Beneath the churning blue waters of the sea exist brilliant
red corals and lush green plants. Brightly colored clownfish
snuggle amongst anemones, while crabs and starfish creep below
Bring some of this rich underwater nature into your own environment
with a saltwater reef aquarium. Due to advances in technology
and equipment, it has now become easier than ever to set up
a reef aquarium.
At Petland, we have put together a very simple and highly
successful procedure for establishing a saltwater reef. Our
method consists of an aquarium, strong lighting, water pumps,
protein skimmer, mechanical filter, saltwater, and our key
Setting Up the Saltwater Reef Aquarium
Once the aquarium is in place (keep away from bright sunlight),
you must prepare the saltwater. Mix dry synthetic sea salts
with tap water and add a water conditioner. There are many
brands on the market and most are fine to use. Adjust the
salt level of the water (how much salt is in the water) by
using an instrument called a hydrometer, which will measure
the specific gravity or density of salt in the water. It should
read approximately 1.023 at about 76° F.
Now add several water pumps to the aquarium in order to circulate
and mix the water and provide the reef with currents. Place
in the bottom of the aquarium, the substrate, rinsed to be
free of dust. The substrate should be made of calcium carbonate
so that it will help with buffering the water, maintaining
an alkaline pH.
Install and begin operating the protein skimmer, mechanical
filter, and/or sump, heater and lights to the reef system.
The skimmer, filter and heater should run constantly, however
the lights should be plugged into a timer. By using a timer
and a predetermined program, daylight and nighttime can be
Allow the aquarium to run for 24 hours so that water can
mix and clear, substrate can settle and filters, heaters and
lights operate consistently. At this stage, the filters, pumps
and skimmer can be turned off, so the key ingredients, the
live rock may be added.
The live rock is the most important element of the marine
reef aquarium. Live rock is actual rubble rock from the ocean's
reefs that have tumbled to the bottom of the reef or washed
up on shore due to wave action. It is very beneficial and
essential for maintaining the aquarium water quality. It is
loaded with good bacteria, zoo plankton and phytho plankton
all necessary for the filtration process of the reef aquarium.
The rock should be stacked to create a reef appearance and
to provide lots of nooks and crannies for fish and invertebrates
to call home.
After the environment is created by placing all the live
rock, the pumps, filters and skimmer can be restarted. The
water pumps may need to be re-positioned within the live rock
in order to get good water circulation throughout the reef
that has been designed.
48 hours later, this "beginning" reef aquarium
will stabilize. Test the water in the aquarium for ammonia
and nitrites during the next 4-6 days. When test readings
are safe then fish and invertebrates can be added slowly to
the aquarium. Over a period of time, this reef will begin
to flourish. It's easy and simple!
As with any aquarium set-up, options are available for different
looks and sizes from beginner to hard-core hobbyist. Added
equipment components can increase the quantity and diversity
of animals, as well as effect animal reproduction and growth
rate. There is also a wide selection of colors and types of
"live ocean rock" to create different types of reefs.