Best Saltwater Fish Tanks for Beginners

6 Best Saltwater Fish Tanks for Beginners for 2024

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Owning a reef tank or saltwater aquarium can be an exhilarating addition to your home. Although they require more effort to set up and maintain compared to freshwater aquariums, the beauty and value they bring to your living space make the extra effort worthwhile.

For beginners, the prospect of setting up a saltwater aquarium can seem daunting due to the vast amount of information and preparation involved. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure everything out on your own—there are numerous pre-built saltwater aquariums available for purchase online.

To simplify your journey, we’ve compiled a list of the top saltwater aquariums for beginners in 2024. Our team has meticulously evaluated a wide range of products and selected a handful that we believe are ideally suited for those new to the hobby.

So, read on to find our complete reviews of each of these great beginner tanks. If you are in a hurry and feel that you do not have the time to read to the very end, we simply suggest that you go with our editor’s pick: the Marineland Contour 3 aquarium kit (see Amazon), a ready-to-use tank for colorful fish and corals that also includes daylight and moonlight settings.

Product NamesTank VolumeItem Dimensions LxWxH
#1. GankPike 12 Gallon Saltwater Aquarium12 Gallons20.5 x 10.75 x 14 inchesSee Price
#2. Aqueon Aquarium Fish Tank Starter Kit Fish Tank10 Gallons20.25 x 10.5 x 13.31 inchesSee Price
#3. Coralife LED BioCube Aquarium Fish Tank Kit16 Gallons16.75 x 15 x 17.5 inchesSee Price
#4. Marineland Contour 3 aquarium Kit3 Gallons9.5 x 10 x 10 inchesSee Price
#5. Fluval Sea Flex Saltwater Aquarium Kit32.5 Gallons32.28 x 15.75 x 15.35 inches
See Price
#6. Tetra ColorFusion Aquarium 20 Gallon Fish Tank Kit20 Gallons27.88 x 16.13 x 20.38 inchesSee Price

#1. GankPike 12 Gallon Saltwater Aquarium

The first product on our list is this GankPike 12-gallon saltwater aquarium, a bullet-shaped tank made with ultra-clear crystal glass and specially designed for saltwater fish, reef, and coral. It provides optimum brightness and clarity far better than tanks made with standard glass. It also has a 2-gallon back filtration zone along with a 10-gallon front viewing area for optimal use of the available tank space.

The aquarium comes equipped with biochemical and mechanical filter media, an adjustable pump, and a protein skimmer to help you keep your tank clean and ensure a perfect environment for reef, coral, and fish alike. The LED lights feature three color modes, five levels of dimming, and an automatic shut-off timer for the coral to grow.

This kit works best for beginners as it includes everything: the 12-gallon aquarium itself, an aluminum alloy LED lamp, a heater, a quiet power pump, an LCD digital thermometer, and a protein skimmer. It also includes a pack of ceramic rings and two biochemical filter sponges.

Product features and specifications

  • Measurements: 20.5 in. x 10.75 in. x 14 in.
  • Easy to set up
  • Made of premium ultra-clear glass
  • Aluminum alloy LED light
  • LCD digital aquarium thermometer
  • Ultra-quiet submersible water pump

User/Customer Reviews

Those who have used this saltwater fish tank have said that it looks fantastic and comes with everything a beginner would generally need to get started. Users love and appreciate the bullet design that is pleasing to the eye. A few customers have warned that the lid is not perfectly fitted, however.


The GankPike 12-gallon saltwater aquarium ( See Amazon) is a great entry-level fish tank with all the essential items you need to get started. This is a beautiful ready-to-go tank that can immediately light up your interior and transform the look of your home. Overall, we feel that this product is worth the investment.

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#2. Aqueon Aquarium Fish Tank Starter Kit Fish Tank

Next, we have the Aqueon aquarium starter kit (see Amazon) that includes all of the necessary supplies to help you set up a beautiful saltwater aquarium at home. It includes a low-profile yet full hood with vibrant cool white LED lighting to bring your reef, coral, and fish to life.

The filter includes a bright red LED light that flashes to show when it is time to replace the cartridge, making cleaning and maintaining the health of the tank convenient. With everything practically set up and ready beforehand, you’ll only need to add your favorite plants and décor to get started.

There is also a pre-programmed heater that keeps the aquarium temperature steady at a consistent temperature of 78°F, which is commonly suitable for most tropical fish. The kit includes a glass aquarium, a low-profile LED-lit hood, a filter cartridge, a submersible heater, a QuietFlow power filter, a fish net, a sample-sized container of water conditioner, a premium fish food sample, a thermometer, and a setup guide.

Product features and specifications

  • Measurements: 20.25 in. x 10.5 in. x 13.31in.
  • Weight: 17.5 lbs.
  • Energy-saving, low-profile hood
  • QuietFlow PRO power filter
  • Stick-on thermometer
  • Made in the USA

User/Customer Reviews

People have said that this is a great choice for beginners and comes with very complete instructions that are easy to understand and follow. Many users have said that, unlike their previous tanks, this one makes comparatively less noise and does not have a clumsy top. A few customers have warned that there are no power cables for the lighting, though.


The Aqueon fish tank starter kit is the perfect size for a small to medium home and works great for first-timers. The kit includes all the items you’ll need to initially set up the tank and get started—you’ll only need to add the fish and decorations. Overall, we feel that this product is a good bargain and offers a great value for the money.

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#3. Coralife LED BioCube Aquarium Fish Tank Kit

When you need a small and cute fish tank that requires less maintenance, we recommend the Coralife LED BioCube aquarium fish tank kit. This kit and tank feature a programmable hinge-top hood that is studded with white, blue, and colorful LEDs and also comes with a 24-hour timer.

The fish tank comes with a 30-minute gradual sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset timer for different times of the day. There are also built-in back wall filtration chambers to hold the mechanical, biological, and chemical media. Each chamber includes a submersible pump, adjustable return nozzles, and dual intakes.

The Coralife BioCube aquarium is compatible with BioCube accessories, such as the Coralife Designer BioCube Aquarium Stand. With improved LED lighting and impressive timer-related capabilities, these fish tank kits are now upgraded to be the next level of aquariums.

Product features and specifications

  • Measurements: 16.75 in. x 15 in. x 17.5 in.
  • Sleek modern hood with LED lighting
  • Bright white LEDs for daytime lighting and viewing
  • Sparkling blue Moon Glows for nighttime lighting and viewing
  • Color-enhancing LEDs
  • Integrated 24-hour timer

User/Customer Reviews

People have mentioned that this cute little aquarium is easy to use and looks great, too. Users love how gorgeous this little fish tank looks, and everyone has been very impressed by how well the LEDs light up the interior for great viewing. However, a few customers have warned that the tank makes a lot of noise while others have mentioned their units leaked.


The Coralife BioCube fish tank kit (see Amazon) has a great design and looks pretty inside of the home. It is well-built and works well for beginners who would like a fish tank but do not want to invest in something too big and unmanageable. Overall, we feel that this product offers a good price-to-performance ratio.

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#4. Marineland Contour 3 aquarium Kit

The Contour 3 aquarium kit from Marineland is just what you need to create the ultimate aquatic display of colorful fish, reef, and corals. It features gorgeous daylight and moonlight settings with bright white LEDs that create a shimmering sunlight effect and blue LEDs that produce a moonlit glow.

This desktop glass aquarium sports a sleek design with round corners and a clear glass canopy to enable viewing from multiple angles. There is also a three-stage, advanced filtration system that uses an adjustable flow filter pump to keep your aquatic environment clean and well-maintained. Thanks to the discreet placement of the filters, this only further enhances aquarium viewing.

This stylish Marineland Contour 3 aquarium kit makes for an impressive, featured piece and works wonderfully as a conversation starter in any home. As versatile as it is appealing, you can also use the tank to build a saltwater aquarium or a freshwater aquarium—the choice is yours. The hinged light and sliding glass canopy allow for easy access to the aquarium, so you’ll never struggle to make sure your tank is absolutely perfect.

Product features and specifications

  • Measurements: 9.5 in. x 10 in. x 10 in.
  • Weight: 8 lbs.
  • Hidden filtration
  • Natural daylight effect
  • Bright white LED lighting
  • Shimmering lights that mimic the natural underwater effects of sunlight
  • Rounded corners with a clear glass canopy
  • Advanced three-stage filtration

User/Customer Reviews

Users have said that this is a gorgeous glass fish tank, and it’s also much easier for them to clean the sides and maintain its appearance to look like new compared to other tank styles. People have said that the LED light modes are nice and that they illuminate the whole tank beautifully. A few customers have warned that the support team is not as friendly and helpful as expected.


The Marineland Contour 3 aquarium kit is one of the most stylish tanks available for your aquatic plants and fish. Besides its gorgeous appearance, the lighting effect also adds a lot of opulence to the piece. Overall, we feel that this product is totally worth the price.

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#5. Fluval Sea Flex Saltwater Aquarium Kit

We are totally in love with this product, and you will understand why once you look at it. The Fluval Sea Flex saltwater aquarium kit is an exciting product in their bold, curved aquarium series. It comes with a mobile device-operated Marine 3.0 LED lighting system that allows users to control custom color selections, numerous dynamic effects, and the programmable 24-hour timer for the lights.

Besides the above, this saltwater aquarium kit also includes an built-in filtration system with two independent multi-stage chambers for optimum cleaning efficiency. It also has a PS1 skimmer, a M150 heater, and a PF2 feeder—along with foam, carbon, and bio max filter rings—to keep your tank in the best shape possible.

This kit includes full-spectrum lighting that operates via the FluvalSmart app on the mobile phone. The perfectly settings and controls over the colors and temperatures allow for the perfect environment to grow vibrant corals. It also features three pre-set lighting conditions: sunny reef, deep sea glow, and color boost. Whatever aesthetic you or your aquatic beings may prefer or require, it has you covered.

Product features and specifications

  • Measurements: 32.28 in. x 15.75 in. x 15.35 in.
  • Weight: 48.7 lbs.
  • 25000 K color temperature lighting
  • 3 pre-set lighting conditions
  • 24-hour programmable light
  • Powerful 3-stage filtration system
  • Two independent media chambers

User/Customer Reviews

Users have been thoroughly impressed with how carefully packaged this item has arrived at their door as well as how beautiful it looks in their homes. Customers are also pleased with the fact that this tank includes everything to get started for beginners. A few customers have warned that the hood seems to trap more heat inside than needed, though.


The Fluval Sea Flex saltwater aquarium kit is an all-inclusive beginner package if you wish to set up a saltwater aquarium at home and have no idea how to do so all by yourself. The unit has everything you’ll need, and the instructions are pretty easy to follow, too. Overall, this is an amazing aquarium that is worth the investment of your hard-earned money.

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#6. Tetra ColorFusion Aquarium 20 Gallon Fish Tank Kit

If you want your guests to hook their eyes on your aquarium as soon as they enter the door, the Tetra ColorFusion 20-gallon fish tank kit can be the perfect addition. The color-changing LED lights transform each tank to exactly what you desire, whether it’s a continued cycle of rotating colors or one set color scheme that looks best in your home.

The filter current is perfect for allowing the anemones to sway and provide your fish with ample hiding an relaxation space. The ColorFusion LEDs also help the tetra plants visually pop, making the viewing experience even more appealing. This kit includes a 20-gallon glass aquarium, a UL heater, an aquarium hood, a color-changing LED lighting set, one Tetra Whisper 20 filter, two plant multipacks, and one blooming white anemone.

The ColorFusion 20-gallon aquarium kit lets you build a complete and unique seafloor experience from scratch. Made from scratch-resistant glass, this glass aquarium is built to last, too. The manufacturer stands behind the product with a lifetime warranty.

Product features and specifications

  • Measurements: 27.88 in. x 16.13 in. x 20.38 in.
  • Weight: 34.4 lbs.
  • Made from scratch-resistant glass
  • 20-gallon glass aquarium
  • UL heater, plant multipacks, and white anemone included
  • ColorFusion color-changing LED lighting
  • Comes with one Tetra Whisper 20 filter

User/Customer Reviews

Users have said that this is the ultimate kit for someone to wants to establish a really good tropical setting without things getting too complicated. People have been happy with the ease of setup and have said that the filter that works great. A few customers have warned that the lighting feels a little cheap, but it’s okay for the price at which you get it.


The Tetra ColorFusion 20-gallon fish tank kit is the perfect size for a beginner. It’s not too big nor too small, so works great for someone who’s building their first saltwater aquarium. The fixed-temperature heater is good to go, but you may also use a separate heater for your tropical fish. Overall, this is a low-cost investment for an enjoyable hobby.

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Buying Guide: Best Saltwater Fish Tanks for Beginners

Luckily, for beginners, you no longer need to rely on custom tank manufacturers to build you a professional-quality saltwater tank. You can now choose from the hundreds of different shapes and sizes of aquariums available online. Here are a few things that you need to keep in mind before buying one, though.

Determine your budget

Saltwater fish tanks are not only tough to maintain, but they are expensive, too. The price may vary depending on the equipment needed to set everything up, perform ongoing maintenance, and other tasks. Most of the costs are upfront with the investment required, but you need to determine a budget based on what you can afford and stick to it.

Select a tank

We recommend that you choose any of the six best saltwater fish tanks that we have reviewed above. Many of the aquariums are reef-ready and come pre-drilled to accept a sump. When you are just starting out, we suggest that you choose a small- to medium-sized tank that is easier to maintain.

Invest in a sump

We suggest that anyone getting into a saltwater hobby invest in a sump (see Amazon). While you can, of course, maintain a healthy system without a sump, having one gives you a buffer by adding extra water volume. It also gives you incredible flexibility regarding hiding all of your equipment.

Get a protein skimmer

Another good investment would be getting a protein skimmer. A protein skimmer is a critical piece of equipment for a saltwater tank. It is useful for both the fish and reef setups, and it can also remove most of the nasty waste material from your tank.

Rocks, water, and lighting

For best results, make sure you get high-quality dry rock for use in your fish tank. Also, use good quality RO water for the aquarium. You can purchase a reverse osmosis unit to prevent the nuisance of algae. It’s also wise to get some nice LED lights to light up your rocks, corals, and fish the way that you want.

Test kits

Buying test kits are essential in this hobby as you will need to check and monitor the tank’s levels to ensure everything is healthy. We suggest a minimum refractometer that you can get from any fish tank store.

Related Questions

What are the best fish for a saltwater aquarium?

If you are a beginner setting up a saltwater aquarium, some of the most recommended fish are ocellaris clownfish, two-spined angelfish, jeweled rockskippers, auriga butterflyfish, true percula clownfish, yellowtail damselfish, mollies, tangs, firefish, and red hawkfish, to name a few.

For first-timers, tank-raised clownfish are a good option as they can tolerate the many mistakes that beginners may make. Also, the tank-raised gobies can be good to start with, too.

What is the best fish tank size for beginners?

We suggest a 40-gallon breeder or 60-gallon breeder tank for beginners. Both are standard in size, and they help to keep the equipment relatively inexpensive and easy to procure. Also, they do not take up too much space but can accommodate a fair amount of livestock.