Common Marine Tank Equipment

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Donya

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The following is a list of commonly used equipment for marine tanks broken down by the type of tank. Only the types of tanks typically set up by first-time marine aquarists are covered here.
 
Bare Bones Marine Tank
  • Canister and/or hang-on filters for filtration 
  • Power heads for extra flow
  • Any lighting is acceptable
  • Maintenance equipment as described further down
NOTE: minimal setups like this are not considered the best practice except for quarantine/hospital tanks where live rock can be problematic. As a display tank, they should be limited to hardy fish like damsels. Beginners are strongly encouraged to set up a FOWLR instead. 
 
Fish Only with Live Rock (FOWLR)
  • Live rock for filtration
  • Power heads for flow
  • Any lighting is acceptable
  • Substrate of choice (aragonite is usually recommended)
  • Optionally (increases stocking potential): protein skimmer, sump
  • Maintenance equipment as described further down
 
Basic Reef (soft corals and some LPS) 
  • Live rock for filtration
  • Power heads for flow
  • Marine-specific lighting
  • Aragonite substrate
  • Protein skimmer
  • Sump, if one is possible
  • Maintenance equipment as described further down
NOTE: not all reef tanks are the same in terms of difficulty and requirements. Many SPS-heavy systems are more complex than the basic setup described above and can require additional equipment. However, because of the added difficulty, more advanced reef tanks are not the best choice for a beginner.
 
Maintenance Equipment (required for ALL marine tanks):
  • Salt mix or source of pre-mixed salt water.
  • RO/RODI unit or source of pre-made RO water for top-offs.
  • A refractometer or hydrometer as discussed HERE. Refractometers are preferable for FOWLR and reef setups.
  • Marine test kits for: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH (high range), KH, calcium, and phosphate. Advanced reef aquariums may require additional test kits.
 
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