If you’re like me you’ve seen amazing years old tanks that are stunning and take your breath away. You’ve probably also seen established tanks that are far less than spectacular. I want to dig in and try to help your tank become one of these spectacular tanks. I myself have had several sub-par tanks, and now feel that I have been able to describe and demonstrate what it takes to make a successful tank. 

Many people think that the more money you spend the better the tank, and while money is beneficial and can simplify many aspects of a tank it is not a necessity. After several years working in a saltwater store, I have seen hundreds of tanks all across the spectrum from tens of thousands of dollars in equipment alone to a few hundred dollars even after adding livestock. What I have found is that the key elements for success are knowledge and passion. And if you are reading this then you have a passion and are developing knowledge so go ahead and pat yourself on the back. 

I want to outline the steps that you should take in order to attain the goal that almost every reefer has of a beautiful established fish tank. The first step is getting water, A mistake many people, including myself, have made is not using RODI water. While some people believe they can use tap water that is conditioned this is not the case and will lead to algae. A common misconception is that you can just use well water without having to filter it. While well water does not contain the sterilizing chemicals that are found in city water it does contain minerals and occasionally pollutants that can also add to algal growth. 

You might be thinking what is RODI water, it is water that has been filtered through a reverse-osmosis de-ionization filter. What that means is that the water passes through a sediment filter, a carbon block filter, and a reverse osmosis membrane, and finally a de-ionization media bed. If that is as confusing for you as it is for me then you most likely don’t have a degree in chemistry, so for a normal person what that means is that a RODI filter expels pure water. This water is 100% pure, with no TDS or Total Dissolved Solids.

When I was starting my first saltwater tank in 9th grade purchasing a $150 RODI machine was not an option and I thought the only option for me was conditioning tap water, however, what I didn’t know is that the local fish store which was five minutes from my house sold not only RODI water but also pre-mixed saltwater. For anyone who has a tank that is less than forty gallons, I would highly recommend simply purchasing saltwater and freshwater from your fish store. For me, it was not worth the hassle of mixing my own water and purchasing a RODI filter until I purchased my 75-gallon tank. It also came in handy when I was setting up my 150-gallon tank as I was not forced to carry 30 buckets of water to fill up the tank. Tomorrow I will be continuing this article with part two: The Salt.

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