Everything You Need for a Marine Tank (17 Essential)

So you’ve made the exciting decision to get into the hobby of keeping marine fish in an aquarium. Congratulations!

Now is the time to begin putting together the components of the fish tank aquarium that you will want in order to have it suitable for fish to inhabit. I have compiled a list of the necessary items that you will need in order to have your fish tank installed and operational. There is always going to be some debate about what is necessary and what isn’t, but I believe that this is a very solid list of the things that are considered “must haves” when it comes to putting up saltwater fish tanks.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)

Electricity and water do not go well together. Always remember to put one of these in each wall outlet that will be used for your tank and ensure that it is properly installed. The fact that you may plug anything into any electrical outlet means that this is not technically necessary; yet, the danger involved is not worth it. A GFCI might potentially save a person’s life.

A power strip or surge protector

With heaters, lighting, skimmers, and other accessories for your tank, you’re going to need more than two outlets for its equipment. Make an investment in a high-quality power strip that not only allows you to plug in all of your equipment but also has surge protection to prevent your equipment from being damaged.


A marine fish tank is impossible to have without the tank! My recommendation is that you get the greatest size tank that your budget will allow you.

Tank stand

Fish tanks may become quite heavy when you fill them up with water, therefore you need to make sure that your tank is placed on a stable foundation before you fill it up with water. In addition, saltwater fish tanks may leave a salt residue on the exterior of the tank, thus placing them on a piece of furniture or a counter may promote corrosion and create a messy situation.

A Deionizer or Reverse Osmosis Unit

Regular tap water just isn’t good enough. If you want to keep your marine fish tank and the fish in it healthy, you need to use water that has been treated with either a reverse osmosis (RO) unit or a deionizer.

Salt mixture

A fish tank containing salt water cannot exist without the presence of salt. There are a variety of salt mixes on the market that may provide your tank residents with the necessary amount of salt in addition to other necessary components.


This nifty little instrument will enable you to test the specific gravity of the saltwater in order to ensure that it is at the appropriate level.

Test kits

Fish kept in saltwater aquariums are quite sensitive to changes in water parameters; thus, it is essential to remain on top of things and check the water quality on a consistent basis. Regular testing for pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites is the bare minimum needed for maintaining a healthy environment in your aquarium. You might bring water samples into your neighborhood aquarium store, and if the employees are helpful, they could test them for you for a price that is either very low or even completely free. However, when the tank is being cycled for the first time, you should be checking the water every day; however, it will be very difficult for you to bring water samples into the store on a regular basis at this time.

Buckets, Towels, and Rubber Gloves

Maintaining a marine fish tank may be a wet and filthy job, so it is essential to have buckets and towels on hand for tasks like as changing the water, cleaning, and adding new fish. Rubber gloves are also recommended. You and the other residents of your tank will be safeguarded by gloves.


Although this component is not strictly required, it is highly recommended that you line the bottom of your aquarium with either crushed coral or living sand.

Live Rock, Ornamental Rocks, or Coral

Your fish will need some rocks or other decorative materials in the tank so that they have a place to hide and feel comfortable. This may be done by adding either decorative rocks or live rocks.


Given that you will most likely be maintaining tropical kinds of fish, you will need a heater to ensure that the water is of an appropriate temperature for them.

A thermometer

Since you will need to determine whether or not the heater is performing its function properly.


There are several different lighting choices available for you to choose from. What you want to put in the tank will determine which option is best for you to go with (ie. a fish-only tank will not require the lighting intensity as a reef tank with live rock and coral).


A high-quality powerhead will generate significant currents in the water of the aquarium. It is essential to do this because it aerates the water in the aquarium, removes any dead or stagnant spots, and assists in maintaining the health of your fish. When combining salt for water changes, you could also find that you need an additional powerhead to utilize.

Protein Skimmers

Skimmers remove organic waste from your aquarium before it can decompose and convert into nitrates, which are harmful to saltwater aquarium fish. Nitrates are produced when organic waste breaks down.


A marine fish tank would be nothing without its inhabitants, and vice versa. Be sure to make an informed decision, not to overcrowd your tank, and avoid purchasing any species that won’t get along with the others.

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