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Home > Fish > How Much Does a Fish Tank Cost to Buy & Maintain? (2024 Price Guide)

How Much Does a Fish Tank Cost to Buy & Maintain? (2024 Price Guide)

aquarium with cichlids fish

While many people may think that fish are low-maintenance pets, a lot of thought and care actually goes into building and maintaining a sustainable habitat for fish. So, it’s important to know how much you can anticipate paying for taking care of fish to avoid investing in something that’s beyond your expectations.

The initial cost of buying and setting up a tank tends to be an investment because high-quality fish tanks tend to be expensive. Then, you’ll have to factor in annual upkeep costs, which will vary depending on the type of fish you have. Here’s a breakdown of costs you should consider before buying a fish tank.

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The Importance of Regularly Maintaining a Fish Tank

Caring for fish doesn’t just involve setting up their tank and feeding them. Constant monitoring of the water quality is essential, and this requires additional equipment, like filters and filter cartridges, water testing kits, and water treatment chemicals.

Keeping the water in an optimal condition reduces the risk of disease, suffocation, and poisoning. You can do this by regularly monitoring the water’s pH and temperature. It’s also important to test for compounds such as ammonia and nitrate. Regularly cleaning the tank and replacing old or damaged decoration is also necessary for keeping your fish safe.

man changing water in aquarium
Image By: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

How Much Does a Fish Tank Cost?

The overall cost of buying and maintaining a fish tank will depend on the type of aquarium you want to set up. One of the most significant factors is the tank size. On average, a 10-gallon tank will cost about $60.

Once you determine the type of fish you want in your aquarium, you’ll have to consider other costs. Some fish require very specific water conditions, while others are hardier and can do well in various settings. Depending on your fish, you may have to purchase water conditioners, filters, and heaters.

It’s also essential to have a water testing kit on hand. Slight changes to the tank’s water quality can cause fish to get sick and even lead to death. Regularly monitoring the tank’s water will ensure that your fish are living in safe conditions.

You can make some basic estimates based on the average cost of tank equipment. For the most basic freshwater fish 10-gallon tank setup, you can expect to pay around $170-$200. Yearly maintenance will be about $300-$500, which includes food, water testing kits and chemicals, filter cartridge replacements, and replacement décor. Depending on the size of your aquarium, you may notice a considerable increase in your utility bills.

Here are some costs to consider for starting a freshwater tank

Equipment Average Price
10-Gallon Tank $60
20-Gallon Tank $100
55-Gallon Tank $350
Light $40
Standard Filter $20-$50
Premium Filter $200-$300
Water Conditioner $10-$20
Water Heater $25
Water Tester Kit $10-$40
Substrate $7-$15
Food $5-$20
Decorations $3-$10

Additional Costs to Anticipate

The average costs of maintaining a fish tank vary significantly because fish species can have very different care needs. Beginner-friendly fish, like guppies and tetras, are hardy and won’t need to eat specialty food. More challenging fish, such as loaches and oscars, need more frequent monitoring and maintenance, and they often require more expensive specialty diets.

An additional cost outside of usual maintenance will be tank replacements. Some fish grow significantly and can quickly outgrow a tank. Also, as you become more experienced with fishkeeping, you’ll probably upgrade your equipment and invest in more high-quality filters, heaters, and lights.

beautiful planted tropical freshwater aquarium with filter
Image Credit: M-Production, Shutterstock

How Often Should Clean Out a Fish Tank?

Regularly cleaning your fish tank is a must, even if you have a good filter. As a rule of thumb, tanks should be cleaned every 2-3 weeks. The frequency will depend on the type of fish and how many fish you have.

Proper cleaning will consist of cleaning out the gravel to remove any waste and old food. You’ll also want to rinse any decorations to remove any algae.

10%-15% of the water should be replaced with new water. Never change out the water entirely because this can shock your fish or disrupt the aquarium’s ecosystem.

Before you refill your aquarium, do a proper wipe-down of the tank to remove any algae.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Fish Care?

Not many pet insurance companies provide coverage for fish. Currently, Nationwide is one of the only pet insurance providers that cover fish. Keep in mind that pet insurance doesn’t cover equipment costs. They’re more for accidents and illnesses. So, you can expect pet insurance companies to help pay for any diagnostic tests for diseases and health concerns. However, pet insurance won’t cover costs related to regular maintenance, like filter replacements.

What Are the Best Fish for Beginners?

No pet fish is self-sufficient, but some are more forgiving and easier to care for than others. If you’re genuinely interested in caring for fish, here are some species that a beginner-friendly:

  • Betta
  • Danio
  • Guppy
  • Molly
  • Neon Tetra
  • Platy
  • Swordtail
  • Zebrafish
Here are some fish that are more appropriate for advanced fish owners:
  • Achilles Tang
  • African Cichlid
  • Discus
  • Glass Catfish
  • Moorish Idol
  • Koi
  • Pacu
  • Red-tailed Shark
Aquarium Tank heater
Image Credit: Huy Phan, Unsplash



The cost of buying and maintaining a fish tank will vary, but you can expect to pay an initial price of around $200 to start a basic 10-gallon aquarium with freshwater fish. Annual costs are about a couple hundred dollars.

The best way to determine an accurate estimate of costs is to research the type of fish you want and what kind of care they require. This will prevent you from taking on a project that’s beyond your scope and increase the chances of successfully caring for your fish.

Featured Image Credit: Frantisek Czanner, Shutterstock

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