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Starting a Reef Tank: 3 Things You Need to Know

Starting a Reef Tank: 3 Things You Need to Know

A reef aquarium with colorful corals and fabulous fish can be one of the most stunning sights to behold. Having your own Great Barrier Reef is enticing; however, it’s important to know that reef aquariums require drastically more resources than freshwater aquariums. If the allure of an adorable Clown Fish poking his head out of a waving Anemone proves too tempting, there are a few basic points to consider before starting a reef tank.

1. Reef aquariums can drain your bank account.

To recreate and maintain the proper conditions to support your personal tropical ocean requires specialized equipment. (specialized is code for expensive) Before you can bring home your corals, fish, and cleanup crew you much first plop down a hefty wad of cash for your tank, substrate, live rock, power heads,, pumps, and RO/DI system, just to name a few. Don’t even get me started on the lighting! That’s only the START UP costs. My advice is not to try to make-do with inferior products. Spend the money up-front to get quality products that will not need to replace in a year. Saving that $50 now may cost you $100 later.

2. Creating and maintaining a coral tank is a Time Succubus.

Once you have laid out the dough for all of the equipment and make your water you must “cycle” the tank before you can introduce any livestock or corals. When all of your coral is set where you like them and the fauna are swimming or crawling all around, it’s time for maintenance….and I do mean TIME. Besides weekly water changes you have water testing, chloramine removing, algae fighting, anemones walking, fish feeding and….I think you get the point.

3. Not all critters are appropriate for the average saltwater tank.

Before you go out and buy your colorful corals and order those exotic fish, you need to do some research on what species will not hunt down the others, treat your corals like a Vegas buffet or possibly cause YOU serious harm. For instance, the Lion Fish is a beautiful but evil fish to avoid at all costs. It not only will lie in wait to pick off your school of Fairy Basslets, it also has poisonous spines that will pump you full of poison if you are not careful. The box fish is another one that is best left to the advanced reefer. When it gets stressed it releases poisonous proteins into the water which could kill off your tank.

If after reading my warning you, like thousands of us, still insist on starting your own saltwater tank, then welcome to the club! You have a large support system of like-minded people who are more than willing to share their knowledge gained from decades of bleaching corals, cursing algae, and killing fish. Don’t be shy to ask for advice. We love to talk about our passion.

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