How much should I bud­get to run my tank?

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Advice -

I have been think­ing of get­ting back into the hobby af­ter many years’ ab­sence, but rather than fresh­wa­ter, I’m con­sid­er­ing a ma­rine aquar­ium. I’ve been look­ing at the Red Sea Reefer 170 aquar­ium among oth­ers, plus equip­ment such as the sump, protein skim­mer and LED light­ing.

I’m try­ing to learn as much as I can to be hope­fully well in­formed, but the one thing I can’t seem to find out about is how much it will cost to run the tank and equip­ment. It would be very use­ful to have some idea of run­ning costs so that I can bud­get. Any help would be much ap­pre­ci­ated. DAVID CUSS, EMAIL DAVE SAYS: Red Sea’s Reefer 170 is an ex­cel­lent choice. It’s not a strictly ‘plug and play’ sys­tem, as you’ll need to add your own pump and some other key equip­ment, but the over­all de­sign is neat, al­low­ing for con­sid­er­able flex­i­bil­ity.

The amount of elec­tric­ity a mod­ern aquar­ium uses is ac­tu­ally pretty low thanks to de­vel­op­ments in LED light­ing and increased ef­fi­ciency in pump de­sign – es­pe­cially with the grow­ing use of low volt­age and con­trol­lable DC pumps. The Reefer doesn’t in­clude pumps or a skim­mer, but if you go for a DC re­turn pump of 2000 lph, a cou­ple of sen­si­bly sized DC cir­cu­la­tion pumps and a de­cent as­pi­ra­tor skim­mer with DC pump, you’re look­ing in the ball park of 20W, 10W and 15W re­spec­tively.

The Reefer 170 Deluxe comes with a 90W LED, so if you were to use this light­ing on an eighthour pho­tope­riod, you’re look­ing at a com­bined elec­tric­ity cost of around £2 per week. This doesn’t in­clude heat­ing, but a 200W heater (which would be the rec­om­mended size for this tank) won’t be run­ning all the time, so let’s call it a max­i­mum of £5 a week for all elec­tric­ity, in­clud­ing pumps, light­ing and heat­ing.

Wa­ter changes will be a reg­u­lar on­go­ing cost, but this de­pends on the fre­quency and quan­tity of wa­ter changes you’ll be car­ry­ing out. Let’s say you’ll per­form a typ­i­cal 10% weekly wa­ter change on a Reefer 170 that has a to­tal vol­ume of 165 l/37 gal. Based on typ­i­cal costs for wa­ter, you’re look­ing at 6p per litre to make your own RO wa­ter tak­ing wastage into ac­count (bear in mind this is only a rough guide based on av­er­age wa­ter rates and RO unit ef­fi­ciency).

If you buy a 22kg tub of salt, which will give 660 l/147 gal mixed at £60 (pretty typ­i­cal for a branded ‘reef-qual­ity’ salt), this works out as roughly 10p per litre. So you can es­ti­mate 16p per litre for a salt mix (RO plus salt), or £2.64 for each 10% wa­ter change. If you’re go­ing to be buy­ing RO or a com­plete salt mix from your lo­cal aquat­ics shop, the costs are ob­vi­ously go­ing to be higher.

This doesn’t in­clude feed­ing and ad­di­tives (if you’re go­ing to be us­ing any), of course, and this very much de­pends on what fish and so on you’ll be keep­ing – but it’s still worth think­ing about as an on­go­ing ex­pense.

Con­sid­er­ing run­ning costs is im­por­tant with high­en­ergy tanks.

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