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Simply put, you can buy a common saltwater aquarium fish of almost any size and shape, acrylic or glass, expensive or inexpensive. A good rule of thumb might be to buy a common saltwater aquarium fish as large as you have both rooms for and can afford. Water chemistry is by far the most important aspect of maintaining a marine aquarium. The more water you have in your tank the slower the chemistry will change, therefore the easier it is to maintain. It’s like insurance, the larger the volume of water, the more insurance you have. In this article, you’ll learn about common saltwater aquarium fish and the pros and cons of owning a glass tank and an acrylic tank.

Rule of Thumb

Shorter and wider tanks are much easier to maintain than tall, thinner tanks. This is due to the fact that the more surface area that you have in relationship to the total volume of water dictates better oxygenation, gas and heat diffusion. Good rule of thumb, the more surface area, the better it is for your common saltwater aquarium fish!

You must also consider both the stand and the location. Water is heavy, almost 7.5 lbs per gallon. A 75 gallon tank with a 3 or 4 inch sand bed plus live rock can easily top out over 650 lbs. Make sure that whatever stand or piece of furniture that you plan to use can safely support the load.

Place the tank where it makes best sense for your viewing pleasure but keep in mind that you should keep the tank out of direct sunlight and areas of the home that have large temperature shifts throughout the day. It’s also advised to keep the common saltwater aquarium fish in an area of low to medium traffic. Placing the tank in a hallway where the kids run through on their way to the TV or computer is not a wise idea.

When it comes to choosing the materials of your tank, it all boils down to glass versus acrylic. Both materials make for excellent common saltwater aquarium fish. Which should you use?

Glass vs. Acrylic


  • Glass: Much less expensive
  • Acrylic: More costly due to manufacturing methods


  • Glass: Most often in built in squares and rectangles
  • Acrylic: Can be molded into almost any shape. Curved or bowed fronts are quite common


  • Glass: Glass ages well
  • Acrylic: Some acrylics begin to yellow with age

Stability / Cracking

  • Glass: Glass cracks or breaks easier than acrylic when struck by something
  • Acrylic: Acrylic takes much more punishment before breaking BUT will scratch much easier


  • Glass: Difficult to scratch. Simple razor blades may be used to scrape off algae
  • Acrylic: Easily scratched. Special tools must be used to clean and scrape acrylic


  • Glass is much heavier than acrylic

Many beginners start off with common saltwater aquarium fish glass as it is less expensive and easier maintained. While many more experienced reef keepers eventually move up to acrylic as they want the more customized sizes and shape. Both are great choices.

You have two overriding decisions to make; how big will your common saltwater aquarium fish be and what will it be made of. For most beginners it’s recommended that you start off with at least a 30 gallon tank, probably glass to keep your initial costs down. If you choose to upgrade to a larger, more fashionable tank you can then use your 30 gallon as a hospital or quarantine tank.

Marine Aquariums

When it comes to reef keeping is relatively easy once you understand the dynamics of marine chemistry, reef make up and proper stocking levels. In this section, we will go over the basics such as common saltwater aquarium fish size, water quality, filtration and stocking.

Experience is always a plus, but years of experience failing or minimally succeeding at something do not outweigh good, solid research. Building a strong knowledge base before starting your tank is critical.

We strongly recommend that you do as much reading as possible on this topic while at the same time spending as much time as you can here at our store. You might also want to join a local marine reef club. These clubs or associations are always looking for new members.

Existing members are an excellent source of knowledge and many of them will gladly show off their common saltwater aquarium fishes to members of their clubs. As you’re visiting our store or club member’s homes begin to try to decide what type of tank you would like to build.

What types and common saltwater aquarium fish sizes and corals make sense to you? What amount of room do you have to dedicate to this hobby and how much money do you want to invest, both start up costs and on – going costs. It’s up to you to set your goals realistically based on desires, available space and financial investment.

pH And Alkalinity

Natural seawater in shallow reef zones has an average pH of 8.4. With this in mind, the normal recommended pH for a reef tank is 7.9 – 8.4. Keeping a balanced pH can be difficult. It is imperative that the marine aquarist understand the roles Carbonate Hardness / Alkalinity, oxygen / CO2 levels and water quality play in helping to maintain a specific pH.

Simply put, pH is the measurement of a liquids acidity level. The pH scale runs from 0 to to 14 where a pH of 7.0 is considered neutral meaning it’s neither acidic nor basic. A pH level greater than 7.0 is considered basic while less than 7.0 are considered acidic.

Alkalinity can be measured in a number of ways. One of the easiest and least expensive methods is by measuring the carbonate hardness of your tank water and will also be beneficial for your common saltwater aquarium fish’s health. The measurement is in degrees of carbonate hardness or dKH. It is recommended that you maintain carbonate hardness between 8 and 10 dKH.

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