Chapter 1: What did you get yourself into?

 Alright guys, let’s get something straight… It’s a beautiful thing to be able to have a piece of nature right inside your home, especially a coral reef, but there’s a ton of work that goes into it. Hopefully this will put it all into perspective!

     So you’ve gone to a friend’s house, a relative’s house, or even your local fish store and decided you want to grab the bull by the horns and start your very own coral reef. Looks easy enough right? Fish, water, tank, stand, check! Well, hold on there partner…

     There’s a few crucial aspects in building your own piece of nature, and I’ll be going more in depth with these points throughout the series.

     Money: The initial costs of setting up a reef aquarium might be a bit overwhelming for you. Here’s just a few of the main things you’ll need up front, and obviously a lot of this is going to depend on the size of your tank.

·         Tank and Stand

·         Sump (Optional, but highly recommended for a reef setup)

·         Powerheads

·         Plumbing

·         Filters, Media, and Rocks

·         Sand

·         Overflow Box (If your overflow isn’t built in)

·         Live Rock (A lot more expensive than you’d think)

·         Pumps

·         Heater

·         Adequate Lighting

·         Chemicals (For maintaining water parameters)

     Wow, right?! And that’s before you take in to account the recurring costs of fish, corals, food, and cleaning. In the first 3 months of my 55 gallon reef build, I spent over $3,000, and that was after getting a free tank, stand and sump! I know, I know, there’s plenty more I didn’t mention. That’s because this is just the basics!

     Location: That’s right! Where are you going to put this behemoth? Here’s some of your biggest factors to take in to account when placing your tank.

·         Accessibility – Is it easily accessible?

·         Temperature – It’s best not to place your tank near air vents to avoid fluctuations in temperature.

·         Collateral Damage – What’s going to happen when your tank turns for the worst and starts spewing water? Trust me, it WILL happen. Tile is ideal, hardwoods are alright, but you better be careful with carpet!

·         Electricity – How much electricity does a stupid fish tank need? Well, I’ve got 2 big power strips completely filled up and that’s pretty minimal. Make sure you’re near outlets and you’ve got plenty of power strips. *Be sure to loop your cables and ground if needed.

·         Windows – It’s typically best to stay as far away from windows as you can as windows generate heat and possibly excessive light.

·         Noise – Aquariums can be loud. With pumps, skimmers, reactors, and overflows, it might be best to keep your tank away from your library.

     Okay, so there’s a lot more to worry about in terms of location than you thought, huh? Just remember, not only is it about the health and welfare of your livestock, but it’s also important to consider the right location to avoid costly damages to your house.

     Dedication and Time: If everything I’ve said thus far has gone in one ear and out the other, please hear me out right now. Being a part of the reef hobby is one of the most time consuming things you’ll ever do. Sure, it’s plenty rewarding in the end, but you’ve got to put in the time and effort to do it right. This means researching corals and fish, what they eat, in what conditions they thrive, with whom they’re compatible. It also means spending hours on end cleaning, maintaining, and performing regular water changes on your aquarium, and I’ll go into much more detail later on.

     Overwhelmed yet? No worries… Sure, it’s not an easy feat, but starting your very own reef aquarium and watching it grow is one of the most rewarding feelings there is; not to mention the community you become a part of. The best advice I’ve got is to do your research and just hang out at your local fish store. Ask plenty of questions. Sure, we’ve got plenty of great resources here at ThomasVision Reef, but there’s plenty of other resources online and I encourage you guys to use them. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for plenty more!

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