Aquariums always offer a serene beauty to a home. With its vibrant colors, diverse critters, and calming sounds, it’s no wonder so many people are captivated by aquariums. When picking out a new aquarium, most aspiring aquarium owners will try to decide between freshwater and saltwater tanks, based on which is “easier” to care for. […]
Aquariums always offer a serene beauty to a home. With its vibrant colors, diverse critters, and calming sounds, it’s no wonder so many people are captivated by aquariums. When picking out a new aquarium, most aspiring aquarium owners will try to decide between freshwater and saltwater tanks, based on which is “easier” to care for.
If you’re one of these rookie hobbyists, be aware that both freshwater and saltwater require lots of maintenance, care, and effort to thrive beautifully. A neglected aquarium will not grow or display any of the enchanting traits a well-managed tank has.
Still, there are several key differences between freshwater and saltwater aquariums so read on to find out what you need to know about each:
Both saltwater and freshwater aquariums offer a diverse and colorful array of critters, including fish, plants, snails, and crabs! A rookie aquarium owner may prefer to start out with a freshwater tank and its normal cast of fish (goldfish, tetras, and angelfish).
Freshwater fish are generally tougher and less expensive than saltwater ones. They can withstand certain mistakes in water maintenance, and even tend to be slightly aggressive. These fishes may not come in the beautiful, eye-catching colors like their saltwater buddies, but many do have lovely patterns and designs on their bodies.
Saltwater critters often have amazing colors and lively coral reefs, rocks, and plants. These animals also have fascinating habits that can keep your attention. You can observe your pet clownfish, for instance, and its symbiotic relationship with certain types of anemone. Your pet Pufferfish may grow fond of you, and practically beg for your attention. Saltwater fish are delicate and more expensive than freshwater ones.
Freshwater fish species get their start from ponds and lakes. The water in their tanks must be dechlorinated, and should have enough movement for oxygen. Aquarium owners also must regularly monitor the levels of pH, ammonia, and temperature to avoid any potential loss. Some freshwater fish may also prefer colder water or shallow depths, so research is a must.
With saltwater aquariums, appropriate amounts of salt must be included in the tank. You can use a hydrometer to measure how salty the water is for your aquarium. Some of the saltwater critters may need more minerals in the water, such as calcium or iodine. Saltwater tanks also need to be constantly checked for the right levels of pH, ammonia, and temperature.
Both freshwater and saltwater aquariums require tanks that have a hood, gravel or sand as substrate, and a reliable filter that cleans the water at least 5 times an hour. With freshwater tanks, size depends largely on the amount of fish you’re planning to house.
You may also need to add a light source to see your fish and plants, and a cover to prevent evaporation. We recommend using an air pump to add oxygen and a heater to regulate the temperature in your freshwater tank.
Saltwater tanks should be at least 30 gallons so that small water fluctuations aren’t felt. Along with filter, you may need a protein skimmer to remove any extra waste in your tank. This will also need to be emptied and cleaned on a weekly basis. If you own coral, you will also need to add lighting that varies in intensity and hours to your tank. You can find options that mimic sunlight cycles.
Freshwater fish and other critters are relatively inexpensive, with many fish species costing as little as 3-5 dollars. Of course, more elegant species like Koi can cost several hundred dollars. These types of fish should only be handled by advanced aquarium owners. Generally, you can purchase 10 gallon tank with gravel, filter, and other equipment for just 50 dollars (or even less!). Caring for a freshwater aquarium is also not very costly or time consuming, and many fish species are hardy enough to survive rookie mistakes!
Saltwater aquariums, by comparison, are more expensive than freshwater tanks. They require much of your time and effort, and lots of extra equipment. Due to their delicate nature, saltwater fish are much pricier and high-maintenance. It’s important to research every species you would like to add to your aquarium so that they receive the proper care from you.
Both types of aquariums come with their challenges, but when enough care and maintenance is given, both can be marvelous additions to a room. Make sure you consider the amount of time and effort you are willing to provide for your aquarium environment. Once you make this decision, and work on your aquarium, you will always have a beautiful aquatic piece to show off.
Also, if you’re looking for advice on aquarium care, stop by our Petland store locations and ask our Pet Counselors to get started! Otherwise, check out our blog, Tips on Caring For Aquatic Plants in A Home Aquarium for our advice on caring for underwater plants.