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Five Inexpensive Saltwater Aquariums & Fish Tanks

Updated on September 13, 2014

Inexpensive or Discounted Saltwater Aquarium Tanks | Reviews

Some of the coolest fish in the world live in a salt water environment, and if you're looking for an amazing new pet, salt water might be the way to go. If you're a fish owner looking to branch into saltwater tanks, there are some complications involved, and you'll definitely want to find an aquarium that's suitable. Finding cheap saltwater aquariums isn't impossible, but it helps to know what to look for.

Owning a fresh water tank is definitely a bit more simple that salt water, and it's recommended that a total novice begin with some fresh water fish to get used to it. However, it's not horribly difficult to raise salt water fish if you follow the proper steps, get good information and a proper tank. Even the cheaper saltwater tank aquariums are still a decent investment of cash, so it's worth doing a bit of research.

This lens will look at five of the best cheap saltwater aquariums you can get online. Each one is suitable for a salt environment, and will include tank details and information you should know. Let's get started.

Saltwater Tank Considerations - Things you'll need to consider with a cheap saltwater aquarium

If you already know the ins and outs of saltwater fish tanks, you can skip this section. However, if you're new to it, here is a brief rundown of some of the things you'll have to do in order to care for your pet fish properly and monitor everything just right with a saltwater aquarium. Every tank is a bit different, but these are common threads for salt water fish tank setups.

  1. Biological Filtration: Most tanks, including even cheap salt water aquariums, will utilize biological filtration much like the ocean itself uses. This basically makes use of natural bacteria to break down waste products in your tank. This may involve allowing the tank to cycle for a few days before adding fish.
  2. Trickle Filters: Most decent sized tanks, whether fresh or salt, will use a trickle filter of some kind. These process the water, preventing it from getting too dirty. They are dual purpose, removing ammonia and nitrites from the water, while oxygenating it at the same time. Once installed, these will generally function with little maintenance, but they are essential.
  3. Lighting: Your fish will probably be happier you they have light mimicking the day / night cycle they're used to. LED lights are becoming a popular option since they don't consume very much power and they're strong, durable and bright. If you have coral reefs in your salt water aquarium setup, you'll absolutely need grow lights for them to thrive.
  4. Sea Salts: Did you know there are different types of salts out there? You'll need to pick the right kind for your fish, and make sure you have the right solution. Too much or too little will kill your pets. It's good to go to a pet store and ask an expert about this, since it will vary depending on your fish / reefs.
  5. Substrate: Substrate is a fancy word for the dirt, rocks and gravel at the bottom of the tank. It serves an important function beyond just looking good, helping your biological filter do its job properly. Even an inexpensive saltwater aquarium should have some kind of substrate.
  6. Corals, Fish and Invertebrates: Some care and consideration should be put into choosing which fish and fauna go into your cheap saltwater tank. Make sure your fish and wildlife will get along with each other and coexist peacefully.

A Note on Cycling:

Salt Water Aquarium & Tank Care

One thing I highly recommend, especially with larger tanks, is to set up your tank perfectly and let it cycle for at least a week before adding your fish. It can be hard to wait when you're excited, but setting up the water, filters and substrate, and then gradually adding elements is the best way to go.

Adding too many fish at once to your salt water aquarium or tank can really mess up the balance of chemicals in the water. Fish produce different amounts of waste, so it's good to introduce them to the environment one at a time.

After you have the substrate and filters in place, add the water and salt, and get the aquarium water temperature up to where you want it consistently. Then add fish and invertebrates one at a time. Sure this involves many trips to the pet store, but think of it as a protection of your investments. If you add all the animals at once and they all die, it's a lot of money down the drain.

Aquavista 500 Wall Mounted Aquarium with Rama Background, Silver Frame
Aquavista 500 Wall Mounted Aquarium with Rama Background, Silver Frame

Wall mounted aquarium that holds nearly 7 gallons, comes with heater, filter and pump, mounts easily on the wall with included brackets, can be set up for salt water environments.


AquaVista 500 Wall-Mounted, Salt Water Aquarium

A cheap, salt water friendly aquarium that mounts on your wall

The AquaVista 500 is a unique tank because it sits on your wall much like a piece of art. Using a mounting bracket system similar to a large mirror or picture frame, this tank shows off your fish to maximum effect. The AquaVista 500 is set up for both fresh water and saltwater fish tank arrangements, and also includes a heater, filtration system and air pump built in.

The LCD keypad lets you easily adjust your settings and temperature. This model holds just under 7 gallons; it's not huge, but it makes up for that small capacity with wow factor. Just don't try to keep any large fish in here and you'll be fine.

Innovative Marine Nuvo 16 Gallon Aquarium w/TWO 8 watt 14K LED
Innovative Marine Nuvo 16 Gallon Aquarium w/TWO 8 watt 14K LED

Tempered glass construction will not degrade in salt water environment, light, strong and durable.


Innovative Nuvo: A cheap saltwater aquarium under $350

An attractive, salt-water friendly fish tank

The Innovative Nuvo utilizes rounded tempered glass to create a creative shape that lets you see more of your fish. The rounded corners on the front maximizes room and makes the tank very attractive. This tank is easily set up for a salt water environment, and it comes with an acrylic pedestal stand that has a very light footprint.

It features dual overflow intakes and dual return nozzles, so you can keep a lot of critters in here and ensure the water stays clean. The tank holds around 16 gallons in total, and it's a salt water friendly aquarium tank with some of the best reviews in the business.

It comes equipped with a filter and a built in dual light fixture, though there's no heater. With this low price you can easily afford to purchase one separately.

SeaClear 50 gal Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set, 36 by 15 by 20", Cobalt Blue
SeaClear 50 gal Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set, 36 by 15 by 20", Cobalt Blue

An all acrylic salt water friendly fish tank that's perfect for saltwater aquarium setups. 50 gallons, includes a filter.


SeaClear: An inexpensive saltwater fish tank

This SeaClear aquarium is great for a salt water setup because it's made of resilient acrylic. It won't corrode or degrade from that kind of environment, and there are no sealants in the corners to fail.

Being that it's made of acrylic rather than glass, it has half the weight of a comparably sized glass salt water fish tank. It reviews really well, with tons of positive comments and experiences. It has classy, rounded edges and a lovely blue colour that fits well in your living room.

It comes with a fluorescent light fixture so you can see what's going on in there at any time. The fixture holds a 24" 20 watt bulb. Be sure to buy a bulb with the right type of brightness for the creatures living inside.

This is a top quality salt water aquarium that you'll absolutely love. No bells and whistles, but the price is right!

Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE40120 Max 130D Coral Reef Tank for Aquarium, 130-Litre, Black
Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE40120 Max 130D Coral Reef Tank for Aquarium, 130-Litre, Black

An incredible deal, this is a very inexpensive saltwater fish tank when you consider that it's all inclusive and has everything you need. At 34 gallons, it's big enough for a lot of fish.


Red Sea Max 130D Reef System Aquarium

A complete reef and saltwater aquarium setup with everything

The Red Sea Max 130D is an incredible deal, one of the cheapest saltwater aquariums available that can handle both reefs and the delicate ecosystem of saltwater fish who inhabit them. This tank includes a skimmer and filter, cooling fan, temperature control, and everything you'll need to run a healthy saltwater fish tank environment. Unlike some other tanks out there, this is a complete package, and at 34 gallons it's big enough to hold a lot of fish. Click below for more details. Comes with black Totem cabinet.

Coralife Biocube, Size 29
Coralife Biocube, Size 29

Large, inexpensive salt water fish tank, comes with skimmer, filter, light fixture and cooling fan. Great bargain for all the stuff you get with it.


Oceanic BioCube: A less expensive saltwater aquarium ideal for reefs

A smaller, inexpensive salt water aquarium tank

The Oceanic BioCube HQI is a 29 gallon fish tank that's a good option for salt water fish. It has a curved glass front and a top viewing glass that make observing a breeze. Along with its metal halide lamp fixture built into the hood, it comes with a cooling fan for keeping the water the optimal temperature.

With that light fixture, this is an ideal aquarium not only for salt water fish but for coral reefs too. Also comes with a skimmer and filter. Check out this affordable salt water aquarium from BioCube.

More Stuff To Consider: Learning saltwater aquariums on the cheap

Here are some additional items that might make your saltwater fish tank experience a little better. I'd highly recommend picking up some literature if you're new to keeping marine animals in a fish tank. They contain a lot of what you need to know regarding water testing, salinity levels, etc.

Do you prefer salt water or fresh water fish as pets?

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    • Resident-Nerd profile image

      Resident-Nerd 4 years ago

      I just love fish keeping as a hobby in general. I haven't gone the route of salt yet but some day i really hope to. I'm currently having to take down my larger tank and go with just a small tank for a betta but hope to be able to get back in to it soon.