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Old 03-18-2010, 01:52 AM   #1
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cost of a salt water tank

ok im trying to figure out what i want in terms of tank size ect. i either want to go small nano or go really big diy plywood tank.im still looking at my options.

One thing about this is its easy to see the up front cost. tank cost x amount, test kit x amount. lights, sand rocks all have a set amount. i know if i want to buy this stuff its easy to figure out what it costs.

but my question is what does it cost to run and maintain a tank. I know larger tanks will cost more and smaller tanks will require more work. What am i looking at in terms of monthly maintences costs. salt, food, medications on average? what can i expect for an increase in water bill and electric bill. i know bigger tanks means more water and more lights which means more electricity.

im not asking for exacts. cause everyone is diffrent because of what they use and where they live. im just hoping people can kinda let me know in a general sort of what what i should expect and what i should budget for monthly expenses. its easy to say i want this light and save up for it. its harder to get your unexpected electric bill and be able to save up for it lol.
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Old 03-18-2010, 02:47 AM   #2
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Big difference in monthly costs between small nano and "really big". How big is "really big"? What type of lighting... PC or metal halide? Reef tank? Fish only? I know you're not looking for exact numbers, but without knowing what it is you're shooting for, we can't even give you estimates. Here's some hints though...

-Figure you'll change out 40% of the tank's water per month, and calculate your salt costs based on that. If you're using tap water, add the cost of that water in. If RO/DI, figure 5x that amount of water. (RO/DI units can have a high waste ratio.)

- Figure out what type of lighting you want and figure that many Watts running for 10-12 hours per day. So if you're looking at 400W of lighting, that's about 4000 W-hrs or 4 kW-hr of energy per day. Somewhere on your utility bill, it will tell you what your $$ per kW-hr is.

- Along with the lights, add in the Wattage of the heaters you'll use. Figure they're on for 3-4 hours per 24 hours.

- If you have a big tank, and you're going reef, your largest expense will be corals. And those will be as expensive or as cheap as you want. Those will be your "discretionary" purchases and are obviously not required.
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Old 03-18-2010, 03:26 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurt_Nelson View Post
Quote:
Big difference in monthly costs between small nano and "really big". How big is "really big"? What type of lighting... PC or metal halide? Reef tank? Fish only? I know you're not looking for exact numbers, but without knowing what it is you're shooting for, we can't even give you estimates. Here's some hints though...
if i go big i am thinking in the range of 300-350 total water volume. something like 200-250 mt and 100 in sump. so im guessing im looking at changing 100-150g or so a month.

im for sure doing a reef. and what i would love to do is use LED lighting but im still looking into that. if not LED's then im looking at MH or MH t5 mix.

Quote:
-Figure you'll change out 40% of the tank's water per month, and calculate your salt costs based on that. If you're using tap water, add the cost of that water in. If RO/DI, figure 5x that amount of water. (RO/DI units can have a high waste ratio.)
i was planning on using ro/di water but the prospect of using 500+gallons a month plus top offs is a little staggering i think.i do have a well on property thou so i might be able to do something to ro/di well water and not have to worry about that. i think.

Quote:
- Figure out what type of lighting you want and figure that many Watts running for 10-12 hours per day. So if you're looking at 400W of lighting, that's about 4000 W-hrs or 4 kW-hr of energy per day. Somewhere on your utility bill, it will tell you what your $$ per kW-hr is.
if im not mistaken and if i did read it right. its 16c kw-hr(before taxes) so 1 hour of 400w MH would be 64c hour or about 8 bux a day give or take some since? or roughly 250 bux a month?

- Along with the lights, add in the Wattage of the heaters you'll use. Figure they're on for 3-4 hours per 24 hours.

Quote:
- If you have a big tank, and you're going reef, your largest expense will be corals. And those will be as expensive or as cheap as you want. Those will be your "discretionary" purchases and are obviously not required
Yes this is one of those where you know the expense before you buy it. unless it needs supplements provided to it. then you have a food cost.
.
i really have no idea what size im going yet. i like nanos alot. something colorful that i can place in my room and watch from my bed. but i also like the idea of a showcase tank. but if i go the big tank route i like the idea of doing alot of DIY stuff. ive been looking at diy plywood tanks and there are some amazing stuff out there. add in DIY rocks, sumps and possibly lighting and you can have something unique and exciting. im just trying to get a true gauge of what this is really going to run me cause i dont want to do it blindly.

all i know for sure is ive missed my tank(had freshwater)from before i moved and im really itching to get some kind of tank up and running again.
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:03 AM   #4
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Well TBH, there isn't a cheap tank in SW. Even nano's. Once you add everything together it really adds up. Livestock + Tank + Lights (need replacing every 6 months I think) + Rock and sand + Salt (on going) + Test kits (and test kits fill ups) + Food = $$$$
On my tank (23.8G) I think over the year I would've spent at east $1,500. Easy. Although I had some bumps. Sorry if this scares you. It's a real shock though to jump in and then realise what you've just done.
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:17 AM   #5
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im not really worried about upfront cost. if you know a tank is going to cost you 500 bux then you know you need to pay 500. either you have it or you save up for it. same with lights you know i want this light set. it cost this much and i have the money on hand or i wait one or 2 pay checks and get it.

thats diffrent then buying everything thinking your good to go and then you get a water bill and a electric bill and go opps i didnt take that into account. i prolly spent a grand or a little more getting my freshwater planted tank set up and running. so i know upfront cost and it doesnt scare me. if you dont have the money to buy the light you want you can save a paycheck or two and its no big deal. if you dont plan for your big new electric bill from those lights its a big deal lol.

its not about finding out the cost to get into the hobby but more the cost of staying in the hobby. if that makes sense. im just trying to get some ideas on how to budget when everything is running.
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:25 AM   #6
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Well let's assume your tank is fully stocked. Your not buying anymore corals etc. You would need to buy new salt when you run out (bi-weekly PWCs recommended), test kit refills, new lights (I replace mine every 6 months), and electricity of course, and food (this varies depending on what you get. Mysis shrimp is my personal recommendation. Brine shrimp every now and then, and some good pellet food.) The cost just depends on what brands your getting and how much electricity is.
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:42 AM   #7
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im guessing my 2 biggest things will be the raise in electric bill and water bill? and LED are on my research list. so if they end up seeming feasable(i know debateable subject) that would be a higher upfront cost and a lower monthly(electric bill) and maintance cost(no light bulb changes)

lets see if im missing anything
Electric bill 400w = 250 a month. on average for me. 16cents an hour. less if i use LEDs or less wattage. more with more wattage depending on tank size

water bill - unknow cost but looking at about 500 gallons a month due to ro/di waste roughtly. if i do a big tank. 100 gallons on a nano set up. (just looked up old water bill. this isnt as big as i thought. we had a pipe leak in august and the bill was 60 bux for 7200 gallons. so look at like 20 bux a month)

salt- what ever the cost of salt is at the lfs

food - what ever price of food is at the lfs. big tank more fish so more food.

light replacement - not really montly more 1/2-1 year for lights(5-10 years on LEDS)

supplements- for feeding coral alk/calc ect whatever the price is in lfs

it really seems once you get set up with the intial payment of all your equipment, your big expense is electricity and the rest are alot smaller?

let me know if this sounds right. and lets base it on a 300g system. 200g mt and 100g sump.
electricity 250-300 a month
water-25
food 20
suppliments 20
lights 100-150 a year?
salt 25-50
this doesnt count any fish/coral buying or emergencys that come up.
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:51 AM   #8
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and just for record i saw my water report and on the first page it says tap water not recommended for drinking lol. ill be using ro/di
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:58 AM   #9
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Good to hear. Add in RO/DI membranes or whatever's in them because I know they wear out and need replacing. Not sure how often. Also suppliments aren't needed. I've never supplemented anything.
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Old 03-18-2010, 06:06 AM   #10
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does my #'s sound about right thou? thats for a really large system too.
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