How to Start Reef Tank

Having any sort of aquarium in your home can help to bring beauty, color, and nature into your everyday life. However, while many people start with a freshwater aquarium for the home some decide to later move on to a reef tank. When you have a reef tank in the home, you can bring some of the incredible beauty and mystery of the deep blue sea into your very own home. These tanks can look absolutely stunning and help to create a calming, somewhat enchanting ambiance to the room.

If you are considering starting a reef tank, there are a number of items that you will need to invest in so that you can get the tank set up. Some of these include:

  • Tank
  • Lighting
  • Sand
  • Salt mix
  • Live rock
  • Protein skimmer
  • Algae scraper
  • Quarantine tank
  • Power heads
  • Heater
  • Fish food
  • Water testing kits
  • Filter
  • Hydrometer
  • Clean bucket
  • Corals
  • Fish and invertebrates
  • Macro algae
  • Aquarium Stand – Optional

How to Start Reef Tank

Setting up the reef tank

There are a number of steps that you need to follow in order to successfully set up your reef tank. Once this is done, you can enjoy its beauty and vibrant colors for years to come. To get your reef tank set up, simply follow these steps:

Assembling the aquarium and initial four week cycle

Once you have cleaned and air dried your tank, you can pour the sand into it. You should then use a mixing container/clean bucket to prepare the saltwater to a gravity of 1.025. Once the saltwater is prepared, you can pour it into the tank. You should also rinse your live rock in saltwater and then arrange it in the tank to suit your needs and preferences. Following the manufacturer instructions to install the aquarium equipment then run the protein skimmer and main filtration system to ensure adequate water movement. During the cycling period you should keep the lighting off, as otherwise it could increase the risk of unwanted algae growth. Over the next four weeks, you should carry out a 50 percent water change each week so that the live rock is properly cured. When you change the water, make sure you get rid of any loose organic matter. Also use your testing kit to test the water for ammonia and nitrate, which should be at zero levels. You should also test the pH levels and ensure that they are at 8.1-8.4.

After the first four weeks

After you have carried out the above processes for a four week period, you can continue with the following steps:

  • At week four you can add your first inhabitants in the form of the algae. You need to acclimate the snails and crabs into the aquarium and put the lighting on a timer so that it goes on and off in twelve hour periods.
  • After two weeks, you can add your first corals to the tank. When you do this, you need to carry out a 25 percent water change before placing the corals onto the live rock that is already in the tank. Corals may include button polyps and hairy mushroom coral.
  • Two weeks after this, you can add aqua-cultured corals to the tank. You need to acclimate the coral as per the acclimation guide and place them onto the live rock. This can include cauliflower colt coral, starburst polyps, and pumping xenia.
  • After another two weeks, you will be ready to start adding your fish and invertebrates. You can add these gradually over a two week period. This includes additions such as scarlet cleaner shrimp and Hawaiian feather dusters. Some of the fish types you can choose from include Ocellaris Clownfish, Green Chromis, and Coral Beauty Angelfish. When you add the fish and invertebrates, you should first perform a 25 percent water change. You then need to acclimate the fish as per the guidelines.

So, in total your reef aquarium will take around 10-12 weeks to complete. However, while this may sound like a long time it will be well worth the time investment. You can enjoy ensuring that the fish are healthy and happy while also benefitting from the outstanding beauty of your very own reef aquarium.

Ongoing maintenance of your new reef aquarium

Of course, you need to ensure that you undertake ongoing maintenance to provide your fish with a healthy marine environment. You should monitor and test the water on a regular basis. Once monthly, carry out a 25 percent water change and make sure you carry out regular maintenance on the filter. Following is a short video on how to clean and maintain a reef tank or aquarium:

With the right maintenance, you can continue to enjoy the wonders and unadulterated beauty of the ocean within your own home.