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Saltwater Or Freshwater Aquarium: Which Is Right For You?
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Aquariums can be a wonderful addition to your home. They can add a unique decorative touch as well as provide joy in seeing the masterpiece you have created. Additionally, aquariums can offer a soothing, zen-like quality to any space. Once you have decided to commit to bringing an aquarium into your home, the next thing you will have to decide is what type of aquarium you will have. There are essentially two types of aquariums for you to choose from: saltwater or freshwater. Each aquarium has its own unique benefits, requirements and challenges. It is important to explore all of these factors before making your choice and purchase.

Understanding the Difference

The Fish

One of the most profound differences between saltwater and freshwater aquariums is the types of fish. Freshwater fish are generally found in rivers, lakes, streams and ponds, whereas saltwater fish are found in oceans and seas. Typically, freshwater fish are either tank or pond raised while their saltwater counterparts are caught in the wild. Saltwater fish are more vibrantly colored and are available in a wider variety than freshwater fish, but can be more sensitive to changes in water temperature and chemistry. Additionally, a saltwater aquarium allows you to add a wide range of other animals and plant life, such as live coral or other marine invertebrates. However, whether you choose a saltwater or freshwater aquarium, careful research is needed when selecting your fish and plant life. Some fish are more sturdy and stable and can withstand slight changes and variations in their environment while other fish are known to not “play well” with other types of fish or marine life.

The Equipment

When selecting your tank, consider the location in your home you wish to place the aquarium. Almost any size tank will function well as a saltwater or freshwater aquarium; however a larger aquarium will be easier to keep chemically balanced and will offer more options when selecting fish and accessories. Most aquarium equipment is designed to function as a freshwater or saltwater tank. However, there are some considerable differences to consider. Most freshwater tanks will flourish with basic gravel at the bottom of the tank. The gravel comes in many different colors that can be added to enhance the theme of your aquarium. Most aquarists will swear by live rock or reef when creating a saltwater aquarium. Saltwater fish will thrive in this type of environment. Lighting is another important difference in equipment. Lighting is necessary in any aquarium to maintain the health of the aquatic life. Lighting requirements differ based on the type of aquarium and the fish and invertebrates that inhabit it. Maintaining a constant temperature and having an adequate filtration system is a must in any aquarium environment. Finally, you will need a water testing kit. This will help you monitor the levels of your water and adjust as necessary to maintain a properly balanced environment.

The Maintenance

Basic maintenance doesn’t differ much between a saltwater or freshwater tank. With either option, you will need to ensure that all equipment is running properly and replacing filters and cartridges as necessary. The tank will also need to be cleaned periodically. Cleaning the aquarium will typically require you to replace between 10 and 15 percent of the water volume every 2 weeks. The water removed during the process of vacuuming the gravel is usually sufficient. Keep in mind that the new water will need to be treated according to the type of aquarium you are keeping before being added to the tank. Cleaning the aquarium walls and testing the water for proper levels is also an essential part of aquarium maintenance.

The Cost

A saltwater aquarium comes at a higher cost than a freshwater aquarium. The cost does not come from the aquarium itself, but primarily from stocking the aquarium with fish and other accessories. Saltwater fish will often cost more due to the costs associated with collecting and shipping the fish and an increase in supply-and-demand. If budget is a factor in your decision, consider purchasing a smaller aquarium and spending the money on quality equipment. There is little benefit in saving six dollars on a filter when the average saltwater fish costs thirty dollars.

Making Your Choice

Deciding between a saltwater or freshwater aquarium can be a difficult choice, but it is not a decision that you should make in haste or by impulse. Maintaining an aquarium is a long-term commitment and you need to be prepared for the maintenance and cost of providing the right environment for your fish. Make your decision carefully and research all of your options before making a final choice. Fish need to be cared for just like any other pet you may have in your home. They need love, affection and food and be maintained in order to ensure a successful and flourishing environment. However, with the proper care, aquariums can be a wonderful addition to your home that you can enjoy for many, many years to come.


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