Reef Tank Equipment

So after careful consideration you have chosen your first reef tank.  Now the question becomes “what equipment do I need to get the tank up and running”?  If you have purchased an All in One aquarium some of the necessary equipment may be included, but in this guide we will discuss what equipment is absolutely necessary, what is nice to have and what might be useful in the future but is not needed initially.


First the required equipment.  Every reef tank requires three essential pieces of equipment, an appropriately sized return pump, a heater and a light.  When selecting a return pump it is important to choose one that is the right size for your tank.  If your tank did not come with a return pump make sure to check the recommended flow rate in Gallons per Hour (gph) and choose the right sized return pump.  Generally a DC pump is recommended because it allows the flow flow rates to be controlled electronically, but a Sicce Return Pump is a more economical option that features a manual choke to adjust the water flow.   The next piece of necessary equipment is a heater.  Heaters come in a wide variety of construction materials such as ceramic titanium and glass.  A simple heater such as these from Marineland makes a great first heater choice.  For reefers looking for a bit more peace of mind  a Titanium Heater with Inkbird Controller offers redundancy if the heater’s thermostat malfunctions.  The final piece of gear that all reef tanks require is a light.  The inescapable reality is that a good LED light will be the single largest expense when setting up your tank. The two main lighting brands are AquaIllumination and EcoTech (which are actually owned by the same company).  Other well known manufacturers include Neptune and Kessil.  The overwhelming majority of lights can be controlled through an app and offer endless customization options.  Just make sure to choose an appropriately sized light for your tank and if you have any questions please reach out to us and we will be happy to offer advice.


In addition to the required equipment, new reefers may want to consider the purchase of a powerhead, such as the AI Nero 3, to increase water movement as well as an Auto Top Off (ATO) to replace evaporated water without having to do it manually.  A protein skimmer, which uses microbubbles to remove nutrients from the water, may be useful down the road but is not usually necessary initially.  Similarly, a dosing pump can be used to automatically add elements that are consumed by coral growth but this is usually not needed for several months, as the elements can be replaced through regular water changes. 


A new reef tank can really be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.  For reefers who want to keep it simple a return pump, heater and light are all that is needed.  For hobbyists who love equipment as much as corals then there are options such as protein skimmers, powerheads, dosing pumps and even full aquarium controllers.  If you have any questions about equipment for your new reef tank please reach out to us and we will be happy to help.

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