Infographic: Saltwater vs Freshwater Tanks 7

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Fish are exquisite, aquatic animals that are not only beautiful to behold, but also known to have therapeutic effects, well!

If you’re toying with the idea of investing in fish, but still mulling over your fish tank options, the very first step lies in determining the age ole’ quandary: Saltwater or Freshwater?

Infographic Saltwater vs Freshwater Tank

Selecting a freshwater tank is often the recommended choice for a beginner aquarist. Generally, freshwater tanks are

  • easier to maintain,
  • present fewer risks/hazards,
  • and are less expensive.

A freshwater tank can be a glass or acrylic tank of any size, and offer a wide variety of choices in plant life for freshwater aquariums. Popular freshwater fish include: cichlids (retailed at $5); betta fish (retailed at $3); gouramis fish (retailed at $2); goldfish ($3), and tetras fish ($2).

Saltwater aquariums are more expensive than freshwater tanks, and often more precarious to maintain. Despite the responsibilities associated with a saltwater tank, the natural beauty of maintaining such unique marine life is rewarding enough to offset the challenges.

Saltwater aquariums enable owners to cultivate livestock that is much more vibrant and colorful than what is found in a freshwater tank. Popular saltwater fish include clownfish (retailed at $30); butterflyfish (retailed at $75); dottybacks ($15), and blennies ($20).

Ultimately, you should weigh your aquarium options. If costs is an issue, it’s probably best that you opt for a freshwater tank first. If the cost isn’t much of an issue for you and you want a more vibrant and colorful tank, a saltwater is the way to go.

Share Your Thoughts Below

If you’re still unsure or if you have advice for the newbies trying to jump into the hobby, feel free to share it in the comments section below and perhaps share it with your friends too. Thanks.

About Dennis Hanson

Dennis is an experienced aquarist with many years of knowledge and experience in keeping successful tanks. He also has no relations to the pop group Hanson.

7 thoughts on “Infographic: Saltwater vs Freshwater Tanks

  1. Reply Robin Hamm Nov 13,2013 9:06 pm

    I unexpectably adopted a Betta 2 yrs.+ ago, and have kept him in a 1 gallon bowl. He has always been active and playful. I was away from home for 41/2 months and on my return, he’s been acting sick. That was apprx. 4 months ago and I’ve been cleaning his bowl everyday. He’s been struggling, but is trying so hard. He’s eating less. Almost as though he might not be able to see. I also think that ‘fin rot’ might be involved.

    I have a used 1 gallon aquarium that has a filter. I’m just not sure how to set it up properly and if that would even resolve the problem. My finances are very limited, as is transportation.

    Any ideas?

    Thank you, Robin Hamm

  2. Reply Rhonda London Dec 31,2015 4:43 am

    How’s he doing?

  3. Reply kay the snail lady Jan 19,2017 9:54 pm

    Switch him to a bigger tank, that should help a lot.

    If he’s already 2 & he’s lived in an unfiltered 1-gallon his whole life, he may just be getting old.

    Bettas can live 4 years, but only with good clean water (which is nearly impossible in a 1-gallon), & heating (they like it 78-80 degrees).

  4. Reply Miss Cellany Apr 28,2017 10:48 pm

    I love my planted tank. I dislike the garish saltwater reef tanks (I think it’s the bright blue lights – ugly) but wouldn’t mind a saltwater PLANTED tank (with seagrasses and macroalgaes) with a a more natural lighting (grow bulbs and daylight bulbs). In the future I may set up a 55 gal SW planted tank – if I can find an LFS that stocks seagrasses 😛

    • Reply Jesterrace Sep 7,2017 5:24 am

      People miss the mark with saltwater when they think that tanks with live rock and corals, lights are all about show. Live Rock is a crucial biological filter for a saltwater tank. You don’t need corals and the bright lights to show it off, but you definitely want at least a fish only with live rock configuration.

  5. Reply Alicia Jul 30,2017 12:29 pm

    You’ve literally picked some of the most boring freshwater fish and then said saltwater fish are prettier. There are MANY vibrant freshwater fish, don’t make them sound so boring

  6. Reply Jesterrace Sep 7,2017 5:20 am

    From the perspective of a guy who went with a saltwater tank on his first go around, I would like to dispel some myths here.

    1) Going with Freshwater and then switching to Saltwater won’t save you from the vast majority of things that go wrong with saltwater tanks and it will teach you some bad habits (ie trying to start a saltwater tank with freshwater equipment and layout)

    2) Going with a Fish only tank with saltwater is crazy for a new hobbyist unless you have a LFS type pump system that regularly keeps pre-mix RO/RODI saltwater cycled in and out. Fish Only with Live Rock is probably the best balance and you can save some on cost by going with dry rock and seed it with a few pounds of live rock. Be aware that live rock needs to be properly cycled (usually takes 30-60 days depending if you go all live rock or dry rock seeded with a few pounds of live rock). The thing many fail to understand about live rock is that it is a crucial biological filter in marine environments (much more so than planted freshwater tanks) and it is actually your primary filter, so to go without live rock in a marine tank is not only to deprive most marine fish of their natural environment, but also a crucial filter for toxins.

    3) Saltwater Fish are far more territorial and have aggression issues much more than Freshwater fish. Hence you can’t pack a saltwater tank with fish like you can with a Freshwater tank. The flipside is that the color, activity and personality of the Saltwater fish more than make up for this. My Diamond Watchman Goby and my Clownfish love to people watch as does my Melanurus Wrasse to a lesser extent. My Diamond Watchman Goby will also manage my hermit crabs as part of the cleanup crew and pick them up with his mouth and place them where he feels they will do the most good (or out of his way). My workplace has a 50 gallon Freshwater tank and the fish are lifeless by comparison (not to mention very dull in coloration).

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