Taking the mayhem out of marine fish keeping
The start of your new marine tank
Size and location of your new marine fish tank
Once you have considered the previous two factors of Budget and Time you should, by now have a better idea of the type and size of marine tank you're thinking of.
In the marine tank world size really does matter and many people will recommend you go for the largest tank you can comfortably afford - and, although this isn't always practical it is with good reason.
Stability of your marine tank
Whichever final stock list you go for, every tank will benefit from the stability offered by a larger water volume. Salt water is complicated and its chemical compostiion fluctuates according to its environment.
For example, as the temperature of salt water rises the salinity (measure of salt content in the water) decreases and vice versa. Smaller volumes of water will heat up and/or cool down faster than large ones. This is more of a problem on a hot summers day for a tank not run with a chiller. Some organisms can cope with some fluctuations but you will be hard pushed to keep a successful, colourful small polyped stoney coral tank in a water column that changes chemistry quickly and beyond accessptable parameters. (I'll talk more about parameters on the 'The Marine Tank Environment' page).
The chemical composition of your tank will also be affected by your tanks inhabitants and of course the smaller your water volume the faster these changes will be noticed by your livestock.
So stability of your water really is one of the keys to a happy, healthy marine tank and whilst stability can be maintained in a smaller tank it is not necessarily easier, or less work. Whilst you are still learning the tricks and sectrests of the marine hobby a larger tank will forgive your mistakes much more than a smaller one.
Another reason people will advise you to go for the biggest tank you can afford, both in terms of finance and time, is because once you have been bitten by the marine bug you will soon become frustrated if your tank is too small to accommodate half of the 'must haves'' on your stocking list. It can become a costly excersize to get all your kit sorted that's related to a 100 litre tank only to find a year down the line that you need to upgrade it all again to keep the regal tang you always wanted!
The main things to consider when deciding on the location of your fish tank are:
Location of your marine tank
To a degree the space you have available for your marine fish tank will dictate its location. It could be the four foot gap next to the chimney breast or the length you have availailable behind the couch.
There are some fabulous systems out there that are built into walls or designed as room dividers but as this website is about minimising costs and keeping things simple, these more involved systems are beyond the scope of this website.
Will the floorboards take it?
Many questions like this are asked time and time again but infortunately there is no straightforward answer. You will hear people say 'well imagine x number of adults standing in the one place for a long time, the floor will take them so it will take your tank' or 'well the floor can take a bath full of water so it will take a tank'.
Unfortunately you can't rely on any of these answers, the constant weight of a tank applies very different pressure to a group of adults standing in one place or a bath that is only full for a tiny precentage of the time. Tanks can and do fall through floors so if in doubt get it checked out by an expert.
Can you minimise any potential damage?
With the best will in the world there will always be the odd accident, spillages or salt creep. If, like me, you do a simple syphone water out/pour it back in routine once a week there will always be the odd drop here and there.... Is there somewhere you can put the tank which won't end up with you a) in the dog house or b) forking out for an expensive, replacement carpet should the worst happen? My tank is now on a tiled floor in the kitchen where I can splash about until my hearts content. I have probably saved myself about half an hour per water change no I don't have to be so careful!
Is it level?
This will probably sound like an obvious statement but make sure you can get your tank level. Assuming your floorboards and joists aren't sinking a wonky tank looks awful with a slanting water line. On a more serious note if the tank isn't level you will be putting stress on different parts of the tank which haven't been designed to take it so you are decreasing the life of your tank and at worst your tank could burst.
Bigger is usually better in the marine world
Always make sure there is enough space at the back of your tank and cabinet to extract electric plugs
Always accept you WILL have a flooding event at some stage in your marine keeping life
Size and location - in a nutshell
Always go for the biggest tank you can afford, you'll regret it later when you realise you can't keep half the things that made you want to keep marine fish in the first place
Remember that your water chemistry will change faster the smaller the volume of water. Marine organisms don't take kindly to rapid changes in their environment
If your marine tank is to go against a wall remember to leave enough room behind it to be able to remove plugs easily
Your floorboards may need re-enforcing, if you're not sure get a professional in.
Stability is the key to successful marine fishkeeping
If you have a choice of locations consider the area where an accidental spill will cause the least amount of damage
Make sure your tank doesn't cover up an essential piece of equipment that might need maintaining like a main phone plug
Make sure there are plenty of available electric sockets near your fishtank