In order to move quickly into the fun part of starting an aquarium, I'd like to describe at the beginning of this section 5 basic setups. these are meant to give direction to people exploring possibilities and give them a framework of understanding to elaborate from.
It can help to to start thinking about the following questions:
● Is the aquarium for display in a business or for personal enjoyment?
● How big an aquarium are you looking for. A 55 gallons is a common beginner aquarium for salt water and is 4 feet long and 1 foot wide and almost 2 feet tall.
● Will you place your tank on a stand, build it into the wall, or even potentially hang it?
● Is there specific marine life you would like to include? Things like seahorses, octopuses, and jellyfish don't play well with others.
● Clownfish and other pretty ( and generally friendly) fish generally don't work with eels, pufferfish, triggerfish and sharks
● Do you prefer a simpler tank that is easier to maintain or something more advanced that may take daily monitoring?
● What is your budget?
Here are a general few examples that may help you get an idea what is possible with marine aquariums:
● Fish only with fake decorations such as colorful plastic corals, a sunken ship, the Colosseum, or some people even put in aquarium safe treasure chests and skulls.
● Fish only with live rock where the rock is from the ocean and grows some algae and houses things like worms snails and seasponges
● Fish with live rock and a few durable corals like mushroom polyps or leather finger corals
● reef tank with durable corals and a variety of fish and larger colorful invertebrates like starfish and shrimp.
● Reef tank with less emphasis on fish and more focus on dense diverse corals
● Experienced aquarists who understand chemistry and fish behavior may combine some of these as they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. A famous aquarist once gave a lecture on how killer whales are reef aquarium safe because they don't eat corals. Maybe ask Some of your social media experienced peers before adding an octopus to your reef though!