Originally Posted by Sophie Spinach
I am wanting to set up my first marine tank and would like some help in planning ahead to ensure i get it right from the start.
You have the first step right already! Which is to ask for help and do a ton of research before you begin this project. We have a great selection of articles on the marine forum here, which has been very recently purged and updated to ensure that every article is relevant to someone in your situation. These should be a great resource for you http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/saltwater-articles/
I would begin by reading the Introduction to Saltwater article by OF2F, and then move onto the Saltwater Filtration 101 article, written by a very handsome near genius, whose name I will keep to myself.
After you read a couple of articles, the next step is to review some build threads by members who have set up successful marine tanks. You can find those here http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/s...ctures-videos/
. My 180 build thread has lots of pictures about how to set the system up http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/s...r-build-21979/
OF2F has his build there as well http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/s...und-2-a-20611/
. With a little browsing, you will see that a lot of these threads are posted by people with no experience at all as they start. You will find that almost all successfull tanks have a very common theme, which is the use of a protein skimmer, live rock and/or dry rock, and aragonite sand.
As i have never kept saltwater fish before I would apreciate help on selecting compatibe species and planning my tank. I haven't got my heart set on anything specific, though I do want lots of colour and I like unusual fish like the cowfish. I have a 4 foot 200 litre tank.
Selecting the right fish can be 90% of the battle for a newbie to the marine hobby. There are so many fish available at the LFS, and a large number of these are extremely difficult to keep. The Cowfish is one of these difficult fish and should be avoided.
Your 55 gallon tank size will limit you to smaller fish, with an adult size of 4-5'' maximum. There are a ton of suitable fish to choose from, so finding color won't be a problem. But you have to recognize early that you have size constraints with a tank this small, and realize that keeping some of the more popular fish, such as Tangs, will just not be an option for you.