How much per gallon?

  • #1
How much would you estimate it cost per gallon to set up a tank from scratch? I estimate about $5 per gallon

  • #2
Really it depends. What lights do you want, what sales can you find, what tank size, what quality of equipment, what stock? If you just simply want say a 55 gallon new at petco during dollar per gallon you can buy them for 70$, a decent light if you want to grow low light plants (I use beamswork DA lights Pent Series) - 70$, cheaper if you don't want plants, Pool Filter sand is pretty cheap - 10$, Heater - 25$, filter 50$. This adds up to be 225$, but then there is tax. This equals out to about 4.09$/Gallon. So yeah, your price is pretty close, probably cheaper depending on what you want out of it... or much more expensive.
Also need a stand, which could vary greatly in price.

Or you could try to find a used setup which price really varies. I bought a 300w heater, zebra stone, two powerheads, and a large filter for 30$ today. I also saw a 90 gallon tank for sale for 15$ which I missed out on, but if I was faster I could have gotten everything to run a 90g tank barebottom for 45$!

Generally for the 55g setup I stated, or something similar, minus the sand, for probably 100$~ tomarrow if I wanted.

Sometimes it is worth it to scope out craigslist and whatnot. I personally hawk Facebook marketplace. I have picked up at least 3 free tanks - A 45L, 65g, 135g. I have seen a full saltwater setup 180g tank, stand, sump, and lights, and literally turnkey setup for free as well, guy just needed it hauled out asap.

  • #3
5 a gallon is probably pretty accurate for a standard set up. Bigger tanks seem to be exponentially more expensive after about 90 gallons it seems for full setups. My 55 gallon is a fair bit more than $5 a gallon but it didn't start that way. But add a Fluval canister filter, a Fluval plant 3.0 48 inch light you are close to $400 before you even consider the tank itself. As you and the previous poster said very easy to go cheaper than that. I certainly started much cheaper than my current set up.
  • #4
That's why we have MTS....the first tank is the most expensive, and the additional tank gallons will spread out the cost Interesting question, I have to calculate my numbers.
  • #5
My first tank (15 gal) cost me about $250 by the end. My 2nd tank (65 gal) cost me about $200 (i got the tank, light, and filter in exchange for some babysitting) my 3rd tank(10) cost $50 so far but as of right now it is only a grow out so no fish cost.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
I know there are lots of variables but I’m going for a “rule of thumb” which are never very accurate. It seems to me like maybe $7 is a more accurate guess per gallon after reading all of your posts


  • #7
Well the thing I think we need to define here is why you want to get this information and what your goal is with it? Are you looking to set up a fish room for breeding? Maybe a fish store because I am fairly certain you made a post about opening one.

For this kind of topic it might be beneficial to give paramaters as to what you're doing. I wouldn't mind crunching some numbers on how much it would cost to build a rack for tanks, an air pump, sponge filters, irrigation, and the other 9 yards for it all. Gives me an idea of what I want to do on the future anyways lol

Also the amount of tanks you want spreads out cost too. Say you want 40 tanks, you can buy 1 large air pump for 250$ and that cost gets spread out considerably. Another big thing to consider is heating requirements and if you want to heat a room vs tanks. If it's a lot of tanks you may want to consider heating a room. Also with many tanks you want to consider getting a dehumidifier to eliminate issues with mold due to the high humidity.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Nothing specific, I'm just curious
  • #9
Welcome to northern canada where itll cost you anywhere from 30 to 50 a gallon

RIP my wallet but whatever
  • #10
I side with it depends. My most recent stand alone tank:
dollar per gallon sale 29.00
160 gph jajale pump 39.99
2" thick filter foam 12.00
Black diamond sand $15
I usually use rack lights at about $5 per array I add but in fairness my nicrew light was about $30 so will go with that one.
trash can $5
Various pvc fittings $10
Silicone adhesive $12
Plants were all leftovers and throwaways. I would say a "pack" bought from a fl member with the same stuff would be about $20-30

The fair version is about $200 for a 29= $6.89 per gallon

honestly the only things I didn't have on hand were the tank, trash can and filter, so $36 for that 29 is all that was felt, also back when I bought that pump it was only $18, and the foam was cheaper too.

There was a similar thread to this back a year ago about and I listed the cost of the whole rack I built. I think it was in the $1000 range but I can't remember (don't want to).
  • #11
I have a 2.5 gallon that I'm already 100 bucks into and I'm not done lol

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