Marine Setup Step 4 - Assemble and Test Your Gear

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Assemble all components, fill with freshwater to test and rinse everything. Edward Kadunc

[edit] Step-by-Step
Aquarium Setup

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

[edit] Test the Setup

By Robert M. Fenner from The Conscientious Marine Aquarist

  • Preassemble your gear. Get everything out and check it over thoroughly. Read the boxes and inserts (I’d save all of these). Is it all there? There are few things more frustrating than discovering you don’t have a part, thermometer, sufficient tubing, or valves...after the stores are all closed.
  • Do a test run trying out your equipment piece by piece (with the exception of the heaters)—to make sure it’s all there and that you understand how it works. If seriously confused, call your contact at the shop where you bought the equipment, or have a marine aquarium friend or guru help you out firsthand.
  • Carefully rinse your aquarium with freshwater (do not use soap, Windex, or other household cleaners) and dry the outside. (Beware of using sponges, unless you are sure they do not contain antibacterial agents. Many sponges now come predosed, and the residues can kill your livestock.)
  • Rinse all filters, outside plumbing, and sump, if you have one.
  • Place the dry aquarium on its stand, making sure it is level.
  • Connect the your ground fault circuit interrupter extension cord, breaker, or outlet you plan to use, and be sure your wiring is secure, accessible, and out of the likely path of any water spills.
  • Be sure to leave some space around the aquarium to get to and service all components.
  • Install all filters, pumps, and heaters, but do not plug anything in yet.
  • Fill the tank and filters with freshwater. Remember, no salt; this is only a test.
  • Now, piece by piece, plug in and turn on your equipment. Start the heaters last, after they have adjusted to the temperature of the freshwater for 15 to 30 minutes. Set the thermostats for the temperature you will want, say 78°F/26°C to start. Take a temperature reading.
  • Lift the light hood into place, set your lighting timer, and test the lights.
  • Finally, dry any wet spots on the exterior of the system. (If something leaks you will spot it easily.) Let it all run for at least a day to make sure everything works. Don’t rush it!

[edit] Check for Leaks

  • The next day, while your system is still running freshwater, check everywhere for leaks. Chances are very good that there will be none, but if you have a problem, call the place where you bought the equipment.
  • A good store should replace anything for free and on the spot at this early stage, unless it is apparent that you’ve abused it in some way.
  • Take another temperature reading to be sure the heater and its thermostat are working and properly set.
  • This is the time to find out if your stand is not level, if a fitting’s loose, or if your heaters are out of control. Once you’ve added salt, gravel, and decor, you won’t want to have to empty the system to remedy these basic configurations.
  • Drain the aquarium and all filters of the freshwater.
  • Apply background. The color of the back wall of your tank can make a huge difference in the overall appearance of the setup. If you’ve bought an acrylic aquarium with a built-in blue or black back plate, simply proceed to the next step.
    • For clear acrylic or glass aquariums, the simplest and quickest backdrop comes in the form of colored films, waterproof paper, foil, or other similar products available from any good pet shop. Apply it now, while you can easily get to the rear of the aquarium. Be sure all surfaces are clean and dry, and seal all four edges with duct tape or other heavy-duty, water-resistant adhesive.
    • For glass aquariums, painting the outside of the back is a more permanent solution. Any water-based latex paint, applied with a brush or spray can, will work fine. The background can be the first step when you bring the tank home, but you may wish to be sure it doesn't leak before starting to paint. Most aquarists find that a black or dark blue background works best for creating the illusion of depth.

[edit] Recommended Reading

[edit] Good Books for Beginning Marine Aquarists