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 There are numerous factors that may have prompted you to begin keeping an aquarium.  Maybe you walked through a pet store &  saw a display tank all set up that caught your eye?, Maybe you went to a friends house  & saw an awesome aquarium setup in his living room.  Regardless of what influenced your decision to setup a new aquarium, the first thing you must decide is whether a saltwater or freshwater tank is right for you.  Some of the main factors that may influence your decision are the following:  Expense, available time, dedication & patients.  When seeking advice from other aquarium hobbyist, many will tell you to  start with a freshwater tank & then upgrade to a saltwater tank once you‘ve gained some experience.  This may or may not be good advice, depending on your level of interest.  There are a number of pros & cons for both setups that I would like to discuss.


Below are only a few of many pros and cons to consider in choosing saltwater over freshwater




-You’ll have a nearly endless  number of diverse livestock inhabitants to choose    from, which you wont have with a freshwater tank.


-When buying  livestock (mostly live rock & corals), you’ll often be treated with creatures you didn’t intend to purchase in the form of “hitchhikers”  (e.g. small crustations, sponges, fan worms, ect.)


-You’ll be much less likely to loose interest, which often happens with freshwater tanks leading to neglect.


-Keeping saltwater tanks, especially nano tanks are much more challenging than freshwater tanks.


-After turning the lights on in the morning, you’ll often see strange looking nocturnal creatures wondering about your tank that you never knew were in there.


-Let’s face it, saltwater aquariums are much more interesting & fun to keep than freshwater tanks




-Generally, more expensive to keep (livestock, equipment, ect), as compared to freshwater tanks.


-More maintenance & monitoring required, especially with nano tanks.


-Saltwater tanks are much less forgiving of sudden changes in water parameters (e.g. ph, temperature, salinity, ect).


-When keeping a vast variety of livestock, compatibility issues may be somewhat difficult to overcome.  By this, I’m not only referring to compatibility among  individual livestock inhabitants, but also equipment (lighting, current, ect.).   needed to satisfy each inhabitants needs.


-Most pet shops do NOT offer a “stay alive guarantees” on marine livestock.  Many of these same shops will often offer a two week or more guarantee on freshwater livestock (unless you purchase your livestock online from companies such as which offers a two week guarantee on ALL livestock, both freshwater & saltwater).


     If you’re still not sure whether a saltwater or freshwater tank is right for you, then you may want to consider a combination saltwater & freshwater tank.  How is this possible?  “Brackish” tanks have been gaining popularity among aquarium hobbyists for several years.  Most brackish livestock comes from areas where freshwater rivers meet the ocean.  One of the biggest advantages of  Brackish inhabitants are their ability to adapt to various tank conditions.  It’s not uncommon for some Brackish species to go from freshwater to saltwater in a twenty four hour period (often depends on the tide.)  Some of the most commonly available brackish fish include various species of Mono’s, Scats, Archer fish, Puffers & a variety of inverts. 


     In closing, please remember the above suggestions are only a few of many factors that should be considered in choosing which tank is right for your.  Although I personally prefer saltwater tanks, freshwater tanks can also create an awesome visual display in your home.  Whichever route you choose, the important thing is to enjoy the small underwater world that you’ve created.