Week 10. What To Do When Your Saltwater Gear Arrives!

Updated 2023

Reaching the 10th Week of Your Saltwater Aquarium Journey

Congratulations, you’ve hit the 10th week of your saltwater aquarium journey, and your gear has finally started arriving! This week marks a thrilling milestone for any hobbyist. Amid the excitement, it’s easy to overlook essential basics. To ensure a smooth transition, we’re providing you with a straightforward checklist to guide you through the process of inspecting, evaluating, and setting up your brand new gear. In particular, we’ll delve into crucial steps like leak testing and achieving proper aquarium leveling. Remember, the precautionary measures you take now can prevent potential setbacks down the line, as a failure in your aquarium setup can be quite disheartening. Stay vigilant and enjoy this pivotal phase of your journey!

This Week's Video:

Things To Check When Your Gear Arrives

Verifying Your Equipment

While we’ve rarely encountered missing gear or product issues, oversights can occur, especially with larger orders. If you’ve acquired an array of items, it’s prudent to meticulously cross-reference the packing list with your order receipt. Confirm the presence of each item, and ensure that it matches the intended model. Should you find something amiss, promptly reach out to the retailer to rectify the situation.

Inspect for Potential Damage

Once you’re assured of having all your gear, meticulously unpack each item and scrutinize it for any signs of damage. Shipping mishaps are not unheard of, and given the fragility of certain items – such as aquariums and glass heaters – it’s crucial to be thorough. Obvious indicators of damage include compromised packaging or any visible breakage. Take particular care in evaluating your aquarium’s condition. Examine it closely for scratches, chips, or damaged silicone. Even minor imperfections can escalate into major concerns over time, so it’s essential not to overlook any potential issues.

Assembling Your Gear

With the verification and damage assessment completed, proceed to assemble your gear if necessary. As you assemble, any issues that may have evaded your initial check could come to light. The most substantial assembly task may involve the aquarium stand. Typically, this process is straightforward, often requiring around an hour and standard tools. Some aquariums might even arrive with the stand pre-assembled, simplifying this step.

Choosing The Right Spot For Your Aquarium

Now that you’ve successfully assembled your aquarium stand and gathered the remaining gear, it’s time to select the optimal placement for your aquarium. While aesthetic harmony with your room’s design is crucial, there are technical considerations that deserve attention to ensure a successful setup. After all, relocating a fully set up aquarium can be an enormous undertaking.


Placing your aquarium near windows necessitates careful consideration of two key factors.

Firstly, assess the amount of sunlight the aquarium will receive. Excessive sunlight can trigger troublesome algae growth and lead to overheating. While brief periods of indirect sunlight are generally acceptable, prolonged exposure may necessitate repositioning your saltwater aquarium.

Secondly, older or poorly insulated windows may allow rapid temperature fluctuations, compromising the stability vital to your aquarium’s inhabitants.

Electrical Outlets

For anything other than a petite aquarium, dedicating a dedicated outlet for the aquarium is paramount. Placing the outlet discreetly behind the aquarium allows for effective cable management.

Be mindful of your outlet’s capacity – typically 15 Amp (1800 Watt) or 20 Amp (2400 Watt). Smaller aquariums won’t usually approach these limits, but high-power devices like toasters or vacuums could trip the circuit breaker. In older homes with outdated wiring, consulting an electrician to ensure adequate electrical support at the chosen spot is advisable.

Heating and Cooling

Given the prevalence of central heating and cooling, proximity to sources of significant heat or cold is inadvisable. Such placement can result in temperature fluctuations, particularly detrimental to smaller aquariums.

Aquarium Noise

The auditory output of an aquarium varies in impact from person to person. While some find it negligible, others invest extra effort and resources to minimize noise. If noise sensitivity is a concern, situating the aquarium in a quieter room is a straightforward solution. Modern aquarium setups are generally quiet, but if placed in a bedroom or office, discernible vibrations could affect those who prefer silence.

Utility Room/Sink Proximity

While not essential, placing your aquarium close to a utility room or sink can greatly simplify maintenance. Having a designated space for cleaning equipment and discarding water can streamline aquarium care. Although this aspect isn’t paramount, it can certainly enhance the convenience of managing your saltwater aquarium.

Leak Testing and Leveling the Aquarium

Testing for Leaks in Your Aquarium:

  1. Begin by wiping clean the top of the stand and the bottom of the aquarium to ensure there is no debris.
  2. Place the aquarium on the stand or a sturdy counter. Opt for a counter near a sink if you want easy access for filling and emptying, but keep in mind you’ll need to fill it twice to level the tank.
  3. Fill the aquarium to the brim with tap water, including both the display and rear filtration chamber.
  4. Thoroughly dry the exterior of the aquarium with a towel, repeating the process to ensure no residual water remains from filling.
  5. Wait approximately 30 minutes, then closely examine each seam where the glass panels meet. Check visually and by touch. If you detect any moisture, dry the area with a towel, wait another 30 minutes, and check again. If it remains wet, there may be a problem.
  6. Use a siphon to empty the tap water, dry with a clean towel, and allow any remaining water to evaporate.
  7. If you suspect a leak, immediately contact Marine Depot or your retailer for further guidance.

Leveling Your Aquarium:

  1. Clean the top of the stand and bottom of the aquarium to ensure no debris or issues are present.
  2. Place the aquarium on the stand in its permanent location.
  3. Fill the aquarium halfway with tap water; this provides adequate pressure to reveal leveling issues while making it more manageable.
  4. Position a level from left to right at the front of the aquarium, measuring the level at the front, middle, and rear.
  5. Obtain composite shims (plastic, not wooden) and have about 3 on hand.
  6. With the ribbed side facing down, gently slide a shim under the stand until the leveling issue is corrected. Proceed slowly to avoid overadjusting.
  7. Do not place shims between the aquarium and the stand.
  8. Check for levelness from left to right. Then, place the level from front to back on the left side and measure the left, middle, and right sides.
  9. Repeat the shim-adjustment process from front to back, ensuring that shims do not slide into one another.
  10. Verify levelness, possibly by adding more water to the aquarium.
  11. If needed, double up shims by placing one on top of another. If inserting them proves challenging, insert one shim and then slide the second underneath it using a hammer.
  12. Fill the aquarium and rear filtration chamber to the top.
  13. Confirm levelness and stability; gently shake the stand to check its stability.
  14. To finalize the shims’ position, snap a shim by pulling it straight up. If needed, use a flat tool like a spatula or putty knife.
  15. Drain the tap water and prepare for the final setup of your saltwater aquarium.

Note: Avoid bumping the aquarium or stand while empty, as it may disrupt alignment and necessitate re-leveling. Additionally, the aquarium might “settle,” particularly if placed on carpet. Conduct a final leveling of the stand after the tank is fully filled with water.

One of my DIY quarantine tanks from the earlier days!

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