CHOOSING THE CORRECT TEMPERATURE FOR A MARINE AQUARIUM

Written by Katherine Barrington Updated May 15, 2015
One of the most important things you must to do ensure the health of your marine tank is to achieve and maintain the ideal temperature.
To keep your marine tank healthy, you need to keep an eye on the water parameters including the pH, salinity and chemistry levels. In addition to monitoring pH and salinity levels, maintaining a stable temperature in your marine tank is one of the top priorities of aquarium owners. It's not only the fish in your tank you need to be worried about in keeping a perfect temperature, either. Corals are especially susceptible to sudden temperature changes and could be killed before you even realize the need to make a correction. Read more to learn about the ideal temperature ranges for different marine tanks.

Marine aquariums can be lumped into several categories based on their inhabitants (fish only, fish only with live rock, or reef tanks) and also by water temperature (warm water vs. cold water). Before investing in a saltwater aquarium, it is a good idea to decide which type of tank you want and to learn the requirements you will be responsible for meeting and maintaining. In this article you will learn the basics about the different types of marine tanks and you will receive tips for maintaining those tanks at the proper temperature.
 
Types of Tanks by Occupants

Below you will find a list of the three types of marine tanks based on the type of occupants in them. You will also receive an overview of each tank type.

Fish Only – A fish only tank is exactly what it sounds like – a tank in which the only living inhabitants are fish. These tanks are designed to showcase the fish so they are often sparsely decorated with just a few coral replicas or coral skeletons for decoration. Some of the best hardy marine species for use in fish only tanks include tangs, damselfish, and other captive-bred species.


Fish Only with Live Rock – A fish only with live rock (FOWLR) tank is a stepping stone between the fish only tank and a reef tank. In this tank you will find live fish but the decorations are living as well. Live rock consists of fragmented pieces of old reefs that have been colonized by bacteria, sponges, and other invertebrates. Live rock provides an excellent foundation for beneficial bacteria in a marine tank and it greatly enhances the tank’s appearance as well.

Reef Tank – A reef tank is one of the most challenging types of aquariums to cultivate because not only do you need to keep your fish alive, but you must cultivate a delicate balance in your water parameters to keep coral alive as well. In reef tanks the coral and invertebrates are usually the stars, even if there are a few fish included.

Types of Tank by Temperature

Below you will find an overview of the two tank types divided by temperature.

Warm Water = Saltwater aquariums that house fish from temperate or tropical climates will generally require a temperature range between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Before settling on a temperature, research the needs of the species of fish you intend to introduce into your tank (if any), as well as the corals and other invertebrates, to see what their needs are. In this type of tank setup you will need to invest in an aquarium heater to maintain a stable water temperature within the desired range.

Cold Water = Cold water marine aquariums, though less popular than warm water tanks until recently, generally require a temperature range between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. To achieve this temperature range, it is often necessary to invest in an aquarium chiller that can be set to keep the water within a degree or two of a certain goal. In this type of tank setup, you may not even need an aquarium heater – the aquarium chiller will perform the function of regulating tank temperature.

Tips for Tank Temperature by Type

Below you will find tips for maintaining the proper temperature of different marine tanks based on the type of tank you have – fish only, FOWLR, or reef.

Fish Only (FO) = If your saltwater tank is home to fish only, all you must do to determine the proper temperature range is research the needs of the fish you plan to introduce into your tank. If you plan to house several different species it is important to select those that have similar needs, especially when it comes to tank temperature. Generally, saltwater fish from temperate and tropical climates require temperatures between 75 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive.

Fish Only with Live Rock (FOWL) = Again, the correct temperature range for a FOWL tank will depend on the particular fish you intend to house. Live rock does well in a wide range of aquarium temperatures, so rely on your research to determine the temperature which is best for your fish. Try to avoid housing fish from very disparate environments in the same tank because their environmental requirements may not be compatible.

Reef Tank = The average temperature for reefs in the wild is around 82 degrees Fahrenheit, though corals and other reef tank inhabitants can do quite well in 70-degree temperatures. Reef tanks in which marine corals are housed should be kept no lower than 65 degrees because warm water corals cannot develop in temperatures this low. The same is true of fish and other organisms that come from warm water environments - temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit are necessary for fish to develop and metabolize properly.
How to Maintain the Temperature of a Marine Aquarium

Aquarium heaters and chillers are the most effective ways to maintain a stable temperature in a saltwater aquarium. In warm climates, a heater may not be necessary to keep a warm water aquarium heated but it is a good way to regulate fluctuations in temperature. Water chillers are generally only needed for cold water marine tanks and for aquariums being kept in very warm climates. To maintain water temperature, set your heater or chiller to automatically keep the water within the ideal temperature range and use an in-tank thermometer to double check.

Maintaining a saltwater aquarium is not an easy task. In addition to monitoring and making adjustments to pH and salinity levels, you must always keep your eye on the aquarium temperature. The temperature of a marine aquarium is very important to keep stable because even minor fluctuations can stress your fish or cause them to become ill - other tank inhabitants like coral may even die as a result of temperature change. Monitor your tank temperature closely and enlist the help of an aquarium heater or chiller to keep the temperature within the ideal range.
As long as you take the time to set up your aquarium properly in the first place, and perform all of the required maintenance tasks, you should have no trouble with your marine tank. Just keep in mind that tank temperature is related to nearly all of the other elements in your tank – it can have an effect on the health of your fish as well as the water parameters. To ensure the health of your fish and other tank inhabitants, take the time to determine the ideal temperature and then do whatever is necessary to achieve it.

comments powered by Disqus

Related Content

SALTWATER AQUARIUM ARTICLES

AQUARIUM MAINTENANCE

Aquarium maintenance is the key to keeping your tank healthy. The articles in this category will help you learn how to maintain your tank properly.

Getting Rid of Aiptasia in Your Reef Aquarium
GETTING RID OF AIPTASIA IN YOUR REEF AQUARIUM
Learn about aiptasia in the reef aquarium and how to get rid of it.
Saltwater and Reef Tank Cycling
SALTWATER AND REEF TANK CYCLING
Tips on cycling your fishtank.
Maintaining Your Saltwater Tank
MAINTAINING YOUR SALTWATER TANK
Tips for maintaining a saltwater fish tank.
Choosing the Correct Temperature for a Marine Aquarium
CHOOSING THE CORRECT TEMPERATURE FOR A MARINE AQUARIUM
One of the most important things you must to do ensure the health of your marine tank is to achieve and maintain the ideal temperature.
Maintenance Schedule for Reef Tanks
MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE FOR REEF TANKS
Maintaining a reef tank can be a challenge but as long as you keep up with your routine maintenance tasks, you should have no problem.
Why Do Fish Disappear from the Saltwater Tank?
WHY DO FISH DISAPPEAR FROM THE SALTWATER TANK?
There is nothing as heart-breaking as losing a fish but it can be even more devastating when the fish simply disappears.
How to Deal with Marine Fungus in the Saltwater Aquarium
HOW TO DEAL WITH MARINE FUNGUS IN THE SALTWATER AQUARIUM
Fungal spores are present in all aquariums but, if you are not careful, they can become a problem in the saltwater tank.
Salinity Requirements in a Saltwater Aquarium
SALINITY REQUIREMENTS IN A SALTWATER AQUARIUM
The key to maintaining a healthy saltwater aquarium is to strike the right balance in the salinity of your tank water.
Kalkwasser for the Marine Tank
KALKWASSER FOR THE MARINE TANK
Maintaining proper calcium levels is an important part of keeping your marine tank healthy.
Dealing with Hard Water in the Saltwater Tank
DEALING WITH HARD WATER IN THE SALTWATER TANK
When it comes to maintaining a healthy saltwater tank, water quality is extremely important.
The Dangers of High Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate
THE DANGERS OF HIGH AMMONIA, NITRITE AND NITRATE
Water quality is extremely important in maintaining a saltwater tank.
Marine algae can be beneficial in the saltwater tank.
THE BENEFITS OF ALGAE IN SALTWATER TANKS
Many aquarium hobbyists assume that algae in the aquarium can only be bad.
Learn how to modify the pH in your saltwater tank so you can correct pH problems if they occur.
HOW TO MODIFY PH IN A SALTWATER TANK
The pH level in your saltwater tank is incredibly important for the health and vitality of your tank.
What NOT to do with a Saltwater Tank
WHAT NOT TO DO WITH A SALTWATER TANK
Learn what "not" to do when starting out with your saltwater fish or reef tank.
How to Remove a Mantis Shrimp From a Saltwater Aquarium
HOW TO REMOVE A MANTIS SHRIMP FROM A SALTWATER AQUARIUM
In this article you will receive an overview of what mantis shrimp are, how they can impact your saltwater aquarium, and how to remove them properly.
Read more articles (15) Aquarium Setup (9)
Saltwater Aquariums
SALTWATER AQUARIUMS
A brief introduction to saltwater aquariums.
Getting The Tank Ready
GETTING THE TANK READY
Creating an ecosystem.
Stocking a Brackish Aquarium
STOCKING A BRACKISH AQUARIUM
A brackish aquarium is an exciting challenge for the aquarium hobbyist.
Types of Saltwater Tanks: Fish-Only, FOWLR and Reef Tanks
TYPES OF SALTWATER TANKS: FISH-ONLY, FOWLR AND REEF TANKS
There are several different types of saltwater aquariums to choose from and each has its benefits and drawbacks.
Setting Up A Saltwater Tank System
SETTING UP A SALTWATER TANK SYSTEM
What to Consider before Starting.
Handy Aquarium Accessories and Devices
HANDY AQUARIUM ACCESSORIES AND DEVICES
There are many accessories and handy devices which can make your life as an aquarium hobbyist easier.
Preparing Saltwater for your Marine Tank
PREPARING SALTWATER FOR YOUR MARINE TANK
Setting up and maintaining a marine tank can be a challenging experience and preparing your saltwater correctly is one of the most important tasks.
Balloon mollies make great additions to the brackish tank.
HOW TO START A BRACKISH TANK
If you are looking for a new challenge as an aquarium hobbyist, try cultivating a brackish tank.
Saltwater versus Freshwater Aquariums
SALTWATER VERSUS FRESHWATER AQUARIUMS
Learn the arguments for choosing to set-up either a freshwater or saltwater aquarium.
Reef Tanks (11)
Reef Aquariums: Is Bigger Really Better?
REEF AQUARIUMS: IS BIGGER REALLY BETTER?
Cultivating a reef tank is an exciting but challenging task - learn more about choosing the right size for your reef tank.
Beginner Coral Species: Low-Light Corals
BEGINNER CORAL SPECIES: LOW-LIGHT CORALS
Keeping corals in a saltwater aquarium can be challenging but these low-light species are perfect for beginners.
How to Care for Marine Blue Sponges
HOW TO CARE FOR MARINE BLUE SPONGES
The blue sponge makes a great addition to the marine tank.
Recommended Species for Nano Tanks
RECOMMENDED SPECIES FOR NANO TANKS
Cultivating a nano tank can be an exciting challenge but unless you choose the right fish for your tank, you may be in trouble.
Bristle Worms in the Marine Tank
BRISTLE WORMS IN THE MARINE TANK
Dealing with pests is an inescapable part of cultivating a marine tank.
Common Myths and Problems Regarding Nano Reef Tanks
COMMON MYTHS AND PROBLEMS REGARDING NANO REEF TANKS
Cultivating a nano reef tank can be an exciting challenge.
Feeding Corals —  Keeping Your Saltwater Invertebrates Healthy
FEEDING CORALS — KEEPING YOUR SALTWATER INVERTEBRATES HEALTHY
If you want to keep your saltwater or reef tank healthy, you need to learn the basics of feeding corals.
Types of Coral for Reef Tanks
TYPES OF CORAL FOR REEF TANKS
Stocking a reef tank can be a challenge because there are so many different types of coral to choose from.
Set-up Guide for a Reef Tank
SET-UP GUIDE FOR A REEF TANK
If you have ever considered starting a reef tank, read this setup guide to make sure you start your reef tank off right.
A nano reef is a miniature reef environment less than 30 gallons in size.
WHAT IS A NANO REEF?
Whether you are looking for a new challenge as a saltwater aquarium enthusiast or you are trying your hand at a reef tank for the first time, a nano reef is a great way to go.
Reef Aquariums
REEF AQUARIUMS
An overview of the reef aquarium along with a short history.
Aquarium Lighting (3)
UV Sterilizers for Reef Aquariums
UV STERILIZERS FOR REEF AQUARIUMS
A UV sterilizer is a valuable piece of equipment to add to your reef tank or fish-only saltwater aquarium.
Tips for Lighting a Reef Tank
TIPS FOR LIGHTING A REEF TANK
When it comes to maintaining a thriving reef tank the type of lighting system you choose is incredibly important.
Saltwater Aquarium Lighting and Heating
SALTWATER AQUARIUM LIGHTING AND HEATING
Kind of lights you need.
Heating and Filtration (8)
Saltwater Aquarium Filtration
SALTWATER AQUARIUM FILTRATION
The type of filtration system you choose for your saltwater aquarium is incredibly important.
Wavemakers for Saltwater Tanks
WAVEMAKERS FOR SALTWATER TANKS
If you want to keep your saltwater tank healthy, you need to consider the ideal level of water flow.
Reverse Osmosis for the Saltwater Tank
REVERSE OSMOSIS FOR THE SALTWATER TANK
If you want to keep a healthy and thriving saltwater tank, you need to start with high-quality water.
Foam Build-up on Saltwater Tank Surface
FOAM BUILD-UP ON SALTWATER TANK SURFACE
Foam build-up is a common problem in the saltwater tank.
Common Problems with Heating in Saltwater Tanks
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH HEATING IN SALTWATER TANKS
Maintaining a stable water temperature in your saltwater tank is important for the health and well-being of your fish.
An aquarium sump can simplify the maintenance of your saltwater tank.
WHAT IS AN AQUARIUM SUMP?
If you are new to the aquarium hobby you may not be familiar with the term "sump".
How to Keep Your Saltwater Aquarium from Overheating
HOW TO KEEP YOUR SALTWATER AQUARIUM FROM OVERHEATING
Learn how to keep your saltwater aquarium from overheating.
What is Protein Skimming?
WHAT IS PROTEIN SKIMMING?
Learn about protein skimming, why it's important, and which aquarists should use it.
Nutrition and Feeding (6)
Top Commercial Foods for Saltwater Fish
TOP COMMERCIAL FOODS FOR SALTWATER FISH
What you feed your saltwater aquarium fish will play a major role in determining their health and vitality.
Tips for Getting Fussy Fish to Eat
TIPS FOR GETTING FUSSY FISH TO EAT
Feeding saltwater aquarium fish can be tricky, especially when your fish refuse to eat.
How to Raise Brine Shrimp
HOW TO RAISE BRINE SHRIMP
Brine shrimp are an excellent source of protein for aquarium fish and they are very easy to raise at home.
Live Foods for Marine Fish
LIVE FOODS FOR MARINE FISH
Feeding your fish a proper diet is the key to keeping them healthy.
Nutritional Needs of Saltwater Aquarium Fish
NUTRITIONAL NEEDS OF SALTWATER AQUARIUM FISH
In order to keep your saltwater aquarium fish healthy you need to understand and meet their basic nutritional needs.
Many saltwater aquarium fish enjoy the addition of fresh vegetables to their diets.
TIPS FOR FEEDING SALTWATER AQUARIUM FISH
What you feed your fish will determine whether or not their reach their full potential.
Saltwater Fish Diseases (5)
How to Treat Saltwater Aquarium Parasites with Freshwater
HOW TO TREAT SALTWATER AQUARIUM PARASITES WITH FRESHWATER
Parasites can quickly become a major problem in the saltwater aquarium if you do not address the issue immediately.
Common Saltwater Aquarium Fish Diseases
COMMON SALTWATER AQUARIUM FISH DISEASES
No matter how hard you try, you cannot completely protect your fish from falling ill.
Good Medications to Keep on Hand
GOOD MEDICATIONS TO KEEP ON HAND
In the event that your fish become ill it is important that you take action to begin a treatment regimen as soon as possible.
How to Deal with Marine Ich in the Saltwater Aquarium
HOW TO DEAL WITH MARINE ICH IN THE SALTWATER AQUARIUM
Marine Ich is a common disease affecting saltwater aquarium fish and, unless you know how to deal with it, it can spread quickly throughout your tank.
Though many saltwater fish diseases are treatable, the best option is to prevent your fish from becoming sick at all.
HOW TO PREVENT SALTWATER FISH DISEASES
There is nothing quite so heartbreaking as losing one of your fish to disease.
Aquarium Decorations (3)
Live rock is the foundation for a thriving saltwater aquarium environment.
CREATING YOUR OWN LIVE ROCK FOR SALTWATER TANKS
Live rock is the foundation for any thriving saltwater tank and it is the base for saltwater aquarium decor.
How to Cure Your Live Rock Before Placing it in Your Aquarium
HOW TO CURE YOUR LIVE ROCK BEFORE PLACING IT IN YOUR AQUARIUM
Learn how to properly cure live rock before placing it in your tank.
Stocking the Tank (24)
Marine Shrimp for the Saltwater or Reef Tank
MARINE SHRIMP FOR THE SALTWATER OR REEF TANK
Marine shrimp can be a useful addition to the saltwater tank - just be sure to pick the right species.
Keeping Moray Eels in the Marine Tank
KEEPING MORAY EELS IN THE MARINE TANK
Moray eels can be a challenge to keep in the home aquarium but they are well worth it.
Top Recommendations for Tank-Raised Saltwater Fish
TOP RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TANK-RAISED SALTWATER FISH
When purchasing saltwater aquarium fish, you need to think about whether the fish are tank-raised or captive-bred.
Hermit Crabs in Saltwater Tanks
HERMIT CRABS IN SALTWATER TANKS
Hermit crabs do more than just add decoration to the saltwater tank -- they can also help to keep your tank clean.
Saltwater Fish Article Database
SALTWATER FISH ARTICLE DATABASE
Articles on dozens of saltwater fish and appropriate care.
Guide for Keeping Anemones in a Reef Tank
GUIDE FOR KEEPING ANEMONES IN A REEF TANK
Keeping anemones in a reef tank can be a challenge if you are not fully prepared.
Stocking Salt Water Reef Tanks
STOCKING SALT WATER REEF TANKS
Learn how to select the right quantity and combination of fish for your saltwater aquarium.
Keeping Lionfish in the Home Aquarium
KEEPING LIONFISH IN THE HOME AQUARIUM
The lionfish is a beautiful but deadly fish that makes a unique addition to the saltwater aquarium.
Sea Cucumbers for Reef Tanks
SEA CUCUMBERS FOR REEF TANKS
Sea cucumbers are found throughout the ocean but they are a popular addition to saltwater reef tanks.
Selecting and Caring for Saltwater Angelfish
SELECTING AND CARING FOR SALTWATER ANGELFISH
Saltwater angelfish are some of the most colorful saltwater fish available.
Keeping and Breeding Mandarinfish
KEEPING AND BREEDING MANDARINFISH
Mandarinfish are a small, colorful species of saltwater aquarium fish.
Tank-Raised Fish for Saltwater Aquariums
TANK-RAISED FISH FOR SALTWATER AQUARIUMS
Stocking the saltwater aquarium can be an exciting challenge, especially when you have so many options to choose from.
Clownfish in the Reef Aquarium
CLOWNFISH IN THE REEF AQUARIUM
Clownfish are one of the most recognizable types of saltwater aquarium fish.
What Are Good Saltwater Fish For Beginners
WHAT ARE GOOD SALTWATER FISH FOR BEGINNERS
What makes a saltwater fish a good candidate for beginners?
Caring for Saltwater Gobies
CARING FOR SALTWATER GOBIES
The Goby family is one of the largest families of marine fishes, having over 2,000 unique species.
The Secret to Keeping Seahorses
THE SECRET TO KEEPING SEAHORSES
If you are looking for a unique inhabitant to add to your saltwater tank, consider the seahorse.
The Benefits of Snails in the Saltwater Tank
THE BENEFITS OF SNAILS IN THE SALTWATER TANK
While snails are often viewed as a nuisance in the freshwater tank, they can serve a valuable purpose in the saltwater aquarium.
Saltwater fish are known for being some of the most colorful creatures in the world.
UNDERSTANDING THE COLORATION OF SALTWATER FISH
Have you ever been dazzled by the bright colors and bold patterns of a school of saltwater fish?
Sea urchins are a great addition to the saltwater tank.
SEA URCHINS IN THE SALTWATER TANK
If you are looking for a unique invertebrate to add to your saltwater tank, consider the sea urchin.
The Achilles tang is one of the most popular tang species.
TIPS FOR CARING FOR TANGS PROPERLY
Tangs are a group of fish that make excellent additions to the saltwater tank.
If you purchase your saltwater fish online you may have a larger variety of species to choose from.
THE BENEFITS OF PURCHASING SALTWATER FISH ONLINE
If you are thinking about buying some new fish for your saltwater tank, think about purchasing them online!
Commonly Available Reef-Safe Fish & Invertebrates
COMMONLY AVAILABLE REEF-SAFE FISH & INVERTEBRATES
Learn about commonly available reef-safe fish and invertebrates that are good candidates for your reef aquarium.
Saltwater Species That Should Not be Kept by Beginners (and Sometimes not Even by the Experienced)
SALTWATER SPECIES THAT SHOULD NOT BE KEPT BY BEGINNERS (AND SOMETIMES NOT EVEN BY THE EXPERIENCED)
Learn about saltwater animals that beginners (and sometimes experts) should avoid keeping.
Establishing up a Clean-up Crew in Your Saltwater Aquarium
ESTABLISHING UP A CLEAN-UP CREW IN YOUR SALTWATER AQUARIUM
Learn how to properly select and establish a clean-up crew in a saltwater or reef aquarium.