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What Aquarium Should You Buy!?

Deciding what aquarium to get and where to put it can be one of the most challenging parts for a saltwater aquarium beginner! This week we are going to cover the basics of what an aquarium is, where you should put it, how much you should expect to pay, and other things you should consider. We want to make sure you don’t forget anything important in the planning of your saltwater aquarium setup.

Because this topic can be a bit longer than our previous topics, we decided to divide it into two videos! We don’t want you to get overwhelmed with a long video, and it gives you time to process the information. The article will cover everything but we highly suggest re-reading it! Hopefully you take the time to think about everything covered in here, it always helps to plan slowly and thoroughly! 

This Week's Video (part 1)

This Week's Video (part 2)

What is an Aquarium? Glass vs Acrylic!

In essence, an aquarium serves as a water-holding haven, built from materials that ensure the safety of its aquatic inhabitants. When it comes to saltwater aquariums, glass and acrylic are the usual suspects, with glass taking the lead. There’s another player in the mix—the “tub” style aquarium, favored for quarantine, pond setups, and scenarios where a top-down view reigns supreme.

Now, let’s dive into the transparency factor. The allure of glass and acrylic lies in their ability to grant a multi-angle peek into the aquatic universe within. So, glass or acrylic—how do you choose?

Chances are, you’ll find yourself gravitating towards glass aquariums. They’re budget-friendly, more widespread, and generally hassle-free. While acrylic aquariums have their devotees, they often come into play for specialized and unique tank designs.

Now, let’s weigh the pros and cons of acrylic. The perks? It’s lighter, boasts greater clarity, and lends itself to custom shapes. But wait—there’s more. The downsides? Acrylic’s pricier tag, vulnerability to scratches, and quicker wear and tear. These factors have contributed to its rarity in the market. But if an acrylic aquarium is your heart’s desire, fear not. You can spot one or even have a custom creation tailored to your vision in no time! 🐟🐚🔍

Aquarium Shapes, Sizes, and More!

Amidst the sea of glass-made options, a plethora of shapes and styles await your discovery!

Rectangular or cubed reigns as the tried-and-true classic. Yet, don’t overlook the curved front glass alternatives, like bowfront or corner tanks. However, the latter, although once trendy, now tend to be passé due to distortion issues. For an appealing appearance and practicality, rectangular or cubed tanks usually steal the show!

Once the shape puzzle is solved, let’s talk style. Here’s the lineup:

1. “Reef Ready” – Ready-made for plumbing, these tanks sport pre-drilled holes or overflow setups. If not, you’ll be DIY-ing or hunting for alternatives.
2. All-in-One (AIO) – Filtration compartments within the tank negate the need for a sump. Note: AIO doesn’t always mean it has everything—often more beginner-friendly though.
3. Rimmed – A plastic rim adorns top and bottom, often seen in budget-friendly options. Larger tanks might sport this style for added stability.
4. Eurobraced – Sleek, thin glass top braces, replacing plastic rims for improved structural integrity.
5. Rimless – Today’s favorite, offering a modern, decor-worthy touch.
6. Peninsula – Designed for viewing from two long sides, often used as partial room dividers.
7. Frag – Typically shallow and long, serving functional purposes like coral growth or quarantine.
8. Lagoon – Shallow, yet wider or deeper, allowing unique elements and top-down viewing.
9. Drop-off – Emulating reef cliffs, featuring multi-level structure for a captivating effect.

Size matters, and the sweet spot typically spans 30-100 gallons. Smaller tanks offer less room for error and livestock, while larger ones come with elevated costs and considerations. While flexibility reigns, we urge caution against beginners choosing petite setups. On the flip side, bigger tanks demand careful thought and extra expenses.

Stay tuned for part two of this article, where we delve into the intricate considerations that’ll help you sculpt your ultimate saltwater sanctuary! 🌊🐟🏞️

Innovative Marine NUVO Concept Dropoff Tank
Waterbox Silver Marine Tank and Stand

What Should You Consider Before Buying an Aquarium?

Where Do You Want to Put Your Aquarium?

Selecting the perfect spot for your aquarium carries more significance than you might realize. Let’s dive in. First off, the question of a dedicated stand arises. If your tank falls in the 15-gallon range or less, perching it on a desk, kitchen counter, or cabinet suffices. Larger tanks, however, demand a dedicated stand.

Manufacturers often offer tailored stands with added perks for dedicated aquarium setups. DIY enthusiasts can craft their own, but it’s a riskier endeavor, demanding tools, skills, and meticulous planning. If you’re new to construction, opting for a purchased stand is the safer route!

For sub-100-gallon tanks, placement is quite versatile. Beyond that threshold, weight becomes a concern. Ensuring your floor’s structural integrity to bear the load is vital, as overloading it can lead to trouble. Additionally, an excessive load on an outlet might trip a breaker. Seek advice from a contractor to assess floor suitability and ensure your electrical grid can handle the load. Alternately, consider basement placement with dedicated outlets.

Leveling is a key player—both the tank and its stand must be perfectly balanced. Otherwise, uneven stress could spell trouble down the line. Don’t fret if your floor isn’t level; shims are a handy solution. However, if your floor slopes remarkably, scouting a different location is wise.

Lastly, factor in your household’s dynamics. Do rambunctious pets or curious kids roam around? Will your family tolerate any noise from the tank? You can certainly create a setup shielded from animals and noise, or even make it nearly soundless. Alternatively, consider dedicating a small room or basement to house your aquatic masterpiece. 🏞️🦀🐶

What is Your Budget?

Always keep a watchful eye on your budget—it’s your trusty guide through this journey. Some folks set firm spending limits, while others maintain a more adaptable approach.

In the realm of saltwater aquariums, most purchases are one-time or infrequent investments. As anticipated, larger tanks command heftier price tags, and the accompanying gear follows suit.

While initial gear expenses might seem daunting, remember they ensure long-term value. Plus, you need not acquire everything all at once! We’ve already tackled money-saving strategies in our first-week article—give it a look if you’re curious.

Ongoing costs, though modest, align with your tank’s size. Think electricity, water, nourishment for your fish or corals, and salt mix. Smaller and medium-sized setups might hardly register these expenses, but they certainly grow more pronounced in larger systems.

Last but not least, factor in the costs of corals, fish, rocks, and sand. Estimating coral and fish expenses might pose a challenge initially, so meticulous planning is key. If you’re still pondering, revisit our week two article where we delve into diverse saltwater aquarium styles and types. 🐠🌿💰

What are Your Aquarium Livestock Goals?

Expanding upon the previous point, meticulously outlining your aquarium’s inhabitants is paramount. We’ve emphasized the importance of compatibility—remember, not all fish, corals, and invertebrates play nicely together. Some seemingly small fish can rapidly outgrow their aquatic abode, while certain residents have stringent needs for food, lighting, or water conditions.

If you’re unsure, revisit our article and video from week two, where we delve into diverse saltwater aquarium styles and their requisites. This will serve as your compass, guiding you toward a preferred aesthetic or a well-defined roster of corals and fish.

Here’s the golden rule: meticulous research and planning. Accidental harm to your tank’s residents and unnecessary financial losses can be avoided by adopting this approach! 🌊🐟📚