Reef Tank and Fish Tank Whats the Difference

There are many different ways you can set up an aquarium depending on what you would like to keep and what interests you most in the hobby. Accordingly hobbyists tend to put names on the different types of aquariums that can be set up because they have similar general requirements depending on the classification of tank.

Fish Only Tank

A Fish Only Tank is a tank that is dedicated to keeping fish, without any sort of corals, anemones or clams. They can contain some mobile invertebrates mainly for helping keep the tank clean. This set up is easier to set up and less costly then a reef tank. This type of tank can be classified into two different areas as well, fish only or fish only with live rock. Reef Aquarium

A Reef Aquarium contains a lot of life with the main focus being corals or anemones. This type of system generally contains a huge variety of species that require an extremely specialized setup. The needs of the corals or anemones take priority whereas fish in these tanks are considered secondary. Although we generally classify all tanks with corals in it as a reef tank, there are still different types of reef tanks such as softy, LPS (large polyp stony) and SPS (small polyp stony) tanks. These three tanks also have different requirements as well.

Here is a brief summary of some of the different equipment requirements for the two types of tanks.

Requirements

Reef Tank

Fish Only Tank

Alkalinity

Yes

Optional

Canister filter

No

Optional

Calcium reactor

Optional

No

Calcium

Yes

Optional

Hydrometer

Yes

Yes

Intense lighting

Yes

No

Live Rock

Yes

Optional

Live Sand

Optional

Optional

Nitrate

Yes

Optional

Protein Skimmer

Yes

Yes

RO/DI water

Yes

Preferable

Sump

Preferable

Optional

Refugium

Preferable

Optional

Kalk Dripper

Preferable

Optional

pH

Yes

Yes

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