55 gallon tank build under $50?

  • #1
Going to see if I can build a 55g for under $50…we are on a well so high ph, hard water looking at cold water tank. My daughter really wants fancy goldfish.

55 gallon tank
Glass lid
Light bar-UV looking for replacement
HOB filter

Black Diamond Blasting Sand $8 (had TSC coupon)

My friend is a Vet and one of her clients is moving dropped off a bucket of “water plants” going to see what’s up with those.
  • #2
Something like play sand for a substrate, sponge filters, airpump/airline, gang valve. Should be able to do those basics for under $50.

Edit to add: in fact, this popped up on my amazon a bit ago

Screenshot_20210701-143832_Amazon Shopping.jpg
  • #3
You can collect stones from your neighbourhood but be sure to follow the steps online to clean it
Fish wise look online and you can find people who are needing to get rid of theirs due to moving or accidental breeding. Same for equipments. Also the king of diy on YouTube has a simple surface skimmer and aeration build totorial that costs maybe a tenner and I personally think it's been one of the best things I've added in a while
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Update: It holds water, but lady who gave it to me said it’s been in basement storage for 10 years so thinking I should reseal it? Dog not happy about more fish!
  • #5
Update: It holds water, but lady who gave it to me said it’s been in basement storage for 10 years so thinking I should reseal it? Dog not happy about more fish! View attachment 799285
Dog wants to go swimming in it.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
That dog is afraid of his own shadow he would have a heart attack on impact with the water!
  • #7
Free is always good! I hope it's not past the point of disrepair where it would be easier and cheape to build a DIY stand and then buy a bare 55g Aqueon tank on sale at Petco.

If it was in storage for 10 years and it was operated for 5-10 years, it could be a 15-20 year old tank by now.

Before resealing it with silicone, consider cleaning the glass first. If you're unable to remove those hard water deposts and scale to your liking, then it wouldn't be worth the effort to recaulk the silicone.

Also, thoroughly inspect the stand for any rot and determine if the load bearing structure of it is real wood or MDF. If it's mdf, then see if there is any parts flaking off or has swelled. If its real wood (pr plywood) check for warping, delamination, mildew stains other rot. You can easily reinforce it with 1x3's in the center and corners.

As for the equipment, consider upgrading to an LED fixture. It would probably pay for itself in a year with the electricity savings and probably be the same cost or less than having to buy new fluorescent bulbs and ballasts for the old fixture you have.

Amazon will have your best deals on LED lighting. You dont need a full 48" light for your 4ft tank, a 36" will suffice. Something from the Mingdak, Nicrew or the Beamswork brand will do great.

Regarding your other equipent, do you have a PetSmart nearby?

If so, you can use their policy for the in-store cashier to price match their own website or the Chewy.com website. You can then stack a coupon on top of the price match.

Coupons for in-store purchases can be earned after downloading the PetSmart app and playing the in-app game to earn 15%-20%-25% off coupons on the purchase of a single item at the store. You may have to down load the app on 2 different phones to ear coupons if you want to use the 25% off coupon on more than one item.

For example, have the cashier price match a Tetra Whisper 100 air pump from the Chewy website flr $14.60 amd stack the 25% off coupon. The air pump goes down to $10.95. The Tetra 60 air pump goes down to $9.38. They both have dual outlets so they are perfect to run 2 large sponge filters.

If you want a add a HOB filter, have PetSmart price match the Marineland Penguin 350 filter for $28.57 from the Chewy website and stack the 25% off coupon for a total of $21.43.

If you go that route, add some blocks of foam sponge trimmed to fit the L/R reservoirs. The foam sponge blocks will catch a ton more muck than the cartridges, perfect for the goldfish you mentioned that will be stocked.

Speaking of the goldfish, is your daughter 100% sold on fancy goldfish or will she consider other options ?

I ask because youu mentioned having hard water and high pH from the well water. That is perfect for African Malawi cichlids! A tank full of Mbuna cichlids would be very colorful and very active. In most cases Mbuna males have the most color and probably over half the female species have muted or little color at all.

With a little due diligence though, you can pick out a Mbuna species where the females have as much (or almost) the same bright coloring as the male, or the female has an opposite color; i.e. the male is blue and female is orange.

Mbuna can be expensive, but usually once the can be sexed and/or the reach 2" and above. Unsexed juveniles Mbuna feom 1" - 2" are relatively inexpensive.

If you can find 10x (1"-2") unsexed juveniles from 1 species, or 6x each from 2 species, you would have a good looking African cichlid tank without the large cost of stocking all males.

Some examples of Mbuna where the females have good color:

Yellow Tail Acai
Yellow Labs
Red Zebras
Red Top (Labeotropheus trewavasae)

Just wanted to throw the Mbuna option out there. Mainly becuase we have a 55g Mbuna tank running for the past 2 years, and it's been a ton easier to keep than I thought.
  • #8
My dad had a 120 gallon Mbuna tank with yellow labs maingano plus quite a few different species. It was a beautiful tank

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