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The Saltwater Aquarium vs. the Freshwater Fish Tank

The Saltwater Aquarium vs. the Freshwater Fish Tank

It's exciting to think about becoming a new fish parent. However, don't get ahead of yourself: you want to start at the beginning. It is understandable that you are eager to pick out your new pet; however, there are numerous other decisions you must make before that. Picking out the type of aquarium is the best place to start. And by type of aquarium, we don’t mean the size or shape of the tank, but whether you are going to have a saltwater or freshwater aquarium.

To better understand the differences between saltwater and freshwater aquariums, read the material below that outlines the saltwater aquarium vs. the freshwater fish tank. Hopefully, this information provides you clarity and allows you to pick the perfect aquarium option for you.

Water Differences

The general makeup of the two types of water is significantly different. Freshwater has a low salt concentration, having a total of less than 1%. On the other hand, saltwater contains an abundance of salts. Knowing and understanding this is extremely important for the well-being of your new pets. Any plants and animals that live in freshwater cannot survive in saltwater, and vice versa. Please keep this in mind when making all decisions for your aquarium.

Tank Maintenance

Performing tank maintenance is a very important element that you cannot ignore or forget. Many would assume that the maintenance requirements are similar for the two, but that is not the case. Both tanks require regular hands-on maintenance; however, there are some differences between the two. For example, you will need to regularly change water in each type of tank, as this will ensure its quality and habitability. With that said, saltwater tanks will need more frequent and regular water changes than freshwater tanks. The same goes for the actual cleaning of the tank.

It is important to note that freshwater fish can survive a variety of water conditions, leaving them able to live in an aquarium that isn’t necessarily the cleanest. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t clean the tank regularly—it just means that you don’t need to clean it as often as a saltwater tank. Just remember that no matter what you pick, saltwater or freshwater, you need to properly maintain it. This is necessary for giving your fish the best possible life!

Space and Set-Up

You must take into consideration the best environment and set up for the inhabitants of the tank. Identifying this as a difference between saltwater and freshwater tanks allows you to see the differences needed in environments. An example of this is that saltwater fish tend to need more room and space because they cannot hold the same amount of oxygen as freshwater fish. This is the exact reason why you can have more fish in your freshwater tank than in your saltwater aquarium.

All you need to get a freshwater tank started is a simple tank, a filtration system, and a fish-only environment. Most of the inhabitants don’t need plants, as it tends to complicate the tank.

Tank Inhabitants

The types of fish vary from freshwater tank vs saltwater tank. Knowing which types of fish and plants live in which environments will allow for you to provide them with the best life. It will also give you direction on what types of fish you will be the proud owner of, depending on which aquarium you choose to own. Some examples of the different types of fish are provided below:


  • Clownfish
  • Dwarf Angelfish
  • Damselfish
  • Reef Fish


  • Betta Fish
  • Cichlids
  • Common Goldfish
  • Tetras

Difference of Costs

There are many elements that go into the costs of these aquariums. For saltwater tanks, it is important to know that starting the process and setting up the tank is going to be significantly more expensive than starting a freshwater aquarium. This is because more equipment such as powerheads, protein skimmers, and live rock is needed for saltwater tanks. Freshwater tanks do not need this equipment and are much more cost-efficient to start.

Another difference in cost is the actual price of the fish. Saltwater fish tend to have a higher price than freshwater fish. Most freshwater fish can be purchased for $1-$10, while saltwater fish start ranging between $10-$20 and can go significantly higher. As a reminder— you will also need to get all of the salt needed to keep the tank water levels right.


When considering the differences between a saltwater vs. freshwater aquarium, you should consider how much enjoyment you'll get out of each. Thankfully, no matter which one you choose, you'll be happy with your decision. Some say that saltwater tanks are much more rewarding because they are more vibrant and colorful and have a larger variety of inhabitants, but it really comes down to preference. If you can successfully purchase a tank and all necessary equipment, set it up, and provide a happy and healthy living environment for your fish—you will find enjoyment! It really all comes down to what your preference is, how much money you are willing to spend, and how much maintenance and hands-on work you are willing to do.

The information provided above allows for you to see the significant differences between the two different types of aquariums. It is our hope that we have provided you with enough information for you to make the best decision for you. And if you already have a tank and are looking for new information on how to improve the quality of the environment or overall life for your finned friends, we hope that you got that information as well. Do what you need to do as a responsible owner to keep your fish healthy and safe.

And if your fish is unfortunately not healthy, we are here to provide assistance for you! At eFishMox, we can provide you with whatever medications you need for your fish to feel better. Whether you need a specific medication or need just basic aquarium antibiotics, we have it here. All you must do is visit our website to see the numerous fish-related medications that we have available for purchase. Call us or refer to our website with any and all questions you may have. We hope nothing but the absolute best for you and your aquarium!

Saltwater vs. the Freshwater Fish Tank

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