Approximate cost for basic 20 gallon aquarium?

  • #1
I was wondering if anybody could tell me the approximate cost to start a basic fish aquarium (all the equipment that's listed on this site). I'm looking for a 20 gal tank. Also where is a good place to buy this stuff? And would I be better off getting one of those prepackaged deals or buying the stuff separately. Thanks alot
  • #2
Prepackaged is normally the best. Shop around your area first befor getting one. Try walmart, superpet or any LFS. Out of the Stores near you pick the one that has the most stuf and is the cheapest
  • #3
IMO prepackaged stuff is usually not the best because you sometimes get bad equipment but do you want a stand?
  • #4
But if she is a beginner and ia getting molies/other begining fish its ok.
  • #5
It depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a standard fish tank, with just fish and no plants, it shouldn't be too expensive. Only remember that just because you're a beginner doesn't mean that you "have to" start with a small tank. In fact, the larger the tank, the better. This is because in a larger tank, not only do fish have more space, but you also decrease various risks such as sudden temperature drops (in case of a heater failure) or sudden temperature spikes. Larger body of water cools down and warms up much more slowly.

I have looked online for average costs of a standard 20 gallon tank:

regular (rectangular) glass 20 gallon tank - approx. $30
hood (cover with standard fluorescent light fixture and bulb) - approx. $30-40
filter - approx. $20-30 (depending on the type)
heater - approx. $20 (also depending on the type)

That's the basics that you would need, plus gravel and decor to your liking. But you should also get a test kit for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH. Are you familiar with the "cycle"? If not, please read about what cycling a tank means, and then you'll see why you need these various tests. Here is a good article for beginners:

Once you've learned about cycling a tank, you'll also know not to overstock your tank with too many fish and too large fish. Ask if you have any questions before you set up your tank, including how many and what fish would be best for a 20 gallon tank. Of course, it would be even better if you could afford an even larger tank, like a 30 gallon, but if not, just ask if you need anything with the 20 gallon.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
I was going to go with a 20 gallon tank because I'll be putting it in my college apartment but do you think I should go with the 30 gallon? Would there be a lot more work with the 30 compared to the 20? The extra cost wouldn't bother me. Thanks for your help!
  • #7
No, there wouldn't be much more work with a 30 gallon. I'd definitely get a 30 gallon in your place, if I could. You could get a metal stand for it, for your room on campus. Metal stands are not expensive and they're designed to hold tanks (unless you'd like to go with a wooden stand). A regular desk is not designed for so many gallons of water. And I don't think it would cost you "that much more" to get a tank that is 10 gallons bigger. In fact, water is more stable in larger tanks, as I said above. And if the water is stable you should have less work with it. As long as you understand cycling and not overstocking, you should be fine.

P.S. Will you be around that tank every day of the year? I am a college student myself and know that many of my friends who live on campus leave for holidays and summers. And once you're done with college, you'll have to take that tank with you - if you leave it behind, other people may not be informed enough on how to maintain a healthy tank. OR, they may not want it. Then what do you do? Kill the fish? So as you can see, you have to take everything into consideration. Tanks are not easily-portable things when you suddenly need to move them.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
I will be going home for christmas break and most likely the summer. Will it be difficult taking the tank home over the summer? And what should I do over xmas and spring break? My home is about 90 minutes away.
  • #9
It's very difficult to move a tank that is already established (read the info about cycling a tank, so you'll know what I mean by a "mature" tank). You'd have to empty the tank completely - you cannot carry it to your car, full of water. As for the fish ... 90 minutes of driving, I don't know. You'd have to put them in a plastic bag with water. If the temperature of the water in the plastic bag would be warm enough and stable for the whole 90 minutes ... perhaps you could transfer them. But remember sudden temperature changes may easily kill fish. Plus, you'd have to somehow save the filter and its bacteria so that the tank would be still cycled when you get home. Otherwise, you'd have to cycle the tank anew ... which would kill your fish. In my opinion, it's not a good idea to drive the fish back and forth every summer or every Christmas. Perhaps you could get someone on campus to take care of your fish while you are away. You could show them how often and how much to feed your fish while you're away. During Christmas and spring breaks, or any other breaks, they wouldn't have to clean your tank. But during the summer, someone would have to do that for you. 2 or 3 months away is a long time, and fish need weekly or bi-weekly partial water changes and gravel vacs (depending on your fish load).
  • #10
I would say you could easily spend $300 (US) on a 20 gallon tank. A bit more for a 30. I say definitely get the biggest tank you can. The bigger tanks are more stable due to the larger volume of water so it is easier to keep the fish healthy. There wouldn't be more work--the water changes would be larger but you wouldn't do them more often or anything, for example.
  • #11
Omorrokh, I don't think he/she would spend as much as $300 on a plain standard 20 gallon tank. If you look at prices of smaller (10-30 gallons) standard tanks online, they're not that expensive. He shouldn't pay for a 20G tank more than $30, for a full hood (with standard fixture and bulb) more than $40, for a filter more than $30, and for a heater more than $20 (at worst $30). That adds up to around $150. Unless he wants HO fixtures and some super submersible heater and a very good filter, he shouldn't spend more than $150 on the basics. Plus a test kit, gravel, and some decor - that would round it up to $200 at most. Like I said: that is if he wants a plain tank; and all that would be enough for his fish to be healthy (if he takes care of them, of course).

P.S. All-Glass Aquarium and Perfecto standard full hoods (cover + fixture + lightbulb) should not exceed $40 for 20 gallon tanks. I don't even think they exceed $30.
  • #12
200 is about right for the things listed, but you also need a stand and the fish. Plus if you are getting live plants it will cost a bit more. My 20 probably cost almost 300, and I'm doing it as cheap as I can.
This is about what I paid--
tank kit w/ tank, hood, filter - 100
stand - 45
heater - 30
plants - 25
test kits - 20
gravel & decor - 25
misc (buckets, siphon, dechlor, etc) - 15
fish (including ones I have not gotten yet) - 35-45 probably
I believe that adds up to exactly 300. Of course, you can save on the plants by getting fake ones or else buying from a lfs so you don't have to pay monstrous shipping fees...and by buying cheaper fish...and by buying a 20H versus my 20L so you can get a smaller stand. But I still think you can expect to pay at least 250 for a basic set-up. My 10 gallon cost 200, and that really is a basic set-up...I bought the cheapest of everything, no real plants, cheap fish, and I already had the heater. You can get cheaper equipment such as heaters but in my experience those cheaper ones simply don't work. Maybe my local stores just charge too much.

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