The novice aquarist is often faced with difficult choices when starting a new aquarium on a budget. Finding the right aquarium both size and shape is often the first problem. The tank should be as large as you can afford, this gives as much room as possible to the fish that are destined to live in the habitat. The selection of fish that are possible expands as the aquarium capacity grows larger as well.
You will hear lots of advice on the best tank size for your needs and the health and well being of the fish. I personally recommend you get the largest tank you can for the space you ave available and can afford. A new tank is always the best bet, but real bargains can be found in garage sales.
Often an aquarium will be stored for a long time and finally let go for a song, making your dollar stretch much longer than purchasing a new set ever could. Prices are determined locally for most products
On the site: Keeping Tropical Fish, there is an article entitled Your first Aquarium equipment needed and on a budget where a different list of products required and possibly where to source them cheaply is listed. Their philosophy is:
Many people just starting out don’t want to spend a fortune for something they may not enjoy. Other people may only be wanting to setup a small aquarium for their kids to hold a few smaller fish in there etc. So what I wanted was a fairly small aquarium with all the equipment needed and ready to go. I also wanted to spend no more than £100 because anything over that for your first tank is going past the “well its cheap enough to give it a try”
Although the idea of finding the perfect gem of a set-up at a garage sale is quite attractive, I have often found that local pet stores will offer great deals on brand new set-ups that offer the right equipment at reasonable prices.
For instance, here in Montreal, the same aquarium mentioned above, the Elite 60 by Marina is included in a new kit with everything required (except heater) is abut 120.00 Canadian dollars. I would guess that is pretty close to the budget mentioned above – even with the addition of a quality heater to be able to keep tropical fish.
Starting an aquarium on a budget
There may be a perfect offering that is a “must buy” at a garage sale that can get you into the hobby for much less. If you do purchase at the flea market, and you are in a temperate climate where winters can be cold, be sure to identify where the tank was stored. I am always quite leery of a tank stored where the silicon can freeze. Freezing temperatures may not destroy the bond, but it certainly does not make it stronger.
Wherever you purchase, be sure the tank will hold water and that, at least for tropical fish, there is a reliable heater in the set.
At the sister site of this blog, there is a detailed sectin that offers step by step instructiuons for setting a beginner aquarium up and getting running. Freshwater Tropical Fish Tanks Quick Start offers lots of tips and tricks to get you started right There is information on both the selection and set-up of an aquarium for a brand new hobbyist. You can even get my free reporton the essential factors which are important when considering getting you feet wet with freshwater fish.
Any used equipment should be cleaned and disinfected before new fish are added. I can’t stress this enough – NEVER use soap or detergent. Any traces left over can kill the fish. I suggest that you employ the old style remedies we used long before there were so many other products clogging the marketplace :
- Aquarium salt in water as a disinfectant – mix a cup or two of de-iodized aquarium salt per liter of lukewarm tap water. Rinse the tank out with this to disinfect any leftover parasites or pathogens.
- Hard white carbonate build-up on the top and frame is left when hard water evaporates and leaves deposits behind. Use a strong solution of vinegar and water to rinse these leftover deposits away. Mix a half and half solution of lukewarm tap water and vinegar, with a bit of elbow grease, to wipe away and dissolve these residues. Never use an ammonia based window cleaner, they usually include ammonia and that is a toxin you want to keep away from the tank whenever possible. It will be produced naturally, but don’t add any in the preparation stages.
Always carefully inspect a fish tank for any cracks or chips in the glass before purchase. When using a previously kept aquarium, take the time to test that it does not leak. Put the tank in the bathtub and fill it up to ensure there are no leaks in the seals. Mark water level. Let it sit for 24 hours to be sure no water leaks are evident.
It makes no difference where the fish tank and equipment were purchased when starting an aquarium on a budget. A used aquarium will give just as much pleasure as a new one. Often the same cash will get a much larger one than purchasing a set new. Used filters and such are often as good as new., and have a very long service life. Hopefully you will obtain a fluorescent canopy, rather than an incandescent one, especially if you plan on keeping any live plants alive.
Sure, there is a lot to know when starting as a novice aquarist, but the rewards of watching the soothing underwater scenes you create in your own home are well worth the slight effort in the beginning.