Aquariums have many appealing qualities and bring many benefits into the home or workplace. Children LOVE aquariums. they are interesting, different and offer a window into a magical underwater world. Aquariums can engage families and educate our children on topics of nature and responsibility, while the ambient and calming beauty of colourful fish, swimming against the gentle current of water with plants flowing, corals swaying and bubbles rising, naturally relieves stress.
There are few, if any, people who can look at a beautiful aquarium and not feel some connection to nature which, even if only for a moment, allows them to forget their worries and troubles in a moment of respite and curiosity.
But... what if you were looking at a beautiful aquarium, and instead of enjoying that calming beauty, you begin to notice the lights, you faintly hear the distantly quiet hum of pumps and the sudden click of the heater thermostat turning on as it all combines into a blinding white noise effect.
What if instead of forgetting about your worries, you start to become stressed. Stressed at the thought that all of these things you are noticing are turning the wheel of the electricity meter, and what if, during these hard times of the energy crisis of 2022, you want to turn the lights off. What if you aren't even sure if you can afford to keep them on, they must be costing money, right? Is the aquarium really the priority? WELL... That is the growing concern I wish to address in this first edition of our new Blog. "How much does an aquarium cost to run in 2022?"
Hopefully, by helping you to truly understand the costs, we can alleviate any potential worries and you be well prepared enough to relax and enjoy your stunning aquarium.
We are going to investigate the costs of running an aquarium, and do the maths for you, so that we can provide more clarity so that you will be able to make better informed decisions as you consider committing to your dream of owning the perfect aquarium.
To begin, I will lay out the ground rules...
- I will be using my own current electricity costs as of the most recent price increase letter to burden my doorstep. I expect these are fairly average in these times but of course be aware I am not specifically quoting your own exact costs. (We are using £0.268 or 26.8p/ per KWH)
- I will be using three examples of popular aquarium sets which we sell in store, and only the necessary, included equipment. We will be using The Aquael Leddy 60 Aquarium to demonstrate our most popular small tropical fish starter set. We will be using the Aqua One Oakstyle 230L (4ft) Aquarium set to demonstrate a medium to large tropical aquarium, and we will be using the D-D Reef Pro 900 which is running high power LED's, and an adapted Berlin filtration method which includes; quality mechanical filtration, a good protein skimmer and an added fluidised media reactor to deal with phosphates, as well as return pumps and wavemakers for water circulation.
- Prices will be correct as of the day of this blog's release for all equipment and aquariums.
- The electricity consumption quoted will be the explained for each example based on what we realistically expect to be used. Wherever we are unsure, the manufacturers maximum wattage will be used, as described by the manufacturer on their website, at the time of this blog's release. (This should give us the higher possible costs of running, as many of these items will be adjustable wattage such as DC Pumps and controllable LED Lights)
What we expect:
The most costly aspect of an aquarium in 2022 should surely be the heating costs for tropical aquariums. We estimate a heater usage of around 10 minutes per hour, equal to 4 hours per day, that a heater is actually on, in summer this is likely to be a lot less, but for ease we have used this figure year round.
For aquariums such as reef aquariums with high powered LED or older aquariums still using fluorescent tubes, then the cost of lighting may be higher but for general modern aquariums running LED's, lighting should be the number 2 cost.
Finally, filtration and water circulation. Filtration will generally be one of the least costly aspects of your aquarium as all modern filters are generally very low wattage and water circulation pumps are generally fairly efficient.
On with it then...
Our first example is the smallest, and we can respectively assume this will be the cheapest to run. But just how cheap, or expensive is it to run?
This is an example of the tank the kids keep asking for in their bedroom, but eventually you will fall in love with it and it will work it's way into the living room, since you care for it more than they do anyway.
It actually includes our most popular aquarium set for beginners, adults and children alike, and those looking for something quality, but on the smaller side to suit a smaller space.
The Leddy range from Aquael, offers a complete aquarium solution, which includes LED Lighting for Day & Night, an internal power sponge filter and a suitably powered heater, ensuring you have everything you need ready to sustain and view your new finned friends.
Specifically, the model we have chosen to investigate is the Aquael Leddy 60, our most popular model in the range.
At 60cm (2ft) long and holding an approximate water volume of 54L this tank not too small, so as to require more regular attention, but not so big that it takes the space of your favourite armchair. It is available in black or white, and is suitable to place on most sturdy, level cabinets, drawer sets and tables so does not come supplied with a cabinet, (although cabinets are available if you require one).
The water volume is sufficient enough to cope well with once weekly water changes, however individual stocking levels will dictate the amount of maintenance your tank requires.
• 60 x 30 x 30cm Glass Aquarium
• White or Black
• Tank volume 54L
• LED lighting 7w
• Filter ASAP 300
• Heater 50
- Aquael 50w Heater
Costs: Cost of running the 50w heater for 10 minutes of every hour in a 24 hour is 5p per day
£1.63 per month
- 7w Leddy Day & Night Sunny LED
Costs: Cost of running the LED with this aquarium set for 10 hours a day is just 2.7p!
£0.82 per month
- Aquael ASAP 300 (Internal Filter)
Costs: Cost of running Aquael ASAP 300 for 24 hours per day is just 2.7p!
£0.82 per month
Total estimated cost to run this tank as supplied = Just £3.27 per month!!
(Sorry parents, rising electricity costs might not be a good enough excuse to say no to this one).
Our second example case is the Aqua One Oakstyle 230 Aquarium Set. This is our most popular larger aquarium set, and possibly the best selling aquarium in the UK since its introduction.
There are many sizes and colour options in the Oakstyle range, from 85L (1.5ft Long) to 300L (5ft Long), but the most popular is the 230L (4ft Long) option, in a variation of Oak.
The tank is tall and long, offering an endearing window into a natural world that almost mimics that of a public aquarium. Without taking over the room completely, this tank is significant enough to catch any visitors attention, but isn't so large that you need to check your floorboards will carry the weight. This one fits perfectly in the alcoves of most large rooms, snugly between the chimney breast and the wall. (For smaller rooms, the 145L (3ft Long) or 110L (2ft Long) versions may fit better.
The Oakstyle 230 aquarium set includes the following:
- LED Light
- Ocellaris 850 (External cannister filter)
- 300w heater.
Costs: Cost of running the 300w heater for 10 minutes of every hour in a 24 hour is 32p per day
£9.73 per month
Costs: Cost of running Ocellaris 850 for 24 hours per day is just 6p!
£1.90 per month
Aqua One 30w LED Light
Costs: Cost of running the LED with this aquarium set for 10 hours a day is just 8p!
£2.45 per month
Total estimated cost to run this tank as supplied = up to £14.08 per month
(*This was less than we were expecting for a tank of this size)
Finally our third example includes our favourite Reef Tank Set as displayed in our store, the D-D Reef Pro 900 Aquarium. This is actually the smallest in this range, but plenty big enough to create a beautiful coral reef aquarium and teleport you off to somewhere warm, each and every time you look at it.
Marine/ Reef tanks will generally have higher energy costs than conventional aquariums, as there is much more equipment available which helps to produce the lower nutrient environment required by corals for healthy growth and optimum colouration.
For our example we have included, what we consider to be, the most important aspects of the tank, such as lighting, water circulation, a quality temperature control system, quality protein skimmer, and a reactor for chemical filtration.
Many reef tanks may have more, or less, electronic equipment in use, however we think you can easily have an amazing reef tank with the included equipment on this list.
The equipment we have included on this tank is:
- D-D Titanium Heater 350w & D-D Dual Heating & Cooling Temperature ControllerAI Hydra 32HD LED (x2)
- AI Hydra 32HD LED
- Jecod DCP 4000 Marine DC Pump
- FMR75 Fluidised Media Reactor Kit (With Pump)
- Maxspect Gyre 'JUMP' MJGF2K (7000lph)
- Deltec SC-PRO 400i DC 24v Protein Skimmer
Cost of running the 350w heater for 10 minutes of every hour in a 24 hour is 38p per day
Cost of running the dual controller for 24 hours per day is 2p per day
(Combined) £12.17 per month
MAX wattage: 90w
These AMAZING Lights by Aqua Illumination are the standard in modern coral farming, and for good reason. The excellent PAR contributes to healthy and rapid coral growth while also offering a superb range of spectrum, highlighting the beautiful colours of corals with ease. The adjustable nature of these lights means that wattage is constantly changing throughout the day as as you transition through the settings of your light cycle. This means that it is rare to utilise the full power of these lights to the maximum of 90 watts.
On our store display, we use David Saxby's signature settings, as his tank is amazing and his corals obviously respond very well to his settings. When using these settings I am yet to see our usage above 60 watts per light fixture. For this reason we have chosen 60w as our benchmark for the investigation, although this will likely produce a much higher figure than the reality, since much of the day is spent ramping up through the sunrise, and down for the sunset. We have calculated the costs of running at 60w for 10 hours per day.
Costs: Cost of running one HYDRA 32HD at 60w for 10 hours per day is 16p (We run x2 Hydra 32HD's on our tank so the total cost for both lights is 32p per day
£9.76 per month
Cost of running the 4000 LPH pump at max output for 24 hours is 19p per day
£5.87 per month
Cost of running the FMR75 Fluidised Media Reactor Kit 24 hours per day is 12p per day
£3.91 per month
Cost of running the Gyre 'JUMP' MJGF2K (7000lph) on Pulse Mode (between 10-100%) for 24 hours is 11p per day
£3.23 per month
This excellent Skimmer from Deltec utilises an adjustable DC Pump which adjusts the motor speed by adjusting the wattage output. The pump runs between just 5 and 12 watts and so for this investigation we will be calculating the output at the maximum of 12w.
Costs: Cost of running one Deltec SC-PRO 400i DC Protein Skimmer for 24 hours per day is just 6p per day
£1.96 per month
Total costs to run the D-D Reef Pro 900 with all of the equipment we have included here is up to £1.21 per day or up to £36.90 per month.
(Not forgetting that this is the highest estimated figure, you could probably expect this to be much less in reality)
- The majority of equipment commonly used in an aquarium is very low wattage, and despite some running for 24 hours per day, they are relatively inexpensive to run.
- The most costly aspect is heating. This was apparent throughout each of the three example aquarium sets with larger tanks costing more to heat.
- Some lights such as high powered reef lights, cost more than the standard LED aquarium lighting included with most tropical fish tanks and this is something worth considering when deciding what sort of livestock you may wish to care for. It is more expensive to light up a coral tank than a tropical freshwater system.
Our findings discovered that a small tropical aquarium can cost as little as £3.27 per month to run, while a larger (230L) aquarium could cost up to £14.08 per month to run. As expected, a reef tank is more expensive, (up to £36.90 per month), largely due to the extra equipment which most reef hobbyists might include in their set up.
To put these figures into perspective, we repeated our calculations for a commonly used household appliance, to compare costs.
We used a mid-range tumble dryer (with a B energy Rating) that takes approximately 2 hours to complete a full load, and we assumed most families would do a full load, at least twice per week.
Using the same calculations, we found that this would cost £22.30 per month for two full loads per week throughout the year.
This means you could run both, the larger and smaller examples, of our aquariums in your home, simultaneously, and this would still cost less than two tumble dry's per week.
These aquarium running cost figures were calculated based on the most costly element of an aquarium (the heater) being on for a total of four hours per day.
These figures could be significantly different owing to good insulation and warmer summer months in our homes and one could expect these figures to be far less per month during spring and summer, possibly rising up to these cost figures through autumn and winter. This would significantly reduce the costs over the full year.
If you are anything like my wife, you may wish to air on the side of caution and so these figures could be used to help you decide if you can afford your dream aquarium during a worst case scenario. (Winter year Round... Brrrrr)
The main goal of this article was to provide clarity for your decision making process when considering whether to purchase your dream aquarium, or possibly keep your existing aquarium, and whether rising energy costs should be a factor of that decision making.
You should obviously consider all of the costs incurred when deciding whether or not you can afford to keep live animals. The amended well known saying goes, "A fish is for life, not just while energy is cheap," comes to mind, and once you own live fish, be sure you have a duty of care to keep those animals alive, safe and well.
Ultimately, if you can you afford approximately £4/ £15/ £40 per month respectively to power the size and type of aquarium that you want to keep, then yes!!! an aquarium is a great idea, and you and your family, friends or colleagues, can enjoy the huge array of health and cognitive benefits associated with the great hobby of fishkeeping
If not quite, then can you possibly sacrifice a tumble dry cycle per week to substitute those costs?
If not, then maybe an aquarium isn't for you right now...
But if so GREAT!! You will find everything you need and the best possible advice at Aquatech Aquariums :D
Thank you for reading, Tom. Aquatech Aquariums.
P.S - I know my clothes will be spending a bit more time on the washing line from now on :D