Fish tanks are expensive. It can be very discouraging for a newcomer wants to get involved in something like a saltwater tank and then finds out how expensive the hobby is to get started. Is there such thing as cheap fish tanks? There definitely is if you know where to look and are patient to wait for good deal. Today's post breaks down 5 tips to get you the best deal on cheap fish tanks.
A few times every year, the chain pet stores, namely Petco, have a dollar per gallon sale. These dollar per gallon sales have tanks from 10, 20, 29, 40, and 55 gallon tanks all selling for $1 per gallon. You might actually get lucky in your area and have 75 gallon tanks available for $1 per gallon. These tanks are made by Aqueon, which is a quality aquarium manufacturer that has been around for years. You need to be aware of when these stores have their sales, but luckily there is one site that publishes the dates of these sales.
While you will get the tank itself for cheap, you may still be spending quite a lot of money on suitable equipment. For those looking for a cheap fish tank that has most or all of your equipment need. There is a better option.
Buying used is the best way to acquire cheap fish tanks. There are three sources I'm going to list here and explain why they are great way to get a tank
Craigslist can be a cheap fish tank goldmine. You will want to search for "fish", "aquarium", and "tank" and then look at all the recent listings. Craigslist is a real-time classified so check often. With Craigslist, the larger the tank, the better the deal as many of these people selling are looking to off load their aquarium as soon as possible. Here are a few examples of craiglist listings that I found looking around:
Aquarium clubs are another great resource. The advantage with aquarium clubs is that you will usually get a high quality setup that is complete and well taken care of. You would need to check on the forums of these clubs to see if there are any tanks anyone is selling. You can check out our list of aquarium clubs to see a list of clubs in the US that are close to you.
Friends and family are potentially an avenue to get a free tank. A lot of the time these aquariums are sitting in an attic in a garage. Friends and family are usually happy to have you take their tanks. This was actually how I started out in the hobby many years ago from a 65 gallon aquarium that was sitting in an uncle's garage unused. Nothing beats a free fish tank. You never know what is out there unless you ask around.
Buying a used fish tank requires a some due diligence on your part to ensure you purchase a good tank. Here are a few questions to ask and what to inspect.
Questions to ask:
What to inspect:
Often times you will see a listing where the seller is trying to sell a complete setup with fish, coral/plants, live rock, etc included. I would advise against purchasing the livestock unless you are experienced with handling an aquarium move. Moving an aquarium, especially a large aquarium is one of the most stressful activities you can undertake in the hobby. If the seller has a rare fish or coral that you want, consider purchasing it separately and quarantining it until your tank is established. I would not factor in the price of livestock on a listing. Try to negotiate with the seller to purchase only the equipment. Often times, the seller can give the livestock to a local fish store or advanced hobbyist who has the means to handle the move. If you chose to purchase livestock, the safest livestock to purchase would be live rock. Live rock can be stored in a black tote from a hardware store with a power head and heater. Corals can be safe to purchase as well, but given the availability of frags these days, I would recommend just getting frags from a local reefer when your tank is ready.
Prices for listing are often not firm - especially on craigslist. If you find a listing that is new and listed under the title of a moving sale or "must sell quickly" jump on it right away. The newer the listing, the better the chance you will have at negotiating a better price. Many of people who list on Craigslist just want to get the aquarium out of their hands as soon as possible versus getting the best price for it. Even if they have a price listed, ask the seller what they would take for it to get it off their hands that day. You would be surprised how often you will get a lower number than what it is originally listed for. The worst thing that can happen is they say no and you just wait another week for a good listing to pop up. People exit the hobby all the time and good deals are literally a dime a dozen especially if you live in a big city.
Negotiating off an aquarium club listing is harder to do because often times the seller is willing to wait it out or knows the value of the equipment they are selling. For these listings, it may be better to consider purchasing separate components of the setup as these sellers are more open to doing this. This is a really great way on getting quality equipment. The best equipment to buy used would be:
Tell us your story below in the comments about how you purchased a cheap fish tank. We also know that not all listings will include the equipment you want or need so after you purchase a used tank you can come check out our aquarium supplies for new equipment from top-quality brands. Let us know your thoughts and stories in the comment below. See you next time :).