This is a question that gets asked very often on here! And all though I am sure the members of TFC are more than happy to give you as much help as they can, this question is a very hard one to answer, so I thought I would start this thread just to point you in the right direction.
Before you go any further, you have to decide what type of setup you want! Do you want a full reef tank with fish, corals and inverts, or do you just want a plain tank with some nice fish in it?
They are your to main options at this stage, fish only or Reef? In my honest opinion, one isnít any less work than the other. If you are looking for something that isnít too much work or doesnít take much looking after then you should be looking at a different hobby.
Well now I have got that bit out of the way I will try to give a quick answer to the question.
I will start with fish only:-
Well if you have decided that you will try to keep the costís down a little bit so you will try to avoid all that expensive kit and only keep fish, you now have to decide weather you want a fish only tank that uses live rock for the filtration or one that will use external filters for the filtration.
The first thing you will need for either option is a book! First you will need to know what water conditions tropical marine fish need to live. Once you understand that and are sure you can give the fish what they need you then need to get the equipment which would consist of
A tank, I donít think anyone would recommend anything smaller than a 30gallon tank with most people saying you should start with at least 40+ gallons
You then need a hydrometer, this is used to check how much salt is in the water (the waterís S.G.)
Lighting, well you want to be able to see your fish so you need lightís. for a fish only system lighting isnít all that important. Myself, I would recommend at least 2 tubes the full length of the tank with 1 blue tube (actinic) and one white tube with the correct rating for marine fish (10000K Ė 20000K is a good choice)
Now you need a filter! You have 2 choices here.
a) use a nice big external filter
b) Use live rock to filter the tank
If you have decided to use live rock then you will need the correct water flow in the tank so the live rock will work, a good starting point for water flow is to aim for the tank water to be turned over (moved about) 20 times every hour so if your tank holds 200 litres of water you would need power heads adding up to 4000 lph
Think it goís without saying that you will need a heater, and Iím sure you know what this is for
I would also recommend, whatever type of setup you go for, that you use a protein skimmer. There are lots of different types, makes and models available so ask on the forum for more info.
You will also need test kits and you should have at least ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and PH.
Well that is the very basic equipment you will need to keep a fish only system.
So you want a reef tank do you!
Well the basic idea is the same as a fish only system with the exception that you should only use the live rock option for your filtration. You must have a protein skimmer and you need much better lighting!
Again IMHO for a reef tank you should have at least 4x T5 lights the full length of the tank. There are a few people that may disagree with that, but I honestly believe that if they upgraded there lighting they would see much better colouration and growth of there corals.
You would also need better water conditionís for a reef tank, there for you would need to be testing for a few other things like phosphate and alk just to name a couple.
Well that is a very basic list of the equipment you will need to set up a marine tank.
There is a more detailed page here :-
which I would advise you go and read now you have finished reading this, then if there is any other info you need, please ask away!
Another good place to look for ideas is the members tanks area, most give a list of the equipment they use and there are some great tanks to get ideas off
You can view this area here:-