Why Are Aquariums So Expensive: Prices and Factors

When you think of aquariums, what do you picture? Well, probably a living green oasis where aquatic creatures live in an environment that resembles their natural habitat. However, these animals are often kept in glass tanks and costs can be high. It’s because aquariums require special materials to look beautiful and keep fish healthy. Fish tank prices range anywhere from $50 to thousands of dollars depending on the size and type of aquarium required.

In this article, we will find out the reason behind the costs of aquariums and we will also share the differences of these factors to help you decide on the aquarium that you need.

Why Are Aquariums So Expensive?

Aquariums are so expensive because they require high-quality materials depending on the specific needs of the fish that will live there. Aquariums can be made of glass or plastic and these materials have their own costs. There are also factors such as use of special filters that increase prices by a lot more.

For instance, if you have a freshwater aquarium, then you will need an expensive filter system. Aquariums are not just for keeping fish; they also require plants and decorations to look nice. Some aquariums already come with these features, adding up more bucks to the grand total of the product.

How Much Does an Aquarium Cost in Average?

Normal aquariums cost about $50 to a few thousand dollars depending on the specific model you buy – although some people spend more than this because they want models with extra features like lighting fixtures (external lights) or waterfalls. It all depends on the type of fish you have and the accessories needed, which can be so expensive.

In addition, there are several factors that contribute to the high costs of aquariums. One of these factors

Aquarium size:

Two Main Factors of an Aquarium’s Price

There are so many aspects that influence the price of aquariums, such as its design, shape, materials used for construction, size and many more. Today, we will focus on the two main factors that contribute to the high costs of aquariums– size and material.

Beautiful aquarium with colorful fish in a room to modern apartment


Aquariums come in different sizes, depending on the amount of fish you want to keep. For example, a small tank for one fish can cost $50 while a large tank with 100 or more fish can cost $1,000 or more. This is because the larger the aquarium is, the more materials and space it needs. The size of the aquarium also depends on if you want a wall or free-standing (table top) model.

But how can you estimate the size and cost of the aquarium that you need? The most common dimensions of a small-sized aquarium is 1′ x 2′. If that is too little space for your pet, then go with a bigger one that has at least 3′x 4′ as recommended by most experts on aquaria and aquariology. Most fish will get bored with just 1′ x 2’, so a bigger one is needed especially if the aquarium houses tropical or exotic species of fish like clownfish which needs much larger and more beautiful looking tanks for optimal safety.

The cost of large aquarium starts from $500. There are also additional things to consider when you plan a very huge aquarium–elevation, cover and lighting included, which can be factors to an increasing price range of up to $5000 among large aquariums.


There are three types of aquariums in the market: glass, plastic and acrylic. Glass aquariums are costly, heavy and fragile; they can crack or break easily. Plastic and acrylic ones are cheap, lightweight and durable but can also be easily scratched. So which is the best? It all depends on your purpose.


Using glass over plastic aquariums is safer because they are heavier than regular tanks. However, it’s more expensive as well. But please note that using glass over acrylic tanks is not safe for tropical fish like coral, yellow tang, clownfish or some other exotic species anywhere in the world. The top edge of glass aquariums is its beauty despite its expensiveness. However, it is more fragile than plastic and acrylic aquariums. They cannot be used in humid areas like bathrooms, kitchens or closets because it will ruin the glass.

If you are looking for an aquarium that you can display for aesthetics in a certain spot in your living room and if you have the budget, glass aquarium is the best go-to.


Most people choose plastic aquariums over glass aquariums as it is more durable and cheaper than glass ones. It might be easily scratched but not so easy to break or crack, which makes them perfect for certain types of fish like tropical clownfish in a very jewel-filled coral reef tank. In addition, plastic aquariums are lighter than glass ones, which makes them easier to transport.

If you are looking for durability and cost-friendly option, then you should go for plastic aquariums.


Acrylic aquariums are a favorite an option among people who want something light and translucent and more budget-friendly than glass aquariums. They can be easily supported with wood or other materials. Acrylic tanks often contain multiple shelves for more storage, lighting systems and pumps, which in turn increases their aesthetic value. This makes them very popular among tropical fish that need additional illumination to survive.

It might be cheaper to opt for acrylic instead of purchasing a glass tank again just in case you need one later on when forced by budget constraints, status changes or growth spurts with other pets.