Planning your saltwater aquarium properly before you set it up and add marine life is essential to avoid any potential problems and disasters before its too late to do anything about it.
A little forethought and planning now can prevent a lot of money spent and heartache from losing your marine life in the future.
So many people jump into this hobby headfirst and make fatal mistakes with their marine life simply because they didn’t plan ahead and know exactly what they were going to do and what was required for this amazing hobby, don’t let this happen to you!
When I say plan, I mean sit down and write it all down on paper. This way everything will be set in stone and you can follow your plan to the letter which will prevent any impulse buys and help you to avoid decisions you may regret in the future.
The first place to start is to fully decide what type of set up you would like; fish only, fish only with live rock (FOWLR) or a full-blown reef set up.
After this you need to decide how much time you have and what budget you have got to work with, remember to factor in the ongoing costs of water, electricity and food.
The easiest and best way to decide on the set up and look you are after is to look at what other people have got, view as many set ups as you can until you find one that really resonates with you.
Ask the owner exactly what equipment they have, what skimmer, what lights, any hints they can give will greatly help your planning.
After you have worked this out you need to decide what size tank you will need. Buy the biggest you can afford, this gives you more room for error and more options with stocking marine life.
Remember to take into consideration where it will go because you wont be able to move it easily when its full!
Other factors you will need to consider are available space around the tank for equipment, how much weight the surface you are planning to put your aquarium on can handle, proximity to natural light which will heat your aquarium and cause algal blooms, how much marine life you want and how much space your marine pets will need to be happy.
Which leads us on to the next vital part of planning, you will need to sit down and work out EXACTLY what species you want for your aquarium.
This will involve a lot of research to find out what they eat, what conditions they need to thrive, how hard they are to care for and what other species they are compatible with ensuring what you have selected will lead to a harmonious marine aquarium.
Once you have thoroughly researched and decided upon a few key species you are well on your way.
Make sure you give your aquarium plan room to evolve in the future and not fill the tank up in one hit.
Purchasing good quality equipment will ensure your aquarium can easily cope with future additions.
The next step is to decide what equipment you will run, the big two here are lighting set ups and filtration.
There are no short cuts here, you will need to do research to see what conditions your chosen species require and purchase accordingly from a quality retailer.
My advice here is do not try to buy the cheapest products you can, spend a bit more and buy quality, this will definitely pay you back in the long run and keep you tank running optimally. It will also save you money spent on costly upgrades.
After you have made all you purchases and set your tank up the right way you will come to the fun part; stocking your tank. Follow your plan to the letter and do everything slowly.
Now that you have thoroughly planned then set-up and stocked your aquarium following your plan you are much more likely to have that thriving marine aquarium of your dreams and will have avoided the many pitfalls that commonly occur to the ill-prepared marine aquarist.