Sunday, February 25th, 2018

The Simple Guide to Marine Aquariums


Starting a saltwater fish tank is one of those undertakings that many aquarists consider on and off for a few years before jumping in to this challenging, but very rewarding, phase of fish keeping. Done properly, a marine aquarium can be the highlight of your house – a carefully planned and painstakingly maintained ecosystem bursting with life and dazzling colors unmatched by any freshwater aquarium.

But setting up a marine tank can be a daunting task – between your decision to begin your saltwater adventure and your completed aquarium is a formidable landscape of high-tech sounding equipment and scientific terms. Add to the mixture the expense of saltwater fish, live rock, invertebrates and all that equipment, and you have the potential to sink a lot of money into what may ultimately end up a stinky mess.

Before you start down this road, you need to be sure to learn about everything you don’t know today. And a great starter book is The Simple Guide to Marine Aquariums. First published in 2002, this all-new second edition is a major revision to this bestselling guide, and features a brand new introduction addressing the rapid evolution in the marine hobby, plus an additional new chapter reviewing unusual and interesting saltwater setups and specimens.

The author, Jeff Kurtz, has been involved in the aquarium hobby for over 20 years, and a regular contributor to Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine. He is also the writer/publications coordinator for The Toledo Zoo.

As with The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums, this book is broken out into Four sections to walk you through the process of starting your Saltwater fish tank. A new layout and design makes the content easy to access and understand, while the updated full-color photographs help illustrate the stunning beauty of marine aquaria.

Part One- Getting into Marines
The author sets the table quite appropriately in this first section by describing the many benefits and challenges of starting and maintaining your saltwater aquarium, including reviewing equipment that can be reused from your freshwater setup, and discussing the reality behind why saltwater fishkeeping is much more expensive than its freshwater counterpart.

Part Two – Getting Started
This section introduces you to the basics of the setting up your saltwater aquarium, ranging from

  • Choosing your fish tank and aquarium stand
  • Selecting your heater
  • Reviewing the different types of marine lighting
  • Describing the importance of water quality and different types of mechanical filtration, biological filtration and chemical filtration
  • Introducing the protein skimmer
  • Describing how Live Rock may have a place in your aquarium
  • Emphasizing the importance of regular water changes in the marine aquarium
  • Setting up the aquarium, including rockwork, water filtration, and mixing your salt water
  • Cycling the fish tank
  • Testing your water
  • Part Three – Stocking your Saltwater Aquarium
    I personally enjoy the exercise of setting up the tank and making sure the foundation is properly set. But the fun really begins once you can start to populate your tank with real living inhabitants. This section is a great overview of the types of marine animals you can keep in your new saltwater setup, including:

  • Choosing the type of marine aquarium you want to keep
  • Selecting invertebrates for the Mini-Reef
  • A review of great begginer saltwater fish (damsels, clownfish, dwarf angels and the yellow tang)
  • Saltwater fish to avoid
  • Sessile invertebrates for beginners (soft corals, polyps and mushrooms)
  • Sessile invertebrates for advanced reefkeepers (stony corals, bivalves and anemones)
  • Motile invertebrates (including shrimp, crabs and snails)
  • Part Four – Care and Feeding

  • How much and how often to feed
  • Feeding your invertebrates
  • Feeding crustaceans
  • Aquarium health care and maintenance
  • Saltwater aquarium maintenance for the long term
  • After you finish The Simple Guide to Marine Aquariums, you should have a very good understanding of the basics of getting started with your new saltwater hobby. If you are an experienced freshwater aquarist, you should be able to step in to saltwater with confidence, as many of the basic lessons of saltwater fishkeeping are better learned in a freshwater environment – if for cost alone. If you are new to fishkeeping, or have been away from it a while, I would personally recommend focusing on a fish-only saltwater setup, and avoid the Mini-reef which this book does make sound very simple.

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