Top Saltwater Aquarium Kit: Reviewed and Compared (2024 Guide)

Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: May 6, 2024
Review Process and Evaluation Criteria
We conduct hands-on testing for all the products highlighted in our reviews and guides. Through anonymous product ordering and involving an independent team of testers, we gather direct experience to offer recommendations backed by data.

Marine aquariums, which house more than 60 distinct and colorful species of saltwater fish, unsurprisingly attract a lot of interest from aquarium enthusiasts. However, without previous knowledge or experience in maintaining marine fish, you might not be aware of the necessary equipment and accessories.

Article Summary

  • Saltwater aquarium kits are essential to beginners in the hobby.
  • The three recommended products are the Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium, Fluval Sea Evo V Saltwater Fish Tank, and SeaClear 50 Gallon Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set.
  • Necessary equipment for a saltwater aquarium includes a tank, sea salt mix, live rock, substrate, lighting, hydrometer, protein skimmer, and filters.

I was in a similar boat when I first started out, but a saltwater aquarium kit completely eradicated my worry and uncertainty.

Most kits offer most or some of the equipment you need to begin a saltwater tank, saving you both time and money.

Thinking of purchasing a saltwater tank kit? stick around, as below I look at some of my top choices to help you find the best deals.

Top Pick

Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium

A fantastic starter aquarium with a compact size that makes it easier to build a thriving aquatic ecosystem than large saltwater aquariums.

Top Pick: Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium

If you need a good-quality saltwater kit that won’t take up too much space, the Coralife Biocube fits the bill.

It comes with a built-in filter and an advanced LED lighting system to illuminate your aquarium beautifully.

Best Value

Fluval Sea Evo V

An affordable but reliable aquarium kit with a stylish modern design.

Best Value: Fluval Sea Evo V

Some of the best reef tanks can be pricey, but the Fluval Sea Evo V is a great budget-friendly choice due to its affordable price.

It also has all the basic equipment you need to start your saltwater journey.

Editor’s Choice

SeaClear 50 gal Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set

An awesome looking tank that comes with enough space for keeping starting saltwater species.

Editor’s Choice: SeaClear 50 gal Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set

The SeaClear 50 Aquarium is my personal favorite kit due to its simple design.

It comes with a light fixture and acrylic panel. Provides enough space for keeping beginner saltwater species. You’ll need to buy accessories required for a saltwater tank.

Best Saltwater Aquarium Kits

Top Pick

Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium

A fantastic starter aquarium with a compact size that makes it easier to maintain than large saltwater aquariums. Top candidate for the best nano reef tank.

Top Pick: Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium

First up is the Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium, sporting a sleek and refined appearance that’s sure to complement your aquascape.

It’s a fantastic starter aquarium as it’s not overly big, which makes it easier to maintain than large saltwater aquariums.

It also won’t take up a huge amount of space.


But even though it’s compact in size, it can still hold up to 16 gallons of water so you have a few different stocking options. 

Personally, I think a few neon gobies would look stunning in this tank.

The aquarium kit comes with built-in filtration that’s simple to set up and clean.

It’s built into the back of the aquarium so it’s out of view, allowing you to create a more natural aquascape if you so wish. 

Filtration and LED

The filtration system has a quiet submersible pump, alongside dual intakes and an adjustable return nozzle so you can change the power of the flow. 

The Coralife Biocube also has integrated lighting system features which are conveniently built into the hood.

It has an integrated 24-hour timer so you don’t have to manually turn the lights on or off.

Lighting Options

There are 3 lighting channels that offer different lighting options: bright white, sparkling blue, and colour enhancing. This allows you to change the atmosphere by just switching to a different channel.

And that’s not all, the lights have automatic 30-minute sunrise/sunset and 60-minute moonrise/moon set functions to simulate a natural day and night cycle for your fish.


My main gripe with this aquarium package is the short lifespan of the LEDs, which seem to burn out after a few months. The integrated LED lighting system in general can be a bit unreliable as it can break prematurely.


  • Dimensions: 15” x 16.75” x 17.5”
  • Product Weight: 1.37 lbs
  • Color: Black
  • Capacity: 16 G


  • Dimensions: 15” x 16.75” x 17.5”
  • Product Weight: 1.37 lbs
  • Color: Black
  • Capacity: 16 G


  • Lighting system can break after a short time
Best Value

Fluval Sea Evo V

An affordable but reliable aquarium kit with a stylish modern design. These nano tanks are great for beginner and experienced saltwater hobbyists alike!

Best Value: Fluval Sea Evo V

Next up is the Fluval Sea Evo V Saltwater Kit, an excellent complete aquarium kit that won’t break the bank.


In addition to being affordable, the aquarium has a stylish honeycomb design that looks super modern.

This design also hides the rear aquarium filtration compartment and the water line, which gives your fish more swimming space. While the aquarium can only hold 5 gallons of water, it’s a good pick if you need a glass nano reef tank.

Your stocking choices might be a little limited, but it should be adequate for a few small fish and particularly reef dwelling species like anemone shrimp.


The glass all-in-one kit comes with a circulation pump and a three stage filtration system with large mechanical, chemical, and biological filter media to keep your water sparkling clean.

There’s an easy-feed door on the canopy too, allowing you to feed your fish without getting your hands wet.


Last but not least, the kit includes a high-output LED light with an aluminium, waterproof casing.

It has a touch-start day and night illumination so you can adjust the output for daytime and nighttime use. 

Despite its positives, this tank can have a couple of issues. Firstly, the three stage filtration device and circulation pump can be a bit on the weak side. And secondly, the lamp can stop working after a short period.


  • Dimensions: 24.5” x 11.8” x 16.3”
  • Product Weight: 11 lbs
  • Color: Black
  • Capacity: 5 G


  • Nano tank– ideal for beginners!
  • Honeycomb design to keep the filter hidden
  • Includes filter media and a 3-stage filtration system
  • High-output LED light


  • Filtering unit isn’t very strong
  • Light can stop working prematurely
Editor’s Choice

SeaClear 50 gal Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set

One of the best saltwater aquariums that looks great and comes with enough space for keeping your starting fish healthy.

Editor’s Choice: SeaClear 50 gal Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set

My personal favorite marine tank is the SeaClear 50 Gallon Aquarium Combo Set, not just because it looks simple but great, but it’s also the perfect tank to start keeping saltwater species like seahorses.


This combo set comes with an acrylic tank that is completely rimless, which makes it look sleek and sophisticated. It has a capacity of 50 gallons, giving you a lot of options when it comes to fish. You could house a variety of fish species in this aquarium or opt for a species-only setup.


With this kit, you get a light fixture and an acrylic panel. The acrylic panel has 3 color variations you can choose from which is clear, black, and cobalt blue.

You’ll have to buy other accessories needed for a saltwater setup such as tubing, media, and bulkheads separately.

Because it doesn’t come with complete accessories, it saves you from having mediocre accessories that might break down the least you expect it.


  • Dimensions: 36 x 16.5 x 20 inches
  • Tank Color: Clear
  • Capacity: 50 G
  • Weight: 50lbs


  • Rimless design for a modern look
  • Spacious enough for many marine species
  • Includes a light fixture and panel


  • Doesn’t come with complete accessories

BioCube LED Tanks and Combo Kits

The best nano reef tank from Coralife that comes with all the things you need to start fishkeeping. It also includes a cabinet for you to store accessories.

BioCube LED Tanks and Combo Kits

Next up is the BioCube 32 Gallon Tank/Stand Kit, a complete package for starting a saltwater tank. It might also be the ultimate nano reef tank for beginners.

Alongside a sturdy 32-gallon aquarium, the kit includes a stand, hydrometer, and algae magnet. 

The aquarium stand features a storage compartment for you to store all your aquarium tools inside, allowing you to keep all your supplies out of sight.


It has an integrated filtration system, as well as a smooth hood with bright LED lighting. The latter has an integrated 24-hour timer with 3 different channels. The hinged lid hides cords to keep your set up as clean as possible.

It even has automatic 30-minute sunrise/sunset and 60-minute moonrise/moonset functions with actinic blue light to give your tank inhabitants a natural day and night cycle.


Although the Biocube 16-gallon aquarium I wrote a review on earlier is a great option, the BioCube 32 Gallon Tank/Stand Kit is larger and comes with a lot more aquarium supplies.

If you can afford to spend a little extra on an aquarium kit, the BioCube 32-gallon is worth considering as it saves you time searching for aquarium supplies. Everything you need is in one handy package! 


However, this aquarium complete kit can occasionally crack or leak within a year of use. Fortunately, it comes with a 1-year warranty so you can easily get this issue sorted out if it occurs.


  • Dimensions: Not Specified
  • Product Weight: Not Specified
  • Color: Black
  • Capacity: 32 G


  • Complete kit – includes stand, magnet, and hydrometer
  • Built-in filtration
  • LED lamp with integrated timer
  • Storage compartment on stand to store aquarium supplies


  • Aquarium can break or leak within a year of use

Fluval Sea Flex Saltwater Aquarium Kit

One of the best saltwater aquariums with a stylish design but at an affordable price. Great as your first saltwater tank.

Fluval Sea Flex Saltwater Aquarium Kit

This 9-gallon Fluval Flex Aquarium Kit is another quality glass reef tank setup at an affordable price, bringing the sea right to your home. Not only does the curved design of the Fluval aquarium look stunning, but it comes with a wide range of unique features. 


I really like the LED lighting system on this aquarium as it provides 36 white and 3 RGB adjustable 1900 LUX LEDs that are completely adjustable, creating a beautiful shimmery effect. The dimmable 7500K lamp also promotes plant growth!

However, the night lighting system might not be sufficient for coral growth as it doesn’t contain enough blue hues. This can be easily rectified by purchasing a separate light online or at your local fish store.

Light Effects

On the plus side, you can choose from over 80 color blends and multiple special effects options like storm and cloud cover.

All of these settings can be controlled via a handy remote, which is extremely convenient! 

In addition to its advanced LED lighting system, this nano reef tank includes powerful filtration hidden in the rear compartment to keep your water crystal clear without being an eyesore.


It has multi-directional 61 GPH dual outputs so you can easily change the flow of the unit, ideal for fish who need a slower or faster water current. You get mechanical, biological, and chemical media with the kit too!

My main gripe with this miniature tank is that the hose connecting the pump to the filtration housing is a little short, making assembly a bit difficult. Additionally, the compartment at the back can be hard to clean.


  • Product Weight: 11.02 lbs
  • Color: Black
  • Capacity: 9 G


  • Unique curved design
  • Comes with multistage filtration system and filter media
  • Advanced lighting system which can be controlled via a remote


  • Hose connecting pump to back compartment is a bit short
  • Back compartment can be hard to maintain

Aqueon Aquarium Starter Kit with LED

A starter aquarium with a lot of accessories included. All you need to do is decorate it after the setup

Aqueon Aquarium Starter Kit with LED

Last but not least is the Aqueon Aquarium Starter Kit, a solid pick for any beginner new to keeping sea fish.


With the package, you get a 20-gallon glass reef tank, LED hood, QuietFlow power filtration system, submersible preset heater, medium cartridge, water conditioner, fish net, thermometer, fish food sample, and even an assembly guide.

That’s a lot of accessories for your money. Complete your sea haven with some decorations like live rocks, plants, and some corals!


The filtering unit is quiet so you can enjoy your (hopefully) thriving marine tank without any distractions. It also has a light indicator that flashes red when it’s time to change the media cartridge, which is a useful extra.

I like the low-profile LED hood as it’s not too bulky, giving your tank a sleek and simple appearance.

The lamp has white LED bulbs which, while not sufficient for growing corals, illuminate your tank nicely.


The preset heater is a great addition to keeping your water at the perfect temperature. It’s set to consistent 78 degrees Fahrenheit, which is ideal for most saltwater species.

Now you never need to worry about your water being hot or too cold!


Even with all its great features, the Aqueon Aquarium Starter Kit doesn’t include the best quality equipment.

The filtering system is a little weak for the total tank capacity and the tank lighting doesn’t come with a splash guard.

This could result in water getting into the lights, affecting their longevity and effectiveness. You might want to purchase these separately from online services or your local fish store.


  • Dimensions: 24.5” x 12.5” x 19.5”
  • Product Weight: 31.8 lbs
  • Color: Black
  • Capacity: 20 G


  • Comes with a lot of accessories like food, fish net, thermometer, and water conditioner
  • Preset heater keeps your water at the ideal temperature
  • Quiet filtering unit with a light indicator so you know when to change the medium cartridge
  • Vibrant LED lights


  • Some of the equipment isn’t the best quality

What’s a Saltwater Aquarium?

A saltwater aquarium is a tank that houses marine species of fish, invertebrates, and plants.

Marine plants and animals originate from the ocean and therefore require saltwater to survive. 

What’s a Saltwater Aquarium Kit?

Nano Saltwater Reef Aquarium
Nano Reef Tank

A saltwater aquarium kit is a product that contains all or some of the equipment you need to start a marine tank.

A kit normally contains a tank and accessories such as a lamp, filtration unit, filtration media, and sometimes a heater.

It’s a great option for beginner hobbyists as it cuts down on the number of tools and equipment you need to purchase from your local pet store.

What Is the Best Size Tank for Saltwater Fish?

Bigger is always better when it comes to marine aquariums. Larger enclosures allow you to own more species of fish.

With smaller habitats, your stocking choices are pretty limited as many marine species need enclosures with a lot of space.

Larger aquariums also mean there’s more room for error, which is useful when you’re just starting out.

A big ecosystem can handle fluctuations in water parameters more than a small one. 



Full/complete saltwater aquarium kits come with everything you need to begin a marine aquarium.

They will normally come with a tank, filtration system and medium, light, heater, sand or substrate, protein skimmer, and sometimes a sump system.


Partial saltwater aquarium kits provide you with the bare essentials for keeping sea species. They typically include a tank, filtration system, light, and sometimes medium and a few other extras.

Types of Saltwater Enclosures

Fish Tank With Tropical Coral Reef Aquarium
Fish Tank With Tropical Coral Reef Aquarium


FOWLR fish tanks are aquariums that are fish-only with live rock.

Live rock refers to the rocky formations that house organisms and algae.

These organisms are helpful for establishing a plentiful supply of good bacteria that aid with the cleanliness of your aquarium water.


Fish-only tanks are among the best fish tanks for beginners as all you need to worry about is fish.

You don’t have to cultivate live rocks or meet the specific water and lighting requirements to support corals and healthy coral growth.

Additionally, a fish-only tank is a lot cheaper to run than other types of marine fish tanks. If you want your first saltwater tank to support coral life and live rocks, know that they are normally very expensive, even if they’re on sale.

The startup costs of a reef aquarium can be pretty high.


That said, fish-only aquariums can take longer to get up and running. Aquariums with live rocks and corals have a larger quantity of good bacteria and organisms to kickstart the cycling process.


Reef aquariums are the closest you can get to having a slice of the sea right in your home. They contain reef-safe species, corals, and live rocks.

This type of aquarium is the hardest to maintain as corals require a lot of care to keep alive and healthy, including proper water parameters achieved through the use of a high-quality reef-salt mix.

Lighting Requirement

Not only do they require pristine water conditions, but they also need adequate lighting for growth.

They need a full spectrum of light that consists mostly of blues with some reds, yellows, and oranges.


You should aim for 3.5 watts per gallon of water for the majority of soft types and 4.5 watts per gallon of water for hard types.

What Equipment Do I Need for a Saltwater Aquarium?

Aquarium Set Up
Aquarium Set Up


First thing’s first, you’ll need an aquarium to house your fish – Make sure you know the specific care requirements of the fish species you’d like to own.


Remember to check the adult size of the fish too – many species are small while young but rapidly grow into giants!

Sea Salt Mix

Sea salt is used to increase the salt content of your water so it can accommodate marine life.

Make sure you use a sea salt mix intended for marine enclosures. Table salt or aquarium freshwater salt can’t be used as it doesn’t contain trace minerals or elements.

Live Rock

Live rocks provides a home for algae and organisms, which helps promote the growth of good bacteria. Algae is also a food source for some species of fish and invertebrates.


Substrate offers a surface area for good bacteria to colonize on.

Some types alter the chemistry of the water such as crushed coral sand, which contains calcium. 

If you have burrowing species of fish, you should use a soft substrate such as aquarium sand or aragonite sand as this is easier to dig through.

Personally, I use aragonite sand in my setups as it has buffering capabilities and looks natural.


Blue LED Light Panel
Blue LED Light Panel

You’ll need lighting to replicate a natural day and night cycle for your fish, as well as to grow any aquatic plants. 


A hydrometer measures the specific gravity (salt levels) in your water. You’ll need this device to ensure your water has the right content of salinity.

For most saltwater species, a specific gravity between 1.020 and 1.026.

Protein Skimmer

A protein skimmer removes Dissolved Organic Compounds from your water before they are processed by your filtering unit. 

Although optional, an air skimmer helps your filtering unit run more smoothly and efficiently, particularly in saltwater aquariums with large fish species or high numbers of invertebrates.


Filters aren’t optional in a tank – from a miniature reef tank to even the best nano tank –  they help keep the water clean and healthy. A saltwater aquarium filtering device helps keep ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels low so they don’t impact your water quality.

A lot of saltwater aquarium enthusiasts use a wet/dry filter, sump, or refugium.

Wet/Dry Filter

A wet/dry filter uses a felt filtering sock for bio medium like bio balls and large particles. It’s best used for fish-only setups.


A sump is similar to a wet/dry filter but uses live rocks instead of bio medium. It also has a storage compartment for a heater, protein skimmer, media reactors, etc. It’s normally used for reef setups.


Lastly, a refugium is a modified sump that has a primary area for reef mud substrate and growing macroalgae.

All of these units need an overflow chamber and drain pipe. The water from your aquarium will overflow into the sump. A return pump then deposits the water back into your aquarium.

How to set up the ULTIMATE Refugium!


A powerhead for saltwater aquarium helps with water circulation in your tank, which improves the oxygen levels in your water.

This device also makes it easier for particulates and bits of debris to be filtered out.


Marine livestock originates from tropical or temperate waters, so you’ll need to ensure the water temperature of your tank is warm enough.

A heater helps increase the temperature of your water and keep it consistent.

Even if you live in a warm climate, I’d still recommend using a heater to prevent any temperature fluctuations.


There are a few types of heaters you can use, including submersible and immersible ones.


A thermometer helps you keep an eye on the temperature of your tank water.

It can also help you indicate if there’s an issue with your heater, allowing you to quickly intervene if the temperature drops too low or high.

Air Pump and Air Stones

Air bubbles in a marine tank can cause salt creep, so you don’t need air stones or an air pump unless you’re running equipment that needs them like a counter-current protein skimmer.

Salt creep occurs when water splashes onto an object and evaporates, leaving behind salt crystals.

Test Kits, Additives & Supplements

Live rocks and reef aquariums require calcium to survive. Some other additives and supplemental vitamins may be helpful for certain species, such as iodine for crustaceans.

Maintenance Tools & Supplies

Man Cleaning a Fish Tank
Man Cleaning a Fish Tank

If your tank kit doesn’t already include maintenance tools, you’ll need buckets for water changes, tank cleaning equipment like an algae scraper and siphon hose, and nets for catching tank inhabitants. 

Final Thoughts

Top Pick

After looking at a variety of saltwater aquarium kits, I think the best one overall is the Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium LED. It has a compact, sleek and modern design, so not only does it look striking, but it also doesn’t take up too much space.

I like the wide range of features it includes, such as a built-in filtering unit and advanced LED lamp. The latter has 3 different channels to create the perfect atmosphere for your tank, as well as a 24-hour timer for convenience. 

Best Value

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, I think the Fluval Sea Evo V Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium Kit is a solid choice as it has a stylish design and comes with an LED lamp and multi-stage filtration unit.

Editor’s Choice

That said, my personal favorite complete saltwater aquarium kit is the SeaClear 50 Gallon Aquarium Combo. It’s spacious and doesn’t come with accessories so you can buy your own.

Feel Free To Share Your Thoughts!

I hope I helped you find the best saltwater aquarium kit so you can experience the sea in the comfort of your home.

If you do decide to get a saltwater kit and some shrimp, make sure to get some flora, fauna, and food for them!

Which saltwater all-in-one kit is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

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