75 Gallon Costs?

  • #1
My wife and I are debating the true cost in launching our very first aquarium. We own the tank, wooden stand and wooden canopy. Missing everything else. How much would the cost be to buy everything else, midlevel quality from actual number of fish, to lighting to filters/pump, gravel etc etc...everything one would need to start a 75 gallon Freshwater aquarium. After setup, what would be the annual cost for such setup..for food, replacement fish (assuming some would pass onto fish heaven), filter replacement etc etc.

Thank you so much for all your help and guidance.

  • #2
Welcome to Fishlore!

Price depends on how much time you want to spend looking for equipment. If you buy everything top of the line new, it'll cost quite a bit. If you buy cheap equipment, it'll cost less in the short term, but it'll get expensive in the long run as you have to replace broken equipment. If you have time, I would look around for used equipment. I have bought some really nice quality and brand name equipment for much cheaper than retail value, by hunting around on Craigslist and local Facebook groups. This is my preferred method. I got a barely used Eheim Pro 3e canister filter for $100, and they run around $330 brand new on Amazon. Depending on brand and new/used condition, a filter for this tank could run you anywhere from $50-$400 or so.

Don't buy filter cartridges or the expensive filter media sets. I use polyfill (from a craft store), micron felt pads (bought in bulk off Drs. Foster & Smith), and ceramic rings (no name brand bought in bulk from Amazon). DIY filter media like mine is much cheaper than the filter cartridges and filter media sets, and the DIY media often works better. You can replace the polyfill and felt every few months, and just rinse the ceramic media in old tank water. No need to replace the biological media (ceramic rings). So it costs around $10 a year for my filter media across 3 of my tanks with canisters.

Lighting, again, what you put into it. You can also go with DIY lighting from a hardware store, which will lower the cost compared to most aquarium fixtures. I would recommend LEDs over fluorescents. They will be more economical in the long run. So again, anywhere from $50-$200 or so.

I would buy a new heater. Used heaters are risky. You can get ones (or two) for this tank size under $50.

The cost of fish depends on where you get them and what kind of fish you want. Your fish should last you at least a few years, with many species living to almost a decade.

You shouldn't have to replace your filters, etc. yearly. Heaters might be the only thing you want to replace every year or every few years.

Food depends on quantity and brand. I like Omega One fish food. I buy in bulk, keep what I need to feed over a month or so, and freeze the rest. Kensfish also has some high quality food you can buy in bulk. I haven't run out of food yet (going on around 1-2 years with the same food in the freezer).

  • #3
Agree with TexasDomer

Even if you go economical on filters, they should last a few years at the very least. I would say, the cheapest way to go for filters would be 2 aqueon 55/75s which will run you about 50-60 bucks on amazon for the pair. You might be able to get penguin biowheel filters cheaper but every time I've had one they drive me crazy with the noise and the wheel eventually stops turning. If you want to go a little higher end, you could do canisters. Canisters will be hidden under your tank and are quieter than HOB's. 2 sunsun 303/403 canisters will be plenty of filtration for this tank and you can get them on ebay or amazon for around 60 bucks a piece or 120 total. If you want to spend more money then eheim and fluval canisters are the way to go. If you can find them used then that's good and you might be able to save some money that way.

DIY media is the way to go. polyfill/sponge/felt pads are cheap ways for your mechanical filtration and then ceramic rings that you can buy cheaply is a good way to do your biofiltration. With good filter maintenance the mechanical filtration should last you at least a year and the biofiltration should last the life of the filter. Another cheap cheap option is picking up some pot scrubbers (non copper, non treated) from the dollar store and filling your filter with as much of those as you can. I've seen quite a few filter set ups using nothing but some thin cloth and pot scrubbers.

New heater is definitely the way to go. But there really is no need to spend a ton of money on one. Top fin heaters is all i've ever used and you can get them on amazon for about 15 bucks a piece. You'll probably need 2 (1 on each end).

There are miscellaneous start up costs that you'll want to keep in mind. A testing kit will cost you around 20 bucks on amazon (more expensive in the stores). Get the master liquid test kit. It should last you a few years at the very least. Don't do test strips. You'll also have other chemicals that you'll need to keep in stock. A bottle of TSS+ is always good to keep (you may need it to get started). Prime water conditioner you will need for all of your water changes. Some form of medication like paraguard or prazipro is also something to think about. Prime costs about 10-15 bucks a bottle and usually lasts me about 3-4 months with running 2 tanks. TSS+ about 10 bucks and you'll need it up front if you do a fish in cycle. But don't need it on an ongoing basis unless it's an emergency. About 10 bucks for a good bottle of meds and you'll hopefully never use it.

Substrate depends a lot on what kind you want. If you want gravel then you are probably going to spend 50-75 bucks in buying the nice aquarium gravel. You'll want to bet on about .75 to 1 pound of substrate for each gallon. However, you can save a ton of money if you go with sand. Sand is also better for your fish as it keeps food and waste from getting trapped in the gravel and your bottom dwellers will like sand much better than gravel. You can spend a ton of money on aquarium sand (similar to aquarium gravel) or you can go to your local home depot/lowes/menards and pick up about 100lbs of pool filter sand for about 10 bucks. If you want a black sand, then look for black diamond blasting sand. 100 lbs of it should cost around 15 bucks.

+1 on kens fish. I bought a few bags of fish food off of him a year ago and still haven't run out. I'd say I spend around 50 bucks a year on fish food. Omega one and NLS are also good brands.

There are other things to take into consider. You'll want something for water changes. For a 75 gallon I strongly suggest the python or aqueon water changer that hooks up to your sink. Those will run around 25 bucks or so. You may have to replace them every few years or so. Lights can be ridiculous but that largely depends on if you want to do live plants. A 75 gallon tank is relatively deep so if you want to do plants you'll want a nice light that can grow them. That could run you 100 bucks at least. I'd do something like a finnex planted plus for plants. But plants bring their own costs. You'll need to keep fertilizers, excel, flourish and perhaps other chemicals on hand to keep them healthy. If you don't want to do live plants then a standard led light should cost you around 50 or a nicer one will be closer to 100.

I'd say you are looking at least 250-300 for start up depending on how much you want to splurge. But yearly cost I'd say around 50-75.

Fish is completely up to you. You can spend $25-30 on fish and stock that tank at petsmart and petco. Or you can spend $250 bucks in fish to stock that tank with rare mail order fish.
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Wow...thank you all for your quick and detailed reply. So, what I'm seeing here is about $500 for initial setup roughly + cost of fish? How much in electricity do you think a 75 gallon takes per year?
  • #5
You can get it set up for cheaper than $500.

It can use very little electricity. My bill has been under $50/month for my apartment for everything, with 6-7 tanks running at a time...
  • #6
I would not recommend buying the filters online, they are highly overpriced. I got two Aquatech 30-60 Gal Filters for 30 buck a piece where as Amazon sells them for 50 a piece.


  • #7
Electric costs are going to be a complete guess... how warm does your house stay? what temperature will you keep the fish at? how long will you keep lights on per day? what wattage bulbs are in those lights? how long will the heaters be on for? one heater or two heaters running?

Way too many variables to try and figure out an electric cost per year.
  • #8
electricity will be greatly effected by what type of filters you are running and what type of lights.

LED's will cost much less on electricity and replacement costs over the life of them but will be a larger chunk up front. Canisters will be a larger draw on your electric than HOB filters will but they will do a better job. I still wouldn't expect it to do much to the overall bill though. It may not even be noticeable. Maybe something similar to a PC or small appliance?
Genghis Karp
  • #9
Yes, electricity usage will also depend on where you have it kept. I would keep it in a relatively warm place ideally. I kept 6 tanks in a (not too cold) garage until about a year ago, about 1800L or 500 US gallons. I now keep 3 tanks in a fairly warm house (about 900L or 250 US gallons) and my combined gas and electric bill is about £50 or $60 less per month. If I had no tanks I estimate it would be about another £20 cheaper per month.
  • #10
I have found the opposite to be true for new equipment, unless a store is running a great special/sale. Usually things are cheaper online than in stores.


  • Thread Starter
  • #11
House is kept about 74 to 76 degrees year round...

After initial setup costs, what are the annual costs...lets say in year 2?
  • #12
74 - 76 F is fine for many fish year round, so you may not even need a heater.

Year two is much cheaper than year one. Just the cost of food (anywhere from $10-$50 depending on type and quantity), electricity, and mechanical filter media.
  • #13
Whatever it would cost to leave a lightbulb or two on 24/7.

I would respectfully disagree on the $500 startup cost of a 75 gallon tank unless you buy all used equipment. Could it be done? Probably but year 2 would cost at least that to fix everything that broke and/or died.

Is there a reason you want to know these costs? If your budget is that tight, you might want to get a smaller tank or maybe just a stuffed animal.
  • #14
If he's already got the tank and stand and canopy, most of the big expenses are done.

Buy new filtration minimum: $75 you'll want the 75 filter x2
Substrate: $10 x2
Heaters: $27 x2 (may not even need this
Start up chemicals and test kits: $55

(may not need this but good to have on hand)
Lights:$ 40
Startup food: $30 maybe
DIY Media: $35

(this should be enough for a few years at least if you do filter maintenance every couple of months or so. you should only need to replace it once a year at the most)

I have bought all of these products at one time or another and can vouch for their reliability. I'm at $272. You can definitely spend more money on the lights (you would want to if you were going to do plants for instance) and the filtration (you could do 2 canisters for about 120-150 with sunsuns) but it can be done.


Genghis Karp
  • #15
Maintenance costs on a 75G tank in the house, fully set up and stocked with no intention of swapping fish around = negligible. Food £5 month, Replacing equipment £5 month, electricity £5 extra per month. There or thereabouts.
  • #16
$5-$10 a month for food is more reasonable if you feed frozen foods. You can get cheaper for flake food in bulk, but frozen foods are good to feed a few times a week. I forgot about that in my numbers above!

You can definitely keep it under $500. I have a 55 gal, a 44 gal, 2 20 longs, a 12 gal, and 2 2.5 gals. I've probably spent under $600 to get them all running (minus the cost of the tanks and stands, same as OP) - $75 or so in heaters, $250 or so in filters (running three canisters, have multiple AquaClears, and multiple sponge filters and air pumps - it helps to buy used!), and $200 or so in lighting (have a few used Finnexes in addition to DIY lighting). It certainly helps to buy things used from other hobbyists, and to buy them online (vs. in store). I'm a poor grad student, but $500-$600 spread over years to set up so many tanks is very manageable. I buy used or $1/gal tanks and use mostly DIY stands, so this hobby really hasn't been that expensive for me, if you look at it over the course of my keeping fish.
  • #17
$5-$10 a month for food is more reasonable if you feed frozen foods. You can get cheaper for flake food in bulk, but frozen foods are good to feed a few times a week. I forgot about that in my numbers above!
Me too. I always forget those. But usually you can get a pack of frozen foods from a brick and mortar store for around 6 bucks. I feed frozen about once a week so a pack of frozen food usually lasts me a couple of months.
  • #18
Ha, I wish it lasted that long for me! I feed three frozen cubes at a time (across six tanks...) and I do it 3 or 4 days a week, so mine don't last me that long!

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