your mind is research.  Most people will do thorough research before spending money on a new car or getaway vacation, but many will rush out and buy a reef tank setup without doing more than reading an article or two online.  It’s best to read everything you can get your hands on before setting up your first reef aquarium.  This will help you save money and avoid wasting your hard earned cash by fixing easily avoidable mistakes down the road.

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Unlike many freshwater tropical fish tanks, marine tanks require a longer setup and acclimation period before many fish, corals and invertebrates are added to the reef tank.  After setting up the aquarium with the salt water and sand, live rock is added and the parameters are monitored closely for at least a week.  Only if no ammonia or nitrite spikes occur can corals and fish be added slowly over a period of several months.  The worst thing that could happen to a new reef tank would be a population crash because inhabitants were added too quickly.  So, be prepared for a lengthy setup period – but it is definitely worth the wait in the end!

Be sure to have a quarantine tank available for any inhabitants that will call your new reef tank home.  The safety and health of your reef tank fish and corals should be your utmost concern.  You don’t want your populations wiped out by an anything (diseases, etc) that can hitch hike into your aquarium.  A quarantine tank will allow you to monitor any new specimens before they get added to your reef tank.

As mentioned earlier, you should try to absorb as much knowledge about reef tanks as you can prior to purchasing equipment.  If you are looking for a good book for newcomers to the hobby, I recommend starting off with this great reef book.


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