How to Decide Between a Freshwater or Saltwater Aquarium

How to Decide Between a Freshwater or Saltwater Aquarium

Aquariums really do make a perfect addition to any home. They are beautiful, relaxing, and enjoyable for all ages! However, it’s not a simple process to set them up.

One of the biggest choices you’ll have to make is whether you want to start a fresh or saltwater tank. Both have pros and cons, so it’s important to research to understand what’s best for you.

Interested in learning more? Below we are going to discuss some of the factors you should think about to help you with your final decision. Let’s get started!

Budget and Cost

When it comes to the cost between the two types of tanks, there is a clear difference between both. Saltwater aquariums tend to be much more expensive to set up, and this is because of a variety of factors.

Firstly, the tanks require more specialized equipment in order to run effectively. Secondly, saltwater fish and coral tend to be more costly in comparison to other species. 

Of course, the overall size of your tank will also contribute to the price. The larger the tank, the more it will be to purchase and maintain.

Skill Level

One of the biggest differences between freshwater and saltwater is the skill level required to maintain the tanks. In most cases, freshwater fish are more manageable as they require less knowledge.

That being said, it all depends on the species you wish to breed. Each has its own care requirements, so you’ll need to understand this further. 

If you’re still a beginner, know that there is help out there for you. For instance, Momchil, founder of created a website to help the aquarist community. With so much information available, you’ll be able to grow your skill level in no time.

Fish and Coral Variety

How to Decide Between a Freshwater or Saltwater Aquarium


Saltwater tanks are known for their exotic fish and coral. It’s like you get to see a glimpse into the ocean right in your own home and it’s enjoyable adding new pieces.

In comparison, freshwater fish are part of a more limited selection. But this shouldn’t turn you off. There is a wide range of unique species, including snails and frogs that you can also consider purchasing.


Lighting is another important factor to consider when starting an aquarium. Not only can it be costly, but the amount you need depends on what you place in your tank.

Corals require a very special light that tends to need more energy to run. Freshwater on the other hand is less expensive, as you only really need a large setup if you have real plants.

Just be sure to choose your systems carefully, It’s best to go with something of high quality if you need it.

Required Equipment

As we already mentioned, saltwater aquariums require more specialized equipment. From a hydrometer to a sump pump and protein skimmer, there are a variety of extras that are not needed in a freshwater tank.

This increases cost and requires more time and knowledge. But, even with all the disadvantages, many owners still say they are worth the additional effort.

If you’re worried about the expense, write out a list and add everything up to create one lump sum. If you can’t afford it, you may need to look into other options. Especially as a lot of equipment will require regular replacements over time.


Both types of tanks require a lot of maintenance to keep them in good condition. However, saltwater usually needs more work. This is because it has a very delicate balance that is more difficult to keep consistent. 

Freshwater tanks still need a high level of care but tend to be a bit more resilient. You’re able to let more time pass before conducting testing and water changes which makes it a better option for those with limited hours to spare.

House Space

How to Decide Between a Freshwater or Saltwater Aquarium

Most people assume that to have an aquarium, you need a large tank, but that isn’t always the case. No matter what you choose (fresh or salt), you can find both small and large options available.

You still have to plan to ensure that you have enough space within your house. Alongside the room, you’ll require support and access to water and power. Some fish will also thrive in a quieter area of the home.


If one of the main reasons you’re starting a tank is to breed, going with freshwater fish is generally a better option. In most cases, these species are easier to breed and this allows you to study mating behaviors and watch new fish babies grow.

While it is possible to breed saltwater fish, it’s a more complicated process. It requires strict attention to detail and you’ll have to follow the correct methods to ensure the tank doesn’t become overcrowded. It’s not the best choice for beginners. 


When it comes to aesthetics and appeal, saltwater tanks tend to come out on top. This is because both the coral and fish are more colorful and vibrant.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Natural freshwater designs can be beautiful and tranquil. Consider what look and feel you want in your home. We all enjoy different styles.

Personal Preference 

Lastly, while you can follow all of the advice above, don’t forget to factor in your own personal preference. What are you more interested in? Why do you want to start this journey in the first place?

Asking yourself these questions will help you make your final choice. Trust your gut, otherwise, you may regret your decision later on.

Final Words

There’s no denying that deciding between a freshwater or saltwater aquarium can be a tough decision. Thankfully, after reading through the advice, you should have a better idea of what is right for you.

If you’re still not sure where to begin, speak to the aquarium community about their thoughts and past experiences. Chances are they have been through the same stage as yourself. Good luck and most importantly have fun!

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