Set Up a Saltwater Aquarium

Calling All Freshwater Keepers, You Can Make the Switch!

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  1. Avatar Alex Ingalls says:

    I think you should change the part about tap water. Really you cannot condition tap water to be safe for even a fish only saltwater tank. You should replace that with RO/DI or distilled water that is free of copper and reads 0 TDS.

  2. Avatar Jeff Kurtz says:

    That’s great advice, Alex! Using RO/DI-purified or distilled (and copper-free) tap water will eliminate any guesswork about “what’s in there” and will give you the greatest degree of control over your water quality.

  3. Avatar Chris Aldrich says:

    Good point, Alex. Our recommendation here at SWS is always RO/DI, though we have seen folks maintain healthy FOWLR and even reef aquariums [gasp!] with tap water. Of course much of that success can be attributed to better than average source water (highly variable between municipalities), as well as diligent water changes and maintenance.

    We are definitely on the same page, though. Why not start with the best water you can?

  4. Avatar Alex Ingalls says:

    Fair enough. Yes it can be done with tap water but your right that it does depend on the quality of it 🙂 I have seen people do it too but I have seen many people crash their tanks from it also. I just helped out a local friend and when we went to test her FOWLR tank for phosphate i put in the first set of drops from bottle #1 and it went off the charts let alone even getting in the second bottle thats supposed to make the color change haha. And there are fish out there that are much heartier then others. When I worked at the local petco we could not keep any sharks in because the pipes from their RO/DI unit consisted on copper piping. The store manager ended up getting mad that I refused to order them but I absolutely would not order a fish I knew was coming in to its death. I would only special order them for people that wanted them and have them come get them right when we got the shipment so they could go straight from the bag into their water rather then sit in our “toxic” water. 🙂 Plus with technology these days you can get a decent RO/DI unit for fairly cheap and the replacement media isnt all the spendy. Good Luck to anyone who starts a saltwater/reef tank I hope you succeed because it is well worth the extra time they take to maintain!!!

  5. Avatar kel larder says:

    ok 25 years ago had a freshwater community tank which I run for 5 years had no problems, went onto fish only marine tank run for 3 years no problems, had a break from fish keeping for quite a few years 2 years ago bought a redsea max 130d to set a reef tank up but found it very expensive far too much water testing and adding supplements every day when I was working long hours so I have gone back to freshwater planted tank with a few fish running now for three months so easy to run, so what you are saying in my opinion is not as easy as you say, only my opinion

  6. Avatar Jeff Kurtz says:

    Thanks for your insights, Kel! Sorry your experience with reefkeeping wasn’t so positive, and we hope we can persuade you to come back to the salty side at some point in the future (obviously when your schedule and budget allow).

    We’re definitely not suggesting that reef systems aren’t challenging or that saltwater aquariums in general are necessarily easy–just that the saltwater side of the hobby isn’t as difficult or mysterious as many people are led to believe and that many of the same skills and principles that are necessary for success with freshwater tanks apply to saltwater tanks, as well.

    Of course, just as with the different types of freshwater systems, some types of marine systems are more challenging than others (from a freshwater perspective, think discus versus platies or high-tech planted tanks versus fish-only).

    Also, you did maintain a fish-only marine tank with no problems for three years. That suggests you have the skills for marine fishkeeping and know how to apply them. So, again, we hope you won’t let your last frustrating experience sour you on saltwater tanks forever.

  7. Avatar kel larder says:

    Thanks for you’re insight on how you see things , at the time I had the reef tank long hours at work made it much harder to keep the reef stable , I hope I have not put people of the fantastic hobby but I hope anyone going into reef keeping understands you have to have more time to succeed reef keeping.

  8. Avatar Jeff Kurtz says:

    So true, Kelvin! And thanks again for your thoughts. They’ll, no doubt, encourage aspiring reefkeepers to go into that aspect of the hobby with their eyes wide open.

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