Ready to start your adventure in owning a saltwater aquarium?
Saltwater aquascaping is one of the most exciting hobbies to take on. The right aquarium can give you years of tranquility and peaceful viewing and quickly become a conversation starter!
With the best all in one saltwater aquarium kits, getting started has never been easier.
5 Best All In One Saltwater Aquarium Kits Compared
To help you get what you are looking for without spending too much money or ending up with low-quality equipment, we have rounded up 5 of the best all in one reef aquarium available in 2019.
1. SCA Starfire 50-Gallon Aquarium Kit - Great For Beginners
The SCA Starfire 50-gallon is, in our opinion, the best saltwater aquarium starter kit for beginners and experienced aquarists alike. We believe the 50-gallon size is the perfect balance between easy to maintain and enough capacity to handle most fish.
The tank measures 20 inches high, 24 inches wide, and 24 inches long, and is constructed from thick 10mm glass. The glass is a low-iron construction that gives you fantastic clarity without the green tint associated with most aquariums.
The stand that comes with the kit is heavy duty and comes in either black or cherry wood color. The kit comes with nearly everything you need to get started. You get your tubes, fittings, a 3-chamber sump, protein skimmer, and a pump return, along with all of the filtration media and biofilm.
While the system is designed to be plug and play, you may find yourself wanting extras. You could purchase additional equipment like a lighting system, a chiller or a heater system, an external wavemaker, and pre-cycled saltwater. You will also need a substrate.
- The 50-gallon size is great for beginners and experienced aquarists.
- The heavy-duty cabinet can easily hold the larger tank.
- Your pump, skimmer, sump, and filtration media are in the kit.
- SC Aquarium has fantastic customer service to help if you get stuck.
- You will need a separate lighting kit, heater, and external wavemaker.
- The plumbing that comes with the kit can be challenging to set up.
2. Fluval EVO XII Saltwater Aquarium Kit - Great Little Marine Tank
The Fluval EVO XII is another great reef ready aquarium kit. If you are limited on space or want to install your aquarium on your countertop or your desk, this smaller kit works great. It measures 22 inches wide, 11.5 inches long, and 15 inches high.
Each kit comes with a 3-stage filter system, 14000K lighting system, and a 132 gallon-per-hour pump. The filter is hidden into a compartment and consists of a foam block that holds the carbon and BioMax inserts you will receive.
The included LED lighting kit is sufficient enough for coral growth and adjusts between day and night cycles. Fluval will sell you an external protein skimmer that you can substitute if needed. The kit is ready to go out of the box, as long as you add a protein skimmer to the setup.The Fluval EVO XII nano reef ready aquarium kit is our pick for the best small saltwater aquarium starter kit in 2019. If you are on a budget in terms of space or money, this kit is a great way to get started enjoying your new reef system.
- The stylish design makes it easy to get up and to run as quickly as possible.
- The kit includes a great lighting kit that works well with your reef.
- The pump provides excellent water flow and filtration.
- The kit includes most of what you need to get started out of the box.
- The price of this kit makes it incredibly attractive to beginners.
- You will need to buy a separate skimmer and heater.
- You may want to buy a timer for your lighting system.
3. Coralife 30-Gallon Biocube Saltwater Aquarium Kit - attractive aquarium
If you are looking for a 30-gallon all in one reef tank, the Coralife 32-Gallon LED Biocube kit is one of the best you'll find. Coralife also offers it in two different sizes, a 16-gallon, and a 32-gallon, but we're focusing on the 32-gallon for our comparison.
The Biocube is an excellent plug-and-play all-in-one saltwater aquarium kit for beginners. The canopy's design is attractive, and the included lighting comes with an integrated control panel to make it easier for you to adjust.
The lighting is one area where Coralife sets themselves apart from the competition. The LED system features three different colors, blue for nighttime, white for daytime, and color enhancing bulbs to bring out the natural glow in your corals and fish.
The tank features a built-in filtration system with a quiet-running pump and adjustable nozzles. It is a fairly basic setup, so it is easy to get started. The protein skimmer and UV sterilizer are sold separately so you'll need to account for them in your budget.
- The aquarium is attractive and features a hinge-top canopy.
- The LED system is one of the highest quality we've seen for this price.
- The filter and skimmer are hidden away in a compartment, out of sight.
- The integrated light controller makes day/night cycling easy to do.
- You'll need to buy a separate stand if you want to use one.
- The filtration system is relatively basic and may need an upgrade down the road.
4. Innovative Marine 20-Gallon NUVO Fusion Kit - Efficient and Quiet
Innovative Marine is long-known as one of the best manufacturers for saltwater enthusiasts. The 20-Gallon NUVO Fusion is also one of the best nano reef tanks available. The NUVO Fusion is excellent for both beginners and experienced aquarists, alike.
The kit features a more traditional and basic design than others we've featured. The larger hidden filtration compartment helps keep the look minimal and attractive. The tank measures 24 inches long, 15 inches wide, and 13 inches high.
You do not get a stand when you purchase the kit, but smaller tanks are easy to find stands for. If you're planning on installing this on your countertop or desk, you won't need a stand, anyway. The kit does come with a self-leveling rubber mat to help dampen sound and make leveling easier to do.
The kit also comes with your pump, return hoses, nozzles, and a controller that gives you two different flow rates. It features a 1-touch feeding system with nine different speed settings on the pump to help keep current moving over your fish and corals.
- The tank features a clean, minimalistic design with a hidden filter compartment.
- The kit comes with nearly everything you need to get started cycling your water.
- Innovative Marine is known for providing top-notch customer support.
- The components in the kit are high-quality and shouldn't need to be replaced.
- This kit provides you with fantastic value for the money you're spending.
- You will need to purchase a separate protein skimmer and an LED lighting system.
Finally, the last (but not least) kit in our best all in one reef tank comparison is the SC Aquarium 66-Gallon Starfire Glass Aquarium Saltwater Kit. It's bigger than the others we've featured but, sometimes, bigger is better -- which you'll learn as you dive deeper into the hobby.
The tank, itself, measures 32 inches wide, 24 inches long, and 20 inches high. It's around 8 inches wider at the base than the 50-gallon version we featured above which adds to the dramatic flair that this tank provides over the 50-gallon version.
The 66-gallon kit includes the same hoses, pipes, and filter media that the 50-gallon kit includes. It also comes with an upgraded, heavy-duty stand that is capable of holding the massive 800 pounds of weight.The only downside when comparing the 66-gallon to the 50-gallon is the initial purchase price. The 66-gallon kit is quite a bit more expensive. However, it still includes your protein skimmer, return pump, filter media, bio-balls, and all the lines and hoses you need to get started.
- The larger tank is easier to maintain than smaller containers.
- The kit includes most of what you need to get started cycling your water.
- The large pump, sump, and protein skimmer work great.
- The heavy-duty cabinet looks good and easily holds the weight of the 66-gallon tank.
- The 66-gallon kit is a bit more expensive than the 50-gallon equipment.
- The plumbing requires more extensive instructions to get it working.
- You will need to purchase a separate lighting kit and heater.
How To Choose The Best Saltwater Aquarium Starter Kit
It doesn't necessarily matter who you are. What you need from your aquarium is going to be incredibly different than what someone else wants.
Customizing our aquascapes is part of the joy of keeping an aquarium. Making them our own is why we spend so much time sifting through the best of anything -- because we want the best.
It only makes sense that there isn't a "one size fits all" starter kit that is right for every single person reading this guide.
Beginners may be pulled to purchase something smaller while they believe it will end up being less work or cost less money. On the other hand, more experienced aquarists may go for a bigger setup since they understand that it is easier to maintain than smaller tanks.
While both people may be right in their own situations, we're here to give you the best general advice that works across a broad spectrum of scenarios and aquascape builder's preferences.
For the most part, you will want to think about your budget and the price of the kit you are thinking about purchasing. The initial startup costs for a 10-gallon tank will always be lower than the costs for starting a 50-gallon tank.
However, before you let price guide your way, in the beginning, you want to think about your investment over the lifespan of your tank. You may find that the difference between setting up your 5-gallon or 10-gallon tank isn't that different than starting a 50-gallon tank, especially if you already have the room for something more significant.
One or two years down the road, you may wish that you had started with a larger tank from the beginning. Once you get accustomed to setting up your tank and realize what goes into it, the differences between maintaining a 50-gallon and a 10-gallon aren't that far apart, either.Making a decision based on your research and what's possible over the long-term will always help you stay happier as time goes on. Regretting choices you made early on can be frustrating and expensive. We know from experience!
Cost of your Setup
Larger tanks are always easier to maintain than smaller tanks. The reason behind this relies on the physics in the water that you're working with.
Smaller tanks are more susceptible to rapid fluctuations in the water conditions and pH levels. This means you're going to spend more work dealing with the finicky system than you would if you were maintaining the same ratios in a larger tank.
A smaller tank will develop water and quality issues much more rapidly than larger tanks.
If you have the space available and you have the budget to swing it, we always recommend buying the largest tank you can afford.
If you do decide that you want to build a nano aquarium, make sure that you are aware it will NOT be less work than buying a more extensive setup. Just because it has a smaller footprint doesn't mean the maintenance will be lower.As a general rule, we recommend beginners start with at least 20 gallons and work their way up from there. Nano tanks are usually reserved for experienced reef keepers because they require more attention to detail than larger tanks do.
Price is a significant factor in any new setup. There's a right formula you can use when you are trying to figure out what you should spend on which pieces of equipment.
To ensure you have enough left in the budget to account for any miscellaneous items you may not have thought about, we recommend spending only 60% of your available budget on the initial startup costs.
There will always be additional purchases that you need to make once you have the starter kit in your hands, so leaving room in your budget will keep you from spending more than you wanted to.
Purchasing an all-in-one saltwater starter kit is a great way to reduce the costs you'll see in the beginning but not every starter kit is perfect. Most times, the packages are priced low enough to remain attractive but will often leave out a piece here, or there, to keep costs down.You can also save money by shopping through retailers that offer discounts or coupon codes, or by looking for deals in your local pet shops and big-box stores.
How To Choose The Best All In One Reef Aquarium
Choosing the "best" all-in-one reef aquarium, ultimately, comes down to your end goals with the tank. You should spend time upfront identifying what you see the result becoming so you can sidestep any hurdles that might stand in your way of getting there.
add your fish and corals
While an all-in-one saltwater aquarium kit will deliver on its name and give you everything you need to get started, you may find yourself wanting extras.
The kit that you buy will not include the fish or the water.
Spend a few minutes going through what's included in the kit before you make your purchase. You are wanting to verify that there aren't any critical bits missing or that the manufacturer hasn't failed to include a critical component.We recommend familiarizing yourself with different kits and some basic knowledge so that you have a firm understanding of what it takes to start and maintain a saltwater tank.
Before you ever add a single fish or coral, you need to make sure your water is cycled correctly. If you aren't familiar with cycling, it means that you are making sure the water quality is sufficient to sustain life.
Do not rush through the process of cycling. If you do your fish will suffer from your lack of patience. You can find guides that will help you safely cycle your water, or you can buy pre-cycled water from your local saltwater fish shop.
Before you add any coral or fish, you will need to make sure you've spent time understanding the best fish to keep. Sometimes that means the easiest fish to keep. Other times it means fish that will play well with each other, that will fit well into the size of tank you've chosen, and that won't harm your corals.
You want to create an environment that's not only interesting and captivating to look at, but one that will sustain itself and make your maintenance more comfortable to do.
Knowing the fish, you want to keep before you start setting up the aquarium can save you a ton of money and the frustration of losing a fish because you rushed through it.The sky is ultimately the limit, and it's your tank to do with as you wish. The most fun part of setting up your new aquarium is choosing your livestock and seeing them begin to thrive.
Advantages Of Premade Aquarium Kits
There are quite a few distinct advantages to buying a premade kit instead of putting together the essential equipment yourself.
First, and foremost, you're almost guaranteed not to leave anything out unless the manufacturer didn't include what you need in the kit you purchased.
Includes Everything you need
One of the biggest perks of buying an all-in-one is that you have the most natural path to get started right in front of you. This makes them perfect for beginners, as well as experienced aquarists that are limited on time or money.
All you usually need to do is follow the instructions from the manufacturer. This helps you sidestep some of the most common mistakes beginners are prone to making.
To give you an example, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is buying your aquarium and equipment separately only to find out your hardware doesn't work well together.
You spend your time and money piecing together what you think you need and then find out they're wrong for your tank size or they're incompatible with each other. That sets you back in time and frustrates you when you have to figure out which equipment will work with what you have.All-in-one saltwater kits help provide peace of mind knowing that what you're getting is designed to correctly work with everything else you've got.
With most all-in-one kits, everything you need is already in the box. You may only need to buy pre-cycled water and the fish or corals that you want to add.
Compare this to spending hour after hour researching separate items and then verifying that they'll work together, such as lighting elements or filters and pumps.Most of the hard work has already been done for you. All you typically need to do is start putting the kit together and then begin enjoying your brand new hobby.
When you break down the difference in cost between piecing together everything you have to buy separate against buying it all in a kit, the price differences are usually vast.
If you are on a tighter budget or want to make sure you aren't spending more than you need to, buying a kit is often your best bet.
Nothing is saying that you can't upgrade down the road or buy additional accessories when you're ready. You can even change the equipment that came with your kit for something higher-end, depending on your specific needs.
For instance, you may find out your kit didn't include a heater or a UV sterilizer. Perhaps you want to add a feeder to your package, and the manufacturer didn't include one. You are purchasing these accessories after the fact.This is also why we recommend only spending 60% of your available budget on the kit, so you have room for other accessories once your package is set up.
Disadvantages Of Premade Aquarium KitsWith all of the advantages of buying a kit that's ready to go, there are also a few different disadvantages that you'll want to think about. Knowing about them ahead of time can help you account for them instead of getting blindsided when your budget is used up.
sometimes lower quality
The most significant disadvantage is that you may be limited to what comes in your kit. It also may not come with everything that you want in your final setup.
For beginners, this may not be that big of an issue. However, for more experienced aquarists, it can present problems. Having gear leftover that you aren't going to use can be a frustrating issue to deal with.There are kits available that have gear catered to more experienced aquarists, though the price is usually higher than other beginner-focused packages.
One of the most significant issues we've found with premade kits is that the quality tends to go downhill fast. Since these kits are mostly catered to beginner aquarists that can't tell the difference, unscrupulous manufacturers will include junk equipment.
We've done the hard work to make sure you don't get scammed, but you'll still find that most kits are not including top-of-the-line equipment.
This is primarily because kits are designed for mass-market appeal. They are catering to people who may not be as far along in the process as someone with years of experience.
Some manufacturers are starting to take notice, though. They're beginning to offer upgrades to the kit that you purchased, based on what a majority of their customers end up doing with the kit after purchasing it.If you're someone who already knows what you want and knows that you will be upgrading anyways, adding these options, in the beginning, can be the best of both worlds.
What To Look For In Saltwater Aquarium Kits
Before you purchase anything, you need to make sure you are researching the amount of work that will go into the size of the setup you are thinking about buying.
Setting up your all-in-one marine starter kit isn't complete "set it and forget it" affair. You will need to maintain it even though everything you should need to get started is included.
Every aquarium needs to be maintained, especially saltwater aquariums.
Knowing that you're going to be performing regular tests on the water quality and adjusting it based on the results your test provided is critical to understand before you get started.
If you aren't sure how to maintain your tank before you go into it, we suggest doing some research to see what's required. Then, come back here and select a kit that fits your needs.
Should You Buy Full Or Partial Kits?
There are multiple types of "all-in-one" kits. Some are advertised as all-in-one but only include a tank and a stand. Others will consist of all of the essential equipment and accessories that you'll need to get the tank functional.
If there is a particular style of tank that you're looking for, you may not necessarily enjoy the look of the tank and stand that is being offered by one manufacturer.
If that kit includes everything you need, but you find a tank and stand for cheaper that you do like, you may be able to hit the same price range by purchasing the accessories separately.
Sometimes, the kit will come with the essentials to get started but not include a stand. You have to remember that manufacturers are trying to obtain mass-market appeal at a price range that works for a majority of customers.
Being picky about what you want is a good thing but may require you picking and choosing different parts of different kits to end up with the result that you're happy with.
Is An All-In-One Aquarium Kit Good For You?
You've decided you are ready to start your saltwater aquarium, now what?
If you've read this far, it means you are looking for the best route and the easiest way to get started. If that sounds like the situation, you are in, purchasing the best all-in-one saltwater aquarium kit could be the right decision to make.
Buying the entire kit can help you wade through most of the frustrations of getting started and having your tank ready to accept live fish or corals.
But, it's worth noting that even though you are buying a kit, you still need to make sure you have what you need in the end-result before you get started setting it up.
Learning the basics of starting and maintaining your aquarium can help you avoid any unwanted surprises. For instance, fluctuations in your water's pH level could negatively affect your fish or even kill your coral. Knowing how to measure the pH level is essential before you start.
The all-in-one kit is great if you're a beginner looking for the quickest path to having a tank running. Make sure you are doing your research and understand how to maintain it, too!
What's The Best All In One Saltwater Aquarium Kit In 2019?
Every single one of the all-in-one saltwater aquarium kits we have featured is from reputable manufacturers with proven quality. Any of the 5 is a great starting point for most people.
To help, our favorite pick is the SCA 50-Gallon Saltwater Aquarium Kit. The kit includes everything you need to get started, and it's a size that is relatively easy to maintain. If your budget allows, you can easily modify it as time goes on and see years of use from the kit.
If the 50-gallon is out of your size or financial budget, you can also go with the Innovative Marine NUVO Fusion or the Fluval Evo XII. Both kits are great plug-and-play kits but, for ease of use and simplicity, the Fluval Evo XII is sometimes a better option. If you know you will be upgrading and modifying, the NUVO Fusion is excellent.This is a personal decision that you'll have to make based on your experience, your financial budget, and the space you have available for the kit.
Affiliate links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Last update on 2022-05-27.
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