The Cost of Running a Fish Tank

How Much Does It Cost To Run An Aquarium?

Before starting an aquarium in your home, it is important to consider your budget for not only the setup itself, but also for the electricity it will cost you per month. Electricity can be pricey for large tanks ranging around 100 gallons. If the cost of electricity is a worry for you, consider setting up a smaller tank, around 10 or 20 gallons. Here we will teach you how to calculate the electricity bill of your aquarium before setting it up. We will provide examples of the costs of typical 10 gallon, 30 gallon, 50 gallon, and 100 gallon fish tanks for easy reference. Lastly, we will give some tips on how to save electricity and lower your aquarium electric bill.

How To Calculate The Electricity Cost Of Your Aquarium

To calculate the cost of your monthly electric bill for your home aquarium, simply read the wattage labels on each piece of equipment. This will be the cost per month to run your aquarium heaters, filters, lights, protein skimmers, and phosphate reactors. Now, to find the cost of electricity per month of each item, take the wattage and multiply it by the number of hours it is turned on in a day. For heaters, assume it is on around 15 minutes per hour. Lights should be on for between 10 and 12 hours per day. Filters are assumed on full-time to keep your aquarium clean and healthy for your fish. Next, multiply this number of watts per day by how many days are in the month, 30 on average. This will be how many watts the particular item uses per month. Divide this number by 1000 to equate it into kilowatts. Where I live my electric company charges 12 cents per kilowatt. This means if my filter takes 2 kilowatts per month, it will cost me 24 cents to run each month. To find the total cost of running your fish tank, calculate the cost for each item that takes electricity and runs.

Electric Cost Of 10 Gallon Aquariums

Average Watts for 10 Gallon Tank:

  • Heater: 50 watts

 

  • Lights: 5 to 30 watts depending upon the use: the first for observing fish, or the latter for maintaining plants or coral.

 

  • Filter: 5 watts

 

  • 4.5 watt powerhead or 2.5 watt air pump
Heater 24 hours per day times 1/4 each hour it is on = 6 hours on per day. 6 hours times 50 watts = 300 watts per day. 300 watts times 30 days = 9000 watts. 9000 watts divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 9 kilowatts per month. 9 kilowatts times 12 cents per kilowatt = $1.08 dollars per month to run 10 gallon 50 watt aquarium heater.
Lights On an average of 11 hours per day. For fish only: 5 watt light: 11 hours times 5 watts = 55 watts per day. 55 watts per day times 30 days = 1,650 watts per month. 1,650 watts divided by 1000 watts for 1 kilowatt = 1.65 kilowatts per month. 1.65 kilowatts per month times 12 cents per kilowatt = $0.20 cents per month to run fish only freshwater light.

For 30 watt light maintaining plants or coral: 11 hours per day times 30 watts = 330 watts per day. 330 watts per day times 30 days = 9,900 watts per month. 9,900 watts per month divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 9.9 kilowatts per month. 9.9 kilowatts per month times 12 cents per kilowatt = $1.19 dollars per month to run light for 10 gallon tank supporting plants or coral.

Filter On 24 hours per day to keep tank clean. 24 hours per day times 5 watts = 120 watts per day. 120 watts per day times 30 days = 3,600 watts per month. 3,600 watts per month divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 3.6 watts per month. 3.6 watts per month times 12 cents per watt = $0.42 cents per month to run your 10 gallon aquarium filter.
Air Pump On all day for oxygen in your fish tank. 2.5 watts times 24 hours per day on = 60 watts per day. 60 watts per day times 30 days = 1,800 watts per month. 1,800 watts per month divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 1.8 kilowatts per month. 1.8 kilowatts per month times 12 cents per kilowatt = $0.22 cents per month to run your 10 gallon air pump for oxygen in your fish tank.
Powerhead On 24 hours per day for oxygen in your fish tank. 4.5 watts times 24 hours per day = 108 watts per day. 108 watts per day times 30 days per month = 3,240 watts per month. 3,240 watts divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 3.24 kilowatts per month. 3.24 kilowatts times 12 cents per kilowatt = $0.39 cents per month to run your powerhead for your nano 10 gallon aquarium.

The total electric cost of running a 10 gallon aquarium per month, as estimated above, is $1.92 dollars, $23.04 annually, for a 10 gallon freshwater fish tank with no live plants, or $3.08 dollars, $36.96 annually, for a 10 gallon saltwater fish tank supporting live plants or coral. This tank size is cheapest and great for people with a small budget. The 10 gallon tank size is also the most inexpensive to setup, as less strong lights and heaters cost less than stronger counterparts.

Electric Cost Of 30 Gallon Aquariums

Average Watts for 30 Gallon Tank:

  • Heater: 100 watts

 

  • Lights: 50 watts on average for plants or coral.

 

    • Filter: 10 watts running on around 200 GPH

 

      • 4.5 watt powerhead or 2.5 watt air pump

 

Heater 24 hours per day times 1/4 each hour it is on = 6 hours on per day. 6 hours times 100 watts = 600 watts per day. 600 watts times 30 days = 18,000 watts. 18,000 watts divided by 1000watts per kilowatt = 18 kilowatts per month. 18 kilowatts times 12 cents per kilowatt = $2.16 dollars per month to run a 30 gallon 100 watt aquarium heater.
Lights On an average of 11 hours per day. 11 hours times 50 watts = 550 watts per day. 550 watts per day times 30 days = 16,500 watts per month. 16,500 watts divided by 1000 watts for 1 kilowatt = 16.5 kilowatts per month. 16.5 kilowatts per month times 12 cents per kilowatt = $1.98 dollars per month to run 30 gallon fish tank supporting live plants or coral.
Filter On 24 hours per day to keep tank clean. 24 hours per day times 10 watts = 240 watts per day. 240 watts per day times 30 days = 7,200 watts per month. 7,200 watts per month divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 7.2 watts per month. 7.2 watts per month times 12 cents per watt = $0.84 cents per month to run your 30 gallon aquarium filter.
Air Pump On all day for oxygen in your fish tank. 2.5 watts times 24 hours per day on = 60 watts per day. 60 watts per day times 30 days = 1,800 watts per month. 1,800 watts per month divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 1.8 kilowatts per month. 1.8 kilowatts per month times 12 cents per kilowatt = $0.22 cents per month to run your 30 gallon air pump for oxygen in your fish tank.
Powerhead On 24 hours per day for oxygen in your fish tank. 4.5 watts times 24 hours per day = 108 watts per day. 108 watts per day times 30 days per month = 3,240 watts per month. 3,240 watts divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 3.24 kilowatts per month. 3.24 kilowatts times 12 cents per kilowatt = $0.39 cents per month to run your powerhead for your 30 gallon aquarium.

The total electric cost of running a 30 gallon aquarium per month, as estimated above, is $5.37 dollars for a 30 gallon fish tank supporting live plants or coral. The 30 gallon tank electric bill amounts to $64.44 dollars per year.This tank size is still inexpensive for people with a smaller budget. The 30 gallon tank size is also fairly cheap to setup, as equipment under 50 gallons is generally decently priced.

Electric Cost Of 50 Gallon Aquariums

Average Watts for 50 Gallon Tank:

      • Heater: 200 watts

 

      • Lights: 100 watts on average for plants or coral.

 

      • Filter: 10 watts running on around 300-500 GPH

 

      • 7 watt powerhead

 

Heater 24 hours per day times 1/4 each hour it is on = 6 hours on per day. 6 hours times 200 watts = 1,200 watts per day. 1,200 watts times 30 days = 36,000 watts. 36,000 watts divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 36 kilowatts per month. 36 kilowatts times 12 cents per kilowatt = $4.32 dollars per month to run a 50 gallon 200 watt aquarium heater.
Lights On an average of 11 hours per day. 11 hours times 100 watts = 1,100 watts per day. 1,100 watts per day times 30 days = 33,000 watts per month. 33,000 watts divided by 1000 watts for 1 kilowatt = 33 kilowatts per month. 33 kilowatts per month times 12 cents per kilowatt = $3.96 dollars per month to run 50 gallon fish tank supporting live plants or coral.
Filter On 24 hours per day to keep tank clean. 24 hours per day times 10 watts = 240 watts per day. 240 watts per day times 30 days = 7,200 watts per month. 7,200 watts per month divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 7.2 watts per month. 7.2 watts per month times 12 cents per watt = $0.84 cents per month to run your 50 gallon aquarium filter.
Powerhead On 24 hours per day for oxygen in your fish tank. 7 watts times 24 hours per day = 168 watts per day. 168 watts per day times 30 days per month = 5,040 watts per month. 5,040 watts divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 5.04 kilowatts per month. 5.04 kilowatts times 12 cents per kilowatt = $0.60 cents per month to run your powerhead for your 50 gallon aquarium powerhead.

The total electric cost of running a 50 gallon aquarium with live plants or coral is $9.72 dollars per month. This price amounts to $116.64 annually. The 50 gallon tank size is decently priced for people with a smaller budget. The 50 gallon tank size is slightly expensive as the equipment needs to be fairly strong to keep 50 gallons of water warm, and for your lights to penetrate the larger, deeper aquarium.

Electric Cost Of 100 Gallon Aquariums

Average Watts for 100 Gallon Tank:

      • Heater: 400 watts

 

      • Lights: 200 watts on average for plants or coral.

 

      • Filter: 10 watts running on around 500-1,000 GPH

 

      • 10 watt powerhead

 

Heater 24 hours per day times 1/4 each hour it is on = 6 hours on per day. 6 hours times 400 watts = 2,400 watts per day. 2,400 watts times 30 days = 72,000 watts. 72,000 watts divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 72 kilowatts per month. 72 kilowatts times 12 cents per kilowatt = $8.64 dollars per month to run a 100 gallon 400 watt aquarium heater.
Lights On an average of 11 hours per day. 11 hours times 200 watts = 2,200 watts per day. 2,200 watts per day times 30 days = 66,000 watts per month. 66,000 watts divided by 1000 watts for 1 kilowatt = 66 kilowatts per month. 66 kilowatts per month times 12 cents per kilowatt = $7.92 dollars per month to run 100 gallon fish tank supporting live plants or coral.
Filter On 24 hours per day to keep tank clean. 24 hours per day times 10 watts = 240 watts per day. 240 watts per day times 30 days = 7,200 watts per month. 7,200 watts per month divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 7.2 watts per month. 7.2 watts per month times 12 cents per watt = $0.84 cents per month to run your 100 gallon aquarium filter.
Powerhead On 24 hours per day for oxygen in your fish tank. 10 watts times 24 hours per day = 240 watts per day. 240 watts per day times 30 days per month = 7,200 watts per month. 7,200 watts divided by 1000 watts per kilowatt = 7.2 kilowatts per month. 7.2 kilowatts times 12 cents per kilowatt = $0.86 cents per month to run your powerhead for your 100 gallon aquarium powerhead.

The total electric cost of running a 100 gallon aquarium with live plants and coral is $18.26 dollars per month. This means the aquarium electric expense is $219.12 annually. This tank size may be a bit much for someone will a small budget. The 100 gallon tank size is also expensive to setup as the equipment needs to be very strong to keep 100 gallons of water warm, and for your lights to penetrate the large aquarium. Usually it takes above $1,000 to buy all necessary equipment to setup this size tank, which may be too pricey depending upon your situation.

How To Save Electricity From Aquarium Use

Many aquarium enthusiasts may want to use higher wattage bulbs than necessary for their aquarium. For instance, take a look at the type of plants in your aquarium. Are they low light plants? moderate light plants? high light plants? Some plants require very low lighting. In a 10 gallon tank, low light plants can slide by with a 5 watt light, while higher light plants require around 30 watts to stay healthy. This trick alone can save many dollars per year by switching to a much lower wattage light on your aquarium.

Many fish preferences have a range, for example, between 70 and 80 degrees fahrenheit. To save money, simply adjust your heater to the low end of the spectrum. This means your heater will run much less because it is not constantly trying to hold a higher temperature. If your house is hot, maybe turn your air condtioner to 80 degrees so that the heater almost never has to run because the tank is already the correct temperature. This way your air conditioner should cost less too.

Your filters, pumps, and powerheads can be adjusted to a lower GPH to save electricity. Slower running takes less electricity. This is, of course, only an option if your tank does not need high flow. Tanks with picky corals may need a lot of flow. Freshwater tanks or low flow corals such as mushroom corals are just fine with low flow rates.

Choose LED lights if you wish to save money on your electric bill. LEDs oftentimes provide the same lighting power, with less wattage compared to fluorescent or metal hallide lighting. There are also specific light choices designed to be economical. There are also economical heaters, or heaters that are more reliable and great at sensing temperatures so they do not turn on at random times when they do not need to. Choose energy-efficient products to put into your tank, and your electric bill will be less costly.

4 thoughts on “The Cost of Running a Fish Tank

  1. Sherry Hodge

    I have a question my husband is planning to set up an 135 gallon saltwater tank. I was wondering how much annually it would be to run? Also how much it would cost monthly. We live in Camden NJ

    Reply
    1. Joshua@themandaringarden Post author

      Hey Sherry,

      Since you asked I went ahead and ran the numbers for you. If I found the right cost of electricity in Camden, which I found to be 15.78 cents per kilowatt hour, The the cost per month is as follows.

      $8.52 for the heater
      $10.40 for the light
      $1.15 for the filter
      $1.18 for the powerhead

      For a year of operation you would be looking at around $255. maybe closer to $280 as it is cooler there. This is for a tank with fairly strong water flow and a light that can support corals. A weaker light would cut the cost down a good amount if you are going to do a fish only with live rock tank.

      Feel free to ask any more questions. I hope I didn’t answer you too slowly! I was on a two month vacation.

      Reply
  2. April Self

    Can I perhaps get a cost breakdown of what a 60 gallon tank would cost a month? I want to make sure that my tank iss not causeing our recent spike in the power bill. I just got my tank a month ago and I had wanted to start a reef but now seeing the 400$ bill is stopping my plans altogether. I don’t think that I can afford to pay that much every month and I may have to sell the tank if I can’t convince someone that it does not suck hundreds of dollars of power a month in electricity. I really want to continue on with a reef but I wouldn’t be impartial to just a saltwater either if it makes that much a difference in money from a reef

    Reply
    1. Joshua@themandaringarden Post author

      Hey April, Not sure how I didn’t see your comment sooner. Sorry about that.

      Yea I also got a really big power bill recently in Texas. Not sure what caused it but a 60 gallon certainly wouldn’t be a huge bump in the bill. Here’s my quick run down For a 60 gallon that is able to support coral:

      Cost Per Month
      Heater $4.32
      Lights $3.96
      Filter $.84
      Powerhead $.86

      Total $9.98 a Month for a 60 gallon tank with corals.

      This is even giving a bit of high value to the Lights. If you live in a cold house or get a tall tank with a much stronger light you could possibly reach $12.50 a month but I really doubt it. I hope you come back and read this. Again sorry for the late reply.

      Reply

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