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image via @JMacedo and his Reef Of TheMonth

10 Considerations for Setting Up Your New Saltwater Reef Aquarium

Setting up a new saltwater reef aquarium is an exciting venture that requires careful planning and consideration. As a community of avid reef hobbyists we have compiled a list of the top 10 considerations to keep in mind when contemplating setting up a new aquarium. By addressing these considerations, you can lay a solid foundation for a thriving and visually stunning reef ecosystem.

1. Tank Size and Location: Choosing the right tank size is essential for the success of your reef aquarium. Consider the available space in your home and select a tank that suits your needs and ambitions. Remember, a larger tank provides more stability and allows for a greater variety of coral and fish species. Also consider the placement of your aquarium (where your tank will go). Placing your tank in a high traffic area will ensure that it won't become an afterthought and that it will get the attention it deserves. You will also be able to enjoy it more!

2. Water Quality and Filtration: Maintaining "good" water quality is paramount in a saltwater reef aquarium. Invest in reliable filtration equipment, like a protein skimmer and live rock, and subscribe to good filtration practices, such as regular water changes and the removal of uneaten fish food. This will help to effectively remove impurities and maintain proper nutrient levels. Regular testing and water parameter monitoring are vital for ensuring a healthy environment.

3. Lighting and Photosynthesis: Proper lighting is crucial for the growth, vitality and visual appeal of your corals. Research the lighting requirements of the specific coral species you plan to keep and choose a lighting system that provides the appropriate spectrum and intensity. Adequate light promotes photosynthesis, which is essential for coral health and vibrant coloration.

4. Live Rock and Biological Filtration: Live rock serves as the backbone of a reef aquarium, providing biological filtration, a natural habitat for beneficial bacteria and is a key component to the overall visual aspect that you are trying to achieve. Opt for quality live or dry rock to establish a stable and balanced ecosystem, enhancing water quality and providing natural hiding places for your marine life.

5. Water Movement and Circulation: Creating the right water movement and circulation patterns is crucial for simulating natural reef conditions. Invest in powerheads or wavemakers to generate gentle or turbulent water flow, depending on the needs of your corals and fish. Proper circulation aids in nutrient distribution and oxygenation while preventing dead spots. Plus some fish enjoy swimming and playing in the currents.

6. Coral and Livestock Selection: Carefully research and select compatible coral and fish species that thrive in a reef environment. Consider their lighting, temperature, diets and water parameter requirements to ensure a harmonious and sustainable ecosystem. Acquire livestock from reputable sources to minimize the risk of introducing diseases or pests.

7. Patience and Cycling: Exercise patience during the cycling process, which establishes a stable biological filtration system. Allow sufficient time for beneficial bacteria to colonize and establish a healthy nitrogen cycle. Avoid rushing the introduction of livestock, as a well-established aquarium is crucial for their well-being.

8. Maintenance and Regular Care: Maintaining a reef aquarium requires regular care and attention. Develop a maintenance routine that includes water changes, equipment maintenance, and algae control. Regular testing of water parameters and diligent observation of your livestock will help you address any issues promptly.

9. Quarantine Protocol: Implement a quarantine protocol for new livestock to prevent the introduction of diseases and parasites to your established reef. Isolating and observing new additions before introducing them to your main display tank minimizes the risk of spreading infections.

10. Education and Community Engagement: Never stop learning and expanding your knowledge about reef-keeping. Engage with the reefing community, both online and offline, to share experiences, gain insights, and seek advice. The collective wisdom of fellow hobbyists and experts will enrich your journey and help you overcome challenges.

At, we understand the importance of these ten key considerations when setting up a new saltwater reef aquarium. Our passionate community of reef enthusiasts is always ready to provide guidance and support as you embark on your reef-keeping journey. From expert advice to firsthand experiences, our forums are filled with valuable insights that will help you navigate through the challenges and triumphs of reef aquarium setup and maintenance.

Our community members, with their diverse backgrounds and experiences, can offer valuable recommendations for tank sizes, filtration systems, lighting options, and more. Engaging in discussions on our forums will help you make informed decisions and select the best equipment for your unique setup.

With an emphasis on sustainability and the well-being of marine life, encourages responsible coral and livestock selection. Our community members are dedicated to sharing their knowledge on proper species compatibility, ensuring that your reef aquarium is a thriving and harmonious ecosystem. Connect with fellow reef enthusiasts who can guide you in selecting vibrant corals and captivating fish that will bring your reef to life.

As you progress on your reef-keeping journey, our community also emphasizes the importance of ongoing education and community engagement. Stay up to date with the latest advancements in reefing techniques, equipment, and conservation efforts by participating in discussions, reading informative articles, and attending reef-keeping events. Our community thrives on the passion and dedication of its members, and we encourage you to share your own experiences, successes, and challenges, fostering a vibrant exchange of ideas.

At, we believe that setting up a new saltwater reef aquarium is not just a hobby but a lifestyle. Our forums provide a supportive and welcoming space for reef enthusiasts of all levels of experience. Whether you are a beginner seeking guidance or an experienced aquarist looking to share your expertise, our community is here to inspire and guide you every step of the way.

Join us at and become part of a community that celebrates the beauty, wonder, and challenges of reef-keeping. Together, let's create and maintain stunning reef aquariums that showcase the wonders of the underwater world right in our homes.

Happy Reefing!