The reef tank requires some up keep, but will give you years of enjoyment.  With the right equipment ie Chiller, Protein Skimmer and the correct lighting – caring for your tank should be easy.

Setting up the Aquarium

Choose a location for the aquarium away from doors and windows in a room that doesn’t get hot in summer. Water needs to be kept below 30 degrees.

  1. Wash gravel or marine grit with water before placing in the aquarium. Needs to be around 3cm in depth or 4-5cm depth if you’re keeping lots of rock (to help keep the rock stable).
  2. Fill a large bucket or drum with water and add de-chlorinator (Prime). Add salt as per manufactures directions. Check with hydrometer and adjust if needed. If too high add de-chlorinated fresh water, if too low add more salt. Ensure salt is fully dissolved before adding to aquarium. Follow these directions until the tank ¾ full.
  3. Install the canister filter i.e. Fluval (don’t forget to add your extra filter medias such as Purigen, phosquard and Matrix). Add the aquarium heater as per manufactures instructions. Do not turn on.
  4. Retest salinity. Add fresh water if over 1.026, or more marine salt if below. Make up more saltwater in a bucket and add to the aquarium until water level is about 5cm from the top of the tank. This space is left in case more fresh water is needed to reduce salinity.
  5. Turn on filter and chiller (as per instructions) and set at 25 degrees. The water level will slightly drop. Set heater to 24 degrees. Attach protein skimmer as per directions. Then let run for a few hours. Check Salinity again, adjust accordingly, and check pH level with high range pH test Kit. If below 8.4 Marine Buffer must be added. Fill tank with saltwater until water level is now about 2-3cm from top of tank. Mark water level with permanent marker on side of tank. If over time water drops below this level and you have not removed any water, this will be from evaporation. Add fresh water to the aquarium to refill back to the mark made. Always recheck with the hydrometer.
  6. Install Lighting: Install lights as per manufactures directions. Coral aquarium lights must be on for at least 8-10 hour block per day.
  7. After your tank has been running for 5 - 7 days adding stability/good bacteria product everyday, check if pH and Salinity are correct. If they are it is now time to purchase Live Rock. This will not only add a reef look, but add beneficial bacteria to your tank. A good amount of live rock can mean a smoother setup period.
  8. Test and record your ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH every few days for the next few weeks. If there is no increase in ammonia, nitrite or nitrate it is time to add your first fish. Start with something hardy eg. Damsels, Chromis or Clownfish. If the levels are increasing, keep monitoring levels and continue weekly 25% water changes until levels are correct.
  9. Keep monitoring your parameters. When your parameters are correct and stable over a week, your next fish can be added. Continue with this weekly procedure until stock levels have been reached.  You can start to add corals once fish are established and your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels are remaining at zero. If you do it gradually you will have minimal problems.
  10. Don’t forget to continually monitor you parameters at least once a week. It is recommended to record these parameters so you can chart your tanks progress. A 25% water change when any high levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are present will help reduce stress on fish and live rock. If you do encounter any increasing levels, please consult one of our aquarium staff to minimise the possibility of any fish loss.
  11. Parameters that need to be checked are:

Ideal Level



Action required if levels are out of acceptable


0 mg/L

< 1.2mg/L

25% Water change to dilute add Amguard to detoxify and Stability to promote ammonia removing bacteria. Consult staff for cause.


0 mg/L

< 0.3mg/L

25% Water change to dilute add 5x dose of Prime to detoxify, and add Stability to promote nitrite removing bacteria.


< 5mg/L

< 20mg/L

Regular weekly 25% water change to help dilute.


0 mg/L

< 1mg/L

Add Phosguard, and 25% water change



8.1 – 8.3

Add Marine Buffer if below 8.1




Add Calcium if too low, water change if too high




Add Magnesium if too low, water change if too high

Carbonate Hardness



Add Balance if too low, water change if too high

Marine Aquarium Maintenance

  1. Clean aquarium sides weekly, with algae scrubber or magnet cleaner. Gently wipe off any excess algae growing on live rock to help stimulate coralline algae growth.
  2. Do 25% water change fortnightly, using a gravel vacuum to clean the gravel. Have saltwater pre-made in buckets ready to refill the tank. Only use new buckets that have been set aside for your fish.
  3. Test water parameters and add any supplements like Magnesium and calcium if required
  4. Empty protein skimmer cup and clean as needed.
  5. Clean filter as per instruction manual. A canister filter should be checked at least every 2-3 months and cleaned if water flow is greatly reduced.
  6. Dust air vents in Chiller as per manufactures instruction.
  7. Feed your coral a liquid/frozen/powdered coral food as per direction on bottle. Amounts will vary depending on how much coral you keep.


Please ask our aquarium staff with any questions or queries.


The Superstore is open every day except Christmas Day, Easter Friday and ANZAC Day.

22 Grandview Drive, Greenfields
Monday to Friday 9.00am – 6.00pm
Saturday to Sunday 8.30am – 5.00pm

Visit in-store where our helpful animal experts and delightful staff can assist with all your pet needs.