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Fish keeping can be broken down into two main categories that conform to the major aquatic ecosystems: freshwater and saltwater. The most popular aquariums are of the freshwater kind, and saltwater aquariums are often subcategorized as saltwater reef aquariums because of the difference in filtration and lighting needs. Deciding which of these ecosystems you wish to recreate within an enclosed habitat should be the first step to take as you get started in the fish keeping hobby.
The Main Difference Between Freshwater and Saltwater Aquariums
One of the many joys of the aquarium hobby is that you get to learn a lot from the world we live in. If you believe the biochemistry of ocean water is more complex than a lake, you’re not alone. This is because we tend to see the ocean as a very dynamic ecosystem, but this isn’t necessarily the case. The salinity and pH levels of the oceans are actually very stable, which means reef and oceanic species don’t need to evolve and adapt when compared to freshwater species. In lakes and streams, species are forced to contend with seasonal changes and extreme weather conditions that constantly change water chemistry. The process of evolution has made freshwater species more resilient to such changes. In other words, reef species tend to be more delicate while tropical freshwater fish are known to be hardy survivors.
Freshwater Species Are Easier to Care For
Since we already know freshwater fish are hardier and more dynamic in terms of adapting to changing conditions, it stands to reason that they’re easier to keep. The resilience of tropical freshwater aquarium fish makes them easier to breed, feed, and transport. This is why you can win goldfish in a bowl at your town fair, but you’ll never see a coral beauty or damselfish as giveaways at these events.
Reef Tanks Are More Expensive
A 20-gallon freshwater tank equipped with everything you need to get started, including common species such as plants, fish, and invertebrates, will typically be a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than setting up a similar reef tank. Ongoing maintenance of saltwater aquariums also costs more because both testing kits and food tend to be more expensive when compared to freshwater tanks.
Reef Tanks Are More Educational
Since saltwater species are more delicate to keep, you’ll need to be more hands-on with a reef tank. Consequently, you’ll learn more about coastal ecosystems and marine biology in general. Seasoned reef tank keepers will tell you they started paying more attention to ocean conservation issues just a few weeks into their hobby, and many go on to pursue aquatic activities such as scuba diving, surfing, and boating just to be closer to marine life.
No matter which type of tank you feel is right for you, you can find everything you need to care for it properly at Aquatic Warehouse, a leading provider of freshwater and saltwater aquarium supplies. Order what you need from our website, stop by our store located in Kearny Mesa, or give us a call at 858-467-9297 if you have any questions.