So, you're interested in starting your first reef aquarium, huh? Many of you who are just diving in, are fully aware of the consequences, dedication and knowledge that is required to maintain a reef aquarium; though many of you are not. It's these individuals that I would like to focus on most.
I am going to assume that you have kept at least a fresh water aquarium successfully (hopefully maybe even a marine fish only but we will cover all of the basics here anyway) for an extended period of time. I will do my best to explain the basic concepts of reef aquarium husbandry, different methods available to you as the aquarist, as well as talk a little about species of marine fish and invertebrates that one should avoid (at least until they gain some in-depth knowledge as to keeping these more difficult, often impossible specimens). Now let's begin!
We will cover the basics in this order, though you can use this table to browse any category you may be interested in. Let me emphasize the importance of thoroughly studying ALL OF THE BASICS prior to doing ANYTHING. Carefully consider everything I say here and you will be off to a good start. I was once like you a new hobbyist and I want to share with you even my smallest mistake so you can avoid the heartache as well as loss of marine life (not to mention the waste of your time and money!)
Rock and Substrate (a basic understanding)
Planning Your System (methods and goals)
Equipment Options (what you need and what you want)
Setting it all up