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Fish tanks aren’t generally manufactured specifically for freshwater or saltwater species. The only exceptions would be custom acrylic tanks equipped with sumps and compartments that aquarium installers market for reef tanks. However, you should be able to convert a tank previously used as a freshwater habitat into a saltwater ecosystem as long as it can hold at least 30 gallons of water. Fishbowls and other small tanks used to keep a single Betta male, for example, would be out of the question. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to tanks for saltwater environments.
Nano Marine Aquariums
In the saltwater fish keeping hobby, tanks smaller than 30 gallons are called nano aquariums, and they require a considerable amount of care. Nano saltwater tanks can be as small as five gallons for a couple of marble shrimp with a single plant, but these are specialty ecosystems that aren’t recommended for beginners.
Why Saltwater Tanks Must Be Larger
Bigger is always better when it comes to enclosed aquatic ecosystems. The reason saltwater tanks should start at 30 gallons is because trying to maintain water quality in smaller containers could become more challenging. Nano tanks require constant monitoring of water chemistry levels and very frequent water changes. If you have enough space and a sturdy cabinet or platform that can support a saltwater tank larger than 30 gallons, you should strongly consider one. This is why aquarium shops often recommend 40 or 50 gallon saltwater tanks to beginners. It’s not a matter of selling a more expensive item or more saltwater aquarium supplies. A greater water volume allows for stability of water quality and for you to catch water quality mistakes before they become problematic.
Cube and Square-Shaped Saltwater Tanks
A popular tank size in the reef aquarium hobby is one with a length of 24” to 36” and a front to back measurement over 12”. These aquariums are easy to aquascape and allow for standard sized LED lighting. Of course, a protein skimmer is a must, and a space-saving internal protein skimmer is the most popular choice, like the Tunze 9001”
Converting a Freshwater Tank into a Marine Habitat
Quite a few aquarists start off with freshwater tanks they later convert into saltwater ecosystems. A lot of the existing equipment can be used to establish the new marine habitat—for example, the air pump, lighting system, thermometer, heater, and substrate. Just allow for a larger biological filter for fish-only saltwater aquariums. Getting the hang of conditioning the water for salinity, pH, and mineral content in marine aquariums is more involved, but it can also be as easy as following the steps of a recipe. You should also be prepared to increase the budget you allocate to the aquarist hobby. Everything from the chemicals to the food you need to keep saltwater species healthy and happy will cost a bit more.
Whatever you need to properly maintain your saltwater aquarium can be found at Aquatic Warehouse, whether it’s the tank itself, an aquarium temperature controller, a filtration system, nutritious food for your fish, or any other essential supply. Stop by our store located in Kearny Mesa, or order your supplies from our website and have them shipped directly to you. If you have any questions, call us at 858-467-9297 to speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives.