Starting a reef tank can be so exciting and a little daunting if you don't know where to begin. At Bulkreefsupply.com we make reefing fun and easy, so for those new to reefing we thought we would show you how to easily set up a 20 gallon saltwater aquarium and we created a kit with everything you need.
Step 1: Setting up the Tank
I’m going to use this new tank kit which includes a 20 gallon Nuvo tank from Innovative Marine but you could apply the information in this video to basically any similar sized tank, especially those in the Nuvo lines which are designed around making things easy for newer reefers and attractive at the same time. The tank is a sleek design, easily sets up and comes with LED lights, overflow and filtration columns on the back. Place the aquarium on a sturdy table or countertop. Adding the rock is completely up to personal preference but try to stack the rock so that it is a few inches away from the top and sides of the tank. Pour in your sand and evenly spread it around the rock and bottom of the tank.
Step 2: Mixing Saltwater
Mixing the salt water is easy. Rubbermaid Brute brand trash cans are the most common reef safe containers used to mix saltwater in. Just add the salt to the water and look through the included tool called a refractometer to measure the salinity. The scale inside measures salt in parts per thousand or specific gravity. More or less just dissolve the salt, add a few drops of water to the window, close, wait 20 seconds or so and look through the eye piece. It should read 35ppt or 1.026. Once you have the correct salinity use the included dechlorinator to make the water safe for the tank.
Step 3: Get Familiar with the Back of the Tank
While you are waiting for the salt to dissolve, take a moment to check all the tubing connections on the pump and get familiar with the back of the tank. This area in the back is used to house equipment like pumps, filters and heaters where they are out of the way. Go ahead and mount the heater, make sure it is placed fairly low so it will stay submerged at all times. Once you have everything situated pour your mixed saltwater and plug everything in. Since we are dealing with water the ideal outlet has a GFI like one you would find in a bathroom or kitchen or a power strip with a GFI built in.
Step 4: Install your Lights
The Fusion 20 comes with two LED lights that easily attach. That's it.
Step 5: Cycle your Tank
Cycling your tank allows beneficial bacteria to multiply. We've included our Reef Saver rock in this kit, which is 100% free of nuisance algae and pest organisms, and greatly reduces the time it takes for your tank to cycle. Let the tank sit overnight and heat up. The next morning add the Bio-Spira, this will make your tank ready for your first fish. We recommend a hardy fish like a clownfish. Then give your tank a month stabilize with the lights off before adding anything new. Keeping the lights off will help reduce algae growth that are common with new tanks. As a general rule, it is wise to never more than double your fish load in a single month meaning next month add another fish and possibly two the month after.
Step 6: Choose your Tank Inhabitants
Choose fish that will help you be successful: clownfish, purple or red fire fish, shrimp and goby pairs, lawnmower or midas blennys or an orchid dotty back.
Once the tank is stabilized around your fish population,you can add snails, crabs and shrimp. Nassarious and astria snails are popular as well as small hermits, emerald crabs, cleaner shrimp, peppermint shrimp and pistol shrimp.
The LED lights that come with the aquarium are strong enough to keep some low light corals, as a beginner is also wise to select some that don't require much effort like soft or even some LPS corals. Zoanthids, mushrooms, ricordea, polyps, candy canes, duncan, torch and frog spawn.
Step 7: Tank Maintenance
It is wise to feed the fish only a small amount. Overfeeding can easily pollute the tank and cause algae growth. Due to evaporation, you will need to top off the tank with freshwater every couple of days. We recommend distilled or reverse osmosis water. Keeping the glass clean with a glass cleaner and performing a partial water change - say, 5 gallons every other week.
Step 8: Enjoy Your New Saltwater Aquarium!