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

It’s finally the 10th week of this saltwater aquarium journey and most of your gear has arrived! This is one of the most exciting weeks for any hobbyist, and in our excitement is when we are likely to forget some important basics. This week we are giving you a simple check-list of things to consider, check, and do with your brand new gear. Especially how to leak test and level your aquarium, as an aquarium failure can be devastating!

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Table of Contents

This Week's Video:

Things To Check When Your Gear Arrives

Is everything there?

We personally have practically never had any issues with missing gear or product, but mistakes happen! Especially if you ordered a lot of stuff at once, we suggest going through the packing list and your order receipt. Make sure you received everything and make sure it is the right model, etc. If something is missing, get in contact with the retailer as soon as possible to get the order correct. 

Check for damage

Once you are certain that you have all your gear, make sure to take it out of its packaging and make sure nothing is broken. Shipping issues sometimes happen, and some of our gear can be quite fragile, like aquariums and glass heaters. Usually it is pretty easy to tell if something is broken or potentially damaged, a big red flag being a damaged box. 

Take extra care to make sure your aquarium arrived in good condition. Look all over to check for scratches, chips, or damaged silicone. Even a small imperfection could develop into a large issue down the future, so don’t take any chances! 

Assemble everything

 Finally, get all your gear and assemble it if it needs to be. If there were any issues with the gear you missed in your first check, you might catch it while assembling the gear. The biggest thing you might need to assemble will be the aquarium stand. Usually it is relatively easy and will take you an hour or so, without needing any fancy tools. As well, some aquariums come with the stand pre-assembled. 

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Choosing The Right Spot For Your Aquarium

Once you assembled you aquarium stand and have the rest of your gear ready, you have to choose a good spot to place your aquarium in. Beyond aesthetic considerations of how well it fits in with the design of the room, there are some more technical things you should be aware of. Especially because moving an already setup aquarium is a huge hassle! 


When it comes to placing your aquariums close to windows, there are two things you need to consider.

Firstly, would the aquarium get a lot of sunlight? If so, its not a good idea to place your aquarium there as the extra light will cause a ton of nuisance algae growth. Also, the extra sunlight might cause hot spots, or just generally overheat your aquarium. Indirect sunlight or a period of sunlight for 1-2 hours is not a big deal, however any more than that, and we would suggest moving your saltwater aquarium elsewhere.

Secondly, if your windows are older and not very well insulated, they may let in too much cold or hot air throughout the seasons. Stability is the most important thing for a saltwater aquarium, so constantly dealing with changing temperatures will be detrimental. 


Unless you have an absolutely small aquarium, you should absolutely have a full outlet dedicated to the aquarium. Also, it is a good idea to have it close behind the aquarium so that you can hide all the wiring! 

Beyond aesthetics, our outlets are most likely either a 15 Amp (1800 Watt capacity) or 20 Amp (2400 Watt capacity). Until you get to bigger aquariums, you won’t have to worry about reaching the limit with your aquarium gear. However, if you plug in a toaster, fridge, or vacuum, you might just trip a breaker! 

If you have an old house or old wiring, consider calling an electrician to make sure your aquarium’s electricity needs can be safely met at your desired location. 

Heating and Cooling

Unless you live in paradise, you likely have central heating and cooling. Just like the points from the windows earlier, you don’t want your aquarium close to anything that releases significant heat or cold air. Simply because this will lead to temperature fluctuations and internal instability, especially in smaller aquariums. 

Aquarium Noise 

For some people the noise that an aquarium gives off is no big deal, we personally don’t even really notice it. However, other saltwater aquarium hobbyists will often put in extra effort and money just to make sure their aquariums make as little noise as possible. Now if you are sensitive to any sort of noise, then an easier option is to just put it in a room where it won’t bother you! 
Modern aquarium setup are all relatively quiet, and the TV or even simple things like talking to your family will drown out any noise it gives off. But, if you put it in your office or bedroom, and your prefer silence, then you might be disappointed by the consistent vibrations coming off the aquarium. Not a huge deal, but something to think of beforehand! 

Utility Room/Sink

The final thing to consider is how close your aquarium is to some sort of utility room or sink. This isn’t a must, but if you have a room or sink where you can get dirty, clean your gear, and pour out your old water, it certainly makes life easier to put your aquarium as close to that as possible. We put this last because it really isn’t all that important, it can just make the saltwater aquarium a tiny bit easier. 

Product Link: If you are looking to get any of this gear, use the following link to support us without any extra cost to you!

Leak Testing and Leveling the Aquarium

Aquarium Leak Testing Steps:

  1. Wipe the top of the stand and bottom of the aquarium to make sure any debris is gone.
  2. Place the aquarium on the stand or on a sturdy counter. If you place on a counter near a sink, it makes it easy for filling and emptying, but you will have to fill it up twice in order to level the tank.
  3. Fill the aquarium to the top with tap water, both the display and rear filtration chamber.
  4. Dry the outside outside of the aquarium thoroughly with a towel, do a couple rounds to make sure now drops from the filling up remain.
  5. Wait about 30 minutes and then check each seam (where the glass panels meet) closely both visually and with your hand. If you find any moisture, dry that area with a towel, wait another 30 minutes, and check again.  If it’s wet again, there’s likely a problem.
  6. Empty out the tap water using a siphon, dry with clean towel, and let the rest evaporate. 
  7. If you suspect a leak, contact Marine Depot, or whoever your retailer was, immediately for the next steps!

Aquarium Leveling Steps: 

  1. Again, clean the top of the stand and bottom of the aquarium to make sure no debris or other issues are present.
  2. Place the aquarium on the stand in the spot where you want you aquarium to stay forever! 
  3. Fill the aquarium ½ full with tap water, as this provides enough pressure to expose leveling issues but make it easier to work with rather than a full aquarium.
  4. Starting at the front of the aquarium, place level from left to right, and measure the level of the front, middle, and rear of the aquarium.
  5. Buy composite shims (plastic not wooden ones, as they resist water damage) and have around 3 shims available as you are working.
  6. With the ribbed side facing down, use a hammer to gently slide under stand, until the leveling issue is resolved. Be sure to do this slowly and check so that you don’t shove it in too far. 
  7. NOTE: Never place shims between the aquarium and stand!
  8. Once aquarium is level sideways, place the level on the left side of the aquarium from the front to back, and measure the left, middle, and right side.
  9. Repeat the same steps of using shims to correct any issues from front to back. Just be sure that one shim doesn’t slide into a previous shim under the stand from the sideways leveling, or you will likely have to start over.
  10. Once you finish both sides, check again to make sure you aquarium is level, maybe even fill it up more to be doubly sure. 
  11. In some cases you may have to double up shims from time to time.  If that is the case, you can just place on on top of the other.  If you struggle getting them under the stand, start with one shim, and then slide the second shim underneath the first shim using a hammer. (watch the video above for an example!)
  12. Fill up the aquarium all the way to the top, as well as the rear filtration chamber. 
  13. Check to make sure the leveling still holds and everything is still more or less good.
  14. Another important test is to gently shake the stand to make sure it is stable. If it is not, locate the problem, and place additional shims.
  15. To break a shim in order to finalize its spot, pull it straight up until it snaps. If you can’t get your fingers underneath the shim, try using something long and flat like a spatula or putty knife to help you get a grip.
  16. Drain the tap water and get ready to finally setup your saltwater aquarium!
  17. NOTE: Don’t bump into the aquarium or stand while it is empty as you may mess up the alignment and have to re-level the tank again!
  18. NOTE: The aquarium may “settle” in, especially if placed on carpet. Be sure to do a final level of the stand after the tank is completely full of water.

Product Link: If you are looking to get any of this gear, use the following link to support us without any extra cost to you!