2018’s Best Reef Tanks: Reviews of Top Saltwater Aquariums

best reef tanks
If you have ever had the privilege of seeing and enjoying an aquarium filled with many different reefs, corals and fish, you know that they are beautiful, intricate and fascinating.  The living organisms that thrive off of each other are put together in fish tanks to live as one and give you serenity and peace. Owning and maintaining a reef tank is not for the faint of heart, though. They require dedication and commitment.

If you choose to take on an endeavor like this one, you must be sure to do one very important thing before anything else – research!  Having a reef tank is a ton of responsibility and in order to successfully have one live and grow and be healthy every day, you have to know exactly what you are doing.

You can find information in many different places; if you have friends or family that own a reef tank, they are a good resource to get help from. Your local pet stores will definitely have all of the information you may need and if you have any questions or concerns, online information is readily available.

We have broken things down to make your researching endeavors a bit easier – these are some of the best reef tanks money can buy.

Whether you are looking to have one in your own home, or plan to utilize one in your business office building, our picks are the top-rated tanks that will last the longest.

Best Reef Tanks

All of these reef aquariums are a great beginning if you are hoping to have an incredible reef tank to enjoy on an everyday basis.

Coralife Biocube

This reef tank comes with everything you may need in order to start and maintain a thriving ecosystem. When you purchase this Coralife Biocube, you get a tank lid, a light filter, a filter pump, a LED light bar and even a filtration system. However, this is not necessarily for the beginner fish owners. Although it is easier to take care of than a 10-gallon tank, there is still a lot of research and knowledge needed in order to make things work well.

When you purchase this aquarium, it doesn’t come with a stand so you should keep in mind that you definitely need to know beforehand where you want to put the aquarium in your home. The Biocube brand name is well known in this industry so if you end up choosing this one to buy, along with the accessories that are included with the original purchase, there are many different Biocube entities to get and utilize towards this specific reef tank.


Red Sea Max Aquarium

This is a bit of a larger aquarium that holds up to 55 gallons of water. To be frank, this is one of those reef tanks that can cause you to dig much deeper in your wallet than you ever thought imaginable for a fish tank purchase. However, this is because you literally will receive everything you need right from the get-go. You don’t have to buy a pump or a stand, separately because these are 2 pretty significant components that actually come with everything else.

A lot of the times, when you get a water pump for your reef tank, they can be big, bulky and just plain ugly to have hanging off of the side.  The Red Sea Max reef tank though is a bit different.  The water pump does come included with an incredible filtration system that is hidden on the inside of the tank itself you won’t be able to see it unless you search around and know what you are looking for. It has a detachable surface skimmer, a circulation pump, protein skimmer, pump outlet nozzle, a heater and a water cooler fan, a filter sponge, and even a media rack!

The most reassuring and reliable part about this specific reef aquarium is the fact that if you do save your pennies and purchase this one, you are almost guaranteed to come out on the winning end of things. This saltwater reef tank is not one that you have to have a ton of knowledge and capability in order to maintain. It does have its challenges but they are minor compared to other products that you would need to do extensive research about. Everything you need is in one box and you really can’t go wrong if you invest in this beautiful piece.


Innovative Marine Nuvo Fusion, 10 gallon

This is one of those smaller aquariums that would work best for the more experienced and adapted type of reef tank owner. It holds 10 gallons of water which is definitely one of the smaller types of tanks that are available for purchase. This specific product comes with all of the accessories you need in order to get things up and running, smoothly, in one shot.

Along with the 10-gallon tank, you will be getting: a lid that is made from mesh and screen, a pump with a flexible hose to maneuver it into hiding places so you can’t see it when you’re admiring your fish and corals, a leveling mat, built in overflows, a removable filter basket, and an LED light system that comes with alternating colors as well.

The best feature of this Innovative Marine Nuvo Fusion tank is its design quality.  It is made with precision and grace to make for an incredible, eye-catching masterpiece. The accessories that are included will leave you needing nothing more to complete your tank unless of course, you wish to spoil your fish more than normal and purchase additional items to put in the reef tank.

Although the LED light feature is dazzling and attention-grabbing, there is a slight downfall and that is that it doesn’t have an on/off switch.  If you wish to dim things down or turn off the lights completely, you must unplug the cord from the outlet.  There are some ways around this, however, if you purchase a timer to put the lights on so you can set the mood each night before bedtime. The one thing that does not come with the package of initial purchase is the stand. You must find something that is durable and strong enough to hold your tank and all of the accessories once it is all put together.


Starfire Aquariums, 50 gallon

This is an aquarium that you can try out as a beginner and have more room for error than other salt water tanks. It comes with all of the accessories and even includes a beautiful stand with a built-in cabinet underneath for storing all of your additional items, below. It truly is a conversation starter and will wow your friends, family, and guests. This particular model comes with a 3-year warranty in case of accidents or malfunctions.

Along with that, it also includes a 1-year warranty for the additional accessories that are included in the bundle. One thing that customers rave about is the customer support that is available should you have any questions, comments or concerns about anything after you make your purchase and get things home.

Unfortunately, going along with the customer support point, there is a reason why they are so good at being there to answer any and all of your questions – this particular mode of Starfire doesn’t come with an instruction manual or any pamphlets or fliers in the box to show you the ropes and walk you through a proper setup.  They are there to call when you need them to help you screw this into that and plug that into this.

Also, there are literally no lights that come included with the accessories you are paying for originally. You will most definitely have to buy these separately because, at some point, your fish and corals are going to need something more than natural sunlight shining through your living room windows.


Fluval 10531A1 SEA EVO XII Aquarium Kit

On the smaller side of things, this saltwater tank comes fully equipped with all the means necessary to kick start things, quickly. It comes ready with an integrated filtration system that allows for clean water and fewer algae and debris to build up over time. The pump provides a slight current to allow water flow and self-cleaning for the corals.

There are LED lights that are featured as well to provide adequate light and it has a day and night time setting to program them for. Even though there is a very convenient setting for night and daytime lighting, there is no timer for the LED lights so you have to physically change the lights back and forth to each setting depending on the time of day. Also, this aquarium doesn’t come with a protein skimmer which can be important for your fish and corals so it is best to purchase one, separately.


What To Look For in a Saltwater Tank

coral reefIn the case of buying a reef tank, bigger is definitely better. This isn’t to showcase how much money you have or how flashy your tank is – size matters because the bigger it is, the more forgiving it will be. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times; reef tanks are HARD WORK. They require detailed attention and extreme knowledge of survival and upkeep. The larger your tank is, the more room for error you will get.

We would recommend starting off with a 65 gallon tank. Anything smaller and you could cause harm to your fish if you are just starting off. An important thing to remember though when you initially start off is, not only are you purchasing a large fish tank, you are purchasing a heavy one once you get the water and accessories in it. You must be sure the space you are putting it in is durable enough to handle the weight. A simple 20-gallon tank can weigh 200 pounds!

You can choose to purchase your reef tank by itself, or you can walk out of the store with a bundle of goodies and literally never have to buy another accessory, again. The choice is yours – it really depends on if you feel confident in putting things together yourself and choosing individual pieces after that, or if you would rather set everything up at once and enjoy the views, sooner.


Having a reef tank is not for the faint of heart and it takes extreme dedication, commitment and knowledge to pull off. If you take it upon yourself to learn everything you can and truly understand the ins and outs of it, you will be fully rewarded. There is time and money that should be considered before you jump in and take on this incredible challenge. There are many different routes to take from size, to what corals, to what types of fish, but in the end, the risk should be worth the reward.

Bigger is always better when you first get started and it is important to know your place – if you get in over your head it is ok to ask for help or admit that you bit off more than you could chew. A reef tank will brighten your days and make your home or office a peaceful and serene place to be every day. It is important to step back and enjoy the beauty every once in a while.

No matter which type of salt water tank you choose, you should feel confident in your abilities to allow fish and corals to thrive and grow to their biggest and best potential, under your watch.