Saltwater reef aquariums can be very fun and beautiful, but the equipment selection, livestock choices, and water chemistry can quickly dampen anyone’s spirits. Hopefully this guide will help you make the right decision and prevent you from making too many beginner mistakes.
The first thing to consider is budget. This hobby is expensive, very expensive. Aquariums can be pricey, maintenance costs can add up, and your electric bill will take a beating. If you are on a tight budget for example, you might have to buy a smaller aquarium, used equipment, or even make some of the equipment yourself. Local aquarium clubs are prime sources for used equipment. Oftentimes, the price of a used piece of equipment can be half of the original cost. But if you go the “used equipment route” be sure to try before you buy.
Once your desired budget is set, you can then determine what livestock you would like to keep. This is a vital step in determining what equipment you will need. For example, large fish will need a large aquarium. Additionally, most corals require very intense lighting. In the case of SPS corals, the minimum lighting required is T5HO or metal halides. Some have had success with LED lighting and VHO, but the T5HO and metal halides dominate these tanks.
For the next installment, we’ll talk about filtration…so stay tuned.