Setting Up a Salt Water Fish Tank

Emulating the beauty of the depths of the ocean using a saltwater fish tank can be a daunting task at first. However, if you follow the right steps, you might be able to set up a saltwater or marine fish tank in a fairly easy way. It’s also handy if you have the correct equipment on hand. We’ll walk you through some of the steps for setting up a saltwater tank and what you need in order to keep your fish healthy:

Placing the tank

The placement of your saltwater tank is very important, as it will directly affect the condition and the quality of the salt water fishes or other marine life you’ll be putting inside your tank. Make sure that the location isn’t too drafty or too windy. It’s also not recommended that you place the aquarium in direct sunlight or other sources of varying temperatures. For instance, the kitchen could get heated up very quickly when you’re cooking and cool down during the night.

The best way to go is to place your aquarium in areas that can receive the right temperature — not too hot or too cold. Don’t install the aquarium in a very busy place, but make sure that it should be highly visible for you and others to enjoy. Make sure you leave ample space for the electrical connections and equipment. A thermometer will help you monitor the temperature of the tank’s water. Something like the following option might come in handy here:

Where to Buy
Zacro LCD Digital Aquarium Thermometer
Hygger Submersible Aquarium Heater Fish Tank Water Heater
Hygger Submersible Aquarium Powerhead 2000GPH Fish Tank Wavemaker Circulation Pump
Instant Ocean Sea Salt for Marine Aquariums, Nitrate & Phosphate-Free
ARC Reef Dry Base Rock with Coralline Algae Bonus Rock


Zacro LCD Digital Aquarium Thermometer

This digital thermometer has a large display that makes it easy to check the water temperature at a glance. All you have to do is submerge the probe into the water, not the thermometer itself. It’s fairly simple to attach the suction cup provided, which will ensure that the display stays in place. The temperature range provided here is from a -50 degrees Celsius to 70 degrees Celsius.

This gadget could be a potential lifesaver for your saltwater fish, as the proper temperature is important for their health. The large display is especially useful for fish owners with weak eyesight.

How to Set Up a Saltwater Aquarium

If you’re a saltwater fish enthusiast and want an aquarium for your hobby, you should know how to set up the tank properly. Even if you get in a professional to set things up for you, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the following steps are carried out:

Tank Types, Sumps, and Lighting

If your budget allows it, buy the biggest aquarium possible. At the very least, you should get an aquarium big enough to fit in the available space you have. A big aquarium is recommended in order to get the most stable water environment possible.

Whether you buy an acrylic or glass aquarium, make sure to have it drilled. An acrylic tank is easier to drill than a glass one but more difficult to keep clean in the long run. Some tanks are pre-drilled, though you can do the drilling yourself or get it done from the aquarium shops or pet stores. Better yet, you may want to consider buying an aquarium with an “internal overflow.” This will help to keep the water inside at a constant level, while also removing the film and debris on the surface on a regular basis.

You should also a tank that is not too deep so that you can reach the bottom for easy cleaning. A sump (a second smaller tank) is not really necessary per se. However, including a sump will be a nice addition for hiding unattractive equipment for drawing more water volume into your aquarium. If you have to buy a sump, it’s better to install it in a cabinet or stand.

For the lighting, metal halide bulbs are recommended. Bulbs with 250 watts are the most common for saltwater aquariums. A high-intensity fluorescent lighting system can also be used for saltwater aquariums.  

Filtration and Heating

When setting up the filtration, get a good quality protein skimmer. This is very important, as a protein skimmer is very effective in dissolving organic fish waste. This improves the quality of your saltwater and makes it much cleaner. A protein skimmer is recommended only for seawater aquariums, not for freshwater ones. When installing a protein skimmer, you should adjust its air-intake to get the most bubbles possible.

All marine life in saltwater aquariums is tropical. Hence, it’s necessary to install a heater in your saltwater fish aquarium, especially if you live in temperate regions. It’s recommended that you use at least two heaters to prevent the risk of malfunction. Check out the heater below and see if it suits your needs right now:

Hygger Submersible Aquarium Heater Fish Tank Water Heater

This heating system consists of two suction cups and heaters that are completely submersible in the tank. They’re in a black protective container with shatter-resistant construction, and are sure to have a safe operation. With this controlled heat regulation, you won’t have to worry about your fish getting scalded. The temperature range is from 16°C to 32°C or 61°F to 90°F. This ensures that there will always be a consistent and warm environment that’s healthy for tropical fish.

While this heater is suitable for both saltwater and freshwater tanks, it’s more useful in saltwater versions. This is because saltwater creatures need a more controlled environment to mimic their natural habitat. If your tank is between 15 to 26 gallons, this is the heater for you. You can also buy more for catering to the capacity you have.

Water Flow

You can adjust the flow of your saltwater tank by adding pumps to return the water from your sump to the main tank. Internal or external pumps are both suitable for saltwater tanks. This is because it will provide a brisk and energetic turbulent flow, which is necessary for your marine life to survive inside the tank. Check out the water pump option below and see whether it suits your saltwater tank needs:

Hygger Submersible Aquarium Powerhead 2000GPH Fish Tank Wavemaker Circulation Pump

This water pump is suitable for both saltwater and freshwater tanks. The head pump can rotate in all directions, which means it can simulate the natural current of the fishes’ natural surroundings. This will make the tank occupants feel like they’re still in the actual ocean or sea. In addition to the water flow, this pump is also a good way to keep up the oxygen level of the tank’s water. This could be a necessity if you want to add in more fish at some point.

Most people will also install a filter in their saltwater tank, with this pump helping things along by stirring up dust and debris. The result will be a clean tank in the long run, saving you from having to clean every other day.

Preparing and Mixing Salt

Have your tank cleaned with fresh water and a sponge or cloth. Then, test your tank for leaks by filling it with fresh water, turning off all the pumps, and shutting down the sump. If no water seeps out, you may now prepare an artificial “sea water” by adding adequate salt into fresh water. The amount of salt will depend on the volume of your water. Use only an aquarium sea salt of very good quality. Fill your tank ONLY with purified water and use a Reverse Osmosis or R0/Deionization Filter. Don’t use distilled water, as it has traces of copper that can potentially harm fish, coral or other marine life in your aquarium.

Once you have your salt and freshwater mixed, let it rest for a day. This is done in order to have the salt completely dissolved into the water. Use a hydrometer to measure your water’s salinity level as well as specific gravity. The aquarium salt below is a good choice for those who want a good simulation of saltwater in their tank.

Instant Ocean Sea Salt for Marine Aquariums, Nitrate & Phosphate-Free

This aquarium salt is a popular choice among those who tend to public and private aquariums. It’s also used by hobbyists as well as research facilities with saltwater tanks. The salt dissolves fast and is free from nitrate or phosphates that could harm marine life. It also contains the other elements you need for a healthy tank interior.

Adding Sand, Rock and “Cleaning” Creatures

If you want to add sand, there are a variety of options. If you intend to add sand before filling the tank with salt water, don’t use a “live bed” kind of sand. If it’s a “live” sand bed, add it after your salt and freshwater mixture is completely dissolved. Some people choose not to add sand at all. This may not be aesthetically pleasing, but it does make the cleaning easier.

After the sand, you may add artificial “live” rocks into your aquarium. This could be done before or after adding the sand.

It’s also ideal to buy “cleaning” creatures such as snails, reef fish, and small hermit crabs. They’re mostly inexpensive, but make sure that they cohabit nicely with the more expensive and exotic kinds.

Adding Coral

According to expert aquarium hobbyists, coral should not be added until the tank has matured. how can you tell if your tank is old enough for coral? Consider checking the live rocks. If they develop purple spots — the sign of new growing algae—this means your tank is now amenable for coral. The following coral might be a good choice for your tank:

ARC Reef Dry Base Rock with Coralline Algae Bonus Rock

This rock might be expensive, but it’s worth the investment for saltwater tank enthusiasts. There’s no curing required; all you have to do is place it inside the aquarium after the water is salty enough. It’s the result of sustainable harvesting, with no damage done to coral reefs. The rocks will make a great calcium and alkalinity buffer, so they’re definitely worth considering when you’re looking for additions to your tank.


After completing the steps above, now you can enjoy your saltwater fish tank with many strange creatures like you will see on addhelium. The considerable effort and costs will be all worth it when you’re having a relaxing view of your gorgeous, bubbling and well-lighted saltwater fish tank.  Of course you also want to make sure you get high quality pet food for fish to ensure they stay healthy.