This Is How Much a Fish Tank Costs to Buy and Maintain

Fish-keeping is one of the most rewarding hobbies you could have. If you are thinking about diving into this marvelous world, you might be wondering how much it could cost you. Guess what? You have come to the right place to get an answer!

Setting up a tank can cost about 600$ to 1000$ with all the equipment and species included. This price range could vary depending on the equipment you buy, the size of the tank, and more. You should also consider whether the tank will be fresh- or saltwater. Fish species could also affect the price.

Setting up a tank is not the cheapest hobby around, but I can tell you it is worth every penny! In this post, I will break down all the details and costs of owning a fish tank. Stay with me to discover all the details. 

How much does it cost to own a fish tank?

Setting up a fish tank can cost around 800$ on average. The cost will vary depending on the equipment, the size, the species, and the décor added to the tank. In some cases, setting up a fish tank can reach 1000$ or go below 500$.

Since this it would be your first time setting up a tank, there are many things you need to buy. Luckily for you, most of them are one-time purchases. You needn’t restock on most of the necessary to keep your tank up.

You should also consider the place you intend to have the aquarium in. Be sure that you have enough space for the tank you want, apart from the proper conditions. 

Moreover, you should consider the time you would need to put into keeping the tank healthy. You can check this article I wrote about how hard it is to have a fish tank.

If you have any display for your fish tank in mind, you might also be looking at a higher cost. Exotic species and décor can cause the price of setting up your fish tank to skyrocket. 

All in all, you should plan for around 800$ for your first fish tank.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the parts needed to set up the tank and their cost.

Equipment needed to set up a fish tank

The cost of setting up a fish tank will be determined by the different aspects previously mentioned. Let’s take a closer look at each one of them. 

Tank

The size and the material of the tank you chose will affect the overall price of setting up a fish aquarium. The bigger the tank, the pricier it will be. 

You should also keep in mind that there are acrylic and glass aquariums. You can find different options, sizes, and price ranges on each one of them. Choose wisely!

In general, the cost of a tank ranges from 75$ up to 300$

Stand

You need to consider the place you will place the tank on, and that is your stand. The stand of your tank can have different elements to help you keep everything organized. It might have storage room, lights, and more. 

The material of the stand will probably affect the price. If you are a craftsman yourself, you might prefer to tackle the task of building your own stand and save up some bucks. 

The average price of a stand is 80$, although it could go up to 300$ if it has a customized design of some sort.

Filter

The filter is a crucial part of your tank because it will help you keep the tank clean. Yes, some aquarists have unfiltered tanks. However, if you are a beginner, I would recommend against trying this.

Having a filter will make the job easier for you! Quality filters usually range from 30$ to 50$. The filter is not a place to be frugal nor cheap. You need a quality device to provide the best conditions to your tank!

Lights

Your tank needs a light source to operate, so you will need to put some dollars into quality light bulbs. The best light for fish tanks is LED lights. 

You will probably end up spending around 35$ to set up some quality LED lights on your fish tank. This is not an element you would want to avoid. 

In case you are wondering about it, the light of the room is not enough!

Substrate

Your tank will need substrate so your fish can have a good environment. If you plan on adding plants, then the substrate will be paramount.

You should aim for a substrate without an excess of calcium. The cost will be about 15$ to 20$.

Heater

If you want to have tropical fish, you will need a heater to keep the temperature controlled. The heater will cost you about 15$.

If you live in a tropical area where the temperature does not drop, you might not need a heater.

Testing kits

One of the keys to having a healthy aquarium is having a controlled environment. That’s why you will need to have testing kits for pH, ammonia, and other water parameters.

Apart from that, you will also need a thermometer to keep the temperature controlled. 

You will pay around 30$ to acquire every kit you need to start.

Fish

The price of the fish species you will acquire will vary depending on how exotic they are. Most species, however, will cost around 20$. Rarer species could go from 250$ up to thousands. 

If you are just a beginner, it might be better to begin with cheap and hardy species. It would be a shame to spend lots of money on exotic species and losing them early on in your fish-keeping career.

Plants

The cost of the plants you will add will vary depending on how rare and exotic they are. Nonetheless, you will pay around 30$ for common species.

There are many hardy plants that are perfect for beginners!

Other equipment

To finish completing your fish-keeping equipment, you will need a net, a siphon, a bucket, food, a glass cleaner, and an algae scraper.

Although they might not be as compulsory as the other elements, these are also very helpful to keep your tank and caring for it. 

You should expect to pay around 30$ to 40$ to acquire all of them.

How much does it cost to maintain a fish tank?

There are some things you will need to buy monthly or yearly to keep your fish tank running. 

Food

Depending on the fish species you own, the food you use will vary. Moreover, depending on how many fish you have, the amount of food would increase. 

For herbivorous fish, pellets and flakes will be more than enough. You would be looking at 35$ yearly on average.

For carnivorous species, however, the cost is a bit higher. Carnivorous fish eat frozen bloodworms, and these tend to be more expensive than flakes. For these species, you will be looking at 10$ monthly on average. 

These costs are ballpark. Remember that the conditions of each tank are different.

Testing kits

Testing your water parameters is something that never ends. You need to stay vigilant of your water condition to ensure a healthy environment for your species. 

If you are ready to go full-blown, you will spend about 15$ to 50$ per year.

Chemicals

After you have tested your water, the ideal situation is that everything is well-balanced. However, that might not be the case.

If your water is unbalanced, you might need to add chemicals to the mixture: stabilizers, ammonia neutralizers, water conditioners, and so on. 

All these essential chemicals could cost around 50$ to 80$ per year.

Testing kits and chemicals work together to ensure the conditions of your tank are optimal. You cannot use one without the other.

Filter cartridges

Yes, filters are meant to keep the tank clean, but they can also get dirty! That is what happens after long periods of filtering a tank. 

Most filters come with replaceable cartridges that need to be changed every once in a while. On average, you might be looking at 40$ per year on these replaceable cartridges. 

You need to keep the tank clean, and to do that, you need to keep the filter clean. 

Electricity

The truth is that owning a fish tank can cause your electric bill to go up. This is something you need to consider so as to avoid a scare when you see your electric bill at the end of the year. 

Everything will depend on the size of the tank and the equipment you use. The bigger the tank, the pricier it will be. For a 30-gallon tank, you might be looking at 60$+ per year. 

The heater, filter, lights, and powerhead (if you include one in your aquarium) will constantly consume energy. 

As you can see, there are some costs attached to this hobby. Yet, I can assure you it is worth every penny! I have been doing this for some time already, and I am proud of every dime I have put into it!

I am sure you will be proud too!

Bart Sprenkels

I have been keeping multiple aquariums since I was 18 years old. Just like many of you, I started with two goldfish but quickly learned they were not suitable for aquariums. Later, I switched to a tropical community tank and I also have two pet musk-turtles in a bigger aquarium. You can read more about me here.

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