Building your piece of the ocean in your home or office can be an exciting time.
It always starts in the planning and dreaming stages. Imagining what your result will look like, the types of fish you’re going to stock, and how you’re going to work maintaining it into your schedule.
Once the planning is done, though, the work begins. That’s where finding the best saltwater fish tanks available starts to come into the picture.
A good tank is going to stand the test of time and withstand abuse from the harsh saltwater environment you’re going to subject it to.
On top of that, it will also be a beautiful addition to your home or office. With so many different tanks available, finding one that matches your end goal perfect is easy to do.
To make it even easier, we’ve gone through an extensive list of the tanks you currently get to pick from and singled out what we believe are the best of the best.
What Are The Best Saltwater Fish Tanks?
Each of the tanks below has gone through rigorous testing, and we’ve poured through countless customer reviews to help sort the best from the worst.
Take a look through the list, find one that matches your ideal setup, and then click through to read reviews from other customers. Finding the best saltwater tank for you is now easier than ever with the handy list of 12 saltwater tanks below.
1. Fluval M60 Reef Aquarium & Cabinet - Durable Glass
The Fluval Reef Aquarium and Cabinet Set are one of the best deals we’ve found for beginner saltwater tank enthusiasts. The kit includes nearly everything you need to set up and maintain your tank.
The cabinet is designed with modern lines and a clean look while the tank rests entirely on top.
The aquarium features an adjustable sea marine and high-performance reef lightning system that provides fantastic lumination. The LED lights look great during the day and at night. The aquarium is glass construction and features a smoked rim that helps disguise your water line.
While the heater is sold separately and the included skimmer has been reported to become brittle over time, this is still a fantastic deal.
- This package includes the tank and the cabinet.
- An LED reef light is included.
- The tank is constructed from durable glass.
- The kit does not include a heater.
2. Fluval Sea Evo XII Aquarium Kit - Fantastic Aquarium
Another excellent example from Fluval, the Sea Evo XII Aquarium Kit is an excellent buy for beginner saltwater tank enthusiasts. Like the kit before, this setup from Fluval comes with most of what you need to get started.
Each package includes a 14,000K high-output lighting system that utilizes LED bulbs to help support active coral growth and promote natural, healthy bacteria. You also get a high-quality circulation pump attached to a low-voltage transformer and the core for your aquarium.
The Sea Evo XII kit also includes a three-stage filtration system that utilizes the Fluval BioMax filter for incredibly high-efficiency ratings. It can protect your tank from mechanical (oils), chemical, and biological hazards.
- The Sea Evo XII includes nearly everything you need to get started.
- A high-output 14,000K LED lighting system.
- A low-voltage transformer and high-flow pump are included.
- The BioMax filter is one of the best filtration systems available.
- You will need to purchase a heater and skimmer separately.
- Some customers have complained about the lack of space behind the tank.
3. Marineland Portrait 5-Gallon Aquarium Kit - Beautiful and Classy
Saving space and building a fantastic saltwater aquascape is possible with the Marineland Portrait 5-Gallon Aquarium Kit. It features a truly one-of-a-kind unique design that helps showcase your aquascape during day and night.
The aquarium includes an LED lighting system that can be switched between daylight and moonlight, depending on your mood. At night, a fluorescent blue light emits the perfect relaxing glow while the white light creates a fantastic shimmer.
The tank is easy to set up and maintain. Because of the smaller size, we recommend not overloading it with coral, rocks, or fish until you have found a healthy balance of nutrients.
The included manual makes it incredibly easy to get the tank up and running.
- The kit includes a custom 5-gallon “portrait” style aquarium.
- The lights include both blue and white lights, for night and day spectrum.
- The sliding glass canopy makes accessing the tank easy to do.
- Marineland includes an advanced 3-stage filtration system.
- The kit includes an adjustable flow pump and filter.
- You will need to purchase a heater separately.
- A 5-gallon tank can be finicky to get set up correctly for saltwater environments.
4. Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit - Beautiful and Safe
If you haven’t noticed by now, we are a massive fan of Fluval and the products they are manufacturing. The Fluval Spec V aquarium kit is another excellent package deal for beginner saltwater tank enthusiasts.
The tank, itself, is constructed from etched glass with an aluminum surround. The included light features 37 LED bulbs that help radiate a natural white glow and increase the beauty in your aquascape.
Fluval has included a three-stage filtration system that utilizes a foam block to help prevent debris from making its way into the filter. The filter is easy to clean and can be adjusted to the level of flow that you need in the water.The only thing missing from the kit is your heater and gravity testing kits to measure the water’s salinity levels.
- The 5-gallon nano aquarium is an excellent addition to any desk.
- The etched glass tank with aluminum surround is incredibly durable.
- A sturdy 37 light LED system provides ample lighting.
- The included foam block activated carbon, and BioMax rings filter great.
- You will need to purchase a heater separately; a pump is included.
5. Tetra 20-Gallon Complete Aquarium - powerful And dependable
Tetra is another manufacturer that is well-known among freshwater aquarium enthusiasts but not many saltwater enthusiasts. We’re hoping to change that by including them in our list.
The Tetra 20-Gallon Complete Aquarium was initially designed with freshwater in mind, but Tetra realized that there was an entirely new market they could enter into. The glass is incredibly durable and resists scratches and etching.
Tetra includes a heater to help regulate the temperature and keep it exactly where you need it. They have also included a high-flow pump and LED lighting system that works great with coral setups to promote naturally-occurring healthy bacteria.
- The kit includes more than enough to get started.
- Tetra includes the aquarium and a full LED lighting system.
- You also get a Tetra Whisper pump and filter.
- A boxwood plant mat is included for freshwater use.
- All you need to do is cycle the water, add your substrate, and your fish.
- The only downside is that the included decorations are for freshwater use.
6. Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass Aquarium - fantastic And Amazing
Another great starter kit is the Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass Aquarium. If you’re not a fan of the sharp edges of most glass tanks, this curved design will look great with your decor.
The kit comes with a majority of what you need to get started. The tank comes with an acrylic lid that is durable and keeps your fish from attempting the great escape saltwater fish are known for.
The included pump can be controlled with a flow valve and by rotating the inlet to where you need the flow to be projected. The added light is powerful but does not include an on/off switch so you will need to attach it to a strip separate from your pump.
The cascade filter that comes with the kit is easy to set up and maintain, making this kit an excellent choice for beginners. The only things you need to add is your salt, test kits, and your heater.
- The curved glass design is incredibly attractive.
- The acrylic lid is secure and prevents your fish from escaping.
- The pump maintains a steady flow and is easy to set up.
- The included filter is easy to maintain.
- The included light does not have an on/off switch.
7. Aqueon LED Black Aquarium Kit - Beginner Friendly
The Aqueon LED Black Aquarium Kit is another basic kit designed to get your saltwater nano tank up and running as quickly as possible. Each kit includes most of what you need to get started.
For instance, Aqueon sends the kits with a high-quality LED lighting system that provides more than enough light to maintain your coral reef. The included filter has a red warning indicator to let you know when it is time to renew your cartridge.One area that sets the Aqueon kit apart from others is the heater that comes with the package. The heater helps keep your water at a perfect 78 degrees which works excellent for most tropical species you can add to the water.
- The Aqueon kit includes everything you need to get started.
- You get a heater with the kit you purchase.
- The included pump provides enough flow for coral.
- The included cartridge filter has a “time to change” indicator.
- The design of this tank is barebones and minimal.
- The light isn’t the brightest but does the job.
8. Fluval Edge Aquarium w/ LED Light - Easy To Use
Another excellent example of Fluval’s superior quality saltwater starter kits is the Fluval Edge Aquarium. It’s a perfect size for small dorm rooms, offices, and nooks. At only 20 gallons in size, it is easy to set up, cycle, and maintain.
The minimalistic design of this tank has one sole purpose: to catch and keep your attention. It includes the necessary electronics to get you started while hiding the wires for those electronics out of sight.
You also get to choose from three different colors and two different sizes. Fluval offers silver, black, and white tanks in both 6-gallon and 20-gallon sizes. Depending on the space you have available, one size may work better than the other.
- The kit includes a bright, high-quality LED lighting system.
- The included pump and filter are easy to maintain.
- The tank comes in three different colors and two sizes.
- The wiring for your electronics is hidden out of sight.
- The only downside is the lack of a cover. Fish can jump out at will.
9. Tetra Half Moon Aquarium Kit - Nice Habitat
Unique design doesn’t begin to touch the Tetra Half Moon Aquarium Kit. This space-saving design is one of the only half-moon designs available today. Each kit includes most of what you need to get started.
For instance, the included LED lights attach to the back and top of the aquarium and provide sufficient light for most saltwater uses. The low glow creates a peaceful environment to help you relax at the end of a long day.
The included pump mounts to the back of the tank, and the heater attaches to the side. The entire filter box encases both and delivers a whisper-quiet high-flow current. The smaller size means it is a bit harder to cycle correctly but for the right enthusiast that shouldn’t be an issue.
- The frameless design allows for easy viewing from all angles.
- The included pump and heater are super-quiet.
- The kit uses a cartridge-based filter system that is easy to maintain.
- The 10-gallon design is both attractive and easy to set up.
- The heater may not be strong enough in colder environments.
- Some customers have complained the filter is difficult to attach.
10. Coralife Biocube LED Aquarium - Compact and customizable
Coralife put together another minimalistic/futuristic design for saltwater fish tank aficionados. The BioCube LED tank starter kit is excellent if you’re limited on space and want to build a beautiful coral reef backdrop.
The kit has everything that you need to get started. The included light filter is bright enough to project the light required onto your coral but not so bright that it becomes distracting. The included pump creates enough flow to keep your coral happy.
You also get a filter and LED lighting that operates on a 24-hour timer to alternate between night and day. The hinged design makes it easy to access the coral inside while keeping fish from being able to escape. The lid keeps your electronics hidden from view.
- The futuristic design is easy to set up and maintain.
- The entire kit is ready for you to set up and add coral.
- The included blue/white light runs on a 24-hour timer.
- The hinge-top design covers your electronics and prevents fish jumping.
- You can get the tank in two different sizes, 16-gallon and 32-gallon.
- The filter can be challenging to remove.
- The included heater works too hard in colder climates.
11. SC Aquariums 50-Gallon Starfire Package - Gorgeous and Excellent
If you have more space available or want a tank that is easier to maintain than some of the smaller “nano” setups, the SC Aquariums 50-Gallon Starfire Package could be precisely what you’re looking for.
The aquarium is designed to give you full views on every side with zero distractions. When you purchase the kit you get an SCA-301 skimmer and an Atmen PH2500 return pump, along with all of the pipes, bulkheads, and tubing you need to complete the setup process.
Another big selling point of the tank is the included cabinet. It is built sturdy enough to handle the sizeable 50-gallon tank sitting on top of it. You can store all your maintenance supplies and equipment underneath the tank to maintain the minimalist look.
- Larger tanks are easier to maintain than nano tanks.
- The included cabinet is incredibly durable; withstands water damage.
- The kit includes a high-quality pump and skimmer.
- You have everything you need, from tubes and pipes to bio-media and filter.
- Larger tanks can be more expensive to set up than nano tanks.
- You will need to pay attention to the amount of weight you add with rocks and sand.
12. Innovative Marine Nuvo Fusion All-In-One - Sturdy Glass
While most of the tanks we have featured so far are square or tall, the Innovative Marine Nuvo Fusion All-In-One kit is the first and only “long” tank. It is an all-in-one kit, giving you everything that you need to get started and enjoy your tank on day #1.
When you purchase the kit, you get an upgraded Mighty Jet DC Return Pump with a max flow rate of 538 gallons per hour -- the recommended ten times the water in the tank. You also get a filter sock, bio-media, and custom caddy to hold it all.
On top of this, the Nuvo Fusion kit comes with a pre-installed leveling mat to help get your water level perfect. A built-in screen mesh keeps your fish from jumping out of the water once you add them to the ecosystem.
- The glass is ultra-thick and provides high clarity levels.
- A pre-installed leveling mat makes getting your water level perfect easy to do.
- The included pump is strong enough to provide a high flow rate.
- The bio-media and filter sock keep waste in the water to a minimum.
- You will need to have a cabinet to sit the tank on or purchase one separately.
- A larger tank can be more expensive to set up, but cheaper to maintain.
Important Factors We Considered
Buying a saltwater aquarium to begin your adventure into building a thriving aquascape can be exciting. But, choosing the wrong aquarium can mean the difference between upgrading down the road and sitting back to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
While making our list of recommendations, we considered each of the factors below and what the most common saltwater setups tend to be.
Saltwater Tank Sizing
Substrates & Live Rocks
Sea Salts & Hydrometers
Knowing the size of the tank you can install before you purchase is critical. If you buy too big, you could end up in a situation where you can’t install the tank in the area you wanted to. If the tank is too small, you’re limited to the number of fish, coral, and decorations you can put in it.
More often than not, purchasing a tank that is bigger than what you initially thought you needed is a better place to start than buying one smaller than you think you will use. It is easier to maintain a larger tank than a smaller tank.
Larger tanks tend to have more stable ecosystems and adding chemicals or fine-tuning the pH level doesn’t throw off balance as quickly. The best advice is to measure the space you want to install the tank, think about your tankmates, and then purchase the biggest your budget will allow.
Lighting is another critical factor many new tank owners don’t think about. There are quite a few varieties of lights you can use, but we recommend only using lighting that is designed specifically for saltwater fish tanks.
Saltwater fish tank lights are designed to output a particular spectrum of light that helps healthy bacteria grow and maintains the balance in your water. Fish tank lights are also significantly cheaper than reef lights and coral lights.
While you may upgrade to a reef or coral light at some point in time, we advise getting fixtures that you can retrofit various bulbs into. The more powerful bulbs will be an upgrade to your fixture instead of requiring you buy an entirely new fixture altogether.
A good lighting setup will also act as the central power for the rest of your system. It can handle your pump, filter, aerator, and other electrical components, so you don’t have a mass of cords sitting behind the cabinet that your tank is resting on.
The substrate is what you’re going to use to line the bottom of your saltwater tank. Choosing the right substrate can be critical. If you purchase a low-quality substrate, you could spend your time fighting to balance your water. High-quality substrates will not affect the balance.
Substrates come in a wide variety of types, colors, sizes, and densities. If you have a large volume of water moving through your tank, you will need a more substantial substrate that stays put.
On the other hand, if you need more healthy bacteria, you will want to add rocks that have porous surfaces to give the good bacteria a place to grow.
Live rocks are a great addition to your tank that can help maintain the balance you set the water at. These rocks give your fish plenty of shelter, areas to hide from more aggressive fish, and places for your bottom feeders to find their next meal.
Your saltwater aquarium requires precise levels of nutrients, including actual sea salt. To get a handle on the levels of salt and nutrients in your tank, you will need to use a tool called a hydrometer.
A good hydrometer will help you quickly measure your water and tell you which nutrients need to be modified, increased, or reduced. Saltwater fish tanks are living, breathing ecosystems that require continuous maintenance. A good hydrometer can save you a ton of time.
We recommend using only the highest quality sea salt you can afford. When you skimp and save on the nutrients your water needs, you are going to spend more time trying to find the balance in your water. This time and frustration will always cost you more money in the end.
What Are The Best Saltwater Fish Tanks?
Depending on the type of tank you are looking to build, space you have available, and the size of your budget, you have quite a few options available.
Finding the best saltwater tank requires spending some time thinking about what you’re going to be using the tank for. Once you understand which fish you want to include, whether you’re going to grow coral, or just use it for invertebrates, picking the perfect tank becomes easier to do.
In our research, the Fluval M60 Aquarium Kit & Cabinet is one of the best buys for beginner saltwater aquarium enthusiasts in 2019.
Affiliate links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Last update on 2020-12-01.
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