Freshwater vs Saltwater Aquariums: Points to Note

Freshwater vs Saltwater Aquarium: Points to Note

There are several differences that come along with fresh and salt water aquariums. There are also pros and cons for each. That is why one has to take time and understand what each aquarium has to offer. But over and beyond that is yet another important factor which is constant in both fresh and salt water aquariums – water quality. There is no shortcut around it, especially if you have sensitive fish like betta. Your water quality has to be good mainly because it affects the health and wellness of your fish.

Freshwater aquariums

They are more popular than saltwater aquariums. Buyers are in fact, encourage to always find out if any “aquarium for sale” sign is all about freshwater aquariums of saltwater ones. More often than not, such signs refer to freshwater aquariums.


  • They are easy to maintain.
  • Readily available – You won’t struggle to shop around for fresh water aquariums. Most stores have them.
  • Low maintenance costs.


  • Fish type – There are way too many fish species for you to choose. If you are an amateur hobbyist, you may end up getting confused.
  • Strange terms – Your will hear of predator tanks, planted tanks and brackish tanks. These and more are just but some of the terms you will come across as you look for a fresh water aquarium. Don’t worry about the terms though. Ask for clarification.

Saltwater aquariums

They are not as common as the aforementioned fresh water aquariums. People often shy away from them yet they can be fun. That is, maintaining them and learning more about them.


  • Can accommodate more fish variety.
  • Colourful – Reefs, colourful saltwater fish and turquoise blue waters are just but some of the perks that come along with saltwater aquariums.


  • High set up costs – Setting up a sizeable 29 gallon aquarium for salt water will cost you around $270. The cost would go down to $250 for a fresh water aquarium.

Point to note

All fish species are tolerant to a great extent when it comes to water quality, but for them to really thrive the water needs to satisfy certain specific parameters.

There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet about water temperature, letting chlorinated water ‘sit’ versus using a dechlorinator, etc. That is because different people have different experiences with their betta fish. It doesn’t make anybody right or wrong, but it does require some standardization of information.

Using Distilled Water

Most people would agree that distilled water takes care of all the problems of contaminants and unwanted minerals. However, the distillation process takes away even the ‘good’ minerals like magnesium and calcium that are essential to the fish’s well-being and growth.

So, yes, your bettas can survive in distilled water but that’s like us eating food with pure calorific value and no nutritional value whatsoever – and bland, to boot!

The ideal solution would be to use tap water in which water conditioners are mixed. The type of conditioner would depend on the actual pH levels, hardness and mineral and chemical content of the water, but any fish dealer will be able to point you in the right direction.

Dealing with Chlorine and Chloramine

If you use normal tap water, then you first need to remove the chlorine from the water. This is easily done with a dechlorinator.

On the other hand, if you’re dealing with Chloramine, then a dechlorinator won’t help much. You will need something like AmQuel, which you can buy from any pet store. You can check with your water company as to whether they’re using chlorine or chloramine before you buy it.

Some believe that letting chlorinated water “sit” for 24, 48 or 72 hours allows the chlorine to evaporate into the atmosphere, leaving the water completely; yet others disagree.

If you’re not sure about it, it’s better to use a dechlorinator – worst case is that the water won’t need it anyway, but your fish will remain safe just the same.

pH Levels

pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity in the water. Bettas typically thrive in low pH water, and can go up to about 7.8; anything more than that will start to affect them on a long-term basis, and 10 is the identified danger point.

Keep a water testing kit handy so you can test every change of water before introducing your bettas into them. pH level changes – especially rapid ones – can cause problems such as clamped fins so make sure that the water source that you are using is their only source of water.

Changing the water according to the nitrate levels present is also a good way to ascertain the routine.

Ideally, nitrate levels should be kept below 30 ppm but that will depend on your fish – the lower it is maintained at, the better for your bettas.

These are the main considerations for water quality for your betta fish. Keeping the water within these specific ranges for these parameters will not only ensure that your fish remain healthy throughout their normal lives, but may actually give them longer lives.

Freshwater vs Saltwater Aquarium: Points to Note
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Freshwater vs Saltwater Aquarium: Points to Note
Difference between Freshwater vs Saltwater Aquariums and all you need to know about your fish and water quality.

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