A custom aquarium is a stunning addition to any space..but how much does it really cost? In this article we will break down the key determining factors and share with you the costs associated with a custom fish tank.
The most important decision you have to make is the size of the aquarium. The dimensions available are endless but from our experience, most spaces can accommodate an aquarium that is anywhere from 5 to 8 feet long and in almost all cases 2 feet deep. The height of the aquarium is typically anywhere from 2 to 4 feet tall and this is where cost increases significantly because a taller aquarium means thicker panels. Depending on whether you choose glass or acrylic, the costs are anywhere from $750 – $7000 for the display aquarium. The bigger and taller the tank the higher the cost.
Glass or Acrylic?
This topic has been debated among hobbyists and people in our industry for a long time. In our opinion, glass is ideal for smaller free-standing aquariums of 180g or less with max height of 24″ and acrylic is ideal for larger aquariums and if installed in wall or with custom cabinets. We will go into this debate in more detail in future articles but for now, just know that acrylic will be more expensive for most sizes.
Aquarium Type \ Theme
Freshwater or Saltwater? That is the question that will determine the inhabitants of the aquarium and the overall look of the tank. For the most part, freshwater is less expensive all around with cheaper decorations, lower maintenance, and inexpensive fish. Saltwater is more expensive and could have a simple theme with reef rocks, an artificial reef, or a living reef.
Life Support System (LSS)
To be successful you want to make sure you invest in a good filtration system aka Life Support System. We have overhauled too many aquariums that were set up incorrectly and with insufficient filtration. Our recommendation is to get the best filtration you can upfront so you can make sure your aquarium will run with no issues for many years.
Who’s gonna do the work? Labor?
Are you going to be putting the aquarium together and installing all the components? Are you paying a professional to install it for you? The labor costs associated with this work can be in the hundreds and often in the thousands for more elaborate systems. There are many great articles online and videos to help you do it yourself which will be cheaper or you can hire a professional aquarium company to do the work for you. Needless to mention, doing it yourself will be much cheaper but you will have to do all the work.
Many factors can affect the cost of a custom aquarium and you will have to make some decisions up front to determine what you can afford and what will make you happy with the finished look. When clients hire us to do the work and install a custom aquarium it typically ends up being $10,000+ and can even climb into six figures for very large and elaborate systems. If you can afford it, it’s great to have the installation done for you professionally. If you are on a budget, do some research and possibly look at getting some used components to reduce your costs.