How to Build a Reef Aquarium

By Charles Hopkins Published 08/8/2006 | Fishing and Boating

Along with the tropical aquarium, the reef aquarium is one of the most beautiful types of fish tank you can possible make. Unfortunately, unlike the tropical tank, a reef aquarium requires much more time, patience and practice if you want to get everything exactly right. Keeping that in mind, when you go to build your first reef aquarium, do not expect it to be an easy task, as these tanks require far more input than other types of aquariums if you want positive results. Many people find that such aquariums are some of the hardest and most difficult projects they have ever undertaken so do not be alarmed if everything does not turn out exactly right the first try or the second even. Nevertheless, building and maintaining a reef aquarium has been described by many people as one of the most relaxing hobbies on the planet so long as you spend the time to make sure everything is running smoothly. If you feel that you cannot dedicate yourself to a reef aquarium, then perhaps you should stick with other types of simpler projects before you delve into something as involved as a reef based fish tank.

The first step to building a reef aquarium, and any other fish tank for that matter, is to find the proper size and placement for your tank. Generally reef aquariums require a larger tank, so keep that in mind in deciding where you want your tank to go. Although the vast majority chooses to place their tanks in cabinets, some have mounted them directly into the walls, which is actually an excellent idea if you have a tank that is massive in size and you do not want to risk accidental destruction of your cabinet and tank. Furthermore, larger tanks require much more equipment than other types of fish tanks, so take into consideration where you will run the required pipes and tubes if you are unable to store all of the necessary equipment underneath the tank in a cabinet.

While what you choose to put into your tank is completely your own decision, there are a few simple rules to follow. Make sure that everything is compatible with everything else, as there is nothing worse than spending hundreds of dollars on fish and anemones only to watch them all die after a week or so. Therefore, it is very important that you make absolutely sure that everything will be able to live in harmony with everything else. Because there is no definite set of plants, vertebrates and invertebrates that will work together, it impossible to come up with a perfect combination of plants and animals, but you should focus on plants and invertebrates that produce things which the vertebrates need and have fish produce products that the invertebrates and plants need to survive.

As far as necessary equipment goes, you do not want to cheap out on your supplies if you want to build a beautiful reef aquarium. Such ecosystems are completely reliant on what types of machinery you have to remove algae, keep the water full of gases and what you use to measure the pH of the system. If anything fails you could risk losing your entire investment in a matter of days, so be sure to purchase the best skimmers, filters, pumps and UV arrays if you want to make your tank the best it can possibly be.