Fish Tank Running Costs Explained – Canstar Blue (2023)

If you’ve been watching Finding Nemo and thought that owning fish might be a worthwhile hobby, then you’d probably be right. From researching what type of fish to get, to buying and constructing the fish tanks and assorted enclosures, to taking care of and maintaining your fish, getting into all things ‘fish’ can be a consuming hobby that can be both rewarding and frustrating. What’s more is that a fish tank – especially one holding tropical fish – can be a beautiful centrepiece to your home that is both a talking point and a crowning achievement.

However, there’s a lot more lurking in that water than Goldy your favourite goldfish. Often, maintaining a fish tank is more than just a drain on your patience – it can be a drain on your wallet thanks to running costs, too. Keep reading below to see just how much you can expect to pay in energy usage to maintain your fishy hobby. So, how much does it cost to run a fish tank?

How much does it cost to run a fish tank?

Tank Size in Feet (Approx Capacity)Estimated Max Energy Usage Per YearEstimated Electricity Cost Per Year*
2’ (70L)262.5kWh$73.50
3’ (160L)600kWh$168.00
4’ (213L)799kWh$223.72
6’ (425L)1590kWh$445.20
8’ (907L)3393kWh$950.04

*Electricity costs based on single rate tariff priced at 28c/kWh. Running costs will vary depending on your tariff type and electricity rate.

Of course, these figures are to be taken as a guide only, but they are a good indicator the next time you are scratching your head after the electricity bill comes in. Your tariff rate (cents per kWh) may vary of course, and having peak/off-peak tariff structures can also help immensely. Overall, fish tank electricity use is wildly dependent on a few factors:

  • Lighting: What type of bulbs you use, how many there are, and how long they are on for
  • Heating: What temperature you set, and whether they are tropical fish or freshwater, and how long you have heating on for
  • Extras: Extra things like water and air pumps, UV filters and plantlife alone do not consume much, but together they could add up to some dollars and cents

In general, consider the above figures to be an extreme example, assuming lighting is left on for much of the day, as well as the heater maintaining tropical temperatures of 28°C or so. Of course, these figures are just guides – you won’t know exactly how much energy your fish tank components consume unless they have energy ratings attached, or you monitor the energy use over a set period yourself, taking into account the ebbs and flows of heating and lighting.


Read on for a further look into the fish tank components that can drive up your electricity bill.


Similar to regular light bulbs around your home, different types of light bulbs illuminating your fish tank can of course affect how much power you use, and could consequently affect your power bill. In a lot of cases, lighting your fish tank is the biggest factor affecting energy usage – sometimes half of your fish tank running costs could be attributed to lighting!

Fish tanks commonly use fluorescent bulbs, which commonly use anywhere from 15-40 watts. However, fish tanks commonly demand higher-wattage bulbs. Planted tanks usually require compacts that use up to 100 watts, while your beautiful – but higher maintenance – reef tanks may use metal halides, which can use up to 1000 watts!

  • Assuming the worst, reef tanks generally need 4-8 watts per gallon (3.79L) of water, which equates to approximately two metal halides of 1000w capacity.
  • Duration of illumination for your fish tank varies depending on your personal taste and needs. Generally, 12 hours is a ‘normal’ duration, which equates to – for our example above – 24kWh a day. Using our metric of 28c/kWh, that equates to $6.72 a day!

Of course, extreme examples have again been used, but it goes to show how – just like most other appliances in the home – lighting your fish tank can easily be no mean feat.

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Fish Tank Running Costs Explained – Canstar Blue (1)

Coming in as the second biggest energy user in your fish tank, heaters might surprisingly use less energy than lighting, but still have the propensity to drive up energy use overall. Freshwater fish can generally get away with temperatures around 22°C, but tropical fish need temperatures of around 28°C, and of course the bigger your tank the more energy that is required to maintain these temperatures. Fish tanks in warmer environments generally require less energy to heat than ones in colder environments – that’s why in winter your power bill might increase.

  • Colder environments require heaters with larger capacities
  • If you need to heat your fish tank to say 10°C above room temperature overnight, a 4’ tank might require two heaters, with a 100 watt capacity each.
  • If they are run 12 hours a day, that equates to 2.4kWh a day
  • This can equate to costs of about 67c a day

As expected, usage varies depending on the fish, fish tank size, your environment, and your own preferences. You may find heating your fish tank costs less, or significantly more.

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To a lesser degree than heating and lighting, pumps and UV filters also have a chance to contribute to your electricity bill.

  • Again, water pump sizes needed depend wildly on the size of your fish tank, and how many litres per hour (LPH) you will need to cycle through
  • A 4’ tank will need a water pump of around 1100LPH – pumps this size can consume around 30 watts a day, but can easily exceed that
  • UV filters can consume miniscule amounts of energy, but some can consume up to 100 watts
  • Densely-planted tanks also require extra filtration, pumping and UV lights to maintain the health of the tank and prevent algae and fungus build-up

Appliances that use less energy than fish tanks

If you’re coming out of summer or winter shocked at how much your power bill has risen, then it’s worthwhile to take a look at the energy consumption of these appliances, but if you have a large fish tank then that might also have to be taken into consideration.


Fridges have to be left on for 24 hours a day, which lends them to high energy usage, right? Yes, but they often use less than the biggest fish tanks – a massive 600L fridge uses around 1356kWh a year, and that’s amassive fridge designed for big families – or big eaters.

  • At 28c per kWh, expect such a fridge to cost about $380 a year to run, which is less than a 6’ fish tank

Air Conditioners

Air conditioners get a bad rap for their energy usage, and while it is true if left on all the time, the truth is air conditioners don’t use all that much if used intelligently.

  • An average reverse cycle air conditioner can cost as little as 11c an hour to run. If used for three hours a day throughout the three summer months, that equates to about $30 for the months of December, January and February
  • Even if you leave your air con on while you sleep – say, 8 hours – that equates to as little as $80 for the entire summer

Of course, air conditioner costs vary depending on the size of your air conditioner, the size of the room it is cooling and your own personal usage habits. At $80, that’s less than the quarterly cost of a 6’ tank!

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Clothes Dryers

Clothes dryers also get a pretty bad rap as far as energy inefficiency is concerned. While it’s pretty well documented that dryers can use a lot of electricity, it might not be such an evil appliance after all.

  • A dryer between 5 and 10kg can use about 5kWh per cycle
  • This equates to about $1.40 per cycle

Given Australia’s long sunshine hours, many of us do without a dryer for most of the year. However, let’s say you use your dryer three times a week (in the winter months – June, July and August). This equates to $4.20 a week, which will roughly cost about $55 for the quarter. This is less than the quarterly cost of a 4’ tank in the table above!

Fish tanks and aquariums: The silent energy suckers

All in all you could potentially run a fridge, an air conditioner 8 hours a day for three months and a dryer three times a week for three months for a total cost of roughly $515. This isn’t scrimping either. In these examples you have a big fridge, fairly heavy air conditioner use and regular dryer use. This equates to a little bit more than the 6’ fish tank example, and much less than an 8’ tank as shown above.

While these figures are indicative only, it does raise the question about whether your fish tank is the ‘silent killer’ in your house. It may be well worth assessing your heating, lighting and fixtures attached to the fish tank to see if you can opt for more energy efficient models and try to reign in the overall cost. But for now and the next time you are shocked by your power bill, don’t be surprised if it’s that fancy new fish tank contributing heavily to the overall cost.

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How much does it cost to run a fish tank? ›

According to specialist website, a medium tank (140L) will run between 150-200kWh per year.

Does a fish tank consume a lot of electricity? ›

Based on a freshwater fish only aquarium at about 72 F, the total consumption for a small tank (10 Gallons) is about 150 kWh a year. A medium tank (30 Gallons) will run between 150 – 200 kWh per year, while a large aquarium (55 Gallons) needs 200 – 400 kWh per year.

How much does it cost to run a fish tank a month? ›

If you are taking the temperature of the aquarium up ten degrees F (5.60 C.) most setups will cost you roughly $1.50 per month for every ten gallons (38 liters). That is for filter, lights, and heater.

How much electricity does a fish tank pump use? ›

The average Aquariums uses 63 watts.

How much does it cost to run a fish tank 2022? ›

Costs: Cost of running the LED with this aquarium set for 10 hours a day is just 2.7p! Costs: Cost of running Aquael ASAP 300 for 24 hours per day is just 2.7p!

How much does it cost per day to run a fish tank? ›

Set up a small unheated aquarium and it may only use 4 watts per hour (that's only 2p per day!)

How long can fish live in tank without power? ›

Depending on many variables such as tank size, temperature and stocking levels, if the power is out for 2 hours or less your fish and other livestock will usually be all right.

How do I keep my fish tank running without electricity? ›

The best thing you can do is to buy a battery-powered air pump and use it to run an airstone to create some water movement in your tank. If you don't have a back-up pump then you can do this by hand. Simply take a cup and fill it with tank water then dump it back into the tank to produce water movement and air bubbles.

Can I leave my fish tank for 3 weeks? ›

Any longer than a week calls for a pet sitter or friend to stop by and make sure the water quality is good and for a partial change if necessary. A quick warning! Fish should be monitored after a deep clean and full water change. Don't do this the night before you leave as you won't be able to tell if something is off.

How much does it cost to maintain a 50 gallon fish tank? ›

Typical Costs For Aquarium Maintenance

Many swear by the rule of $1 per gallon, but you can generally expect professional aquarium maintenance to cost at least $50, ranging well into the $100s for more complex systems and larger tanks.

Is a fish tank high maintenance? ›

While a freshwater aquarium isn't overly difficult to set up or maintain, it does require some research, attention and commitment. Many novices want to bring their new tank home, fill it up and get their fish in as soon as possible.

Do fish tank heaters use much power? ›

Coming in as the second biggest energy user in your fish tank, heaters might surprisingly use less energy than lighting, but still have the propensity to drive up energy use overall.

Do water pumps use a lot of electricity? ›

At current electrical rate schedules each horsepower costs between $0.10 and $. 20 per hour to run. This means if you have a 5 horsepower pump and it needs to run 5 hours a day to meet your irrigation and household needs you could be spending up to $5 per day or about $150 a month to power your well pump!

Does fish tank need air pump all time? ›

While air pumps are not always necessary, there are very few circumstances where they would not be beneficial to a tank. Some species of fish, such as bettas, prefer still water, and the presence of an air pump can agitate them. In most cases, however, air pumps benefit fish by allowing them more oxygen to breathe.

Can you leave a fish tank for 2 weeks? ›

Fish can go several weeks without food and in fact, many experience aquarists schedule fasting periods for their fish where they don't feed them for a while in order to clean up their digestive systems. So, if you are only going to be gone for a week or two, use this opportunity to fast your fish.

How much electricity does a TV use? ›

How Much Does a Large Screen TV Use? An LCD TV, which is equal to around 120 watts consumes 0.12 kWh, so if it's turned on for 8 hours = 48p per day or 6p an hour.

How much does it cost to take care of a fish per month? ›

But once you actually have the fish (depending on the fish) upkeep is pretty inexpensive. Just get the right kind of food, serve it in the correct amount, and keep the tank clean. Most fish will cost you less than $5 a month. Now that's a budget-friendly pet!

Why do you have to leave a fish tank for 24 hours? ›

Nitrifying bacteria convert toxic ammonia into nitrite, then less toxic nitrate. Without beneficial bacteria in place inside an aquarium filter, fishkeeping as we know it is not possible as, as soon as you put fish in your tank, ammonia will be excreted and they will poison themselves and die.

How much does it cost to run a freshwater aquarium? ›

Adding all our average costs together, the final total to maintain an average freshwater aquarium per gallon is $. 10 per gallon per week, plus $. 60 per week for testing. Now, this is the average cost per gallon per week.

Should I turn off aquarium heater at night? ›

Do You Leave the Aquarium Heater on All the Time? Yes, you can leave the heater on 24/7. Aquarium heaters have an internal thermostat that turns off the heat when it reaches a specific temperature, thus keeping the water temperature within a few degrees of the desired setting.

Is it better to leave aquarium light on or off when on vacation? ›

The fish also need to get “sleep” time and darkness is important (they don't have eyelids and can't close their eyes to sleep) – constant bright light 24 hours a day is stressful for the fish. Feeding the fish is always the biggest concern while being away on vacation.

How do I keep my aquarium at constant temperature? ›

If your aquarium is near a window, close the curtains to prevent direct sunlight from heating the water. Install a chiller on your aquarium in a well-ventilated space. This will help keep your aquarium at a constant temperature, no matter how hot the weather gets!

How can I oxygenate my fish tank without electricity? ›

Pouring water from a height, manually stirring the water, or performing large water changes, are some ways to quickly increase oxygen in fish tanks. These methods allow more oxygen to dissolve in the water, and release carbon dioxide.

Do fish drown if they stop moving? ›

Before we go, here's another myth to be busted: all fish other than sharks die if they stop swimming. In reality, breathing in nonshark fish species is just as varied as it is in shark species. Some fish sleep on the ocean floor just as some sharks do.

Can I over oxygenate my fish tank? ›

Too much oxygen in water can lead to the potentially lethal gas bubble disease, in which gas comes out of solution inside the fish, creating bubbles in its skin and around its eyes. (Excess nitrogen, however, is a far more common cause of this disease.)

Should I unplug my fish tank during a storm? ›

Unplug all equipment

While the power is out, the filter in your aquarium is still, as in the wastes and debris in your water do not move within the filter media. As time goes on, these wastes become very toxic. Once the power comes back on, these toxins may flow back into your tank and stress out your fish.

How do I heat my aquarium during a power outage? ›

An electric water heater will no longer work in a power failure, but the water in the heater tank may stay warm for several hours. If you have a gas stove you can also heat water in a pan to place into the bottles to warm the aquarium. Do not use boiling water in your hot water bottles.

What is new tank syndrome? ›

New Tank Syndrome is a term used to describe problems that occur due to the build-up of invisible, toxic compounds in an aquarium. It gets its name as the issue is most likely to occur when your filter is maturing when starting a new aquarium.

What are the symptoms of new tank syndrome? ›

Symptoms. New tank syndrome leads to ammonia toxicity in the fish, which can quickly become fatal. Fish will often die suddenly, without warning. The aquarium water is frequently cloudy and smelly due to the excessive ammonia and nitrite levels.

Is it OK to feed fish every other day? ›

For the most part, feeding your fish once or twice a day is sufficient. Some hobbyists even fast their fish one or two days a week to allow them to clear their digestive systems. Larger, more sedentary fish can go longer between meals than smaller, more active fish.

How often should I do a water change in a 55 gallon aquarium? ›

Change 10 to 15 percent of the water each week. If your tank is heavily stocked, bump that up to 20 percent each week. A lightly stocked tank can get by for two weeks, but that should be the maximum length of time between water changes as you do not want to place any stress on your fish.

How often should I do a water change in a 50 gallon tank? ›

You should do a 25% water change every two to four weeks. There is no reason to remove the fish during the water change. Make sure you stir the gravel or use a gravel cleaner during the water change.

How many times should you clean a 55 gallon fish tank? ›

If you have a large, well established tank you should clean your tank on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. A water change should be done to the keep the tank clean and the fish happy. Depending on the type of filter you use for the tank, you may be able to get away with cleaning the tank once per month.

What size fish tank is easiest to maintain? ›

If you've never kept an aquarium before, you might assume that a small tank is easier to start with than a large tank. You may be surprised to learn, this isn't always the case. For a beginner, 5 gallons is the minimum recommended tank size, though a 20-gallon tank or larger is even better.

Do fish prefer long or tall tanks? ›

Habitat. Most fish require room to swim laterally (side to side), which is rather restricted in a tall, narrow tank. This is especially true once plants and other decorations are added, leaving very little open space in a tall tank.

Where should you not put a fish tank? ›

The Importance of Proper Placement

Generally, the best area to place the fish tank to activate prosperity and wealth is the southeast sector of your home. A fish tank should never be placed in a bedroom, the kitchen, or in the center of the house.

How much does a fish tank add to your electric bill? ›

Based on a freshwater fish only aquarium at about 72 F, the total consumption for a small tank (10 Gallons) is about 150 kWh a year. A medium tank (30 Gallons) will run between 150 – 200 kWh per year, while a large aquarium (55 Gallons) needs 200 – 400 kWh per year.

Do fish tanks cost a lot of electricity? ›

Fish tanks do use a lot of energy, between pumps, lights, and heaters, it's no surprise they are costly to run. However there are ways to cheapen their usage somewhat. The lighting, which accounts for around 45pc of the total bill, does not need to be on all the time, provided your tank has access to natural light.

Do fish tanks run up electric bill? ›

Well, your electric bill will definitely go up depending on how big your tank is and the types of pumps and filters that you have. And lights.

Should I leave my water pump on all the time? ›

Nothing is definitely going to go wrong with your water pump if you leave it on, but leaving it on allows for the possibility of problems like leaks, floods, and drained batteries.

What are the disadvantages of water pumps? ›

The main disadvantage is that they use rotation instead of suction to move water, and therefore have almost no suction power. This means that a centrifugal pump must be put under water, or primed, before it will move water. Centrifugal pumps can also develop a phenomenon called “cavitation”.

Is there a way to pump water without electricity? ›

The spiral pump (also known as water wheel pump) is a hydraulic machine that pumps water without electricity. With the global efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the increased focus on renewable energy is making the spiral pump a viable option for pumping water, especially in rural areas and developing countries.

Should I turn off air pump at night? ›

Should I keep my air pump on all night? Generally speaking, you should leave the air pump on all the time to help your fish get good water circulation and plenty of oxygen to breathe.

Do I need a bubbler if I have a filter? ›

Whether you need an aquarium bubbler entirely depends on your setup. Many people use bubblers when creating a DIY equipment such as sponge filters – the bubbler is used to “drive” the filter, causing it to draw in water. If your water is not circulating or low on oxygen, then a bubbler could be just what you need!

Are air bubbles good for fish tank? ›

The answer is an absolute yes, it does not matter whether you have a filter in your aquarium or not, attaching an air stone makes the water circulation much better. Adding an air stone will keep the water cleaner, provide the fish with more oxygen, and it has a lot of health benefits for the aquatic life.

How much does it cost to keep a fish alive? ›

Fish | ~$160 initially, plus $520 annually

Experts recommend a balanced diet of pellets and live/frozen food, which may run you up to $10 per week, or $520 per year.

How often is too often to change water in fish tank? ›

Change 10 to 15 percent of the water each week. If your tank is heavily stocked, bump that up to 20 percent each week. A lightly stocked tank can get by for two weeks, but that should be the maximum length of time between water changes as you do not want to place any stress on your fish.

How long should you run a fish tank? ›

New tanks need to run for a while before you can introduce your fish to their new home. Good bacteria takes 7-10 days to establish and building a healthy, happy environment - we call this fish-free but water-filled period cycling your tank.

Is there a maintenance free aquarium? ›

In order to maintain a healthy fish environment, any fish owner is going to have to get wet. "Self-sustaining" aquariums may sound idyllic, but, unfortunately, due to their artificial nature, any fish tank will require at least some maintenance.

Can you bring fish back alive? ›

Caught early enough a fish can recover, even from a surprisingly dry state. However, how you handle the fish immediately on discovery is crucial to its survival. The first thing to do is get the fish back into some water, but in a safe environment. Simply dropping the fish back in to the tank is a bad idea.

Do fish like to be left alone? ›

In captivity, it's strongly recommended that they should be kept at least in pairs, to provide companionship. If you watch fish in a tank, you'll see that they regularly engage with other fish. It's thought that solitary fish, much like solitary humans, may begin to suffer from depression and lethargy.

Can you live in a fish for 3 days? ›

Almost all tropical fish commonly kept in the home aquarium can easily go at least a few days without being fed. Beyond that, it becomes necessary, or at least prudent, to make arrangements for feeding them while you're away — depending on the species involved.

Can you leave fish for 2 weeks? ›

Most cold water fish will be fine for one week without food, however tropical fish usually need to be fed more often. There are a few options for keeping your fish fed while you're on holiday.

What is the cheapest fish to take care of? ›

Top 10 budget-friendly fish
  • Barbs. The barb group's made up of a huge range of species, and there are some stunning colours and patterns among them. ...
  • Tetras. Great looking and low maintenance, this freshwater species can make a wonderful addition to your home. ...
  • Swordtails. ...
  • Molly fish. ...
  • Algae eaters. ...
  • Bettas. ...
  • Danios.

Can you live off fish everyday? ›

For most individuals it's fine to eat fish every day,” said Eric Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition and director of cardiovascular epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.


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