Aquariums can be lovely additions to any room. However, much like with cats and dogs, fish are pets and do require regular maintenance. This is especially true if you are starting a saltwater aquarium. While saltwater aquariums are generally prettier than their freshwater counterparts, they also require a lot more effort to set up and maintain. Here are three things you need to consider when starting a saltwater aquarium.

1. It requires more of an investment of money than freshwater aquariums.

Whenever you start a freshwater aquarium at home, you need to get the tank and, depending on the size, likely a sturdy stand to put it on. This is also something you will need for a saltwater aquarium. Where the two different types of aquariums differ, however, is the other things you need for setting it up. 

With the freshwater aquarium, the main things you need to get to ensure your fish thrive are gravel, a heater, a filter, and a test kit to make sure your water is balanced correctly. Of course, there are other things you will get, such as decorations and a gravel vacuum, but those aren't really required as part of the initial set-up.

Now, when it comes to setting up a saltwater aquarium, you will need a lot more to get it going. In addition to the tank and stand, you will need

  • Salt mix for the water—this is not table salt, but rather a product you will find in tropical fish stores
  • A hydrometer to make sure the water's salt level is just right
  • Some type of substrate for the bottom of the tank—most people use live sand, but crushed coral works as well
  • Live rock 
  • A heater that is the appropriate size for the tank
  • Several power heads in order to maintain a steady current in the water
  • A back-up filter to aid the live rock in filtering out waste and toxins from the water
  • A protein skimmer
  • An affixed aquarium thermometer to ensure correct water temperature at all times
  • Test kits for saltwater to ensure the water is balanced
  • An appropriate light fixture—different saltwater creatures require differing levels of light, so keep that in mind when making your purchase

As you can see, there is a lot more you will need if you want to start a saltwater aquarium.

2. It won't be an overnight set-up.

One thing that a lot of people don't realize when it comes to setting up a saltwater aquarium is that it won't happen overnight. For instance, before you can add any fish or other saltwater creatures, you have to make sure your water's salt level is just right and allow your live rock to get some coralline algae formation on its surface.

Once you begin to see some pretty colors on the live rock and your saltwater hydrometer shows the salt level is right, you can begin getting fish and other saltwater creatures to put in the aquarium.

3. It takes careful planning to decide what fish and creatures to put in the saltwater aquarium.

Much like with people, not all types of saltwater fish and creatures get along. This makes coexisting within an aquarium habitat impossible for certain species of fish and invertebrates. For instance, if you want to add hard or soft corals to your live rock, there are some saltwater creatures that will eat the coral. So, if you intend to have a reef aquarium,  you will need to stay away from those particular fish and invertebrates.

Of course, even if you don't have a reef aquarium, you still need to consider what saltwater creatures you put in it because some are more aggressive than others. You need to get different fish species that are medium to low aggression. This will help ensure a more peaceful habitat for your saltwater creatures. For assistance, talk to a professional like Neptune's Tropical Fish.