Starting a saltwater aquarium is exciting, but being honest, it’s a little expensive as well. In addition, you also need a bit of specialized knowledge because saltwater aquariums are totally different from freshwater aquariums.
The first thing you need to collect to begin the saltwater aquarium journey is a tank. You have two options; you can buy a tank where important gears like a filter and LED lights are attached to it. Or you can purchase only the tank, then afterward you can arrange the necessary equipment separately.
When I was a beginner like you, I chose the first option and bought a starter kit that helped me to gain valuable experience. After that, when I had good enough learning, I made my own saltwater setup with a much bigger tank.
If you are like me and want to buy a starter kit, only for you, I have made a list of the best saltwater fish tanks, which I found beginner-friendly and noteworthy. In summary:
But it’s your choice, and If you want to make everything from scratch, you can follow my detailed article on how to start a saltwater aquarium.
Best Saltwater Fish Tanks (Ranging From 8-Gallon To 50-gallon)
I have kept aquariums ranging from 8 gallons to 50 gallons on this list of best saltwater fish tanks. Choices are diverse, and also budgets are not the same. The price considerably varies according to the size of the fish tank. Therefore, from the list, you can choose whatever matches your demand.
Nevertheless, I always recommend a bigger tank because a large tank can give you much more flexibility. The water parameters in the tanks remain stable for a more extended period. You will also have more room for fish and coral.
1. SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium 50-gallon
One of the best decisions you can make in your saltwater aquarium hobby is to invest in a larger tank. This will allow more room for fish and corals- but there are other benefits as well. Sometimes smaller tanks can be tough to keep maintaining the right balance.
I would recommend buying a bigger tank like the SeaClear acrylic 50-gallon aquarium. This acrylic-made aquarium is much more robust, lighter, less prone to breakage, and most importantly, provides a much clearer view than a glass aquarium.
The combo set comes with the fish tank, reflector, and 24 inch light fixture. Although some users mentioned, the light is a little underpowered. But swapping it with the more accurate or desired LED light fixture is not a big deal.
Although it does not come with extra gadgets, like a filter, heater, skimmer. Sometimes the gears that are packaged along with the kit do not serve the purpose for the user. So very often, you may need to put them aside and buy separate accessories to meet the demand.
SeaClear acrylic aquarium is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater use. The colors in the aquarium fill up the room, and you will never get tired of looking at its beauty or watching fish swim happily.
This fish tank starter kit offers a great opening for those looking to get started, but be aware that some things are left out of this package.
- Bigger size aquarium
- Acrylic made tank; much more transparent and lighter
- The absence of edges makes it aesthetically pleasing
- Comes with 24 inches LED light fixture
- LED light is underpowered
- A little expensive
2 Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium
Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium LED Lighting system features a sleek modern hood with vibrant LED lighting capable of sustaining and growing healthy, vibrant corals. It also includes an integrated 24-hour timer to control the three independent light channels for maximum beauty.
It is a great starter aquarium featuring a compact and customizable design that is easy to set up and maintain. The kit is designed to fit into any home décor style, perfect for small spaces like desks or nightstands in your home or office. In addition, the curved glass provides a better viewing angle without any distortion.
The hinged top canopy design allows easy access to your fish or corals while providing a secure seal when closed. Additionally, the built-in, high-quality pump is quiet and reliable, so you can enjoy the soothing sound of your tank at night without being disturbed by noise.
The Coralife Led Biocube Aquarium offers two different sizes. One is 16-gallon capacity, and the other one is 32 gallons. You can choose whatever you want, but I would always suggest bigger is better. Its compact, versatile filtration system; provides excellent three-stage filtration, and you can use your own preferred filter media if you want.
The kit does not include a heater, although the lights are warm to keep the tank temperature in a reasonable range. However, if you still need one, you can easily install that; you need to buy it separately.
I highly recommend this aquarium kit for anyone who wants to get into reef keeping but wants to keep things simple and low-cost. And it is our top choice on the list of best saltwater fish tanks.
- Comes with LED light with a 24-hour timer
- Great starter kit for beginners
- Customizable filtration system
- The filter pump is extremely quiet
- Good customer service
- Hinged top canopy allows easy access
- Some may find it costly
- No heater or protein skimmer is included in the package
3. Fluval Sea Evo V Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium Kit, Black
Fluval Sea Evo V Aquarium Kit is a stylish, modern aquarium that offers incredible value for money. This astonishing starter pack has almost everything you need – including a powerful light fixture that can sustain more hardy coral species, plus one quiet yet highly effective pumping system.
The tank comes with a super bright 14000k LED light which is ideal for growing corals to their best advantage. The LED lighting can be activated by simply touching the button on the top of the hood.
The Fluval Sea Evo V Aquarium features a sleek, all-aluminum waterproof casing that’s easy to set up and maintain. An easy feed door makes it simple to keep your fish fed at all times.
It has an all-in-one filtration system consisting of 3 stages: mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration, removing uneaten food and waste from the water. It’s good enough to get you started, and if needed, you can improve that as well.
The kit does not include a heater or protein skimmer because those are not required for all. But if you feel you need it, in that case, you have to buy them separately.
What are you waiting for? For less than $200, you can finally enjoy the saltwater fish tank hobby without worrying about a big and expensive space being required. So go ahead – be creative with your mini reef aquarium!
- Built-in LED light suitable for growing corals
- Affordable price
- Aluminum waterproof casing
- Modern honeycomb design
- No heater or protein skimmer in the package
4. GankPike 8-Gallon Saltwater Aquarium Marine Fish Tank
The GankPike Saltwater Aquarium is a complete saltwater aquarium kit that includes everything you need to get started, including light, filter, heater, and more.
The 8-gallon tank has a stylish design, with a clean edge that gives it an upscale appearance. Moreover, the ultra-clear glass allows maximum viewing pleasure without the distraction of background colors or patterns on the tank itself.
This fish tank set comes with an adjustable pump that delivers water flow between 1-10 gallons per hour. In addition, it features a built-in protein skimmer, which is one of the most effective ways to remove waste from your water column. It also has an LCD thermometer for keeping track of the temperature inside your fish tank.
This LED light’s sleek and contemporary design will highlight your fish, reef and can support soft coral growth. A built-in timer makes it easy to change the color modes or dim levels at any time with the auto-on/off function -perfect for those who forget things from time to time!
Nothing comes with its downside; the tank size is relatively smaller, you will have less room for fish and coral. The 100-watt heater is somewhat oversized in comparison to the recommended size for an 8-gallon tank. Some users also find instructions are hard to understand, and their protein skimmer is not working.
Overall, it’s a great beginner kit; if you are content with keeping a few fish and soft corals, this tank will work absolutely fine. The company has good, responsive customer service and is ready to answer any of your questions.
- Includes all; heater, filter, protein skimmer, lights, etc.
- The built-in timer operates LED lights
- Affordable price
- Good customer care service
- Ultra-clear glass ensures a great viewing experience
- A great starter kit
- The heater is oversized for the tank volume
- Not clear instructions provided
5. JBJ Rimless Desktop 10 Gallon Flat Panel Peninsula with 9W Lyra LED
JBJ’s Rimless Desktop Aquarium combines a sleek design with the convenience of an all-inclusive package that includes everything you need to start fresh in the saltwater aquarium hobby.
The JBJ LED lighting system provides the proper spectrum to help plants & coral healthy. However, few users mentioned, it would help if the quality of light is a little better.
This aquarium also includes a clip-on filter that can be easily cleaned and maintained, making it simple to care for your fish, plants, or corals. It can generate a strong current; however, it’s possible to regulate the flow of your choice with an adjustable nozzle, and it’s silent too!
Other than light, the main objection from the users was that they received the tank shattered or broken. But actually, it’s not the manufacturer’s fault the problem caused during the transportation. Moreover, you can easily order a replacement tank if you are one of the unlucky.
- Lovely, beautiful, and elegant design
- Comes with an LED light and clip-on filter
- Filter’s output flow is adjustable
- Rimless tank
- The light quality is average
6. SCA 50 Gallon Starfire Glass Aquariums Complete Package
SCA 50 gallon Starfire glass aquarium is unique in design and probably the single best saltwater fish tank in the market. It uses the sump mechanism consisting of three chambers which are very well built and strong.
All the tubing, bulkheads, filter media, return pipes are included to complete the sump setup. Although few users find it somewhat tricky while setting up the sump initially. But it’s not a big deal; with a bit of trial and error, you can easily do that.
The most significant selling point is the tank comes with a beautiful stand. The stand is sturdy enough to withstand the weight of a 50-gallon tank on top of it. The sump, along with all the tubing, will remain hidden inside the cabinet. You can also use the cabinet to store maintenance supplies.
Not finished yet! When you buy the kit, you will also get a protein skimmer and water pump to circulate the water between the sum and the tank. Unfortunately, light is not included in the package, which is the only con of the kit.
If you have large enough space or simply want to go for a bigger tank that is easier to maintain, this 50 gallon SCA Starfire glass aquarium is for you. The rimless tank is designed to give you total viewing pleasure without any distraction and to enjoy the saltwater hobby to its full value.
- Beautiful black background tank
- Well built and strong enough stand to hold the tank
- Includes three sum chambers with everything you need to set up
- Aesthetically pleasing rimless glass aquarium
- A protein skimmer and a water circulation pump come with the package
- Very expensive
- LED lights are not included
7. Innovative Marine Nuvo Fusion PRO Series Desktop Aquariums – 20 Gallon
Innovative Marine Global Fusion desktop aquarium is an excellent choice both for beginners and expert aquarists. This nice beautiful tank is made of low iron glass and contains a separate compartment for filtration accessories.
Although nothing is extraordinary in its design, instead of a traditional one, the most notable feature is the sizeable hidden filtration chamber capable of holding the pump, media basket, and other accessories.
All the filter media are included in the package and are easily customizable according to your needs. Also, the large area allows you to use additional accessories like a protein skimmer heater, UV sterilizer, etc., and the best part is they will remain hidden.
It does not come with a stand; probably, you don’t need one because you can easily place a 20-gallon tank on your countertop or desk. Still, if you feel a stand would have been better, you can quickly get one sold separately by the manufacturer.
The tank has a pre-installed rubber leveling mat, so you don’t need to worry about scratching any surfaces or excess vibration. A mesh screen makes the lid, allows the tank to breathe and maintain good oxygen saturation.
This starter system is perfect for a beginner’s saltwater setup. It includes a water return pump that provides 2 return flow modes (constant stream and sine wave), 9-speed settings, and a one-touch feed mode! It also added a magnetic glass cleaner as a bonus, but the kit misses the heater and a light.
- 20-gallon low iron glass aquarium
- Includes all filter media
- A great filtration system
- Mesh screen top
- pre-installed leveling mat
- Heavy-duty DC water pump
- Lighting and heater are not included
Factors To Consider While Choosing Saltwater Tanks
Larger & Smaller Tank
Selecting the right tank for your saltwater aquarium is the first step you’ll need to take in your new hobby. There are many different size aquariums, but smaller saltwater tanks can sometimes be tough to keep in balance. A tank of at least 20 gallons is a good size to start with, but the bigger the tank, the more you’ll be able to enjoy working with!
A bigger tank has many advantages, such as lower nitrates/ammonia levels (they cycle much slower), clearer water with increased oxygenation capabilities. In addition, a large marine ecosystem can handle the daily water fluctuations better than a more miniature ecosystem.
Therefore, if you have the budget and space available, buy a large aquarium. Although, as always, you can start with any size aquarium but keep in mind the downside of a smaller one.
Glass Or Acrylic
Another consideration while buying a tank is its material. Glass aquariums are ubiquitous and are one of the best because they are sturdy, robust, and not susceptible to scratching. In addition, glass tanks don’t turn yellow over time or while exposed to sunlight.
Class tanks are much heavier than acrylic tanks, which is why people nowadays opt for Acrylic ones. However, while you put the substrate and water inside, it doesn’t make a big difference.
On the other hand, acrylic tanks are lighter, stronger, and much clearer than a glass aquarium. But the opposing sides are that acrylic tanks are much more expensive, easily get scratched, and can turn yellow with age.
So, now you know the pros and cons of both glass and acrylic fish tanks, it’s your decision, but I always prefer glass tanks.
Rimless Tank Or Regular Tank
Rimless tanks give you an unobstructed view of your underwater world. They are gaining popularity because their aesthetic appeal is undeniable and looks terrific.
They are made of high purity, clearer thick glass, and silicone to support the weight. The glass contains low iron and frees off a green hue present in regular glass and an eyesore.
Nano Reef tank lovers also love rimless aquariums. It is also pretty common in aquariums ranging from 25 to 200 gallons; however, beyond 200, it’s Not so common because of the increased cost and better strength is required.
Advantages Of Pre-Equipped Aquarium Kits
Saltwater starter kits help you to get you started into the fishkeeping hobby, often in a less expensive way. It is also suitable for beginners to get some experience. After getting some knowledge and learning, you can easily start your own setup on a bigger scale. Let’s know the benefits in detail.
Easy To Get Started
Pre-equipped aquariums are perfect for beginners and advanced aquarists, especially those on budget limits and want something quick and easy to set up.
One big mistake people make when buying their fish tank and equipment separately is realizing later down the line that they don’t work together like intended.
Includes Everything You Need
If you were a cook, what would you like? All the ingredients are ready, or you want to collect them all by yourself. If you like everything arranged earlier, then premade tanks are for you. All-in-one aquariums ensure all are ready, and you just need to cook (read fishkeeping) according to your preference.
Most all-in-one aquarium kits include primary aquarium gears to get you started. In general, it consists of a fish tank, LED light system, and a three-stage filtration system. However, some starter kits, for example, GankPike 8-Gallon Saltwater Fish Tank, include a heater and protein skimmer.
Therefore, you don’t need to buy equipment separately. Instead, you are getting those along with the kit, which will save your time. But keep in mind that the kit will not provide fish, corals, or something like substrate.
Often Cheaper Than Buying Separately.
If you buy every piece of equipment independently, there is a chance that it might cost more than the pre-equipped aquarium kit. On the other hand, when purchasing an aquarium starter kit, you will always have the option to upgrade or buy the missing equipment as per your demand.
Hopefully, your kit contains everything you need to get started. But if it didn’t, don’t worry! Many items are not included in kits and can vary from one brand to another brand.
So, I recommend only spending 60% on the initial purchase, which leaves room for additional feeders or heater/UV sterilizer combinations depending upon what type of fish you’re keeping.
Disadvantages Of Premade Aquarium Kits
There are some disadvantages as well. Pre-equipped tanks make your options limited. Going for premade tanks limits the option to expand in the future when you are ready to experiment with some advanced things.
That could be the case only if you buy smaller size aquariums. Go for larger tanks such as SCA Gallon Starfire aquarium or Seaclear Acrylic Aquarium. Then, there will be no way of stopping you from growing for a very long time.
Another downside is the quality; sometimes, the tank and the gears are not as good as you would like. However, we carefully chose the kits here so that you can enjoy the best quality. But, you can go wrong and simply not suit everyone.
I know you’re excited to get started on your very own marine aquarium-I am, too! I believe it’s crucial to provide the best reviews of the best saltwater fish tanks available to decide which one is perfect for you.
However, my top choice is SCA 50 gallon Starfire glass tank because, in my opinion, it’s hands down the best saltwater fish tank on the market. In addition, it comes with a complete package (except a light and a heater) that allows you to start out and easily grow into it. So there are no restrictions or limitations as your marine aquarium grows over time.
If you don’t have the budget, I recommend going for Coralife LED Biocube, Fluval Sea EVO V, or Innovative Marine Nuvo Fusion. Although, any of the items will be a great starting point to your saltwater hobby.