Starting with an all-glass aquarium, sea salt, coral, sand and florescent lighting, you can have a healthy saltwater fish tank in approximately 7-14 days. The key is to allow enough time for bacteria and algae to grow in order to reach a pH level between 7.6 and 8.4.
- Get your essential supplies
The type of fish you want to raise will determine the tank size you need to accommodate the species. Your tank cannot have any metal parts, as they corrode. You need corral or "live sand" to produce the bacteria and algae your fish need to thrive. Regular sand is optional; you can have a healthy tank without it, but rocks and gravel are not recommended. Florescent lighting is mandatory, as incandescent lights cause temperature fluctuations which are unsafe for both fish and corral . You will also need a power filter, a light hood, a hydrometer to measure how much salt is in your water and pH test strips.
- Set up the tank
Spread approximately an inch of sand on the bottom of your tank. Fill your tank with regular tap water, and then add 1/2 cup of sea salt per gallon of water. Install the lighting and filter, and then wait until the desired pH level has been achieved, testing the water every 2-3 days. This is called cycling and can take up to two weeks.
- Add the marine species
Once the pH level is safe, you can add your corral, seaweed and fish.