How Much Does a Saltwater Aquarium Cost?
When it comes to this specific question there is more than a single answer. This is because there are beginner tanks, where you need just the basic equipment to get a tank up and running for a FO or FOWLR tank - these two terms mean Fish Only or Fish Only With Live Rock. Then there are slightly more advanced tanks, which might house a small amount of less light intensive corals or invertebrates. And lastly there are "in-depth" tanks where you can keep higher end corals such as SPS corals or even clams. We will try to cover each type of tank for you below. No matter which direction you choose to go the reward of owning a properly kept saltwater tank is more than worth it.
Well will go off using a 125-gallon tank for all scenarios. A non-reef ready tank will likely run you around $500 and a drilled tank that is reef-reading will likely cost you around $1000. That price can only increase if you should opt for acrylic over glass.
At Reef2Land we will never try to sell you equipment that you don't need just to make a buck. We are about complete transparency. You may search the internet and find all sorts of contradictory information that says you might need this and not that, but after 30+ years in business we have seen that there are some absolutes in this industry that simply never change. To read more about any of the below products to find out exactly why they are needed just head to our Reef 101 section.
Intermediate or Starter Tank, Fish Only or Fish Only With Live Rock - $1000-$2000
For this specific tank you will need a sump/refugium, a protein skimmer, water movement, a heater, and some sort of lights, such as T5s or LEDs. Even with each variation of tank the cost can still vary greatly. If you purchase a less expensive sump you might spend $200-$300 on the sump, $300 for a the protein skimmer, $75 for a heater, $400 for lights, then anywhere from $100 to $500 for pumps, depending on which kind of tank you purchased. These amount will only increase should you opt for more costly product lines. The majority of the time you get what you pay for, just like with everything else.
With any of these tanks you will also need some form of substrate as method of filtering your tank. You can expect to spend around $200 for that as well.