Salt or Fresh Water Aquarium? Which is Right for You?

Have you been told that caring for a Salt water aquarium is too hard, or risky, for a beginner? Don’t let experienced aquarists TANK your enthusiasm for your new found hobby! Deciding between a fresh or salt water environment is actually one of the biggest you will have to make for your aquarium. Good for you, DIVING into your research! Chances are, you are already HOOKED on some sort of design or type of fish you want to see flourish. Let’s take a look at the notable differences between Fresh and Salt water aquariums.

Set Up & Equipment needs
To set up either a Fresh or Salt water aquarium, you will need a variety of aquarium components and features. Many aquarists will say that Fresh water tanks may be easier to start with because it calls for less equipment. This can be true, but there are some freshwater applications out there that can be just as tough to manage as a salt water set up. Generally, saltwater aquariums have more applications because of the strict saltwater demands in comparison to the freshwater aquariums.

For both, you will need:
– An aquarium/fish tank (size varies depending on what kind of aquatic life living inside)
– Water filter and filter media
– Water pump
– Water thermometer and heater
– Water testing kits
– Fish net
– Air stones and air pumps
– Substrate
– Lighting
*Usually, Salt Water aquariums require additional equipment such as a protein skimmer, salt mix, live rock and additional testing kits*

*For detailed water purity, you can install a UV Sterilizer to clear contaminants*

Maintenance & Cleaning
pH level: You should check your tanks pH level once every other week. Fresh water fish tend to thrive in the 5.5-7.5 range and salt water fish generally require a pH of 8.0 or higher. (Sharpe, 2019)
Water changes: Frequent water changes are the most important part in maintaining your aquarium. This enables you to establish a healthy, balanced aquarium by physically removing waste, toxins and odors and adding fresh water provides an increased amount of oxygen to your fish and replenishes minerals. A good rule of thumb is about 10% of the tanks volume of water per week, or 15%-20% every other week. It will take some playing around with to determine the best water schedule for you and your tank.  Remember, for salt water tanks, you will need to mix the salt into the fresh water beforehand. (Algone, 2020)
Replacement parts: Occasionally, you will need to replace parts of your aquarium due to wear and tear.  

Types of Fish and Marine Life
The types of fish you choose to care for directly relate to the amount of work you will put into your tank.
The colors are brighter and more diverse in the saltwater world. Of course, these aquariums are fit for Reefs and the beautiful creatures that make their home within them!
There are also many colors that come from the freshwater world! Also, you guessed it, PLANTS! You can offer underwater, leafy vegetation to your fishy friends and keep your eye on the gorgeous greenery that can grow below the water.
There are plenty of options within both regions, but the more diverse your tank, the more attentive you have to be.

The price difference between the two different tanks will vary depending on the specific brands of devices you purchase to care for your fishy friends! (Also, the cost of your pretty fish)
One thing all fish need is food. Fish nutrition comes in many forms, whether you feed your fish flakes, pellets, or dried foods, the cost varies depending on the diet of your fish and how many you have.
If your fish require a heated environment, you will calculate the expense of purchasing the heaters and any maintenance that comes with it over time. If you decide to incorporate lights with your set up, the cost also varies depending on the type of light we are looking at (illuminating LED or Ultraviolet Light).
Don’t forget the crucial element for the saltwater tanks! …The price of salt! (which is used with every water change)

Ultimately, deciding between a Fresh or Salt water aquarium for your area of interest is up to you!
Get out there with your new found hobby and WAVE goodbye to those unsure waters.

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Sources and Further Readings:
Sharpe, S. 2019. How Important Is Your Aquarium’s pH Level?

Algone. 2020. Water change and aquarium maintenance.

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For over three decades, Aqua Ultraviolet has been the premier manufacturer of ultraviolet sterilizers and bio-mechanical filtration.

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