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Fish & Aquariums For the underwater enthusiasts

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Old 01-21-2009, 01:38 PM
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Default Choosing A Saltwater Fish Tank

by: Alison Stevens

What to Look For in a Saltwater Fish Tank

The decision to purchase a saltwater or marine fish tank for your home or office should not be taken lightly. Marine fish will have requirements far greater than freshwater fish. However, once you’ve decided to purchase a saltwater aquarium you’ll be rewarded with a stunning range of tropical and reef fish to choose from.

But first you’ll need to purchase your tank. The selection process can be time consuming and confusing because the range of tanks available is large. The best advice is usually to purchase the largest tank you can afford and that will fit in the available space. There are numerous stories of people starting out their fish tank hobby with a small fish tank only to find in a short space of time that they wish they had purchased a larger tank!

A 30-gallon saltwater aquarium is probably the smallest tank you should consider. A fish tank of this size will provide sufficient surface area to allow adequate exchange of oxygen into the water and to provide a comfortable swimming environment for your fish.

The oxygen supply in the water together with the water temperature will determine the success or otherwise of your fish keeping hobby. Tropical saltwater fish require a water temperature of about 75 degrees F. The warmer water in the saltwater aquarium will tend to deplete the oxygen in the water which means that the surface area becomes important. The addition of aeration equipment is usually desirable to increase the oxygen concentration. Aeration can usually be provided in conjunction with your filtration equipment.

Saltwater fish tanks are available in both acrylic and glass. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Some of the advantages of glass aquariums are
* Glass fish tanks are usually cheaper than acrylic tanks
* Glass fish tanks are more scratch resistant than acrylic tanks
* Glass fish tanks won't discolor with age
* Glass fish tanks won’t require as much brace support as acrylic tanks although the stand needs to be able to support a great weight

Advantages of acrylic fish tanks
* Acrylic fish tanks are lighter in weight than glass fish tanks
* Acrylic fish tanks can be custom made in a shape to suit your home
* Acrylic fish tanks are less likely to break
* Acrylic fish tanks can be purchased online

Setting Up Your Saltwater Fish Tank

Bringing your new saltwater fish tank home from the store is only the first step. Never be tempted to purchase fish at the same time that you acquire your aquarium. There are many steps to complete prior to introducing fish to their new home.

First, you need to install your tank in its desired location. Avoid locating your saltwater fish tank in any spot that receives sunlight. Sunlight will cause algae to grow in your tank and whilst this will not usually harm the fish it is unsightly and spoils the appearance of your aquarium. Also avoid any locations close to room heaters or where the tank will be exposed to drafts.

Many acrylic fish tanks come with a built-in stand. Glass tanks will require a sturdy stand and should have a layer of polystyrene or rubber placed between the tank and the stand to absorb any unevenness. If the tank is unbalanced it will eventually crack.

Check your new tank for leaks. Fill it with water and let is stand for a day or two. Once you have confirmed that it is water tight you will need to thoroughly clean the tank and all equipment. Rinse thoroughly. Do not skip the cleaning and rinsing step just because you’ve purchased a new tank and it appears sparkling clean. Your fish will die if there are any contaminants left in the tank! Don’t forget to wash the gravel before adding it the tank. Add all your other equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions. Your pet store will have provided advice on how to set up your saltwater fish tank.

After you have added your salt water and confirmed that the salt and chemical levels are correct you’ll need to run all your equipment for at least 72 hours to filter and heat your water and stabilize your tank. Let the aquarium cycle to build up the correct biological levels.

The hardest part of setting up your saltwater fish tank is now complete and now you’ll be able to go and select your colorful fish!
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