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1. 29-55 Gallon Marine Fish Tank
The following guidelines and product selections will help you successfully create a “fish only” or fish and non-light-sensitive invertebrate aquarium. The guidelines and product selections are applicable to tanks from 20 gallons up to 55 gallon. When considering a saltwater aquarium, always remember the price of added filtration will easily pay for itself in fewer fish losses and less labor to keep the aquarium clean. In some cases, the recommendations include a second option. Since every aquarium is placed somewhere different and physical space limitations may be a factor, other viable choices appear for specific purposes where applicable.

Choose one from a local dealer where you'll buy fish. Since this is the vessel that keeps your your fish alive and your spouse from killing you for damaging the floors, be willing to pay a little more for a quality name brand such as All Glass Aquarium Inc., Oceanic or Innovative Plastics.
Hood/Lighted Hood
Only purchase an aquarium with a glass top. Plastic hoods are not acceptable for saltwater setups. Plastic hoods limit the ability to add extra lighting and do not prevent “saltwater creep” from causing a mess. Standard lighting fixtures are acceptable but opt for higher quality lamps such as the T-8 Reef Sun by Zoomed. These lamps are designed specifically for saltwater. If a heavy blue coloration or stronger lighting is desired, consider purchasing an Aquatic Life T5 HO Link Marine. These great fixtures are available in configurations bright enough to keep corals and they look great.

Stand or Cabinet
Make sure the cabinet is properly constructed for handling up to 10lbs per gallon of water. If something other than an aquarium stand is used, it should be able to support the weight and hold the entire rim of the aquarium bottom level with no spaces between the rim and the support.


The Ultimate 30 gallon fish setup undoubtedly incorporates a trickle filter, such as the MR500 Trickle Filter, and a siphon box, such as the EIM Series Siphon Box. This system easily handles a high fish load and can be used on aquariums up to 55 gallons.

Because of space limitations often associated with smaller saltwater aquariums, a good alternative to a trickle filter is a dual box filter configuration such as an
Aquaclear 50 or Aquaclear 70 combined with a small protein skimmer. A combination siphon box and skimmer, the UP100/PS Hanging Filter is perfect for this application.
Aeration is critical in saltwater. The Millennium and Skilter both have aeration features that eliminate the need for an air pump. The Aquaclear 200 sponge is great for biological filtration and the additional capacity can be used for Chemi-Pure and a cut down Polyfilter. Both Chemi-Pure and Polyfilters should be used in saltwater tanks of this size to ensure success. If there is room below the aquarium for a filter, but not one as large as the MR500 Trickle Filter, consider an Ecco Canister Filter or a Fluval G Canister Filter. An air stone, like the Aqua Mist Bar, and a Stellar Air Pump should be used to provide adequate aeration if a canister filter is used.

• Hydrometer
This important instrument is used to measure the salt concentration (salinity or specific gravity) of the aquarium water. A good economical and accurate choice is the CoraLife Hydrometer. Another quality hydrometer is the Ammonite Hydrometer.
  • Synthetic Sea Salt
Brightwell Neo Marine, 50# bag, because of its high quality and repeatable performance, is used for all EPA lab testing studies. Tests have shown this to be a superior aquarium salt. For other high quality salts available online, see SeaChem Reef Salt.

For saltwater enthusiasts with an interest in a more precise and sophisticated instrument to measure salinity, the Milwaukee Refractometer with automatic temperature compensation is a consideration.

• Grounding the tank
Grounding the tank prevents more sensitive species from getting Lateral Line Disease. The origins of this ailment are controversial. A Titanium Grounding Probe eliminates one of the suspected causative agents.

• Substrate
20lbs Choose a CaribSea product. Natural, calcium based substrates are best for saltwater aquariums.
• Fish Food
Nutrition is second only to filtration importance. Saltwater fish should be fed 80% frozen foods since these foods most closely match their natural diet.

• Water Conditioner
The water must be conditioned and prepped for aiding the slime coating of the fish. AquaLife Complete is an excellent dechlorinator and it detoxifies chloramines if they are present.
• Do not overfeed the fish. Feed fish only what they will eat in two to three minutes 1-2 times per day. Vary the diet. Different types of frozen foods from Ocean Nutrition and San Francisco Bay with VitaChem dripped on them combined with occasional feedings of OSI foods will ensure the health, longevity and color of your fish. It is important to try and duplicate the foods eaten in the wild.

• Starting Bacteria Culture
Use Activate Saltwater. Seeded biological media is sometimes available to speed up the cycling process. Super Porous Filter Media is an excellent media for this purpose.
• Algae Scrubber
Mag-Float 130 cleaning magnet for glass
Magical Cleaning Rod 22"
• Fish Net
Fish Catcher Net
• Thermometer
Hagen Thermometer, Floating
• Never underestimate the importance of water testing. Fish trapped in water with even small amounts of ammonia and nitrite can die within hours. Water test on a regular basis and be prepared to act quickly is something goes wrong. A Mini Master Test Kit Freshwater & Saltwater contains accurate testing supplies for pH, ammonia and nitrite.
See All Test Kits
See All Controllers & Monitors

• Do a 25% water change monthly or a 10% water change twice a month. Remember to dechlorinate the water and adjust it to the same temperature as the aquarium water.

• Always add a high quality dechlorinator anytime tap water is added to the tank. AquaLife Complete is an excellent product that not only dechlorinates but adds important elements to maintain slime coat integrity and reduce stress. AquaLife Complete also detoxifies chloramines if they are present.

• Keep the aquarium between 76-78°F. The best fully submersible heater is the Hydor THEO UL Heater 150W.

• The pH should be 8.2 High quality salt such as Brightwell Neo Marine has added buffers and with proper water changes, pH should be stable. Aquavitro Salinity is sold only at our local store. For other high quality salts available online, see SeaChem Reef Salt or Marine Salt. However, if water changes are being done and pH is a problem, use Marine Buffer by SeaChem. Further information is available on water parameters in the Log Sheet section.

Further Reading:
9. Mixing Saltwater
11. Supplements & Additives
12. Understanding the Nitrogen Cycle

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