When it comes to considering a pet goldfish, there are two types of people. The first is the type of person who believes you can just run to the store, grab a small tank, a $0.30 goldfish, and a $5 container of fish food, and you’re all set. The second is the type that believes that the setup for a goldfish is going to cost hundreds of dollars for a tank and all the equipment needed.
If you’re the first type of person, then you may be surprised to hear that there’s more to it than that, but you can still get a pretty swanky goldfish setup on a budget. If you’re the second type of person, then you may be pleased to hear that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a pretty swanky goldfish setup unless you want to. It will roughly cost between $56-$375. Let’s talk about the price associated with a pet goldfish this year.
The Price of a Pet Goldfish Setup
1. The Fish
This is going to be the most variable cost aside from the tank. You can get a feeder goldfish from most big box stores for about $0.18. This will be your typical common or comet goldfish. If you’re more interested in a fancy goldfish variety, you can find some at big box stores for about $5. If you’re in the market for something a little rarer, you can use local and online retailers and breeders to find the perfect fish but be prepared to spend a little more. Some rare goldfish can sell for more than $300! Generally speaking, most people are going to spend less than $40 on a goldfish.
Please note that goldfish are social animals, so you should consider adopting at least two of them.
2. The Tank
When it comes to choosing a fish tank, you can really decide how rich your blood is. When considering a tank for two fancy goldfish, try to spring for a 40-gallon aquarium. When deciding to adopt common goldfish, consider a 60–70-gallon aquarium.
Fish tanks can easily exceed $1,000 when you start looking at large and custom builds. The size, material, and included products will all influence the cost of a specific fish tank. However, tanks can often be purchased at discount rates, especially if they’re second hand. For a quality tank, expect to spend around $50 or more.
Housing a goldfish isn't as simple as buying a bowl. If you're a new or experienced goldfish keeper who wants to get the setup right for your goldfish family, check out the best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish, on Amazon. It covers all you need to know about the ideal tank setup, tank size, substrate, ornaments, plants, and so much more!
Housing a goldfish isn't as simple as buying a bowl. If you're a new or experienced goldfish keeper who wants to get the setup right for your goldfish family, check out the best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish, on Amazon.
It covers all you need to know about the ideal tank setup, tank size, substrate, ornaments, plants, and so much more!
3. The Filter
The cost of a fish tank filter is extremely variable based on the size of the tank and the type of filter. When it comes to keeping goldfish, don’t skimp on the filtration system! Goldfish are big bioload producers and need great filtration to maintain their water quality and keep them healthy. Consider a filter that can handle at least five to seven times the tank’s volume. A best estimate of what you’ll spend on a good filtration system for your goldfish tank is around $5–$15 for every 10 gallons of tank water.
Canister filters tend to be the most expensive, while internal and sponge filters tend to be the least expensive. However, this is because canister filters usually provide better filtration and do a better job of maintaining water quality than internal or sponge filters.
4. The Substrate
Substrate isn’t required for a goldfish tank, so if you don’t feel like substrate is your thing, then you can skip this one. If you’re intending to keep plants, then a substrate is a good idea. Some people swear by gravel in their goldfish tanks, but goldfish have been known to get gravel stuck in their mouth.
Sand is often recommended instead, although some people prefer substrate that is too large for goldfish to get in their mouth, like pebbles and river rocks. It’s recommended that you use 1 pound of substrate for every gallon of water in your tank. Be prepared to spend $1–$5 per pound of substrate.
5. The Décor
This is fully optional! Fish tank décor can be anything from aquarium ornaments to bubblers and air stones. These are not necessary in most tanks but can be a nice addition to help improve the aesthetics of the tank. You can also use décor to make the tank a more interesting environment for your goldfish. If you have a long-finned goldfish, like fancies and Comets, then avoid anything with rough edges that may snag plants. Also, avoid anything that your goldfish may find their way into and get stuck. You can spend anywhere from a few dollars to $50 or more for aquarium décor, depending on what you purchase.
6. The Plants
Plants are technically optional for your goldfish tank, but they can bring a lot to the tank. Not only do they enrich the space and create interest for your goldfish, but plants absorb nitrate and provide oxygen, helping to keep the water quality high. Keeping live plants with goldfish can be tricky, though. They are notoriously hard on plants and love to uproot or eat them. Some plants can stand up to the abuse goldfish throw at them, though. The cost of plants will depend on the size of your tank and the type and number of plants you purchase. Some plants that can be great goldfish tank additions include hornwort, Vallisneria, and Java fern.
7. The Food
Plan to invest in a few different foods for your goldfish. Don’t go overboard, though! Anything you haven’t used within about 6 months probably should be tossed. You’ll want to have a good base diet for your goldfish, which usually consists of pellets or other commercial food. It’s a good idea to invest in gel food and some frozen or freeze-dried foods. Expect to spend upwards of $5 per product for commercial pellets. Gel foods, freeze-dried foods, frozen foods, and live foods are all going to be more expensive.
8. The Supplies
This is the category that never ends. Yes, it goes on and on, my friends. When it comes to keeping goldfish, there are plenty of supplies you should have on hand. Some of them are simple and inexpensive, like a fish net that will likely cost you around $3, and others are more expensive but good to have on hand, like medications. There are some things you definitely need to keep on hand at all times, though, including water treatments for removing chlorine and lowering ammonia and nitrite levels, and filter media. Additional supplies for keeping your goldfish happy and healthy can cost you anywhere from a few dollars to more than $20.
This is the average low to high cost of owning a goldfish this year. This doesn’t account for extras and is rough estimates of products that you may want or need for your goldfish.
Owning a goldfish doesn’t have to be a particularly expensive hobby, but it is an investment. When considering a goldfish, keep in mind that they can live for decades and can get quite large, so they are a commitment. Other expenses not accounted for here include the continued cost of food, medication, water treatments, and other maintenance expenses. The hobby of goldfish keeping is enjoyable and enriching, but it is a decision you should plan ahead for to ensure you can give your goldfish the best life possible.
Featured Image Credit: dien, Shutterstock