A guide to costing up your new marine fish keeping hobby

Taking the mayhem out of marine fish keeping

The start of your new marine tank

You can always start small......

A guide to costing up your new marine tank


The whole objective of this website is to try and expain how you can keep a marine aquarium without having to take out a loan. That said, like many hobbies, there will always be some costs associated with it.


The initial set up will inevitably set you back but by how much will be up to you. Many people will keep an eye on the local classifieds and wait for a bargain to turn up.


There's nothing wrong with starting up with a few second hand pieces of kit and even the tank and cabinet itself. Only you (and maybe your partner) will know your budget and you will have to plan accordingly.



Once you have decided what you can actually afford at the set up phase you will need to consider the ongoing maintenance costs to make sure you keep your marine aquarium inhabitants in the best possible health.


Regular costs will include:


  • Increased electricity bill
  • Water is purchased from a shop (you can make your own but will talk about that later)
  • Marine Salt
  • Replacement light bulbs
  • Fish food
  • Additives (very much depends on what you are intending to keep, we'll discuss these on the 'Marine Tank Environment' page)
  • Stock (fish and corals)


This list is by no means exhaustive rather just gives an indication that there will be ongoing costs, as previously stated you can plan your final stocking to ensure you keep within budget.

Your overall budget, both for set up costs and regular maintenance will, to some degree influence your finished tank.


For example some highly stocked sps (small polyped stoney corals) tanks require a huge amount of additional dosing to cater for their needs and the costs to do this correctly can build up quickly. On the other hand a FOWLR (fish only with live rock) or a soft coral tank can be maintained with nothing more than regular water changes, therefore keeping costs down to a minimum.


I have successfully kept many different marine organisms with very little ready cash but I have always been real with my stocking list and appreciated that there are some types of tanks I would never be able to keep successfully.


This website is not about how you can achieve the world's best marine tank on £4.50 per month it's to let you know you can keep a tank that is clean, healthy and beautiful within budget and relatively easily.


I would suggest you work out how much you can afford both for the initial set up and your weekly/monthly/yearly maintenance and that should help you answer some of the other questions covered on this website later.


In an attempt to help you work out your weely maintenance costs I've worked out how much it costs me to maintain my tank which is a simple 4x2x2 glass box with no sump and minimal equipment:


Salt (based on a 50 litre water change per week) - £7.00


Electric (based on an 8 x 54 watt T5 light unit, two meduim sized powerheads, a Deltec MCE protien skimmer and an average sized heater - £7.35


Foods - £2.50


Phosphate removal media - £2.00


So an estimated total of £18.85 per week, I would suggest this is the minimum you will spend to run a basic marine aquarium of this size. Money can be saved on established systems by cutting down on water changes to, for example, every two weeks but you can only consider this on certain systems.


Electricity costs can also be lowered by using different lighting systems but this will depend on the system you want to keep and the amount you have available to spend at the setting up stage.


Obviously smaller tanks will require less water (therefore less salt) but see the size page for more information on this.



Helpful tips


Doing things on a tighter budget may mean you need to take a bit more care


If you are buying some items second hand like a tank and cabinet make sure the you ask whether the tank has ever been dosed with copper.


Copper is often one of the main ingredients in many fish medications but it can be fatal to a lot of marine invertebrates


The BUDGET - in a nutshell

Although this website is about keeping marine fish in the cheapest ways possible there will still be a financial outlay and continuous running costs. Don't underestmate the costs or your livestock will start to suffer

Careful planning from the start can mean you can keep a marine tank on a shoe string

Your lighting system will have a big impact on your overall maintenance budget.

A fish only with live rock or simple soft coral tank can look superb and will require far less money to maintain long term

Smaller tanks will cost less to maintain financially but are far more demanding in terms of time and dedication


You can work out the most cost effective ways to maintain your marine tank, for example are you going to make you own RO water (Reverse Osmosis, will be explained on the 'Marine Tank Environment' page) or buy it from your local shop? Once you know how many litres per week you're going to change you will know whether its worth investing in your own filtration system.