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Never use table salt in your aquarium; always buy a commercial salt designed specifically for fishy environments. These salt containers provide proper mixing information so you know exactly how much to mix with fresh, dechlorinated water before adding it to your tank. You can also buy ready-to-use saltwater aquarium water if you prefer. Even after following the manufacturer's instructions, you might need to add more salt or fresh water to the tank to bring your salinity levels up to par. In most cases, the specific gravity, which is measured by your hydrometer, should fall between 1.022 and 1.024. Some saltwater fish and invertebrate species require different salinity levels, but the basic levels should work for most creatures you add initially. When you perform water changes, check the salinity every time -- evaporation often means you must add a bit more fresh water.
Although some of the big items from your freshwater tank are reusable, you must replace a few things, starting with the substrate. Freshwater gravel won't work well in saltwater aquariums, so choose one that helps saltwater bacteria grow -- such as sand, crushed coral or aragonite. Adding live rock gives you a base for living decorations such as coral while providing helpful bacteria instantly in your tank. You'll also need a few additional tools, such as a hydrometer to monitor your salt levels and potentially additional filters and pumps, depending on the number of fish you plan to keep.
Aquarium Sand & Gravel Substrate for Saltwater & Freshwater Tanks
Gravel or sand is a saltwater aquarium? | Yahoo Answers
Whether setting up a new aquarium, converting an existing tank from fresh to saltwater, or upgrading from a fish-only to a reef tank, it is important to plan ahead "before" you begin. Research the many system design options available, what equipment and supplies are needed for each, and then begin putting your new system together.Now that you have the aquarium, stand, lights, and filter, set everything up as directed. If you are using live sand you can add it directly to the tank right out of the bag. Otherwise, crushed coral and aragonite sand will have to be thoroughly cleaned before adding to the tank. Wash it in a bucket with clean water until the water runs clear. Mix your saltwater using a large bucket or clean plastic garbage can. Check the specific gravity using an appropriate hydrometer from you local pet or aquarium store. You will want it to read 1.026 with the water temperature around 78 degrees F (26 degrees C). Add the substrate to the tank and then slowly start to add your water. Stop occasionally to check for leaks. There is nothing worse than filling a 90 gallon aquarium full of RO/DI water and then finding a leak and having to drain it again. Only fill the tank about 3/4 of the way to allow room for your decorations.As you may have noticed, I use the term "sand bed" rather than "gravel bed." Sand has many advantages over gravel in both fresh and saltwater systems. First it helps keep the detritus on top of the bed so power filters can pull it out of your aquarium allowing it to be removed from the system when you clean your filter. It also aids in Natural NitrateReduction (NNR), by allowing only a very slow exchange of water through the bed. The slow exchange of water through the sand bed allows two important and distinct ecological layers to develop. The top layer of the bed which is in contact with oxygen rich water is heavily colonized by the nitrifying bacteria from the Nitrosopira and Nitrospira genus. These bacteria are the ones responsible for converting the ammonia and nitrite in the aquarium to the many times less toxic nitrate. Without a sufficient number of these good bacteria in your aquarium the ammonia and nitrite would shoot up to a toxic level killing your fish. The bottom layer has a special kind of bacteria called anaerobic bacteria. Anaerobic bacteria lives in environments where there is no oxygen available. In the aquarium anaerobic bacteria use the oxygen atom from the nitrate molecule, there by converting the nitrate into nitrogen gas (which will bubble out of the tank.) is perhaps the most commonly recommended sand in the saltwater aquarium hobby. It is generally available as a fine grain product that “looks” like the prototypical sand. What makes aragonite sand so commonly used in the aquarium hobby is that it is made from the same stuff that coral skeletons are made of…calcium carbonate. In fact, the term aragonite sand is really just a fancy way to state…sand composed of calcium carbonate.