top of page
  • Writer's pictureStewart Kessel

Aquarium Cost-Saving Tips

Updated: Jan 8

How to reduce the cost of running your freshwater aquarium

With the current climate of ever-increasing prices, most notably the cost of electricity, it is not surprising that many fish keepers are questioning and looking at ways to reduce the cost of running their tropical freshwater aquariums.

6 Costing Saving Tips for a Freshwater Aquarium

The cost of running an aquarium will depend on many factors, including its water volume, e.g., a smaller volume of water will lose its heat longer. The environment where the fish tank is situated will also have a bearing. For example, in a cold or unheated room, the aquarium heater will most likely be on for longer and consume more electricity. If you are curious about your aquarium's running costs, I recommend reading our handy guide to calculate the energy costs when running a tropical freshwater aquarium – Freshwater Aquarium Running Costs.

However, how can you potentially save money?

Six Potential Cost Saving Tips for your Aquarium

In most people's view, the benefits of owning an aquarium far outweigh the costs, but are there ways to reduce the costs? Here are six simple tips to consider that will help you reduce energy costs when running a tropical freshwater aquarium:

1. Switch conventional lighting for more energy-efficient LED lights

LED lamps are usually significantly lower in wattage than traditional lighting and hence cheaper to run. This is particularly true if you are still running old-style T5 or T8 fluorescent tubes to light your aquarium. Plenty of retrofit LED tubes that seamlessly slot into these fittings at a significantly lower wattage are now available. For example, a T5 tropical fluorescent tube for a 120-lighting unit above a 240-litre aquarium is typically rated at 54w, whereas an LED alternative is only 18w, less than half the energy consumption!

If you run a high-energy, heavily planted aquascape, you probably already run LED lighting, albeit with much higher wattages than standard aquarium lighting. However, if you are still running older-style metal-halide lighting, you should also consider switching to more efficient LED lighting.

2. Reduce the photoperiod

A typical photoperiod, the time the aquarium lights are on, is approximately 8 hours per day. If you run your lights for longer during the day, you can reduce this period and save some money. You can also reduce the intensity with some LED aquarium lights, much like a house light dimmer. You could experiment with reduced intensity and the photoperiod depending on your setup.

Heavily planted aquariums require sufficient light to ensure sustained plant growth, so be careful to maintain good plant health whilst optimising your photoperiod.

3. Insulate the back and sides of your aquarium

Your thermostatically controlled aquarium heater will work to heat the aquarium water to the desired temperature, but equally, heat will radiate from all surfaces into the surroundings. A large volume of water will retain its heat longer than a smaller volume. However, a glass (or plastic) aquarium is relatively inefficient at holding its heat. One method to minimise this is to consider the aquarium's location - see the tip below. Another technique, if practicable, is insulating the aquarium's back and sides with, for example, polystyrene sheets.

4.Reduce any drafts in the room where your aquarium is situated

If the location of your aquarium is in a cold room, it follows that the aquarium heater will be on longer and cost more to maintain at the required water temperature. If you cannot raise the ambient room temperature, ensure you try to eliminate all cold drafts. For example, use draft excluders on the doors and ensure windows are correctly sealed. As described above, insulation of the aquarium's back and sides will help. Consider draping a thick blanket over the aquarium in extreme conditions when not viewing.

5. Consider changing to a more energy-efficient filtration system

It is more of a consideration when first establishing your aquarium, but it is also worth considering if you need to change your filter.

An aquarium filter, whether internal or external, will need to run continuously. It is, therefore, wise to look at the device's energy efficiency when making the initial purchase. Firstly, find filters suitable for your aquarium's volume and then research their running costs (look for their respective wattages). You may be surprised that some of the at-first-sight cheap filters are much more expensive to run and therefore are not such good value.

It is worth remembering that air-driven filtration systems are often cheaper to power than internal or external canister filters. A simple sponge filter run from an air blower will consume very little energy but, if of an appropriate size, will have sufficient biocapacity.

6. Research if it is possible to reduce the aquarium temperature

Perhaps more contentious, but it is worth researching whether you can reduce the thermostats temperature on the aquarium heater based on the current livestock. You should have established this optimum temperature range when setting up the aquarium and stocked it with your chosen fish, but the stock selection may have changed over time.

Once a temperature (range) is selected, do not keep changing the heater's settings, that is the job of the heater's thermostat. Remember, the welfare of your aquarium inhabitants is paramount and your responsibility.

Author: Stewart Kessel CChem, MRSC

Advert Disclaimer: When you buy through links on our site, we earn an affiliate commission. Thank you, this helps pay for the site & helps keep it user friendly with minimal adverts.

439 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All


Feature Article

bottom of page