May 4, 2023

Saltwater Aquarium: Pros and Cons to Consider Before Taking the Plunge

Are you thinking about setting up a saltwater aquarium or marine fish tank? Saltwater reef tanks are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. They’re beautiful to look at, provide hours of entertainment, and can even help reduce stress levels. But before taking the plunge into this exciting hobby, there are some pros and cons to consider regarding tank size, cost, maintenance requirements and more.

With the right setup and knowledge base in place, owning saltwater aquariums can be an incredibly rewarding experience that will bring joy for years to come. From vibrant coral reefs to colourful schools of fish swimming around your living room – it’s like having your own little piece of the ocean right inside your home!

Read our article now to learn more about setting up a saltwater aquarium so you can make an informed decision on whether this is something you want to pursue.

Saltwater Aquarium

What is a saltwater aquarium and why are they becoming increasingly popular?

A saltwater aquarium is a type of marine fish tank that uses saltwater instead of fresh water. Saltwater aquariums are becoming increasingly popular due to their beauty, the amount of entertainment they provide and the calming nature they have on the viewer.

Saltwater aquariums are different from freshwater tanks in several ways, including their tank size requirements, maintenance needs and overall cost. It is important to understand these differences before deciding whether or not setting up a saltwater aquarium is right for you.

What is the difference between a reef tank and a saltwater tank?

A reef tank is a type of saltwater aquarium featuring live corals and other invertebrates. The primary difference between a reef tank and a traditional saltwater tank is that the water needs to be specifically maintained for the health of the live coral and other marine life.

Reef tanks require higher levels of calcium, alkalinity, nitrates, phosphates, magnesium, strontium, iodine and trace elements than typical saltwater aquariums. Additionally, more specialized lighting is often needed for reefs because most corals require specific types of light to survive and grow in order to maintain their vibrant colours.

A reef tank also requires more regular maintenance due to the added complexity of maintaining an environment suitable for live corals. However, many marine aquariums enthusiasts find reef tanks to be incredibly rewarding and beautiful, making them worth the extra effort.

Pros of owning a saltwater aquarium - tank size, cost, maintenance requirements etc.

Saltwater aquariums can provide hours of entertainment and beauty, as well as help reduce stress levels. They also offer a unique opportunity to learn about marine habitats and their inhabitants. Many species of fish found in saltwater aquariums are hardy and don’t require advanced care or specialized equipment.

Tank size:

When it comes to marine fish tanks, size matters. A larger tank means more room for fish and other inhabitants to swim around and explore, as well as less water disturbances caused by movement. Some saltwater aquariums can be as small as 10 gallons, while others can reach upwards of several hundred gallons. It's worth bearing in mind that small tanks are often more difficult to maintain since their environment can change quickly and drastically with even the smallest changes.


A new tank setup can cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the size of the tank and equipment you choose. But once it's set up, the ongoing maintenance costs are relatively low. In addition to food, lighting and filtration systems, you may need to replace parts like pumps or filter cartridges from time to time.


If you are truly willing to take care of aquatic life and not only ready to admire the visual beauty of your aquarium, the routine procedures for maintaining a saltwater aquarium should be a real pleasure.

However, if you are not prepared to deal with frequent testing of salinity, temperature, pH, KH, nitrates, and ammonia while keeping the tank clean, keeping a saltwater aquarium can be too challenging. Consider how much time you are ready to spend on your aquatic inhabitants on a regular basis, and remember that you will need assistance if you have to travel for more than a day.

Remember that despite their sensitivity to the above water parameters, organisms living in saltwater are generally more resistant to disease if the tank is properly maintained. The proper salt is an important element, check out Aquaforest - marine salts.

Cons of owning a saltwater aquarium - tank size, cost, maintenance requirements etc.

Setting up a saltwater aquarium can be expensive, with prices ranging from several hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on size and complexity. Additionally, they require more maintenance than freshwater tanks due to their need for specific water levels and other requirements necessary for healthy marine life.

Tank size:

For a marine aquarium to flourish, it needs to be large enough to accommodate both the fish and other organisms that are part of its ecosystem. This can make smaller tanks more difficult to maintain since they have less room for inhabitants and their environment is more prone to changes.


Setting up a saltwater aquarium is expensive. You will need a tank, filtration system, lighting and other equipment as well as live rock, sand and salt mix. Plus, you may need to purchase fish, invertebrates and corals for the tank.


Saltwater aquariums require more maintenance than freshwater tanks due to the specific water levels that are needed for healthy marine life. Regular water changes (every two to four weeks) as well as monitoring levels of calcium, alkalinity and other trace elements are all essential for a healthy tank. In addition, specialized equipment may be needed if you’re keeping a reef tank.

Setting up the right environment for your fish to thrive in

For saltwater tanks things like water chemistry, temperature, flow rate and lighting are all important to create the perfect environment for your fish.

Water chemistry is arguably the most important factor in any aquarium and can be quite tricky to get right. You need to ensure that salinity levels, pH and alkalinity are all kept at optimal levels for your particular species of fish. This will require regular testing and maintenance, so be prepared to put in the necessary work.

Temperature is also important in a saltwater aquarium. Depending on your fish species, you will need to keep the temperature at an optimal level, which might mean investing in a heater or chiller if your environment cannot provide that naturally.

It is also important to get the right flow rate in your tank. Too little and there won’t be enough oxygen circulation, while too much can create an uncomfortable environment. This will depend on the type of filtration you use, so it’s best to find out what is optimal for your particular setup before investing in any equipment.

Lighting is another important factor in a saltwater aquarium. Most species require light to survive and some need specific types of lighting, such as actinic or full-spectrum. Depending on the type of fish you keep, you may also need to invest in moonlights or even LED lighting for certain times of the day.

Overall, setting up the right environment in a saltwater aquarium is essential for the health and wellbeing of your fish. Take the time to do your research, get all the necessary equipment and test regularly to ensure that everything is within optimal parameters and follow the basic principles outlined above wherever possible. Your fish will thank you for it!

Choosing the right equipment for your setup

This is a crucial step for the health of your tank - and your wallet. Investing in quality will pay off in the long run, so do some research and ask questions before making any purchases.

The most important pieces to consider are:

  • An aquarium
  • Filter
  • Heater
  • Lighting.

Aquariums come in all sizes and shapes, so look for one that is the right size for your space as well as the type of fish you plan on keeping. Filters help keep the water in the tank clean and should be replaced or cleaned on a regular basis. Heaters are also essential for maintaining the right temperature as different types of fish have specific needs in this area. Lastly, lighting can help create an atmosphere that is pleasing to both you and your fish. It’s important to get the right type of light bulb for your setup, as well as to create a lighting schedule that mimics the natural day and night cycle.

Of course, there are many other pieces of equipment you may need for your tank, such as a protein skimmer, chemical media, and live rock. Researching each piece individually is important to make sure you have a better understanding of what is needed for your setup.

By investing in the right equipment, you will create a healthy environment for your fish and have a beautiful marine aquarium.

Tips on selecting fish and other marine life for your tank

When it comes to choosing your fish and other marine life, there are a few things to consider. First, research if the species you want can coexist in captivity. Some require larger tanks with plenty of rockwork or live sand for hiding and foraging opportunities. Others may need specialized food or medication to keep them healthy in a tank environment.

You also need to make sure that the inhabitants will get along with one another and not fight over territory or food. Generally speaking, it's best to avoid mixing large predators with small peaceful fish as they may be intimidated or even attacked by the larger ones. Make sure that any potential inhabitants have similar water parameters – temperature, pH levels, salinity, etc – so they all thrive in their new home.

To give you some ideas, here a list of some of best fish, corals, critters and other livestock you could consider for marine fish tanks:

  • Clownfish
  • Damselfish
  • Triggerfish
  • Butterflyfish
  • Gobies
  • Blennies
  • Snails
  • Tangs and Surgeonfish
  • Sharks and Rays (in larger tanks)
  • Anemones and Corals.

Finally, make sure you create a balanced ecosystem with the right amount of fish and other marine life that won't overload your tank. Doing so will help ensure a healthy, happy community for years to come.

Additional questions:

Is a salt water aquarium hard to maintain?

Maintaining a saltwater aquarium can require more work than a freshwater tank, but with the right equipment and regular maintenance, it can be just as easy to care for.

You will need to do weekly water changes, monitor water parameters and be aware of any potential problems or hazards that could arise. Additionally, you will need access to specialized supplies and fish foods to ensure your fish have the best environment possible.

Can a beginner have a saltwater tank?

Yes. While saltwater tanks can be more challenging to maintain, they can also be great for beginners as long as they are willing to do the extra research and follow all safety guidelines. Start with a small tank and stick to hardy species of fish that are easy to take care of. Once you have mastered the basics, then you can slowly add more fish and other types of marine life to your tank. With the right set up and maintenance, any beginner can have a successful saltwater aquarium to enjoy.

Can you put saltwater in a regular fish tank?

No. Regular freshwater tanks are not designed to house saltwater fish and other marine life, as the water parameters are different between the two systems.

Final thoughts

Setting up a saltwater aquarium can be an exciting and rewarding experience. With the right equipment, knowledge and dedication to maintenance, you will have a successful tank with beautiful fish and other marine life that will create a colourful atmosphere for years to come. Be sure to research each species of fish or coral before adding them into your tank as some may require special care or not get along with others in the same environment. Taking these steps now will ensure your success in creating an amazing underwater world!

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