Aquariums fall under three main categories: freshwater, saltwater, and reef aquariums. Choosing one will depend on your tastes, as well as your planned budget.
Freshwater aquariums have the lowest cost to entry. Because freshwater fish eat the algae that forms naturally in the water, these aquariums also require less filtration and cleaning, resulting in savings in the long term. Freshwater fish varieties tend to be more robust and have a wider tolerance for fluctuations in their environment.
It is widely agreed that saltwater aquariums look more colorful and interesting than their freshwater counterparts, largely because of the greater variety of fish species available. Some possible species are Angelfish, Butterfly Fish, Lionfish, Pufferfish, Wrasses, Tangs, Triggerfish and the list goes on. They also require some maintenance, usually biweekly for commercial aquariums and monthly for residential aquariums.
Both freshwater and saltwater aquariums utilize rubber decors, which are a great colorful alternative to the real thing, and cut down on the maintenance requirement dramatically.
For those who want top of the line, authentic aquariums, there is no replacement for the reef aquarium. In addition to all the features of a saltwater aquarium, the reef aquarium has live coral, invertebrates, polyps, shrimp, crabs and snails. Think of the reef aquarium as an underwater Japanese garden, featuring colonies of polyps and tentacles from corals swaying back and forth in the simulated wave currents while fish dart in and out of the “reef” structure built with colorful “live rock” direct from the ocean.
Because of their many living inhabitants, reef aquariums require more filtration equipment and scheduled biweekly maintenance. However, aficionados tend to agree the extra upkeep is worth the view.