It is a common belief that fish are less expensive pets and easy to maintain. While this is true to an extent, not all home aquariums are cheap. It takes a lot of planning to choose the right fish tank type, fish species, and equipment to build an aquarium.
The initial cost of buying and building a fish tank can be high. In fact, it is almost impossible to predict how much a fish tank will cost without knowing the particulars. The cost of a freshwater fish tank varies widely from that of a saltwater fish tank.
Setting up a fish tank will have between $400 and $2700 as initial costs and $180 to $300 every year for maintenance. A freshwater fish tank is less expensive and easier to set up compared to a saltwater fish tank, which can easily cost $300 to $600 more.
In this post, we’ll discuss the types of fish tanks to build at home and their costs, the factors to consider when buying a fish tank, and the items required to set up an aquarium at home.
Factors Affecting the Fish Tank Cost
Keeping fish can be cheap or expensive based on your requirements and preferences. The fish tank cost will vary depending on three main factors:
- Size of the Aquarium
Naturally, a small aquarium will cost less compared to larger tanks. The size of the aquarium depends on how many fish you want to keep.
For a freshwater aquarium, you can start with a 30-gallon tank. Saltwater tanks have to be of 55 or 75 gallons capacity. Some fish owners prefer a fish tank with 30 gallons capacity, even for saltwater fish species, and add fewer fish to the tank.
- Type of Fish Tank
Saltwater fish tanks and freshwater tanks are both common for fishkeeping. As discussed previously, a saltwater tank will lead to more costs as it requires additional equipment and high-quality products to ensure your pet fish have a healthy ecosystem in the aquarium.
There are countless fish species available in the market. Certain fish are more expensive than others and need higher maintenance. You should finalize your total budget before shortlisting the species to add to your new fish tank.
How does the Type of Fish Tank Affect the Cost?
A fish tank can be affordable or expensive depending on various factors, such as the material used, design, capacity, and the type of fish you add to the tank. Freshwater fish tanks and saltwater fish tanks are the two most common types found in the market.
Freshwater Fish Tank
Freshwater aquariums are a good choice for beginners. Maintaining a freshwater tank is a lot easier than caring for saltwater fish. Setting up the tank is less expensive if you start with fewer fish and a smaller tank. In fact, a freshwater tank with one fish will cost less than $100.
Most freshwater fish don’t require intense maintenance, though tropical freshwater fish tanks need a heating system. Tropical fish require warmer waters to survive. Fish owners can complete the setup by spending around $200 to $300 in total.
Saltwater Fish Tank
A saltwater aquarium looks beautiful as it houses fascinating fish species. However, it is not a good choice for beginners. Saltwater tanks are expensive and need more maintenance. The initial cost and recurring costs will be high.
You will have to spend around $500 every year on saltwater fish tanks. This is because the saltwater fish require more space to swim (at least a 55-gallon tank). Furthermore, the aquarium needs more equipment to maintain the pH levels.A jet flow, proper lighting, chemicals, salts, and a water testing kit are necessary to maintain a saltwater tank. Saltwater fish enjoy live food, which is more expensive and can increase the yearly costs by another couple of hundred dollars.
How Much Does a Fish Tank Cost: A Sample Breakdown
The total aquarium cost calculated should be inclusive of all the equipment, fish, and decorations. This will give you an estimate of the initial cost of building a fish tank. You can add new fish to the tank over time as long as there is enough space for them to live freely.
There are different types of aquariums, like glass tanks and acrylic tanks.
Glass tanks are more suitable in smaller sizes as they are heavy. You can also find tempered glass tanks with scratch-resistant properties. These are easier to clean and less expensive. A glass tank can cost between $50 (3 gallons) and $500, depending on the capacity and make.
Acrylic fish tanks are durable and lightweight. You can easily maintain a big aquarium if you buy an acrylic tank. An acrylic aquarium can cost around $450 and $1000.
Furthermore, these tanks are available in different shapes and designs. However, you need special cleaning tools to avoid damaging the acrylic tank.
You should first finalize the location to set up your fish tank. Then, you need to pick a suitable aquarium stand to carry the tank’s weight. A large tank will be heavier (with more water, decorations, and fish) and needs a sturdy stand made of quality materials.
The average price of a fish tank stand is $80 but can go over $300 if you want it custom designed for your requirements.
Aquarium filters clean the water in the tank by collecting dirt and debris. Though some fish keepers don’t use filters, we strongly recommend beginners invest in a quality filter to maintain water quality.
Good filters cost around $80 and can go up to $300, depending on the manufacturer and model. Remember to clean and replace the cartridges as instructed on the package. You may have to spend $40 to $50 on replacing the filters every year.
Unless your aquarium is just a fish bowl, a single fish or a pair of fish, we recommend investing in LED lights to light up the aquarium. The lights in the room are not enough to brighten up the fish tank. The light fixture will cost around $30 to $40, and around $80 for two LED lights.
An aquarium heater is necessary if you have tropical fish. These fish require warm water, though each species has a different temperature requirement. Those living in tropical locations may not need a heater if the temperatures are consistently hot. The heater will cost between $20 and $60.
Substrate soil is specially formulated for aquariums. It doesn’t dissolve in water and provides a good base for aquatic plants. Substrate comes in different colors and types. Pick a type based on your fish’s requirements (preferably with less calcium).
It costs anywhere between $20 and $120, based on how many bags you need for the tank. For example, a 30-gallon tank will require about two bags of substrate. Aquasoil is more expensive and is priced at around $50 per bag on average.
Water Testing Kits
A water testing kit is necessary when setting up a fish tank. You cannot directly release fish into a new environment without ensuring appropriate pH levels. You also need a thermometer to check the temperature. These fish tank kits cost anywhere around $15 to $40.
Plants and Decorations
Aquarium plants and decorations can be cheap or expensive, depending on your taste. You can spend less than $100 for everything or go beyond $1000. It’s your choice.
Fish species have a versatile and varied price range. Beginners can buy Guppy, Platy, Betta, Zebrafish, etc., while experienced fish owners can opt for Koi, Catfish, African Cichlid, and other expensive species.
For example, a medium-sized Red Ryukin Goldfish costs around $25. A male Crowntail Betta is less than $5, but a Pink Orchid Betta is $25 or more. A pack of six Yellow Guppies is close to $30. The Cory catfish are priced between $5 and $16.
In saltwater fish, the regular Ocellaris Clownfish costs less than $20. However, the Long-Finned Black Ice Clownfish costs between $250 and $300 per fish. Some saltwater fish, like Neptune Grouper, Bladefin Basslet, etc., are priced at thousands of dollars.
A glass cleaner, algae scraper, bucket, net, siphon, etc., are other items required to clean and maintain the fish tank. Set aside some $50 to $70 for these things.
|Unavoidable Costs of Setting up a Fish Tank||Price Range|
|Fish Tank||$50 to $1000|
|Tank Stand||$80 to $300|
|Filters||$80 to $300 (higher price is only for custom filters)|
|Lights||$30 to $80|
|Heater||$20 to $60|
|Substrate||$20 to $120|
|Water Testing Kits||$10 to $45|
|Plants and Decorations||$15 to $200|
|Other Necessary Equipment||$50 to $70|
|Fish||$30 to $500|
|Total Cost:||$400 to $2700|
Recurring Costs Associated with Fish Tanks
Beginner-friendly fish are easy to maintain and don’t require special setup or food. However, fish like Tinfoil Barbs, freshwater sharks, Oscars, etc., need more maintenance.
Furthermore, the variable costs will increase as you gain experience and add more fish to your aquarium.
Fish food is varied. Each species requires different food based on its eating habits. For example, herbivorous fish are uncomplicated and can survive on flakes and pellets. The average price is less than $50 per year.
Carnivorous fish like bettas need a nutrient-rich diet. A combination of pellets, freeze-dried, and live food is necessary for their growth. This will increase the costs as live freeze-dried worms cost $10 per container (for less than half an oz).
Medium to large-sized aquariums need electricity to power the lights, air pump, and heating system. This is a recurring expense and can significantly increase your monthly electricity bill. As a would-be fish owner, you should consider this expense when finalizing the fish tank size.
A medium-sized tank (30 gallons) will require around 150 to 200 kWh per year, that too only when we consider the basic equipment for a freshwater tank. Lighting accounts for 45% of electricity consumption, followed by heaters (35%), and filters (10%-15%).
For a 30-gallon tank with tropical fish, only the heaters can consume 440 kWh of power per year. Depending on the size of the fish tank, your electricity bill may increase by $25 to $100 or more.
Chemicals and Cleaning Agents
The water in the fish tank has to be periodically changed and tested to ensure correct pH levels. You may have to add water conditioners, stabilizers, ammonia neutralizers, aquarium salts, etc., to maintain correct water quality. These cost between $50 and $80 per year.
Consider medical expenses when calculating fish tank costs. Fish can fall sick even when you take the utmost care to keep them healthy. Whether you consult a vet online or offline, you have to pay the fee and buy the prescribed medication. This can total to a couple of hundred dollars.
The cost of building and maintaining a fish tank depends entirely on you. Beginners can start and spend less than a $200 investment for the entire setup and spend another $100 or so per year on maintenance.
The right way to estimate the total costs is to list your preferences and look up the prices individually for each item we mentioned in the post. That way, you can stay within your budget and enjoy fishkeeping. Talk to fish owners and aquarists for additional advice.
What is the cost of a two feet aquarium?
A two feet aquarium can cost between $250 and $1700. The actual price depends on the exact dimensions and material used.
How much is a 100-gallon fish tank worth?
A 100-gallon fish tank will cost about $1000 to $1700 based on other specifications like material, make, dimensions, etc.
Is owning a fish tank hard?
Owning a fish tank is not hard but is a responsibility nevertheless. Some people find it easier to keep fish than other pets. It depends on the type of fish you want to have in the tank.
How much does a regular-sized fish tank cost?
The standard fish tank has 30 gallons capacity and costs between $250 and $600, depending on the material and manufacturer. A minimum of a 5-gallon tank is recommended for a single small fish (like betta).
Brian wasn’t just another Civil Engineer. His passion for Aquarium life was unknown to many until he decided to showcase it for the world. It seems like he made the right decision after all!