New Saltwater Aquarium

Saltwater Aquarium Blog: Getting Started

Hi, my name is Al Ulrich. I started Saltwater Aquarium Blog in 2009 with a goal to provide helpful information for the beginner saltwater aquarium hobbyist. Because this is a blog, the articles are published on on the home page with the most recent articles displayed first. You could start with the most recent articles and work your way backward, or you could start with the first post and work your way forward, but chances are, if you are new to Saltwater Aquarium Blog, you may need to start somewhere in the middle, which is why I created this page.

As an introduction to me and to Saltwater Aquarium Blog, I encourage you to watch this 1 minute video first.

Please watch this 1 minute video first

Getting Started with Saltwater Aquarium Blog

If you’re new to saltwater aquarium blog, the saltwater aquarium hobby, reefkeeping, or saltwater fish:

Welcome, you are starting in the right place!

If you’re not new to the hobby and just want to jump into some of the best stuff here, Click here to get The Best of Saltwater Aquarium Blog

What it takes to be successful in the saltwater aquarium hobby

If you want to be successful in the saltwater aquarium hobby, it takes some patience, planning, perseverance, and a desire to learn about and care about some of the world’s most beautiful, and often fragile creatures. When I started out in the hobby, I was confused and overwhelmed. There was plenty of information out there–but sorting through it all was sometimes a challenge–and the advice given was not always accurate. Along the way, I’ve continued my learning (either through reading, talking with others in the hobby, or messing things up pretty badly myself). saltwater aquariumThere 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 of you who are like me when I started out. People who are looking to get into this fabulous hobby, want to learn, plan and be successful–but 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. In order to do that, you need some knowledge about the basics, some time, equipment, patience and persistence. You have to understand what the needs are for 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 those ideal water conditions, your risk of having problems goes up. Don’t let that scare you though–because there are lots of tools to help you.

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 can have a calming effect that lowers your pulse rate and blood pressure.

The saltwater aquarium hobby is one part creative expression, one part gardening (underwater gardening) and one part pet ownership. You get to watch the animals grow and adapt to the environment you created for them and provide for them. It’s a pretty cool thing.

Does a saltwater aquarium have to be big?

tank full of coral fragsWhen the saltwater aquarium hobby first hit the scene, a lot of people thought that you had to have a big tank in order to be successful. Over the years, the equipment used to keep a saltwater aquarium has gotten better, as the processes for transporting fish and invertebrates have gotten better…so now you can be successful with just about any size aquarium you would want.

Now, size is a trade-off decision, not a requirement.

Does a saltwater aquarium have to be expensive?

Owning a saltwater aquarium can be expensive. Many people choose to spend a lot of money on the equipment and livestock in their tanks, but it a saltwater aquarium doesn’t have to be expensive. I recommend you start off small, try it out and see how much you enjoy the hobby before you get into the expansive side of things.

Where can you buy a saltwater aquarium?

Believe it or not, one of the best places to buy a saltwater aquarium is from another saltwater aquarium hobbyist. For better or worse, there are two prominent trends in this hobby. This is a hobby where the most enthusiastic people are generally changing, upgrading or swapping out parts of their tanks…so at any given time, there is usually a decent supply of gently used tanks and gear. saltwater aquarium blogYou 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.

If you’re looking for a store with a physical location, your best bet is to look for a specialty (generally independently owned) shop. In the hobby, we like to call these local fish stores (LFS). The reason I recommend these stores over the big box national retail chains is that the local fish stores are generally run by aquarium enthusiasts who have passion for and knowledge about the hobby. Aquarium equipment, fish and corals are not commodity products, they require a certain amount of 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 a little bit more, but it’s generally worthwhile to get the additional education and support your LFS can provide.

If you already have a good degree of comfort with understanding what it takes to set up a saltwater aquarium successfully, another great place to buy a saltwater aquarium is online. The all-in-one aquarium systems are turnkey solutions that are easy to ship and set up right out of the box. If you’re looking to score a good deal, check out the options available at online retailers like, where you can often get some of the best prices on JBJ or Coralife brand cubes (Affiliate links). They make great starter saltwater aquariums.

The most useful pages on Saltwater Aquarium Blog

At this point on the page, you are probably ready to roll up your sleeves and get your hands wet. I think you will enjoy a lot of the content on Saltwater Aquarium Blog, but to make it easy to get started, I curated a few links to the most useful pages on Saltwater Aquarium Blog.

Take the 31 Days to Build a Better Saltwater Aquarium Challenge

If you want to improve your saltwater aquarium, a great way to do it is to take the 31 Days to Build a Better Saltwater Aquarium Challenge. It’s totally free. You can get started here.

Saltwater Aquarium 101

If you are new to the hobby or are just looking for a refresher on the most important aspects about having a successful, thriving saltwater aquarium, check out Saltwater Aquarium 101, the definitive guide to building a great reef tank.

Saltwater Aquarium 101
Lifetime access to this course is included

Mistakes in this hobby can literally cost you hundreds of dollars.

Learn more about what this class has to offer and find out more about how to get your seat in the class here.

Join the Saltwater Aquarium Blog Community! Get the free newsletter and an e-book

If you are already ready to take it to the next level and want to immerse yourself in the saltwater aquarium hobby beyond what is written here on the pages of Saltwater Aquarium Blog, I invite you to become a part of the community newsletter. Each week, I will send you an email with saltwater aquarium hobby information that you can’t find on the blog–as well as some information about the latest posts.

Reef Aquarium MistakesI generally reveal new features and topics to newsletter subscribers before posting more generally on the blog. You can unsubscribe easily at any time, but hopefully you won’t want to–at least that’s my own personal goal. As a thank you for subscribing, I will send you a copy of my e-book: Avoid The 5 Most Common Reef Aquarium Mistakes as a thank you for signing up.

Just click the subscribe button below and confirm your email address when prompted.



Thanks for checking out Saltwater Aquarium Blog. We all have limited time to surf the web and consume content and I’m truly grateful that you are spending some of that time here with me and my writing. I hope you enjoy the time you spend here and learn something along the way. That’s what Saltwater Aquarium Blog is all about.