Welcome to Saltwater Aquarium Blog! Your online guide to building a better saltwater aquarium. Since 2009, I’ve connected with millions of readers worldwide, and I’m glad for the opportunity to connect with you!
The best way to connect with me and receive content as it appears? Join the thousands of others in the Saltwater Aquarium Blog Newsletter Community. When you join, I’ll send you a Free E-book and a weekly email newsletter to help you:
- Enjoy your reef tank more than you already do
- Fight common aquarium problems
- Buy the right equipment and gear
- Avoid common mistakes
- Reduce the hassles of maintenance
You’ll also find helpful advice about building a better saltwater aquarium throughout the site. Let me share all of my knowledge with you and get you started on the path to a happy, gorgeous saltwater aquarium.
Why Keep a Saltwater Aquarium?
Setting up and maintaining a healthy saltwater aquarium can be a relaxing and rewarding hobby. Studies have shown that watching fish in an aquarium has a calming effect that lowers your pulse rate and blood pressure.
The saltwater aquarium hobby is part creative expression, part gardening (underwater gardening), and part pet ownership. You get to watch the saltwater fish and corals grow and adapt to the environment you created and provided for them. It’s a pretty cool thing. Hopefully, the content here on Saltwater Aquarium Blog will help.
Find the Freshest Information at Saltwater Aquarium Blog
If you are looking for the freshest information from Saltwater Aquarium Blog, check out the “Recent posts” in the top menu.
The newest articles will automatically appear at the top. As you go deeper into the archives, you’ll time travel backward (and you won’t even need the Delorean). This is a fine way to explore and discover helpful tips, tricks, and advice. (Not to mention fall down a rabbit hole of saltwater aquarium delights!)
Search Saltwater Aquarium Blog for Specific Content
Looking for a specific topic related to ANYTHING in the saltwater aquarium realm? Consider using the search function to find specific Saltwater Aquarium Blog content. If you’re reading this on a desktop computer, the search function will appear at the top right part of the page in the margin. If you’re on a mobile device, the search bar slides down to the bottom. You can access it by clicking the magnifying glass at the top right of the page.
Explore Popular Categories
There have been A LOT of posts since 2009, with more content coming every month. And the information spans a range of topics within the saltwater aquarium hobby. The most popular articles all fall within a few specific categories. If you want to browse the categories to look for articles of interest, I have them listed here for easy reach:
The Most Useful Pages on Saltwater Aquarium Blog
Another way to dive into the content is to check out the posts that rank up the most visits by other aquarium owners (or soon-to-be-owners) like you. These”most useful” pages include:
- How to Start a Saltwater Aquarium
- 9 Most Important Reef Tank Aquarium Water Parameters
- Saltwater Aquarium Blog Interactive Saltwater Fish Compatibility Chart and Tool
- 20 Most popular saltwater fish
- Quarantine Tank Setup
- How Much? Calculating Live Rock Aquarium Needs
- A List of the 20 Most Popular Saltwater Fish
- 5 Best Saltwater Aquarium Fish for Beginners
- Dosing Phytoplankton
- Best low light corals
- 23 Best algae-eating saltwater fish
A few of the most popular pages by category
There is a lot of information on this site about the care requirements for specific species of saltwater fish, corals, equipment & supplies, as well as other invertebrates and dealing with pests and disease. Some of the most popular species and topics are included below.
- Clownfish breeding & eggs
- Yellow tang
- Blue tang
- Ocellaris clownfish
- Yellow coris wrasse care
- Lawnmower blenny
- Most beautiful types of saltwater angelfish
- Best fish for a small saltwater tank
- Overview of the types of coral
- Candy cane coral
- Hammer corals
- Torch coral care
Equipment & supplies
- Best reef salt mix
- Best protein skimmer
- Best aquarium chiller
- Best nano aquarium for saltwater
- Biocube upgrades
- Reef safe starfish
- Reef safe shrimp
- Feather duster worms
- Saltwater cleaner shrimp
- Sea hare
- Rock flower anemone
Dealing with pests and disease
- Bristle worms
- Hair algae
- Swim bladder disease
- How to treat saltwater ich
- Bryopsis algae
- Red slime cyanobacteria
What it Takes to be Successful in the Saltwater Aquarium Hobby
If you want to succeed in the saltwater aquarium hobby, you’ll need patience, planning, perseverance, and a desire to learn about and care for the world’s most beautiful and often fragile creatures.
When I set up my first tank, I thought I knew what I was doing because I’d cared for freshwater tanks. The reality is that some of the info about the reef hobby was confusing and often inaccurate. That’s one of the reasons I created the Saltwater Aquarium Blog – to help people avoid the pitfalls and mistakes I blundered into.
Along my path, I’ve continued learning (through reading, talking with others in the hobby, or messing things up pretty badly myself). There are plenty of people out there who know a lot more about the saltwater aquarium hobby than I do. But I started writing Saltwater Aquarium Blog for those getting their feet wet (metaphorically speaking – you shouldn’t put your feet in your reef tank).
You want to learn, plan, and be successful. And you just need to be pointed in the right direction. Success in this hobby is all about creating a stable environment for the animals in your tank. To do that, you need knowledge of the basics, time, equipment, patience, and persistence. You have to understand the needs of the animals in your tank (sometimes called husbandry requirements), and you have to provide that for them – almost every hour of every day.
The way you do that is by maintaining near-perfect water conditions with the right equipment and maintenance. When you stray from ideal water conditions, your risk of problems goes up. Don’t let that scare you, though. There are many tools to help you in the various articles throughout the Saltwater Aquarium Blog.
The order in which you add the fish, corals and other invertebrates to your tank matters, as well. When you first start out, you will want to begin with the best beginner saltwater fish, like the firefish goby or the royal gramma, and you want to wait to care for more challenging species like the leopard wrasse, melanurus wrasse, or the marine betta until after you’ve mastered care for easier species.
The same principle applies to keeping corals. You want to start out caring for a few of the best beginner coral species before moving on to those species that are moderately difficult to care for. Great beginner coral species are green star polyps, zoanthids and mushroom coral.
Demonstrate success with species like that before moving on to goniopora, gorgonians or sun coral.
Does a Saltwater Aquarium Need to be Big?
When the saltwater aquarium hobby first hit the scene, many people thought you needed a big tank to be successful. Over the last 20 years, the equipment used to keep saltwater aquariums has improved, making it possible to keep saltwater fish and corals thriving in almost any size tank.
In a survey of Saltwater Aquarium Blog readers. The data, from 123 respondents, in October 2021, show that there are lots of saltwater aquarium owners with tanks of all sizes–or just about.
The actual breakdown by aquarium size is as follow:
- 3.3% have a tank between 5.1 to 20 gallons
- 24.4% have a tank between 20.1 and 55 gallons
- 30.9% have a tank between 55.1 and 90 gallons
- 16.3% have a tank between 90.1 and 120 gallons
- 25.2% have a tank larger than 120 gallons
If we combine a few of these statistics, you will see that the majority of saltwater aquarium owners (58.6%) run a tank that is 90 gallons or smaller, while the minority (41.5%) run a tank larger than 90 gallons.
Size is no longer a prerequisite to having a successful reef tank. Now, it is a matter of personal preference, and a trade-off decision, not a requirement. The type of saltwater fish and corals you can keep will also play a role in deciding what size tank to pick. Here are a few guides to help you pick the best saltwater fish based on the size of the tank:
- Best saltwater fish for a :
Does a Saltwater Aquarium Need to be Expensive?
Owning a saltwater aquarium CAN be expensive. Many people choose to spend a lot of money on the equipment and livestock for their tanks. But a saltwater aquarium doesn’t have to be expensive. I recommend starting small. You can try things out and see how much you enjoy the hobby before getting into the expansive side of things.
You’ll find PLENTY of ways to spend money on this hobby. But there are also articles on Saltwater Aquarium Blog that can save you time and money. (I’m a firm believer in saving pennies wherever you can)
Where Can You Buy a Saltwater Tank?
Believe it or not, one of the best places to buy a saltwater aquarium is from another saltwater aquarium hobbyist. This is a hobby where the most enthusiastic people generally change, upgrade, or swap out parts of their tanks. So at any given time, there is usually a decent supply of gently used tanks and gear. And we’re a friendly group; you won’t have to break the bank when you look to a fellow hobbyist for a deal.
You can usually stretch your budget and get more for your money if you buy used. It’s also a good way to tap into the knowledge of others and get started on the right foot. Pick the brain of the hobbyist you’re buying from and ask your questions.
Craigslist and local saltwater aquarium hobby forums are the perfect places to start your hunt for used gear.
If you’re looking for a store with a physical location, your best bet is to check for a specialty (independently owned) shop. In the hobby, we like to call these local fish stores (LFS). I recommend these stores over the big box national retail chains because local fish stores are usually run by aquarium enthusiasts who have a passion for and knowledge about the hobby.
Aquarium equipment, fish, and corals are NOT commodity products. They require tender loving care and knowledge that – in my personal experience – is more commonly found in the local fish store than in the megastores.
It might cost you more to hit up a store, but getting the additional education and support your LFS can provide is worthwhile.
If you already have a degree of comfort and understand what it takes to set up a saltwater aquarium successfully, online is another great place to buy a saltwater tank. The all-in-one aquarium systems are turnkey solutions that are easy to ship and set up out of the box.
If you’re looking to score a good deal, check out the options available at online retailers like Amazon. There you can often get some of the best prices on JBJ or Coralife brand cubes (Please note, those are affiliate links). They make great starter saltwater aquariums.
Additional Education in Addition to the Saltwater Aquarium Blog
Are you serious about increasing your learning? Do you want a more formal and organized way to engage in learning about building a better saltwater aquarium? Obviously, the best place to start is reading all the free information on Saltwater Aquarium Blog. But afterward, you can check out this Amazon #1 Bestselling book: The New Saltwater Aquarium Guide. (Written by yours truly, no less)
Thank You for Reading Saltwater Aquarium Blog!
Thanks for checking out Saltwater Aquarium Blog – your online guide to building a better saltwater aquarium! I know you have limited time to surf the web and consume content, and I’m truly grateful that you spend some of that time here with me.
I hope you enjoy the time you spend here and learn something along the way. That’s what Saltwater Aquarium Blog is all about!
I’ve truly enjoyed your articles and emails on saltwater aquariums. Within the last two years I moved into a retirement home in Rockford, IL., and I noticed that there are very few (like 2?) saltwater fish stores in this town of 150k+ people. With that said, I am seriously considering setting up a saltwater aquarium for my apartment. Unfortunately, there is a 10 gal limitation on aquariums though I think I can get away with a 20 gal.
I have had several fresh water tanks before, most notably a 50 & 75 gal variety. Since I can’t have anything that big anymore, I would like your opinion or advice on what fishes I can get, even online, that would be good for a community reef aquarium of only 20 gallons in size.
Thanks for your note, nod of support and the question. Sure thing. Here are a few suggestions. Check out these articles:
25 Best Saltwater Fish for Beginners
The 20 Most Common Saltwater Fish
That should give you two good places to start. Here are a few other thoughts in summary:
Pick a smaller clownfish species (Common, Percula, Skunk) – get 2
Pick 1 small basslet or dottyback (Royal gramma or Orchid Dottyback, for example)
Pretty much any small goby you want
Pick 1 PJ Cardinal or Banggai Cardinal
For starters, that’s a decent selection
I’m not sure how I found your blog, but I’m glad I did! I’ve browsed through your pages and have really enjoyed what I’ve read – looking forward to reading more in-depth. I have a 54-gallon corner seahorse tank with a 26-gallon sump and a 57-gallon Cade with a 13-gallon sump that I am just setting up, so your articles will be very helpful. We started in the hobby with our first freshwater tank in 1990 then moved to marine in around 1992 or 1993. We’ve been in love with the hobby ever since. Thanks for the great blog! We love meeting all the cool people in the hobby.
Rusty, it is a pleasure meeting you too! Welcome to the site and I can’t wait to hear more about your build!
I do have a quick question for you, Al. I want to place my 20 gal aquarium on some sort of padding under the glass bottom to support it, potentially reducing the tank from cracking and protecting the finish of my stand. Any suggestions?
Hi George, I totally understand your point here–you want to protect the furniture. The tricky part here is that aquariums are very delicate things and engineering marvels. They are designed such that the forces from the weight of the water are evenly distributed on all sides. So you want to be sure your tank is level and flat and whatever you put between the tank and the stand does not bunch up. You want it to be even on all sizes and completely supporting the ledge or you could potentially create a stress/leak point.
With that said, I have used a plastic desk cover before. I would caution against anything too thick. And be careful, as I said, with respect to the physics here and ensuring even distribution of weight and no ‘bunching up’
Thank you, Al.
I realize that I shouldn’t have any bunching up of whatever I put underneath the aquarium, and also nothing too thick. I was hoping to get a tip on where to buy such an item. I’ll look around and online for some high density foam that I can trim to an exact fit.
Sounds good George. I Personally recommend just placing it directly on the stand, so I don’t have a tried and true recommendation for you here, unfortunately. If anyone has a recommendation and wants to reply here, I’ll post it.