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Marine Setup Checklist

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Basic components for a starter marine aquarium system. Edward Kadunc

[edit] Things to Decide, Things to Buy

[edit] Aquarium

❏ Glass Tank or
❏ Acrylic Tank
❏ Length
❏ Width
❏ Height
❏ Gallonage/Liters

[edit] Stand

❏ Aquarium cabinet
❏ Sturdy, level shelf, counter, desk, or other platform
❏ Custom stand or enclosure

[edit] Lighting

❏ Lighting hood, top, or reflector
❏ Glass or acrylic covering plates (with polished edges)
❏ Fixture(s)
❏ Lamp(s)/bulb(s)


[edit] Circulation

❏ Circulation pump
❏ Powerhead(s), submersible pump(s)

[edit] Protein Skimmer Choices

❏ Internal
❏ External
❏ Hang-on-tank
❏ In-sump
❏ Air-driven
❏ Venturi
❏ Downdraft
❏ Other ________________________

[edit] Filtration Choices

❏ Undergravel filter
❏ Pump for undergravel filter (air pump or reverse-flow powerheads)
❏ External power filter
❏ Canister filter
❏ Wet/dry or trickle filter
❏ Berlin-style sump
❏ Refugium
❏ Other ________________________

[edit] Miscellaneous Filtration Items

❏ Necessary plumbing supplies, fittings, valves
❏ Airline tubing
❏ Check valve for airline tubing
❏ Filtration media (carbon, pads, foam inserts, resins)
❏ Other ________________________

[edit] System Options

❏ Ozonizer
❏ Ultraviolet sterilizer
❏ Other ________________________

[edit] Water/Water Preparation

❏ Seawater (natural seawater or synthetic salt mix)
❏ Hydrometer
Options ❏ Storage container: to mix and age seawater (with optional heater
and small circulation pump or air bubbler)
❏ Reverse osmosis/deionization water-purification units
❏ Water conditioner for treating tap water

[edit] Water-Quality Testing and Maintenance

❏ Saltwater test kit: tests for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate
❏ Dedicated-use bucket
❏ Siphon/gravel vacuum
❏ Aquarium-only cleaning pad
❏ Towels for tank use only
Options ❏ Reef test kit (low-level nitrate, phosphate, alkalinity, calcium)
❏ Electronic monitors (pH, temperature, ORP, etc.)
❏ Electronic controllers (lighting, heating, chilling, ozonizer, etc.)
❏ Other ________________________

[edit] Temperature Control

❏ Submersible, thermostatically controlled heater
❏ Thermometer(s); to check temperature
Options ❏ Chiller: for hot climates and systems with high-wattage lighting

[edit] Aquascaping

❏ Coral rock
❏ Live rock
❏ Decorative coral (real or artificial)
❏ Substrate/gravel/sand: 1 to 1.5 pounds per gallon
❏ Aquarium background material (or paint)
Options ❏ Two-part epoxy, electrician’s plastic cable ties (for creative rock assembly)

[edit] Hardware/General

❏ Electrical extension cords and outlets
Timer(s) for lighting
❏ Ground fault circuit interrupter
❏ Aquarium-only towel or paper towels
❏ Other ________________________

[edit] Maintenance

❏ Salt mix: for water changes
❏ Foods
❏ Net
❏ Supplements (calcium, buffer, magnesium, iodine/iodide, etc.)
❏ Other ________________________

[edit] Reference Materials

❏ Books, magazine articles
❏ Your own equipment list
❏ Your own species list
❏ Aquarium logbook

[edit] Step-by-Step Aquarium Setup

  • 1. Investigate
  • 2. Make Lists
  • 3. Buy Your System Components
  • 4. Assemble Your Gear
  • 5. Premix the Seawater
  • 6. Add the Rock and Substrate
  • 7. Rest and Test
  • 8. Inoculate Your System
  • 9. Add Herbivores
  • 10. Add Hardy Fishes

Recommended Reading:
Good books for beginning marine aquarists:

The New Marine Aquarium by Michael S. Paletta

The Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Robert M. Fenner

Aquarium Keeping and Rescue by Carl DelFavero

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