Starting a marine or reef tank is a challenging but exciting project! Marine tanks typically need a bit more experience than freshwater tanks to care for sensitive corals and fish. Choosing a ready to go kit can help, but how do you find the best all in one saltwater aquarium for you?
We’ve used our combined experience along with many hours of validation to bring you some of the best all in one saltwater aquarium picks. And we found the 32 gallon Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium Kit to be the best all round choice overall.
But we’ve also included pico and nano tanks, along with much larger 50 and 150 gallon options if you have the experience and want to customize your saltwater or reef set up.
So keep reading to discover some of the best full and partial all in one saltwater aquariums available!
- Best Lighting: Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium Kit
- Best Pico Saltwater: Fluval Evo V Marine Aquarium Kit
- Best Nano Saltwater: Fluval Sea EVO Aquarium Kit
- Best Custom Filtration: Innovative Marine NUVO Fusion PRO Aquarium Kit
- Best Large Cube Tank: SCA 50 Gallon Starfire Glass Aquarium
- Best Large Saltwater Tank: SCA 150 Gallon Starfire Glass Aquarium
Best All In One Saltwater Aquarium Picks Reviewed
We’ve spent many hours working through a range of all in one saltwater aquariums, from pico and nano tanks to large sizes. You’ll also find full all in one and partial kits in this list, if you want the option to customize filtration and other components yourself.
- Shape and Capacity: Cube, 32 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 27.5 (l) x 25.5 (d) x 27.0 (h) inches, 62.0 pounds
- Material: Glass
- Equipment Included: Programmable hinged hood with bright white, blue and color enhancing LEDs, 24-hour timer, 30-minute gradual sunrise/ sunset and moonrise/ moonset timer, hidden filtration chamber to hold biological, mechanical and chemical media, submersible pump with dual intakes and adjustable return nozzles
- Best for: Integrated Lighting
As an all in one saltwater aquarium, the Coralife LED Biocube is a fantastic choice. It’s 27.5 x 25.5 inch footprint makes it a decent size tank, but the cube shape will allow you to position it in the corner of a room or awkward area.
The internal filter chamber hidden at the back can be fully customized and hold biological, mechanical and chemical media. Coupled with the 265 GPH submersible pump which will cycle your water over 8 times an hour, and your water will stay clear and safe for your fish.
But it’s the integrated LED lighting that really stands out on this tank. The 11,000k bright white LEDs can support a range of beginner and soft corals. It also has color LEDs and a blue moon glow for night time. Add to this the 24 hour programmable timer with sunrise and sunset modes and it makes it really easy for you to mimic the natural 24 hour cycle of your fish.
- Shape and Capacity: Rectangular, 5 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 24.5 (w) x 11.8 (d) x 16.3 (h) inches, 11.0 pounds
- Material: Glass
- Equipment Included: Hidden 3 stage filter and adjustable pump (55 to 80 GPH), 11,000k 37 LED lighting with day and night settings, aquarium canopy with access slot
- Best for: Pico Saltwater
The Fluval Evo V is a stylish 5 gallon desktop aquarium that’s a great option if you have some experience and want to start a pico reef tank. With a base of 24.5 x 11.8 inches it can support soft corals and perhaps a few small Trimma or Eviota gobies right on your desk!
It has a hidden filter chamber on the short length of the tank with a 3 stage filter and pump delivering a 80 GPH flow rate. Enough to cycle the water up to 16 timers an hour – plenty for the high bioload of a pico reef tank.
And the 37 11,000k LEDs are right in the range needed to support soft corals and live rock. In fact this tank gets many great reviews from current owners on its ability to support mushrooms, corals, and small marine fish in a compact and modern tank.
- Shape and Capacity: Rectangular, 13.5 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 22.0 (l) x 15.0 (d) x 11.0 (h) inches, 28 pounds
- Material: Glass
- Equipment Included: 14000k LED day and night lighting, 3-stage filtration with media included,132 GPH pump, hood with easy feed door
- Best for: Nano Saltwater
Fluval’s 13.5 gallon Sea Evo Aquarium Kit is the larger cousin of the Evo V, and has many features you would typically find in a larger saltwater tank. The 22.0 x 15.0 inch base gives a slightly squarer tank with more swimming space but will still fit on a sturdy cabinet or tank stand.
The 14,000k LEDs are capable of supporting a range of soft corals and live rock. And the programmable touch start and blue night settings allow you to easily set day and night cycles to support the natural rhythm of your fish.
Fluval includes an integrated 3 stage filter chamber with a split hood, so you can easily access your filter without opening the whole lid. And the 132 GPH pump will cycle the water just under 10 times an hour to keep it crystal clear.
There’s also room in the filter chamber for Fluval’s M Series 50 watt heater and PS2 MINI Protein Skimmer (sold separately). Many owners praise this as a great all in one saltwater starter aquarium if you’re looking to set up a nano tank.
- Shape and Capacity: Shallow lagoon rectangle, 25 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 23.62 (l) x 19.68 (d) x 11.80 (h) inches, 58.0 pounds
- Material: Glass
- Equipment Included: Mesh screen lid, integrated rubber leveling mat, magnetic glass cleaner, acrylic overflow wall, 200 micron filter sock, CustomCaddy filter media basket, 1 mechanical fiberball media, 0.8 ROX carbon pack, coarse GFO filter media, MightyJet 326 GPH return pump and controller with dual directional flow nozzles
- Best for: Custom Filtration
If you’re looking for a mid-size, partial kit that you can customize, the NUVO Fusion PRO 25 gallon is a perfect fit. The shallow lagoon style with its 23.62 x 11.80 inch front panel gives a fantastic view of your marine life. And as it’s shallow, your corals will be nearer their light source.
Innovative Marine include their MightyJet 326 GPH pump with this tank, which can cycle all your water over 13 times an hour and is enough to process a heavy marine bioload. And the CustomCaddy basket allows you to customize with your choice of filter media.
That said, Innovative Marine includes Granular Ferric Oxide (or GFO) in the kit, which is highly effective at reducing phosphates to help prevent algae outbreaks. Overall this is a beautiful lagoon-style tank which allows you to customize it in any way you choose!
- Shape and Capacity: Cube, 50 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 24.0 (l) x 24.0 (d) x 20.0 (h) inches, 92 pounds
- Material: Glass
- Equipment Included: Integrated overflow box with pre-drilled drain and return holes, 1 inch drain bulkhead and ½ inch return bulkhead, dual return T pipe and durso standpipe
- Best for: Large Cube Tank
The Starfire Aquariums 50 Gallon tank has the benefit of a larger size, but still being reasonably compact. Thanks to its 24 x 24 inch base you can fit in in the corner of your lounge whilst having plenty of space to keep more fish.
Its ⅖ inch thick glass makes the tank highly durable, but as it’s low-iron glass it means your get a crystal clear view without the green tint you can get in some tanks. Starfire also does a matching cabinet in either black or cherry which you can use to house a sump.
As a partial all in one saltwater aquarium, this tank comes with all the plumbing you need. And the durso standpipe prevents water splash making the filter return incredibly quiet. Overall a very well built tank that’s ready to customize to suit your needs.
- Shape and Capacity: Rectangular, 150 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 60.0 (l) x 24.0 (d) x 24.0 (h) inches, 300 pounds
- Material: Glass
- Equipment Included: built-in center overflow box with 3 pre-drilled drain and return holes, fit 1 inch bulkhead, plumbing kit included
- Best for: Large Saltwater Tank
The Starfire 150 gallon tank is an excellent partial all in one saltwater aquarium if you want to start a large reef tank. At 60.0 inches in length you’ll need a good size wall to position it against, but it will allow you to keep an extensive reef with around 15 mid-size fish, species dependent.
Like the 50 gallon version, it is exceptionally well built with ⅖ inch thick low-iron glass and in this size of tank the clarity is amazing in your room! Just ensure you have a properly designated aquarium stand or cabinet to support the 300 lbs weight.
And again the plumbing on this tank makes it incredibly easy to set up your own sump or refugium, install your filtration, and set up customized equipment. Overall, a large, customizable tank which owners praise for its beauty and build quality.
Choosing The Best All In One Saltwater Aquarium
Depending on the type of marine tank you want to start, there can be several considerations to think about when trying to find the best all in one saltwater aquarium.
Types Of Saltwater Aquarium
If you’re thinking of starting a saltwater fish tank, you’ve probably seen the term reef tank used plenty of times too. But not all saltwater aquariums are reef tanks!
A saltwater aquarium is a fish tank that’s home to ocean dwelling marine species. There are three main types of saltwater tank:
- Fish Only (FO) Tank: These are the simplest saltwater aquariums, and focus on showcasing marine fish only. That means no invertebrates, corals, or live rock. Instead, replica corals are often used for decoration.
- Fish Only With Live Rock (FOWLR): This is a step towards a reef tank as it contains marine fish and live rock. Live rocks are calcium-carbonate based marine rocks naturally colonized with microbes and nitrifying bacteria which help maintain water parameters .
- Reef Tank: Traditional reef tanks can contain marine fish, invertebrates, live rock, and corals. As corals are photosynthetic and have high energy requirements the correct lighting is very important in a reef tank. We’ll cover this in more detail later.
Nano vs Large Saltwater Tanks
One of the first decisions you need to make is whether to start a small nano or larger saltwater tank. Whilst it’s true that tanks of around 40 gallons or larger are more manageable in terms of keeping marine water parameters stable, they do cost more and you need the space.
A smaller setup will cost less, but you’ll be more restricted in terms of the fish and corals you can keep. There are two main types of small reef tank:
- Nano reef tank: These are tanks from around 6 to 30 gallons and will allow you to keep a small amount of marine fish, corals, or live rock.
- Pico reef tank: Pico tanks are 5 gallons or less and are recommended for more experienced aquarists. Evaporation is a key issue with these tanks and maintaining salinity and nutrient levels takes experience.
Pros And Cons Of An All In One Saltwater Aquarium
All in one saltwater kits are often a great starter option if you are new to marine tanks, but they do come with a few specific pros and cons.
- Everything is included: All in one saltwater aquariums tend to come with all the equipment needed ready to go. Not only is the equipment customized to fit, it’s also rated for that specific tank, such as filter flow rate and lighting power rating.
- Kits are easy to set up: Plumbing is usually pre-drilled and pre-fitted, and each component, such as the lighting, is already installed. Kits also come with detailed set up instructions to follow.
- Price: An all in one kit is usually cheaper than if you have to buy components like a heater, lighting, protein skimmers, or a UV sterilizer separately.
- Ease of maintenance: Many all in one saltwater aquariums have specific components to make maintenance easier. For example, split hood access to the filtration chamber.
- Limited customization: All in one saltwater aquarium kits are often difficult to customize. There are some scenarios where you can add your own components later but you should check the expansion options before you buy.
Should You Buy A Full Or Partial Kit?
All in one saltwater aquariums can either come as a full kit with all the key equipment you need to start using them, or as a partial kit. In many cases a partial kit consists of the tank, the filter chamber and plumbing, and sometimes a stand.
If you’re new to saltwater fish keeping or if you’re looking for a nano reef tank, I’d recommend you choose a full kit with coral-rated lighting and multi stage filtration. Finding separate equipment that fits, such as pumps and skimmers, can be a challenge for small tanks.
Partial kits can be great for larger tanks or if you have a little more experience. That way you’ll have a tank ready with the basics but you can customize with your own equipment. Be aware that this route can be more expensive though.
Size And Shape Of Your Setup
Nano reef tanks will always need more work to maintain water parameters, such as salinity levels, than larger tanks. Not only is there less water volume so ammonia fluctuations can occur, but evaporation in these tanks means you’ll often need to do water top-offs every few days.
But whilst a bigger tank means you’ll have room for more fish and corals, equipment can get more expensive and you’ll obviously need more space in your home.
That’s where the shape of your tank matters too. Cube shaped tanks will fit in smaller spaces like the corner of a room, but if you have a taller reef tank you may need to use coral racks or brackets to lift them up so they get enough light for photosynthesis.
A mid-size tank of around 15 to 20 gallons can be a good starting point if you are new to saltwater aquariums and provides a balance between these factors.
Equipment For A Saltwater Aquarium
Marine tanks require several pieces of specialist equipment, but the good thing is all in one saltwater aquariums often have at least the critical items included.
Heating And Temperature
Maintaining a consistent temperature, usually of around 76 to 82°F, is particularly key in a saltwater fish tank. Delicate corals and marine fish are particularly sensitive to fluctuations. And an automatic and adjustable aquarium heater is therefore a must.
Your tank needs around 2.5 to 5 watts per gallon of water to heat it . So for a 40 gallon saltwater fish tank you’ll need a heater between 100 and 200 watts. But if you live in a very warm climate and find your water temperature is too high, an aquarium chiller should be used.
Saltwater Aquarium Lighting
Getting the lighting right is critical in a saltwater aquarium, particularly in a reef tank containing corals. They are photosynthesizing organisms with high energy requirements , and need a specific color temperature often around 10,000 to 11,000k depending on the species.
Many all in one saltwater aquariums come with specialist lighting in this range, and feature red, white, blue and green LEDs. In addition they can usually be programmed so you can easily set day and night cycles to support the natural rhythm of your tank’s livestock.
Saltwater Aquarium Filtration
Saltwater aquariums, particularly reef tanks, need a very effective filtration system as corals and marine fish are highly sensitive to water quality fluctuations. Many all in one kits come with built-in 3 stage filters with chemical and bio media to keep the water crystal clear.
A larger saltwater aquarium may need an external sump. This is a small external tank that sits under the main aquarium. The water flows by gravity into the sump where the filter media processes it, and it’s then returned to the main tank via a pump.
Return And Internal Flow Pumps
It’s also critical that your return pump can cycle all your water at least 4 to 6 times an hour to keep it clear and oxygenated. So in a 40 gallon tank you’ll need a pump with a flow rate of 160 to 240 gallons per hour (GPH). But a higher rated, adjustable pump is even better.
If you keep a reef tank with Large Polyp Stony (LPS) or Small Polyp Stony (SPS) corals you may also need an internal flow pump. These corals need a consistent water flow running past them as it helps them acquire nutrients and expel metabolic waste .
A protein skimmer is used to remove waste organic matter and is particularly important in a reef tank with soft or stony corals. There are many different types, but they essentially work by generating tiny bubbles which capture the waste matter as a foam that’s then collected.
All in one saltwater aquarium kits often come with space in the filtration chamber to add a protein skimmer although you usually have to purchase it separately. You may need a more powerful external protein skimmer for a large tank.
What Fish And Corals Can You Add?
Stocking your all in one saltwater aquarium is the most exciting part! But it will also take the most research. While your choices are going to be driven by the size of tank and how big your fish get, you also need to consider:
- Are the fish reef safe?: That is, they are not going to pick at corals or become aggressive towards shrimp or invertebrates.
- Are they hardy fish?: Particularly in a nano reef tank it’s very difficult to prevent some fluctuation in water levels. So it’s important to choose hardy fish.
- Are they aggressive or peaceful?: Research compatibility before buying your fish. Firefish, for example, can become aggressive if you keep more than 2 in a tank.
Saltwater Fish Stocking
With the above in mind, here are a few options for the best saltwater fish to stock based on the type and size of saltwater aquarium:
- Pico reef tank: As pico tanks are 5 gallons or less, many experienced aquarists choose to keep a coral-only tank. The only real fish choice for a tank this size are gobies as they perch and hop between coral or rocks rather than actively swimming. Micro species like Trimma are good for pico tanks.
- Nano reef tank: For tanks up to 30 gallons, you want to choose fish that grow no larger than 3 inches. Clownfish, Tailspot Blenny, or Possum Wrasse are all peaceful species that won’t attack corals or other fish.
- Larger saltwater aquarium: Your choices are wider with tanks above 30 gallons but it’s still important not to overstock a marine aquarium. Banggai Cardinal, Royal Gramma, Blue Green Chromis, or Azure Damselfish are all options for tanks above 30 gallons.
Coral Stocking Tips
If you choose to keep a reef tank in your all in one saltwater aquarium there are many options for corals, again based on tank size. In a small pico or nano reef tank it’s important to choose hardy corals that can handle water parameter fluctuations associated with these tanks.
Soft corals are hardy and more suited for small tanks. Their movement will also help bring life where you’ve got less fish, or in the case of a pico tank, possibly no fish at all. You should also be careful not to space aggressive corals, such as stinging LPS corals, too closely.
An all in one saltwater aquarium or partial kit is an awesome way for many to get started in keeping marine fish or a reef tank.
Our top pick of the best all in one saltwater aquarium is the Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium Kit for its powerful, integrated lighting, ready to go out of the box. But if you are looking to start a smaller nano tank the Fluval Sea EVO Aquarium Kit is a fantastic option.
The other, larger tanks on our list are also great partial kits if you want the ability to customize your aquarium. So whichever you choose you’ll find the best all in one solution to start your saltwater aquarium here!
We’ve covered answers to some of the top questions asked about all in one saltwater aquariums and reef tanks.
What’s The Best All In One Saltwater Aquarium Kit
If you want an exceptional all in one saltwater aquarium the Coralife LED Biocube Aquarium is an excellent option that you can customize with your own equipment.
Should I Buy An All In One Saltwater Aquarium Or Partial Kit?
If you’re a beginner or want a smaller nano tank, a full kit is a much easier and cost effective route. But a partial kit provides a fantastic basis if you want to customize your tank.
Is it Difficult to Keep a Reef Tank?
Saltwater and reef tanks are challenging, but they can also be incredibly rewarding. The key is to take the time to set up and cycle them correctly, and keep up with maintenance.