Starting a Reef Tank

Reef tanks are way more interesting than an ordinary fish tank but they also require more time and care. If you are planning to start a reef tank, it is important to start off by doing some research. Get the right equipment and fish for your tank and be patient.  This article will guide you step by step regarding how you can set your first reef tank.

Finding the perfect location

Location of the tank plays a big role in successfully setting up a reef tank. Select a location that gives you a full view of the tank. Make sure you leave enough room behind the tank to set up wires, pipes and maintenance equipment.  Avoid setting up your tank near a window or under direct sunlight. Choose a location that enjoys a constant temperature and is less likely to experience a lot of human traffic. Avoid putting up tank in places that are either too hot (for example, near a radiator) or too cold (for example, placing the tank outdoors)

Selecting the correct tank

Two varieties of reef tanks are available in market. They come in glass or acrylic. Acrylic tanks are costly but they are lighter in weight and better insulated. Glass tanks are a common choice because they are less expensive and long lasting.  Select a tank according to your budget and the location you chose to set up your tank in. Avoid buying oddly shaped tanks. The bigger the tank is, the more accommodating it will be for the reef.

Installing tank equipment and technology

Always do a quick online search before buying various pieces of tank equipment. Buy them according to what you want to keep in the tank. You will need following the equipment to set up a basic reef tank:

Set up the equipment according to the manufacturer’s directions. Consider adding aquarium chillers and biopellet reactor.

Filling the tank

Fill up the tank with saltwater. To prepare saltwater add dechlorinator to a tank full of clean water and slowly add the salt mix. Do not forget to read the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the hydrometer to measure the salinity of water. 1.025 is an ideal salinity level to start your reef tank. Avoid using distilled water for preparing saltwater.  Your tank can either have a bare bottom or you can choose to add live sand. Choosing a base is totally up to you. Bare bottom tanks are easy to clean but sand act as a bed for your reef rock.  Rinse the live rock in saltwater and slowly set it in the tank. Try to arrange it in a manner that it does not takes more than 1/3 of the visual volume of the tank. Avoid pilling up rocks on one another.


Cycling is very important for new tanks to create biological filtration. Replace water weekly. Remember that water evaporates but salt remain in the tank. This will considerably increase salinity level if water is not replaced. Keep the lights off during the cycling period to avoid unwanted algae growth.  Test the aquarium water for ammonia and nitrite and make sure they are at zero level. Perform a water change and turn on aquarium lights before adding fish inhabitants. Sustain a pH level of 8 -8.14. Maintain temperatures between 72°F and 78°F.

Adding Fish Inhabitants

Start off by adding algae-eating inhabitants. Then add corals. Finally add fish and vertebrates to the tank. The reef needs time to adjust to inhabitants. Wait for at least 2 weeks before adding a new specimen.

Keep in mind that setting up a reef tank has a lot to do with how well you maintain it. Do not forget to keep track of water changes. Enjoy your tank and keep learning!

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