This page contains affiliate links.  All that means for you is that if you click on one of my links and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.  This helps me keep this content 100% free!  But rest assured, I only recommend products I know and trust! Happy Reefing!

Week 16. How To Add Sand, Saltwater, & Filtration!

Updated 2023

Throughout the past 16 weeks, we’ve delved into a multitude of aspects concerning your saltwater aquarium, encompassing a wide array of essential gear. Yet, with this abundance of equipment, along with elements like sand, saltwater, and rocks, you might be wondering how to bring it all together seamlessly. Amidst the various methodologies and approaches to setting up, allow us to present our recommended method—a route that is not only efficient but also minimizes potential issues. However, please note that this guide is designed to provide you with a concise overview; for a more comprehensive understanding of filtration, stay tuned for an upcoming week where we’ll delve deeper into the subject. For a visual demonstration, be sure to watch the video below as well!

This Week's Video:

Step-by-Step Instructions

Incorporating the Aquascape/Reef Rocks:

Begin by crafting your aquascape outside the confines of the aquarium. Once it’s crafted to your liking, carefully position it on the aquarium glass. This approach provides a stable foundation for the rocks.

Introducing the Sand:

Use a generous cup or even your hands to distribute the sand evenly around the aquascape. Keep in mind that the sand will naturally settle more once water is added, so you need not fuss too much during this step.

Adding the Saltwater:

Arguably the most pivotal step in sidestepping a massive dust storm within your aquarium. Numerous techniques can achieve this, including a gradual water addition. Alternatively, you can use a colander and/or a plastic bag to pour water gently onto the setup.

Incorporating Mechanical Filtration:

Prior to activating your pumps, insert your chosen filter sock or sponge. This precaution ensures that any residual sand dust is caught, ultimately clarifying your aquarium. Additionally, this practice safeguards your pumps and equipment from potentially harmful dust particles.

Arranging the Heater:

A straightforward task involves placing the heater in your sump, rear filtration compartment, or within the aquarium itself. Concealing it from view is preferable, while also ensuring that it resides in an area with adequate water flow. Equally important, confirm that the heater is properly calibrated and maintaining your desired temperature.

Installing the Return Pump:

Your specific model will dictate the setup of the return pump, so adhere to the accompanying manual. However, essential to this process is ensuring that the pump is appropriately connected to the return plumbing.

Setting Up the Auto Top Off (ATO):

Much like the return pump, the ATO setup varies based on the model, so adhere to the provided instructions. Remember to procure an appropriately sized water container for the ATO, tailored to your aquarium’s dimensions. While a basic 5-gallon bucket is a reliable choice, more sophisticated options are available.

Additional Insights:

Once your setup is operational, conduct a thorough assessment of all components. Verify that there are no leaks and exercise caution by refraining from activating your skimmer, UV sterilizer, or lights during the cycling phase.