Saltwater Aquarium Equipment & Start-Up List

II. Types of Equipment

There are many types of equipment available to help make fishkeeping easier, some more essential than others. The essential equipment and materials to start a saltwater aquarium include:

  • Tank: A Biocube is a 29 gallon tank that comes with the whole package, including the tank, light, and filter. An advantage to getting a biocube is that the light it comes with is high quality enough to keep Corals.
  • Light
  • Filter
  • Heater
  • Thermometer
  • Hydrometer or refractometer: measures the salinity and specific gravity
  • Powerheads (which create movement and circulation that simulate the ocean currents and tides). You can use other types of equipment instead, but saltwater aquariums need some sort of flow and movement in the water.
  • Substrate (i.e. Sand or Gravel)
  • Live Rock
  • Water conditioners/supplements: talk to us in store about which types will work best for you.
  • Food (frozen and/or pellets, seaweed, etc): All fish appreciate varied diet (i.e. meat, herbivore)
  • Salt
  • 5 gallon Buckets for water changes
  • Algae scraper or magnet buddy help to  keep your aquarium clean

   i. Some of the most beneficial devices you can add to your tank include a:

                     ▪  Protein Skimmer    ▪  Refugium     ▪ Sump    

 What is a Protein Skimmer? When you’re walking along the ocean and foam washes ashore, this is the organic waste produced from marine organisms. In an aquarium, the protein skimmer produces thousands of macrobubbles that attach to this type of waste and proteins, which is then disposed into the skimmer. Protein skmmers cannot be kept on a freshwater aquarium, but this is the best piece of equipment for Marine tanks to alleviate water changes for the owner.

 What is a Refugium?  

An area separate from your tank that allows vulnerable species to thrive—such a copepods, amphipods, and various macro algae– which helps keep a clean water quality. Copepods and Amphipods are a great detrivore for your tank (they consume leftover food and waste, which creates undesired nitrates in the water if not removed). Tropical Fish also love eating Copepods and Amphipods. A Refugium can hang in the back of your aquarium, or even better in a sump underneath. 

Why use sump? 

A sump is a water system connected to your aquarium, either beneath or beside. It adds water volume to your overall system which creates a stable environment and optimal water quality. It also allows you to recreate the most ideal environment for your fish and corals. Sumps are aesthetically pleasing since all the external equipment (i.e. filtration devices, heater, etc) can be hidden in the sump. By adding a refugium to the sump you can mimic the nutrients and life available in a coastal lagoon. A sump is the most beneficial piece of equipment to add to your aquarium for the best water quality.

 Other types of equipment that will greatly enhance the quality of your tank, and make your job easier, include:

      ▪ Auto Top-off: Is essentially a float level, so when your tank water evaporates it automatically supplies a water topoff, which keeps a very stable salinity. It’s very easy to do your own water topoffs, however, it makes it more difficult to keep the ideal salinity level.

      ▪ Reactors (i.e. Calcium, Phosphate, Bio, Carbon): A piece of equipment that contains a specified media to maintain proper levels of nutrients in the water. For instance, a Phosphate reactor runs on G.F.O ( Grandular ferric oxide) that absorbs phosphates that can create algae and stress corals and fish.

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