Having a marine aquarium in your home is a delight. They’re pretty to look at and add nice decor to a room. However, saltwater fish tanks aren’t easy to care for, so check out our saltwater aquarium supplies list. 

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Before You Buy Anything For Your Saltwater Tank

Going to the pet shop and tossing items in your cart with little thought is straightforward. However, putting together a marine tank requires a lot of decisions.

First, you’ll want to think about which fish you want to add to your saltwater aquarium. Some species need more room than others, have varying temperaments, and have different lighting and water temperature needs.

You’ll need to choose species that live well together in the same environment.

Once you know that, figure out where you’ll put the tank. Then, clear the space in that room so you can place it there right away when you buy the supplies.

Now you should be ready to go to the pet store and buy your saltwater aquarium equipment.

Essential Saltwater Tank Items

Some items on this part of the list will be obvious, but it’s good to include everything, just in case. So, here are a few items you’ll want to buy first.

Aquarium Tank And Stand

Fish tanks come in many shapes and sizes. A rectangle is the best because it’s easy to place on any surface and maintain. However, other shapes, such as cylinders and hexagons, might be too tight-fitting for your fish.

Sizing also matters. Aquariums can range from about 2.5 gallons to more than 150 gallons. Depending on the fish species and your desired number, you’ll need an appropriate size. Remember, the bigger the tank, the better.

In addition, aquariums can be made of plastic, glass, or acrylic. There are better options than plastic. Glass or acrylic will be ideal. Both are sturdy, and acrylic is lightweight and unbreakable, so it’s safer around young kids and pets.

Finally, you’ll need an aquarium stand for the fish tank. You can put your tank on a dresser or table, but having a stand will be ideal.

A tank stand is strong enough to hold the aquarium and its many gallons of water. It’ll also have cabinets underneath for you to store your aquarium supplies.

The Best Saltwater Aquarium Supplies List: 11 Items You Need | PetSimplified.com


There are a variety of lighting options to choose from. For example, you can get reef lighting and specific lights for coral. LED lighting is popular and relatively less expensive than some other options.

Heater And Thermometer

To maintain a proper water temperature, you need a tank heater. For larger aquariums, you might need more than one heater. In addition, place a thermometer inside the tank.

RODI System

When filling your reef aquarium, you’ll probably use tap water. The problem with tap water is that it contains chemicals and metals that harm your fish and saltwater environment. Having a RODI system will help keep the tap water clean and healthy.

RODI system is a reverse osmosis filtration system that will remove contaminants in the tap water, such as chlorine, nitrates, and phosphates.

Filters And Protein Skimmers

Filters often cycle through the tank’s water using biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration. However, not every filter does all three. For saltwater tanks, the best filter options are canister filters, wet/dry trickle filters, or power filters. However, there are many other types of filters to choose from.

You don’t necessarily need a protein skimmer, depending on your filter type. However, it doesn’t hurt to have one.

A protein skimmer removes dissolved organic compounds (DOC) directly from the water before it goes through the biological filtration process. In a nutshell, it helps lighten the load for the filter. 

Powerheads (Or Wavemakers)

This item is ideal for helping provide more oxygen to the tank. It moves the water around to keep the flow going faster than an air stone does with bubbles. You may need more than one powerhead, depending on your aquarium size. 

Air Pumps And Air Stones

You can get these items if you have a piece of decor that requires them. However, air stones can cause salt creep. Since salt is corrosive, salt creep occurs when the bubbles splash outside the tank, causing salt crystals to stick to other surfaces, making a mess.

The Best Saltwater Aquarium Supplies List: 11 Items You Need | PetSimplified.com

Seasalt Mix And Hydrometer (Or Refractometer)

A reef aquarium is for species that inhabit the ocean or saltwater areas. What makes a marine tank a saltwater environment is the salt. Therefore, when setting up the aquarium with water, you must add the right amount of salt to help the environment and your fish thrive.

In addition, get a hydrometer, also known as a salinity tester. This item will help measure the salt inside the tank. You can also get a refractometer to do the job.

Substrate And Live Rock

For saltwater tanks, there are several substrates you can use. For example, there’s sand, crushed coral, and other types. Choose flooring for your tank that will work well with the decor and water flow. For instance, if you have a big water flow, you don’t want the sand to float around.

Live rock is also important to have. Most marine species are territorial. They’ll need places to rest and hide. So, plenty of live rock to help provide hiding spots and shade is ideal.

Test Kits, Additives, And Supplements

Like freshwater tanks, you must routinely test the water using marine testing strips. These tests will ensure the water is healthy and clean for your fish to live well.

Since your aquarium has live rock, you must keep those healthy. So, adding calcium (limewater or kalkwasser) will help. 

Other supplements might be needed. For example, if you have crustaceans in your tank, iodine must be on your list.

Fish Food

Once you have everything, you’ll need to feed your fish when you get them. Be sure to buy high-quality fish food appropriate for the species you plan to buy. 

The Best Saltwater Aquarium Supplies List: 11 Items You Need | PetSimplified.com

Maintenance Tools

Once your marine aquarium is set up, you must maintain and keep it clean. To do that, you’ll need the following items:

  • Siphon
  • Buckets
  • Fish nets
  • Algae Scrubber

Add Fish And Enjoy

Once you have everything you need, you can set up the tank. Give it a few weeks to establish, and then you can add fish. Slowly add three to five fish to allow them time to acclimate. Over time, you’ll have a beautiful saltwater aquarium.

The Best Saltwater Aquarium Supplies List: 11 Items You Need | PetSimplified.com
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