The Temperature for a Salt-Water Tank

The water in a saltwater tank must be kept within a specific temperature range.
The water in a saltwater tank must be kept within a specific temperature range. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

One of the main concerns you should have when maintaining a saltwater tank is ensuring that the aquarium temperature remains constant. SeaWorld, one of the leading experts on marine life, recommends that the temperature of a tropical saltwater tank remains consistent and falls within a range of 73 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The artificial lighting also must be close to replicating natural sunlight.


Fish are sensitive to saltwater temperature changes, so maintaining a consistent temperature allows the saltwater fish to remain healthy. You do not want your saltwater temperature to fluctuate up or down more than 2 degrees in 24 hours. Crabs, coral, starfish and shrimp are more susceptible to environmental changes than temperatures, but it is better to keep the water temperature constant.


Temperature inconsistency affects the health of marine animals being maintained in the saltwater tank. Fluctuations in the water temperature can harm the animal's immune system, cause disease, allow algae outbreaks and create a stressful environment. Such health concerns can cause the marine animals to die. Maintaining a stable temperature within the saltwater tank will prevent these problems.

Tank Size

The size of the saltwater tank also affects temperature changes. The smaller the tank, the more the temperature will fluctuate. A larger tank will not be affected as much by temperature changes. For example, in a tank that holds 10 gallons of water, the temperature can decrease rapidly if you turn off the lighting over the tank. However, a saltwater tank that holds 150 gallons of water will not be affected that much during the 12 or 14 hours the lighting typically is turned off.


Ocean temperatures are different all over the world. Marine life from the New England or other northern ocean areas live in saltwater with cooler temperatures and less light. The saltwater temperatures are higher in ocean waters near the Caribbean. The tropical marine life must have its saltwater maintained at a warmer temperature than the marine life from northern oceans. You can install an aquarium heater to keep the water temperature constant for marine life.


Since there is inconsistency in the saltwater temperatures that different marine life require, it is best to stock marine life that comes from the same general areas of the ocean. You can check with your local pet store to determine if the fish come from the same areas. If you do decide to place a northern-ocean fish into your tropical saltwater tank, you can slowly acclimate the fish to the warmer temperature. Place the fish in a separate tank while you acclimate it. Increase the saltwater temperature 1 degree each day, until it reaches the temperature you maintain in the tropical tank.

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