Calculating costs for a fish tank

AaronKWolfe

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Oct 24, 2019
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Hey guys. I haven't been super active for quite awhile, the pandemic really hit me hard and I'm starting to get back on my feet. I was wondering how you guys could calculate the cost of running a fish tank. I am thinking of getting back into the hobby again, but I wanted to know how best to calculate the price of a tank because I want to know that I can care for the fish long term. There would be

price of the tank, stand, filter, substrate, lid, etc.
price of the fish
price of the food (per month let's say)
price of the water (per month let's say, given water changes)
price of electric to run the filters (also per month)
price of the heater (per month)
anything else? How would I be able to calculate the cost of all this? Just wanted to make sure I can afford the setups and all before I went ahead and got back into this all. Thanks for the help!
 

FINWIN

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Dec 21, 2018
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Too many variables.
Size of tank? Determines substrate amount.
Decor - you can save by getting silk plants from craft store, wood on ebay.
Water depends on price in your area.
Electric you would have to run and find out....high wattage pumps and heaters make a difference. Or have fish that don't require heaters.
You will also need to budget for medications including salt (sodium chloride and epsom)
Also baking soda (good for temporary ph crash issues, tonic)
Are you going to buy a stand or build one?
Food.

Without specifics I'd say budget around 4,000. Doesn't mean you'll spend it though.
 

AaronKWolfe

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Oct 24, 2019
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Too many variables.
Size of tank? Determines substrate amount.
Decor - you can save by getting silk plants from craft store, wood on ebay.
Water depends on price in your area.
Electric you would have to run and find out....high wattage pumps and heaters make a difference. Or have fish that don't require heaters.
You will also need to budget for medications including salt (sodium chloride and epsom)
Also baking soda (good for temporary ph crash issues, tonic)
Are you going to buy a stand or build one?
Food.

Without specifics I'd say budget around 4,000. Doesn't mean you'll spend it though.
I mostly meant electric more than anything. In my area it was something like $0.15 per kilowatt per hour. This math is too complicated for me to do as I haven't done this level of math in well over 20 years haha.
 
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Rocksor

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You could go heaterless, and keep fish that will be fine in your room temperature in the winter (let's say 65F). If you don't have a canopy (and don't keep plants), then you don't need a light above the tank, just use room light. So assuming the #filters just use 60 watts to operate, $78.89/year or $6.57/month, if the heaters are on during winter time (with total on time per day at 4 hours) it will be roughly $5.48/month at 600 Watts

Just plug numbers in this calculator

 

Stephen St.Clair

Aimara
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Jul 2, 2017
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Most aquarium lights available today are LED's which require minimal kw.
Most pump & heater manufacturers publish predicted kw usage. Easy to research desired make & model.
Unless you plan to run a XL setup, the monthly cost of energy shouldn't be more than a few bucks.
 

AaronKWolfe

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Oct 24, 2019
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Most aquarium lights available today are LED's which require minimal kw.
Most pump & heater manufacturers publish predicted kw usage. Easy to research desired make & model.
Unless you plan to run a XL setup, the monthly cost of energy shouldn't be more than a few bucks.
I was looking at a potential 125 to 180 if I could convince my wife haha. Was looking at one of a few set ups

Large cichlid/pair (oscars, red devils, haitians, umbees, or something similar)
african set up (knife fish, bichirs, african butterfly fish, similar things like that)
a large pufferfish
potentially a jardini arowana (if it stays under 2 feet, maybe it could work in a 180)
a kelberi if I could get my hands on one
or any other idea I might get
 
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AaronKWolfe

Plecostomus
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Oct 24, 2019
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You could go heaterless, and keep fish that will be fine in your room temperature in the winter (let's say 65F). If you don't have a canopy (and don't keep plants), then you don't need a light above the tank, just use room light. So assuming the #filters just use 60 watts to operate, $78.89/year or $6.57/month, if the heaters are on during winter time (with total on time per day at 4 hours) it will be roughly $5.48/month at 600 Watts

Just plug numbers in this calculator

I know this might be a stupid question, but a 500 watt heater uses 500 watts, right? I'd assume so, but that would get to be pretty pricey very quickly. Might just have to heat the whole room and see if that is cheaper.
 

duanes

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When in Wisconsin, mostly due to the heaters, my energy bill went from about $150 per month in summer, to slightly above $400 per month in Dec, Jan, Feb and March.
I always had about 20 tanks running (1500 to 2000 gallons), but half held cool water cichlids from either Uruguay or northern Mexico that were not heated.
I also made about 40% water changes every other day , using the house water heater to take 40'F tap water up into the mid 60sF during those months.
Only planted tanks were lit.
I kept a breeding pair of haitiensus during this time which do best at higher temps, than most other cichlids.
Amphilophus, and other Mexican cichlids can handle lower temps.
You may be surprised how low the average temps of the Nicaraguan Great Lakes and some other large Central American Lakes are.
 
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Rocksor

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I know this might be a stupid question, but a 500 watt heater uses 500 watts, right? I'd assume so, but that would get to be pretty pricey very quickly. Might just have to heat the whole room and see if that is cheaper.
I can't imagine the 500 watt heater being on 24/7. It would surely break ther ehater. My 2x300 watt heaters are only on for 1 hour to get to temperature due to my heater controller. It doesn't let the tank temperature go below more than 1 degree. A larger tank will keep more heat. Also, I put in 300 watts rather than the 600 I typed, so it's an extra ~$11/month just for the heaters. It all depends how high you want to keep that tank temperature during the winter vs the room temperature.

According to the calculator heating the whole room with an electric type heater at 2000 Watts for 4 hours a day is $36/month.
 

AaronKWolfe

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Oct 24, 2019
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I can't imagine the 500 watt heater being on 24/7. It would surely break ther ehater. My 2x300 watt heaters are only on for 1 hour to get to temperature due to my heater controller. It doesn't let the tank temperature go below more than 1 degree. A larger tank will keep more heat. Also, I put in 300 watts rather than the 600 I typed, so it's an extra ~$11/month just for the heaters. It all depends how high you want to keep that tank temperature during the winter vs the room temperature.

According to the calculator heating the whole room with an electric type heater at 2000 Watts for 4 hours a day is $36/month.
I didn't realize heaters weren't on that often I thought they would've had to be on for half the day or something like that. I just plugged the heaters in and assumed that was that. This was back when I had a stable job and lived by myself...
 
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