Aquarium Store Pond Store Solutions Index Previous Solution Next Solution

6. 55 Gallon Reef Tank
Reef tanks should be filled with live rock and the focus and excitement will be on the corals and invertebrates, not the fish. Smaller numbers of less aggressive fish that won’t feed on the corals are kept in these systems. Do not heavily load these systems with fish but make sure you have algae eaters - either fish or invertebrates. This solution lists the recommended supplies and equipment for setting up and maintaining the perfect 55-gallon reef tank.

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 such as All Glass Aquarium Inc. or Oceanic.

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. Glas tops are not needed on rimless tanks or tanks with canopies.

Standard lighting fixtures will not do. Use one of the
Hagen T-5 HO light fixtures. If you plan on keeping some of harder to keep hard corals or if you plan to keep any type of coral, choose the double row Aquatic Life 4-Lamp T5 HO & Lunar Fixture. Also consider high quality Marquis fixtures from Aquatic Life. Kessil manufactures very high quality LED fixtures specifically for growing corals.

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.

Filter Selection
This system requires advanced protein skimming and added circulation. Skimmers should be considered mandatory in these systems. The tendency to put too many fish in a reef system is another reason for protein skimming.
R-100 3rd Generation Refugium
The 3rd Generation Refugium features innovative design with dual water channel for an enhanced natural aquarium filtration. It features two separate water chambers, one for the refugium and one for skimmer chamber. This unique design enables the water travel through each compartment separately after entering the sump. The advantage of having two separated water channels is the undissolved organic waste can be removed by a protein skimmer, while having a completely separated refugium compartment that allows macro-algae to uptake ammonia, nitrates, and other unwanted nutrients. With Eshopps unique Channel Design (ECD, Patent Pending), you will have a natural filtration system which helps reduce problems of overgrown algae or cyanobacteria. For tanks up to 125 gallons.

Protein Skimmer

Protein skimmers. while not mandatory on a fish-only system, are considered one of two options on the “ultimate” system. Because of the maintenance required, they are not for every system, however, they are beneficial to any system. Protein skimmers remove proteins and waste aiding in algae and water quality control while lessening the need for carbon in fish-only systems. Remember, all skimmers require cleaning and regular checking.

View All Protein Skimmers

Syncra 4.0 Aquarium Pump 12.5ft Head 951gph

1 threaded
Use hose size: 25mm x 32mm
Use hose size: 1 up to 1-1/4

3/4 threaded
Use hose size: 21mm x 26.5mm
Use hose size: 3/4 up to 1

View All SICCE Syncra Pumps

Pump for Additional Current
Added flow is always recommended in a reef setup. Use a SICCE Voyager, or consider the Xstream E Variable Wave Pump Powerhead.

• 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. Another quality hydrometer is the Ammonite 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.

• Refractometer
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 Floating Thermometer with Suction Cup.


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.

See All Test Kits
See All Controllers & Monitors

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.

See All Test Kits
See All Controllers & Monitors

Further Reading:

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

© 2017 Aquarium Connection
all rights reserved