Now it’s time to start assembling the equipment you’ll need to get your fish tank aquarium set up and ready for fish. I’ve assembled a list of the essential things you’ll need to get your fish tank up and running. There is always some disagreement over what is essential and what isn’t, but I think this is a pretty good list of the “must haves” for setting up salt water fish tanks.
1. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) – Water and electricity don’t mix. Be sure you install one of these in any wall outlet you’ll be using for your tank. Technically, this is not essential as you can just plug things into any wall outlet, but it’s not worth the risk. A GFCI can be a life saver.
2. Power strip / surge protector – Between heaters, lights, skimmers and more you’re going to need more than two outlets for your tank’s equipment. Invest in a good power strip so you can plug in all your equipment and that also has surge protection functionality to keep your equipment from getting fried.
3. Tank – Can’t have a marine fish tank without the tank! My advice is to get the largest size tank you can afford.
4. Tank stand – When you fill them up with water, fish tanks can get very heavy so you need to make sure you have your tank on a solid foundation. Plus salt water fish tanks will leave salt residue around the outside of the tank so putting them on furniture or a counter may get messy and cause corrosion.
5. Reverse Osmosis Unit or Deionizer – Tap water won’t cut it. You need water that’s passed through an RO unit or deionizer to ensure good water quality for your marine fish tank and it’s occupants.
6. Salt mix – You can’t have a salt water fish tank without the salt! There are a number of salt mixes available that provide the salt and other essential elements your tank inhabitants will need.
7. Hydrometer – This handy little device will let you measure the specific gravity of the salt water so you can make sure it’s at the proper level.
8. Test kits – Salt water aquarium fish are very sensitive to water parameters so it’s important to stay on top of things and monitor water quality on a regular basis. At the very least you’ll need to test for pH, ammonia, nitrates and nitrites on a regular basis. You could bring water samples into your local aquarium shop and if they’re nice, they’ll test for your for little or no charge. However, during the initial cycling of the tank you should be testing the water on a daily basis and it will be pretty inconvenient to bring water samples to the shop every day.
Photo attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jillhudgins/ / CC BY-NC 2.0