Saltwater VS Freshwater Aquarium – All you Need to Know

If you feel attracted towards vibrant and colorful fish and want to set up an aquarium at your home but you cannot decide that whether you should go for the saltwater or freshwater aquarium. This selection is a big decision as it will steer the direction of your hobby so you need to make a wise choice else you will be bored soon.

The distinction between a freshwater aquarium and a saltwater aquarium may be made at a glance. Popular fish species like Tetras, Bettas, and Gold may be found in freshwater aquariums, along with an abundance of plants. Unlike saltwater aquariums, which often include coral reefs, vivid fish, and UV light.

Freshwater Aquariums

Freshwater Aquariums are by far the most popular choice for novices. The reason for this is that freshwater fish are more widely available, and tanks are less expensive and simpler to maintain.

The most widely kept freshwater fish include bettas, goldfish, tetras, and cichlids. The accessibility of freshwater aquariums makes them special.

Aquariums come in just about every size and form. A freshwater aquarium requires very little upkeep, thus almost anyone can maintain one.

Additionally, freshwater fish are more likely to be forgiving, so any errors that may happen are less likely to be catastrophic.

Freshwater Aquariums

You may anticipate caring for fish in a standard tank to take 1-2 hours each week, including weekly water changes and monthly filter maintenance.

You must take into account the initial setup expenditures for a freshwater aquarium, which include the tank, lights, setup (such as gravel, caves, and plants), and of course, the fish. Many common species of freshwater fish only cost $5 or less per piece.

Electricity, food, test kits, and water conditioner are ongoing expenses.


1. Beginner-friendly: The majority of individuals begin with a basic freshwater aquarium. This is a result of their adaptability and minimal maintenance needs. You don’t need to bother about monitoring the salt or dissolved oxygen levels while using fresh water.

2. Options for size: Small aquariums and even micro tanks are frequently kept in freshwater aquariums. These aquariums are ideal for those who live in flats or have limited floor space.

3. Low care: Compared to a saltwater aquarium, freshwater aquarium maintenance is simpler and easier. Additionally, freshwater fish often have basic diets and are considerably simpler to feed.

4. Low prices: In general, freshwater fish is less expensive than saltwater fish. Freshwater aquariums often require less equipment, which lowers the cost.


1. Fish with less color: While some freshwater species resemble marine species in appearance, freshwater species are often less vivid and colorful than their saltwater counterparts.

2. No coral reefs: Most fish keepers eventually yearn to maintain a stunning coral reef. Aquariums filled with fresh water cannot be used for this.

3. Comfort: Because freshwater fish are so resilient, they frequently thrive in poor environments. Since you can often get away with making mistakes, this can occasionally result in complacency and poor behavior.

Saltwater Aquarium

Saltwater aquariums are an excellent choice for preserving some of the most colorful and appealing species on the planet. A well-maintained saltwater aquarium is relatively rare. Aquariums, in contrast to more traditional freshwater tanks, come in a variety of colors and odd designs.

Saltwater Aquarium

Some of the most well-known saltwater fish are clownfish, green Chromis, gobies, dwarf angelfish, and cardinal fish. These aquatic fish, on the other hand, are an indication of adolescence. If you wish to preserve these magnificent fish, you must be able to efficiently manage the increased problems and care. The most difficult aspects of keeping a saltwater aquarium are changing the water and introducing fish.

Expect saltwater tanks to be more pricey as well.  This is due to the fact that they frequently require specialist equipment such as powerheads and protein skimmers. Live rock is also required to aid in the filtration of the aquarium; this is an additional expense that varies according to the type of rock you select.

The complexity of saltwater aquariums depends on whether you want to keep:

  • Fish alone
  • Fish with live rock
  • Reef
  • While a reef setup is quite difficult, a fish-only tank is rather simple.
  • A marine tank must be larger than a freshwater tank, as was already established. Therefore, maintenance needs to take additional time.
  • All things considered, it is feasible for a newbie to keep marines if they start with a fish-only 75-gallon tank, choose an easy starter fish species, and are careful with their upkeep.
  • You cannot convert a saltwater aquarium into a freshwater aquarium.
  • A saltwater tank may be changed into a freshwater tank.

All that has to be done is to take away all the equipment and thoroughly clean the tank with de-chlorinator water. Pay close care to clear any salt buildup from the tank’s surfaces.


1. Beautiful fish: Saltwater fish have bright colors and a wider range of forms. Most people don’t get to view marine life up close, so seeing these fish up close is beautiful.

2. Invertebrates: With saltwater aquariums, you may preserve interesting species like corals and sea anemones. These intriguing creatures are exclusively available for saltwater aquariums.

3. Different fish: Almost everyone is familiar with the appearance of a Goldfish or a Betta. However, uncommon species like gobies and tangs may be kept in saltwater tanks.


While saltwater aquariums may be maintained by novices, they are undoubtedly more difficult to maintain than freshwater aquariums. Saltwater situations are more prone to mistakes.

1. Larger Aquariums: Compared to freshwater, saltwater has 20% less dissolved oxygen water. As a result, if you wish to keep the same number of fish, you will need a larger aquarium.

2. More costly: Compared to their freshwater counterparts, saltwater fish and equipment are both more expensive.

3. Environments that are vulnerable: The water characteristics in the marine environment remain mostly stable. As a result, your tank’s environment must also remain consistent.

Fresh Water Vs Salt Water Aquarium

Salt water vs Fresh water aquarium

1. Amount of Salt

Freshwater aquariums don’t have salt, but saltwater aquariums do. For comparison, a freshwater tank will contain less than 1 ppt of salt, but a typical saltwater tank will have 34–36 ppt of salt.

2. Water Species

In addition to a variety of plants and various freshwater invertebrates like snails and shrimp, a freshwater aquarium features species that are found in lakes and rivers. In contrast, saltwater aquariums feature a representation of what is found in the ocean. This contains saltwater animals like anemones, coral, and fish from the ocean.

3. Up-Keep

Most individuals only consider the kinds of fish or look they are aiming to achieve when deciding between saltwater and freshwater aquariums. Cost and upkeep are the two primary distinctions to take into account.

4. Maintenance Requirements

Saltwater and freshwater aquariums have extremely different maintenance requirements. Most people concur that saltwater aquariums require substantially more work to maintain.

5. Maintaining constant Water Properties

Since the ocean contains so much water, the water’s characteristics, such as salinity and pH, are often constant in saltwater. Therefore, it rules out the possibility of drastic changes in water properties. As a result, marine life has developed to exist in relatively stable water environments. As a result, maintaining a saltwater aquarium will require a lot of time to prevent changes in the water’s properties.

Water properties in freshwater, however, are continually changing. The water characteristics of the rivers and lakes where these fish reside might fluctuate significantly due to precipitation, droughts, or flooding. Since freshwater fish are accustomed to changing water conditions, this implies that they have evolved to be far more resilient and forgiving. This indicates that there won’t be any negative effects if the environment in a freshwater aquarium changes.

6. Difference in Water parameters

The fish in freshwater aquariums are native to lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds. De-chlorinating the water for these fish may be done by mixing a de-chlorinating chemical with tap water. To boost the quantity of oxygen in the water, it needs also to be moving, which may be accomplished by employing an air pump.

Aquarists regularly check the water’s temperature to make sure it is steady and test the pH and ammonia levels to make sure the filter is effectively removing waste. Always look into any extra water needed for the fish you buy, since certain species (like koi) demand deeper or colder water (like archer fish, which hunt for insects).

To create a mixture similar to seawater, salt for marine aquariums is available to blend with household tap water. The specific gravity of the water is measured using a hydrometer to determine how salty it is. Some invertebrates, such as corals and anemones, require particular saltwater aquarium additions, such as calcium and iodine. Temperature, ammonia, and pH sensors are required, much like in a freshwater setup.

7. Price

Aquariums with saltwater typically cost more. This is due to the fact that they demand a lot more tank equipment, such as powerheads, protein skimmers, saltwater testing kits, marine salt, live rock, and even fish. Additionally, these aquariums sometimes have a bigger size than freshwater aquariums. A larger tank size aids in maintaining water parameters but is more expensive up front due to the need for a bigger aquarium, a stand, and a more powerful filter.

In contrast, a freshwater aquarium requires less equipment and typically costs less for the fish as well.

8. Aquarium Beautification

When compared to freshwater fish, most marine species are more vivid and diverse. Reef aquariums, which may house anemones and corals are also visually attractive and are another option for saltwater settings. However, this is not meant to minimize freshwater fish. They may be found in a wide range of forms and hues and are beautiful in and of themselves. Aquariums with plants in them are extremely stunning to look at.

9. Difference in Equipment

Both freshwater and saltwater aquariums need a tank, preferably with a cover, a substrate for the bottom (such as gravel or sand), and a filter that can process the water five to ten times per hour.

Your degree of interest might determine the size of your freshwater tank in terms of size. There are many alternatives, from keeping a single betta fish in a one-gallon aquarium to a 350-gallon display tank. To stop accelerated evaporation, you will also want a cover for the tank.

You will need to install a light if you decide to keep plants or if you want to see the fish at night. With freshwater tanks, you additionally need an air pump to deliver oxygen and a heater/thermometer to check the temperature.

10. Size of Water Tank

For optimal results, a saltwater tank should hold at least 30 gallons. Small changes in water quality are exacerbated in smaller tanks, making marine systems challenging to the house.

11. Requirement of Extra Equipment

In addition to freshwater aquarium components, most hobbyists advocate a protein skimmer for saltwater tanks to remove organic wastes. The protein skimmer works in tandem with the filter and should be emptied and cleaned once a week, depending on the size of the aquarium and the number of residents.

Corals in saltwater aquariums have specific lighting needs in terms of intensity and amount of hours of lighting. There are several lighting choices available, some of which include programmed light cycles to replicate natural sunshine. Live rock, a porous rock inhabited by microscopic creatures like algae and bacteria that can benefit your tank, is a substrate that many hobbyists use in their saltwater tanks. Rock is sold by the pound and can be used to support corals and anemones.

Myths Regarding Freshwater Vs Saltwater Aquariums

1. In general, Freshwater Aquariums are Simpler to keep Clean and Healthy than Saltwater ones. How so?

However, compared to a freshwater river, lake, or pond, the marine ecology is far more stable. The ocean’s pH and salinity are generally steady. On the other hand, in a freshwater environment, the water chemistry is constantly changing, sometimes as a result of seasonal fluctuations like droughts or floods.

Freshwater fish are therefore more resilient and adaptable to shifting water conditions than their saltwater cousins.

2. Saltwater Aquariums are inappropriate for Beginners

That is accurate to a certain extent.

Fish kept in saltwater require more expensive equipment than those kept in freshwater. Because beginners frequently make mistakes and fish mortality is prevalent, making a mistake might cost you a lot of money.

Both freshwater and saltwater fish may be bred in captivity. The majority of saltwater fish are caught wild, which is one of the reasons they cost so much to purchase. That’s because it’s extremely difficult to breed marine fish in captivity. Seasonal breeding in saltwater fish may be quite difficult to mimic in an aquarium.

In contrast, many freshwater fish species may easily reproduce in a home aquarium. So, a newbie can enjoy themselves much while seeing their fish lay eggs and hatch live fry.

So, if you want to breed your fish, I advise choosing a freshwater setup.

3. The issue of algae is more severe in Saltwater Aquariums

That’s accurate!

Every aquarium’s water contains nitrates, which are created throughout the nitrogen cycle. Nitrates provide algae with nutrition. Plants can take nitrates from the water as well, but they can only grow in freshwater conditions.

Therefore, in a freshwater tank containing active plants, algae are low in essential nutrients and are unable to develop and spread as quickly. That is true! The problem with saltwater tanks is worse

4. Aquariums for Saltwater Must Be Larger

That is somewhat accurate. How so?

Compared to freshwater, saltwater doesn’t contain as much oxygen. As a result, you require a larger tank with a larger surface area for the greatest amount of gaseous exchange. Because there isn’t enough oxygen in a saltwater tank for all the fish to survive, fewer fish may be kept there.

You may also put a lot of plants in a freshwater tank. Through photosynthesis, plants create oxygen and take in CO2, which helps to oxygenate the water for the fish.

Therefore, a freshwater tank is a better option whether you want a small tank or a lot of fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it more Difficult to Maintain a Saltwater Tank than a Freshwater Tank?

Yes. There are more water parameters to monitor in a saltwater tank. This implies that they require a little more upkeep than a freshwater aquarium. Additionally, saltwater aquariums often require more effort since they are bigger (due to the lower availability of dissolved oxygen).

Is it less Expensive to Maintain a Freshwater Tank than a Saltwater Tank?

Running a freshwater aquarium is less expensive than a saltwater aquarium. This is due to the high expense of purchasing saltwater and the potentially high cost of feeding reefs and saltwater species. Freshwater aquariums are not subject to these continuous expenses.

Can a Novice Maintain a Saltwater Tank?

Saltwater tanks are definitely manageable for beginners. They are more expensive and demanding to maintain than a freshwater aquarium.

The Bottom Line on Saltwater VS Freshwater Aquarium

Due to the cheap upkeep and robust species, freshwater aquariums are the aquarium of choice for beginning fish keepers. There is sure to be a freshwater fish that you like because they come in so many different sizes and types.

Saltwater aquariums require a lot of labor, but the rewards are worth it. Anyone who examines a saltwater aquarium will be amazed by some of the most beautiful species and tank conditions available.

Which of the two types of the aquarium to use is one of the most important selections. Therefore, it is advisable to understand what you are getting into before continuing.

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