Salt Water Aquariums - Set up

Setting up a Saltwater Aquarium

A saltwater aquarium seeks to recreate a sea environment in your living room.  A saltwater aquarium can be an extremely fulfilling hobby and a great learning experience.

Setting up and maintaining a saltwater aquarium is not a difficult job as many people think.  A basic understanding of how the aquarium works is enough. A Saltwater aquarium is only slightly different from a freshwater aquarium.  The difference is obvious. It has saltwater instead of fresh water.

This saltwater has to be made by mixing salt and water at the right proportion to get the right specific gravity.  This is measured by a hydrometer.

A saltwater aquarium needs more space than a freshwater aquarium as it requires special filtration and  monitoring equipment.  It is better to place it in the centre of the room.

Saltwater fish are used to living in the ocean with limitless space.  Hence, a saltwater aquarium should be bigger.  Each fish should have a per capita area of at least 10 gallons.

A Saltwater aquarium will need some accessories such as lighting, filters, heater and a hydrometer.  The tank should be located near an electrical outlet to draw power for the accessories.

Mix water and salt till you get a salt solution with a specific gravity between 1.021 and 1.025.  The temperature of saltwater is also important as it affects the specific gravity measurement and the salinity.  A temperature of around 27 degrees Celsius should be maintained.

Leave the saltwater overnight with the filtration equipment running.  Check the temperature and the specific gravity the next morning.

If the values are ok, you can proceed with adding the gravel and fixing the decorations and the plants.

You can run the aquarium without the fish for 2 days for the tank to stabilize.

Introduce the fish, two at a time into the tank.


Preparing Artificial Sea Water for Aquariums

A Marine Tank requires periodic water changes. The water for the marine tank can be obtained directly from the sea through aquarium suppliers or can be mixed at home.

Artificial seawater is obtained by mixing marine salt mixes available at your pet store. These mixes contain salts along with the ions and trace elements found in the sea.

The salinity and the specific gravity are two important parameters to be checked before adding the water to the aquarium.

Specific gravity is measured with a hydrometer while salinity is measured with a refractometer.


Wave makers for the Aquarium – An Overview

A Wave maker is a pump which simulates the wave action in a freshwater body or in the sea. Wave makers come in various capacities, sizes. They can also simulate the wave action in different environments such as a freshwater stream or an ocean reef.  Wave makers are usually fitted in marine aquariums where they simulate the natural wave action or the sea.

Organism such as corals and anemones are fixed. They depend on the ocean currents and the waves to bring them the nutrients which they absorb from the water. In the absence of wave action in the aquarium, these organism will not be able to draw sustenance from the environment. A wave maker circulates the water and helps these species get their nutrition

Wave makers circulate the water and ensures the flow of oxygenated water throughout the aquarium. This ensure that the water does not stay stagnant at any single place.

Stagnant pockets of water in the aquariums result in the accumulation of dirt and detritus in specific locations such as behind rocks or plants. The circulation of water by wave makers ensure that these debris are carried away to the filters and removed.

Aesthetics is another reason for the wave maker. Wave makers give a natural feel the aquarium. The flow of water has a soothing effect on the viewers. Fish also feel more relaxed in a moving water environment.

While wave makers have benefits. They should be properly positioned. The output of the wave maker should not be too strong that it disturbs the aquarium set up and stresses the fish.


Protein Skimmers in the Aquarium 

Protein Skimmers are devices used in marine aquariums to remove unwanted proteins floating in the water. Proteins can originate from decomposing organic matter such as fish waste and plant detritus.

Protein Skimmers work by creating a large air/water interface by using a large amount of bubbles which are allowed to pass through a water column. The water bubbles rise to the surface along with the proteins which are attracted to the bubbles. In addition to proteins, these skimmers also remove fatty substances, carbohydrates, bacteria, etc

The result is a foamy layer of liquid in the skimmer. This foamy layer gets thicker as more and more proteins rise to the surface. This Foamy layer is then removed.

Proteins Skimmers are used in marine aquariums where periodic water changes are not possible. They reduce the load on the main filtration systems.

Protein Skimmers cannot be used in freshwater aquariums as the density of freshwater is lesser than the saltwater of marine tanks. Thus, the fine bubbles which can be created in the marine aquariums for higher air/water interface cannot be created in the freshwater aquarium.

Protein Skimmers can be used in freshwater aquariums which are overstocked. However, these are extremely rare.