Exceptional Quality - Unbeatable Prices

Saltwater vs. Freshwater Aquariums — Which Is Right For You?

Saltwater vs. Freshwater Aquariums — Which Is Right For You

When you decide that you want an aquarium for your home or business, one of the first decisions you will have to make is whether to choose a freshwater or saltwater fish tank. Of course, you have probably heard conversations in regard to which type of aquarium is better, so making this type of decision may be difficult. Preference plays a pretty large role in choosing the aquarium that's right for you. In this blog, we’re going to highlight some features of both types of aquariums to help make your decision a little easier.



Cost is usually the biggest deciding factor when trying to choose between a freshwater and saltwater aquarium. Many people believe that saltwater fish tanks cost more than freshwater tanks. This statement is true as saltwater fish are usually more expensive and require care than freshwater fish. Plus, saltwater aquariums tend to require more equipment and supplies than a freshwater one. However, there are ways to get a saltwater fish tank without having to spend a ton of money.  And while freshwater fish tanks are generally less expensive, you can certainly find one that is around the same price — if not higher — than a saltwater tank.


Aquarium Size

Size plays a pretty big factor in your aquarium decision as well. It used to be a common belief that saltwater fish required a large tank. However, today many manufacturers are creating smaller tanks for saltwater use. However, due to an increased water volume, larger aquariums are much easier to care for than smaller ones. To start, first, think of the ideal location for your aquarium. Is there enough room for your desired size?



It’s true, saltwater lighting can get pretty expensive, but affordable aquarium lighting does exist! However, the specific amount of lighting you need mainly depends on what's inside the aquarium. For example, if you choose to put corals in your aquarium, they require a specific light that can not only be costly but requires a lot of energy to run. Most lighting options for freshwater aquariums will generally be less expensive than saltwater tanks. When it comes to freshwater aquariums, the only aquarium that would need serious lighting equipment is a planted tank. Compact fluorescent lighting is a great and affordable lighting option for freshwater aquariums. In the end, it doesn’t really matter which type of aquarium you choose. What matters is the quality and size of lighting system you choose to utilize, giving you complete control over how much you spend.


Water Changes

One of the most dreaded chores that comes with aquariums is water changes. Although the work is tedious and time-consuming, it is essential to maintaining a healthy fish tank. Saltwater aquariums are going to require more work initially, as you have to mix the water beforehand. With the salt taking a while to dissolve into the water, and checking the salinity level, this can take up some time. However, you can make this step of the water change much simpler. You can either mix the saltwater beforehand or you can choose to purchase pre-mixed saltwater from an aquarium supply store. Water changes with freshwater aquariums are much simpler — the water requires no mixing or sitting. However, if tap water, like from a sink or a hose, is used to fill a freshwater aquarium, it does need to be treated to eliminate toxic chemicals that can potentially danger the freshwater livestock and plants you plan to have inside.



If you are looking for a beautiful, colorful aquarium, there is absolutely no contest for a saltwater reef aquarium. Many people choose saltwater tanks because of the larger selection and array of bright-colored fish and coral, and plants. Certainly you can find some beautiful colors within a freshwater tank, take an African cichlid tank for example, and there are some very beautiful and bright freshwater fish, however, it is vastly different from the colors and tones you would see in a saltwater aquarium.


Ease of Maintaining

Similar to the fact that freshwater aquariums — but not all — are cheaper than saltwater, freshwater takes are also generally easier to maintain and care for. There are so many variables within a saltwater environment that can make up-keep and care a little more difficult and time-consuming.



When it comes to variation, the simple truth is that there is a much larger variation in saltwater livestock than freshwater. Don’t let that completely take a freshwater aquarium out of the picture, as there are still plenty of species available for your tank to keep you busy, like snails, frogs, and fish that live at all water levels. In the saltwater world, though, there is a large array of diver livestock and inverts that you can include in an aquarium. Having the ability to add beautiful coral and other unique creators also add the variety you get with saltwater tanks.


Aquarium Equipment

The type of aquarium you select will influence the type of fish tank equipment you need. Of course, there is the option to purchase a saltwater set-up that doesn’t require that much additional equipment. But generally, saltwater tanks will require more equipment than freshwater tanks, and it will usually be more expensive too. To give you an idea of the additional equipment needed, check out some examples of what you would likely need with a saltwater aquarium that you would not need in a freshwater one:

  • Salt Mix
  • Sump pump
  • Extra aquarium test kits
  • Hydrometer
  • Protein Skimmer
  • Powerheads



The cool and unique thing about saltwater aquariums is that they are always evolving. You may notice inhabitants that were not originally purchased, but possibly came from the live rock or sand you added. It's always exciting to check your aquarium for new inhabitants.

Freshwater fish, however, are much easier to breed. This gives you the chance to experience the excitement of getting new fish in your tank and study mating behaviors. Saltwater fish are more difficult to breed, so chances like these are rare.



There are many advantages and disadvantages that come with both fresh and saltwater aquariums. While freshwater aquariums offer increased chances of breeding, the incorporation of live plants, and easier care and maintenance, saltwater aquariums can provide a larger variation regarding the species and colors. What it really comes down to in the end is personal preference. Be sure to take the time to research your options and really think about which aquarium is best.


Shop At Melbourne Tropical Fish

When you are ready for a saltwater aquarium or a freshwater aquarium, be sure to shop at Melbourne Tropical Fish! We carry a large selection of aquarium equipment, supplies, livestock, and more! We even can build you a custom aquarium! There is no better store for affordable aquarium equipment! To learn more, contact us or visit our site!


Contact Us

Melbourne Tropical Fish

Factory 2/41-43 Sinclair Rd

Dandenong VIC 3175

(03) 9792 5513


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published