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2. The Ultimate 55 Gallon Marine Fish Tank
The following guidelines and product selections will help you successfully create a "fish only" or fish and non-light-sensitive invertebrate aquarium. The guidelines and product selections are applicable to tanks from 20 gallons up to 55 gallon. When considering a saltwater aquarium, always remember the price of added filtration will easily pay for itself in fewer fish losses and less labor to keep the aquarium clean. In some cases, the recommendations include a second option. Since every aquarium is placed somewhere different and physical space limitations may be a factor, other viable choices appear for specific purposes where applicable.

Choose one from a local dealer where you'll buy fish. Since this is the vessel that keeps your your fish alive and your spouse from killing you for damaging the floors, be willing to pay a little more for a quality name brand. Buy "Reef Ready" or drilled tanks if possible.

Hood/Lighted Hood
Only purchase an aquarium with a glass top. Plastic hoods are not acceptable for saltwater setups. Plastic hoods limit the ability to add extra lighting and do not prevent "saltwater creep" from causing a mess. Standard lighting fixtures are acceptable but opt for higher quality lamps such as the Marquis fixtures by Aquatic Life . These great fixtures are available in configurations bright enough to keep corals and they look great.

Stand or Cabinet
Make sure the cabinet is properly constructed for handling up to 10lbs per gallon of water. If something other than an aquarium stand is used, it should be able to support the weight and hold the entire rim of the aquarium bottom level with no spaces between the rim and the support.

Eshopps WD-75CS Wet Dry Filter (Filter and Overflow Box)
Eshopps' compact wet-dry filters fit comfortably in sumps without taking much space. The smart, easy-access sump allows for convenient installation of the return pump. The wet-dry drip tray filter provides efficient biological filtration to process toxic ammonia and nitrite. Includes overflow box, bio balls, drip tray and cover, egg crate, filter pad, return nozzle with vinyl tubing, 1 bulkhead, and 3 ft. x 1-1/4 flex hose.

For drilled aquariums:
EshoppsWD-75CS Wet Dry Filter
*Does not include overflow box
Eshopps' compact wet-dry filters fit comfortably in sumps without taking much space. The smart, easy-access sump allows for convenient installation of the return pump. The wet-dry drip tray filter provides efficient biological filtration to process toxic ammonia and nitrite. Includes bio balls, drip tray and cover, egg crate, filter pad, return nozzle with vinyl tubing, 1 bulkhead, and 3 ft. x 1-1/4 flex hose.

Syncra Silent 2.0 Pump, 568gph

Syncra Pumps give you great energy savings, quiet operation, ergonomic design, powerful performance, resistance to harsh conditions, and they are reliable.

Syncra Silent, with its innovative technology, is versatile with a range uses. It is an ideal pump for fresh and salt water aquariums, protein skimmers, calcium reactors, indoor & outdoor fountains, water-cooling and all submersible and inline applications which require high performance and total silence.

Why a trickle filter?
As with any size system, filtration is the most critical component. Adequate filtration means the difference between a healthy thriving system and disaster or frustration and disappointment. Good mechanical and biological filtration maintains good oxygen levels and keeps harmful fish waste and other decaying debris from polluting the water and killing fish. Trickle filters, because of their size and expanded biological surface area, perform these tasks better than any other form of filtration and should always be considered the first choice. Trickle filters are more reliable and easier to maintain. Since there are no costly cartridges to replace, trickle filters are also more cost effective to operate.

Protein Skimmer
The Eshopps PSK-75H•Hang-On Protein Skimmer combines performance and easy installation. Eshopps protein skimmers are designed with simplicity in mind to satisfy the skimming needs of saltwater aquarium hobbyists. The included pump features a needle-wheel impeller that vigorously mixes air and water to create a flurry of waste-removing bubbles. The PSK-75H will improve water quality and oxygen levels in saltwater aquariums. The removable collection cup allows convenient skimmer maintenance and disposal of collected waste material. The adjustment knob fine-tunes water level within the protein skimmer reaction chamber for optimal performance. Quality acrylic construction.

Diameter: 3"
Height: 23"
Footprints: 7 x 6"
Usage: up to 75gal tank

All hang-on skimmers include followings:
• mesh-wheel impeller
• removable collection cup
• buble plate

UV Sterilizer
The second of the two options for the "ultimate system" is a Ultraviolet Sterilizer. These units kill unwanted bacteria and parasitic pathogens thus reducing the chances of disease outbreaks or spreads. No store central systems go without them and that speaks for itself. Like protein skimmers, UV's can be added at any time. Advantage UV 2000 8w are compact and well designed.
See All UV Sterilizers

• Hydrometer
This important instrument is used to measure the salt concentration (salinity or specific gravity) of the aquarium water. A good economical and accurate choice is the Fluval Sea Hydrometer.

  • Synthetic Sea Salt
Vibrant Sea Salt Mix, 60# box - Vibrant Sea is a highly concentrated blend of salts formulated for marine and reef aquariums that contains all essential major, minor, and trace components found in natural seawaters, plus the added advantage of enhanced potassium levels. Its formulation is ideal for the reef environment and will provide accurate seawater concentrations of magnesium, calcium, and strontium with proper alkalinity and pH for closed reef aquarium systems. Vibrant Sea is an anhydrous salt, which allows for unparalleled uniformity from batch to batch as well as the ability to produce more saltwater from less salt.

For saltwater enthusiasts with an interest in a more precise and sophisticated instrument to measure salinity, the AquaLife Refractometer with automatic temperature compensation is a consideration.

• Substrate
20lbs Choose a CaribSea product. Natural, calcium based substrates are best for saltwater aquariums. A good rule of thumb is 1lb of substrate per gallon of water.

• Heater
Fluval E 200watt Electronic Heater
• Always add a high quality dechlorinator anytime tap water is added to the tank. AquaLife Complete is an excellent product that not only dechlorinates but adds important elements to maintain slime coat integrity and reduce stress. AquaLife Complete also detoxifies chloramines if they are present.

• Algae Scrubber
AquaBlade Scraper for glass
MagFloat 30 for glass

MagFloat also makes cleaners for acrylic tanks.
• Starting Bacteria Culture
Use Activate Saltwater. Seeded biological media is sometimes available to speed up the cycling process. Super Porous Filter Media is an excellent media for this purpose.

• Fish Net
Hagen 8" Net with 12" handle
• Thermometer
Hagen Thermometer, Floating


The filters shown above have room for placement of two revolutionary chemical media, Chemi-Pure and Polyfilters - both of these media should be used in a saltwater tank of this size to ensure success.

• Never underestimate the importance of water testing. Fish trapped in water with even small amounts of ammonia and nitrite can die within hours. Water test on a regular basis and be prepared to act quickly is something goes wrong. A Saltwater Master Test Kit contains accurate testing supplies for pH, ammonia and nitrite.
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• Fish Food
Nutrition is second only to filtration in importance. Saltwater fish should be fed 80% frozen foods since these foods most closely match their natural diet.

• Do not overfeed the fish. Feed fish only what they will eat in two to three minutes 1-2 times per day. Vary the diet. Different types of frozen foods from
Ocean Nutrition and San Francisco Bay with VitaChem dripped on them combined with occasional feedings of SERA foods will ensure the health, longevity and color of your fish. It is important to try and duplicate the foods eaten in the wild.

AquaLife CSPro Flake and Stick Foods
Formulated from the best ingredients, and fortified with vitamins and probiotics, CS PRO foods offer a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids [eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] together with astaxanthin, for healthy growth and maximum coloration. Plus, every batch is packed with a triple dose of immune-boosting vitamins.
• All-in-one formulation: complete nutrition, omega-3s, and vitamins
• Great for all fish, both freshwater and saltwater
• Rich in color-enhancing astaxanthin
• Scientifically formulated in line with the latest research
• Highly digestible, all-natural ingredients with NO preservatives
• Will not cloud water

• Do a 25% water change monthly or a 10% water change twice a month. Remember to dechlorinate the water and adjust it to the same temperature as the aquarium water.

• The pH should be 8.2 High quality salt such as
Fritz RPM has added buffers and with proper water changes, pH should be stable. Aquavitro Salinity is sold only at local authorized dealers, like our local store. For other high quality salts available online, see Vibrant Sea Salt Mix . However, if water changes are being done and pH is a problem, use Marine Buffer by SeaChem. Further information is available on water parameters in the Log Sheet section.

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Further Reading:
9. Mixing Saltwater
11. Supplements & Additives
12. Understanding the Nitrogen Cycle

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