I want to convert my soft water aquarium into marin aquarium, but before I do that I want to make sure I have all the required equipments and few critical equipments in spare as well.

I already have the following equipment:

  • The aquarium I've is a glass aquarium of 220 US gallons (Which is right now a soft water aquarium)
  • I have a very good skills of maintaining all types of soft water fish and now I want to make a nice marin aquarium with reef.
  • As of now I have 2 SUNSUN External Canister Filter (Model HW-304A)
  • 300W automatic Heaters
  • I have a bear tank (No gravells or stones at all)
  • Wave maker sunsun JVP-101A quantity 1
  • Filtration media in sunsun filter is below: 1) Mechanical spange 2) Active Carbon bag of 1 KG 3) Ceramic Bio Rings 2 KG
  • 5 Air pumps
  • 13W UV filter of sunsun again
  • LED lighting which is normal LED lighting which is used for home use and not for aquariums :P

Am I missing any essential equipment? Is there anything recommended that I don't already have? Should I have spares of anything?

One very important thing that I know I am missing is Skimmer and the water testing kit. I use water provided by the government here. I want to ensure that I don't have to do the maintenance now and then I would prefer to do it once in 5 weeks. Right now I do it once in 6 months and I do not have cloudy water or dirty water at all.

Budget is not a constraint for me I am ready to spend around a 1 to 2 thousand USDs.

  • 2
    It's almost impossible to answer this here. There's entire books and web forums devoted to this and it's very subjective. There's a hundred ways to setup a marine tank. As far as budget constraint, a few thousand dollars isn't a lot. I could spend $5000 on lighting and tank control before even getting to the tank itself or a single piece of equipment that goes in it. Not that this is a bad question or anything, but it's very difficult to address as a whole.
    – Jestep
    Oct 24, 2014 at 13:15
  • 1
    I edited this question pretty heavily to fit in our format. We don't generally do shopping questions or list questions, so you are unlikely to get answers that include specific model numbers, but aquarium people may be able to note that you are missing "Equipment X that does Y" and you can go shopping from there. (I am not an aquarium person!)
    – Zaralynda
    Oct 24, 2014 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


There are an infinite number of ways to setup a reef so I won't point to any specific products. I'm also making the assumption that by reef you mean a marine tank with rock, coral displays, inverts, fish, etc. Before I even begin, you need to realize that $1000-$2000 may not get you where you are expecting with a 220 gallon reef tank build. You may be able to get started with that, but in my experience you will likely need 3x that amount to start a tank that will be stable and successful. This figure does not include any fish, inverts, or corals and assumes you have some of the equipment already.

A few things I don't see listed that I would consider a must have for a 220 gallon reef:

  • RO/DI system with a mixing station setup. If you are going to do it properly, you need to get your total dissolved solids as close to 0ppm as possible during the initial fillup, when topping off and when doing water changes. An RO/DI system will do that for you and is more economical than buying RO/DI water every time you need it. RO/DI systems produce water relatively slowly so you will need large storage containers, pumps, and basic plumbing to set this up so the water is available when you need it. I wouldn't even consider a 220 gallon reef without this in place.
  • Test kits of various sorts. I would look at master test kits made specifically for marine tanks as well as master test kits made specifically for reefs. They will test different things. There are also other test kits you will need that may not come in the master kits. Get the best kits/testers you can afford as some of the cheaper ones are much more difficult to read in my opinion. You should also have a hydrometer or even better a refractometer to test the water salinity when mixing for water changes or top offs.
  • Rock, and probably a combination of base dry rock and some live rock. Rock in a reef does a lot of the maintenance work for you. You can have marine tanks with no rock, but I certainly wouldn't call those "reefs". Even a lot of fish only tanks have live rock (FOWLR). A lot of reef forums will recommend a pound of rock for every gallon of water, not all of which needs to be in your display tank. In your case, that would be 220lbs of rock. If you went with all live rock to meet this recommendation, which some people do, your budgeted funds would probably be gone, completely. Of course, you could go with much cheaper base rock but half your budget would still be gone.
  • Reef lighting that will support coral life. This is probably one of the most important pieces of equipment for your coral. You need to get lights specifically made to support reef life. Your options are basically T5's, Metal Halides, LED's or a combination made specifically for reefs. For proper lighting of a 220 gallon, you will easily need almost your entire budget for this item alone and you will almost certainly need multiple fixtures. See some of the recommendations on this forum: 220 gallon lighting recommendations
  • A sump to house all your equipment and probably a rather large one (55 gallon+) I've never had a reef tank that large, but all the successful ones (and most reef tanks in general) I have seen are using sumps rather than canister filters. There is just too many other pieces of equipment and media you may need a place to house. Protein skimmers, dedicated refugium, chillers, controllers, UV sterilizers, calcium reactors, carbon reactors, kalkwasser drips, additional rock, chaeto, other macroalgae, the list goes on. I'm not saying you can't use a canister, but I believe you may still need a sump for other things.

Don't let any of this discourage you though because I am not an expert, just a hobbyist. I have also seen some impressive tanks put together for a fraction of the normal costs. I would however not rush into this as you could lose some serious money doing it wrong. I would keep doing research and join some of the excellent forums out there related to reef keeping.

  • Thanks a ton mate to give me such a good heads up. I will try and procure all the equipments that you have suggested above by the end of next month. Then I might get in touch with you again, if I get into any new problems :P Have a grate day ahead pal :)
    – Hrish
    Oct 27, 2014 at 4:43

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