A fish tank in your home adds a lot. It’s excellent decor, each one is unique, and it’s soothing to watch. But which type of tank should you get? Keep reading to learn more about the differences between freshwater vs. saltwater aquariums. 

What Are The Characteristics Of A Freshwater Aquarium?

First, let’s discuss the traits of having a freshwater fish tank in your home. Freshwater tanks seem to be the most common. Finding fish species in your local pet shop is easier, and there’s less of a learning curve for beginner fish keepers.

What Is A Freshwater Fish Tank?

This type of aquarium uses freshwater only, with less sensitive fish species. Various fish can thrive in this environment, along with some live plants. Overall, freshwater is low in sodium and rich in ions and minerals.

Caring for a freshwater aquarium is relatively low maintenance. Monitor the water parameters of nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, and pH levels to ensure the environment thrives. Routine water changes are needed, but a well-established tank won’t require much work.

However, daily check-ins are always helpful since these fish are often disease-prone.

Water Conditions

Some freshwater tanks should have a water temperature between 68° F and 77 ° F. These temperatures are known as cold-water aquariums. However, you can also have a tropical aquarium, where the water temperatures range between 74° F and 86° F.

The pH balance should vary between 6.0 and 7.8. You’ll need to keep an eye on the KH and GH levels. Some fish species prefer the water to be more acidic than other species.

Overall, the water parameters will be dictated by the type of fish you get for your environment. Luckily, most freshwater first is hardy. They can be flexible with their water needs, so it’s a happy medium for everyone in the tank. 

Freshwater Vs. Saltwater Aquarium: What You Need To Know | PetSimplified.com

Equipment Needed

Freshwater tanks need less equipment than marine aquariums. Also, depending on the fish you choose to get, some equipment listed may or may not be required.

For example, here are some items you’ll need:

  • A spacious tank
  • A filtration system
  • Heater and thermometer
  • Substrate and decor (with live or artificial plants)
  • Air pump (with airline tubing and air stones)
  • Test kit

Check out our Freshwater Fish Tank Supplies List to learn more.

Fish Species

You can add various types of fish to your freshwater tank. However, be sure not to get saltwater fish, or they’ll get sick and most likely die from the lack of salt. So, some freshwater fish you can get include the following:

  • Corydoras
  • Danios
  • Goldfish
  • Guppies
  • Mollies
  • Tetras
  • Shrimp

What Are The Characteristics Of A Saltwater Aquarium?

Next, let’s discuss what a saltwater fish tank is. If this type of tank is on your radar, then here are some traits that this type holds.

What Is A Saltwater Fish Tank?

Also known as a marine aquarium or reef aquarium, a saltwater tank contains salt within the water. Add high amounts of sodium that naturally dissolve in the water to have an ideal saltwater environment for your fish.

Only certain species, invertebrates, and plants can tolerate being in a marine tank. Most saltwater plants can be challenging, so most home saltwater aquariums are reef tanks. 

When caring for a saltwater environment, monitoring the water is essential. Test the ammonia, nitrite, nitrates, pH, KH, and salinity often. Some water changes can slightly change the parameters of the water, harming sensitive marine life. 

Freshwater Vs. Saltwater Aquarium: What You Need To Know | PetSimplified.com

Water Conditions

The water conditions will vary depending on the type of fish you choose to have in your tank. However, the water temperature should be between 75° F and 78° F in saltwater.

In addition, the alkalinity of the water should be around 142 and 125 ppm, or eight to 12 dGH. You must monitor the alkalinity, general hardness, and carbonate hardness.

Finally, the pH range should remain between 7.9 and 8.5.

Equipment Needed

For the most part, saltwater tanks need similar equipment to freshwater tanks. However, since this type of aquarium needs salt, added tools are needed.

For example, saltwater aquariums need the following:

  • A spacious tank
  • Aquarium salt
  • Hydrometer (or refractometer)
  • Powerhead
  • Protein Skimmer
  • Live rock and substrate
  • Heater and thermometer
  • Filter system
  • Air pump (with airline tubing and air stones)
  • Marine test kit

Check out our Saltwater Aquarium Supplies List to learn more.

Freshwater Vs. Saltwater Aquarium: What You Need To Know | PetSimplified.com

Fish Species

The fish you add to your saltwater tank will vary from the species you can add to your freshwater tank. For instance, here are a few fish that will do well in a saltwater environment:

  • Angelfish
  • Butterflies
  • Clownfish
  • Lobsters
  • Marine Crabs
  • Sea Horses
  • Tang

FAQs About Freshwater Vs. Saltwater Aquariums

To learn more about freshwater and saltwater tanks, read through the frequently asked questions answered below. 

Why Can’t Saltwater Fish Live In Freshwater (And Vice Versa)?

In captivity, saltwater fish cannot regulate the salt cells in their body. Therefore, if marine fish were in a freshwater environment, osmosis would cause too much water into their body. The opposite effect happens if freshwater fish are in a saltwater environment. Too much water would leave their body, causing them to become dehydrated and damage vital organs. 

What’s The Average Cost Of A Freshwater Tank?

The average cost of buying and setting up a freshwater aquarium may cost you up to $600. It will depend on the size of your tank (the bigger, the more expensive), the fish species you add, the type of decor you get, and more.

What’s The Average Cost Of A Saltwater Tank?

The average cost of a saltwater aquarium can range between $500 and $1,000. This aquarium requires more items than freshwater tanks. Fish species can be more expensive, depending on how hard they are to find. 

Freshwater Vs. Saltwater Aquariums: Which Is Better For Beginners?

Freshwater aquariums tend to cost less and require less maintenance. The fish are also hardier. So, freshwater will be a good place to start if you’ve never had a fish tank. However, with plenty of time, patience, and research, maintaining a saltwater aquarium can do just as well.

Freshwater Vs. Saltwater Aquarium: What You Need To Know | PetSimplified.com
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