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Setting Up The Aquarium

The first thing to do with your new marine aquarium is to get it set up and filled so you can test out all the various bits of equipment. The usual rules apply for setting up a new aquarium – make sure the tank is level, a foam or polystyrene base is used if the glass is not on a raised base, there is a nearby electric source, and that you have left room for maintenance and pipework.


Before the aquarium is filled it is best to install all the various bits of equipment to make sure they fit properly. Filters, skimmers, pumps and heaters should be placed in position with all the various pipework attached, but not switched on until the tank is filled. For items inside the aquarium it may be best to place them on the base rather than in position, just in case they fall onto the glass. Check that you have enough room to access all the areas you need for maintenance - once filled the aquarium will be very difficult to move!

Substrate and rockwork

Once in position, with a background attached if required, the next job is to add the substrate. For marine tanks it is best to use marine or coral gravel, this type of substrate is fairly standard and will help to maintain the correct water hardness. Rinse the gravel first to remove any dust (this can be done under the cold tap) and place evenly on the aquarium base. Because plants cannot be kept in marine tanks, the substrate does not need to be deep and 1-2cm is sufficient.

If you are adding a significant amount of rockwork, it can be wise to protect the aquarium base by using a grid support to place rocks on. There is a standard piece of plastic grill available for aquariums, often referred to as 'egg crate', which does the job well. You can also purchase stepped platforms or 'reef racks' which will allow you to create a large rockscape without using too much rock and also leaves plenty of room behind for fish to hide in or additional pumps to be situated.


Finally, your aquarium can be filled with water – as mentioned previously this should be reverse osmosis water, or saltwater made with reverse osmosis water. You will need to check the salinity over the next few days and add salt or pure water until the level is correct. When your aquarium is filled, your various items of equipment can be switched on and tested. You may need to adjust some items, such as the skimmer, until they are working properly.

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