Filtration Installation

Once the tank is placed, install the filtration. If it is an UGF, then place the filter plate(s) on the bottom of the tank. If it is a wet/dry, then connect the pre-filter and all the hoses.

Substrate

Prior to adding the substrate, rinse it with plain water until the water runs clear, and then add it to the tank. On top of the substrate arrange the decorations. Now the saltwater may be added. The easiest way to add water to a tank is to place a plate on the substrate and pour the water onto the plate.

Adding Dechlorinated Water and Salt Mix

When initially setting up your tank it is okay to fill the tank with dechlorinated water and then add the salt mix. However, subsequent water changes need to be premixed. Pre-mixing saltwater is done for two reasons, it gives time for the salt to thoroughly dissolve and also allows the water factors to stabilize. Adding 10 gallons of freshwater and then an appropriate amount of salt to an established tank is a big mistake (and an excellent way to kill your inhabitants).

One note on making saltwater. The source water you use for mixing is extremely important to the overall success and health of the system. There is more to be said about this later, but for now, realize that tap water probably won't be good enough for your tank.

When all the water is in place, start up the filter system and check for any leaks (of both water and air). Let the tank sit for a day or so to clarify (with the filtration running). Now you can add fish.

How many fish you add for the cycling process depends on the size of the tank and the cycling method you choose. You can cycle a tank without any fish at all. In this case, you add ammonium chloride to simulate fish waste and an initial source of nitrifying bacteria. It is best to get a bacteria culture from an established saltwater tank. This can be in the form of some substrate, old filter media, or some macro algae such as Caulerpa spp.. Live rocks are also an excellent source of nitrifying bacteria.

If you choose to cycle your tank using fish, which is infinitely more interesting than a tank full of circulating water, the number of fish needed depends on the size of the tank. In any case, two fish are preferable to one. If one fish dies, you will still have one to finish the cycling. Of course the second fish may pass on too. If all the fish die, then you have to remove all the contaminants from the tank and introduce more organisms (read this as start all over).

Cycling doesn't have to be limited to fish though. Crabs and mollusks can also be used. However, since these organisms don't produce much waste, it will take longer to cycle the tank.

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