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Aquascaping is TOO Expensive!

Discussion in 'General Aquascaping and Planted Tank Discussions' started by John N., May 27, 2012.


Is the cost of Aquascaping and Planted Aquarium Keeping TOO expensive?

  1. Yes. This hobby is REALLY expensive.

    9 vote(s)
  2. No. This hobby can be relatively cheap and affordable.

    7 vote(s)
  3. Well it depends... Please Explain

    8 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

    Oct 30, 2007
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    With a general trend of aquascapes moving towards rimless tanks, glass lily pipes, canister filters, specialized planted aquarium substrates, injected CO2, aquarium fertilizers...I haven't even listed aquarium plants and fauna...:eek:

    Sometimes I feel like I have to start walking around with a sign that says "Will Work For Aquascaping Money". :whistle:


    Is aquascaping and planted aquariums getting TOO expensive? How much have you spent on your prized setup?

    -John N.
  2. Eboeagles

    Eboeagles Aspiring Aquascaper

    Jul 30, 2011
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    It is for sure! I daren't add up how much I've spent - I'll have a fit and the Mrs will chuck me out!!

    Just the plants I've tried over the past year or so must run into a couple of hundred! Not to mention my constantly evolving wish list of plants and equipment that if I had less control may just bankrupt me!

    although with experience and a bit of knowledge you can save by buying and selling on the forums - this subsidises a lot of what I buy now... well thats what I tell her anyway!
    ShadowMac likes this.
  3. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 16, 2011
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    Melbourne Australia
    Depends is always a huge word.

    A small tank is manageable but then as the size of the tank increases up go all the costs.

    Then it comes to the hobbyist or the Aquascaper who competes in Aquascaping competitions.

    It also depends if you want to hunt around for every thing on the cheap or strictly top shelf only.

    Most important of all is, what is expensive for the hobbyist is just pocket money for the professional Aquascapers

  4. viktorlantos

    viktorlantos Aspiring Aquascaper

    Sep 9, 2010
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    Budapest, Hungary
    The issue is that on a professional level many guys has all the fancy stuff on their tank and beginners think that this is a must to have from the beginning. For example glass pipes, opti white tanks, best plants etc. A beginners do not need it. Start with low and see if the hobby catch you. If it is, you have all the time to upgrade your equipment in the future. I needed 2 years to get all the stuff what i needed at home, but even in this time i enjoyed a lot the tank and learned a many things from it.

    Not everyone has the best rims on their cars and not every cars has carbon parts. Why we would do that in aquascaping?

    There are many great example on low budget tanks, but it is important to understand the limitation of a setup.

    If you have multiple hobbies you will not feel that Aquascaping is an expensive one. Mine other is photography and i can tell you i spend much more on that than aquascaping in my whole life :) And i have everything on aquascaping by now. If you would do fishing a prof gear is also more expensive there than buying a 54 inch tank with all fancy stuff. So it all depends.... but of course you could not compare to a simple fish tank.

    I always tell to my clients that aquascaping if you do seriously is equal expensive as reef tanks.

    If you check around Bonsai trees you can find easily more expensive ones than a full aquascape setup.
    We're lucky ones we can throw our money to many crazy stuff, just pick an area to burn your money :)
  5. CatfishSoupFTW

    CatfishSoupFTW Aspiring Aquascaper

    May 25, 2011
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    Im no noob, but im no pro either. Been using real plants for maybe 5 years but been really working hard on scapes for about 2 years or so. Its not easy. Nor is it cheap, ( or inexpensive) I see what viktor is getting at, but to me, thats not my case. I go on this forum and see such wonderful work, from each and every user. Does it inspire me? Yes, does it make me wish I have what they have? yes, but does it go make me buy it all at once? No. Glass lily pipe is nice, but not worth my cash any time soon. What I have been working on recently is proper filtration. Upgraded and purcahsed a few canisters over the last few months. Lighting has been upgraded, as well as tanks.

    I have been working hard replanning, reading and see what needs to be done, and unfortunately, what I have in mind is expensive. But now that I have good canisters with good biological holding, and good lights, my next step is a proper scape. With the amount of money I have already spent with plants, some now dead and some still going at it, I have plenty of stuff to work with, but unfortunately, that perfect rock or driftwood is usually hard to find, and I see myself with a collection of stuff soon enough. When it comes to prices, I know an LFS upcharges big time, used to work in one, and they get HC for 1 dollar and sell it for 10 dollars. If plants, substrate and everything else were a tad cheaper, I would find myself... hmm, either spending more, or really taking advantage of how much stuff I have to work with. So to conlude aquascaping as expensive on its own, then yes. Every aspect of it is usually expensive, which is unfortunate but thats the price we pay it seems. So patients is definitely needed.

    Now when you toss in (at least in my life) current college student, living off campaus and away from my real home, my aquascaping becomes even more expensive. Then toss in the fact that I am studying to become a professional photographer.... Im sure many of you can guess how much even the basic essentials cost in this career. Planning to buy a 5Dmrk3 soon time, and so its hard to get enough money to balance my hobbies and careers. THEN you toss in how hard it is to find a job, and everything just adds up.

    So to conclude, I really need to win the lottery soon. XD
  6. parthapratim22

    parthapratim22 Aspiring Aquascaper

    Apr 6, 2011
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    hyderabad, India
    $120o_O Rich man...

    Its not so expensive when you are not running for any worldclass tank and then competition!!!

    But even if you want a simple tank with branded substrate for me its expensive...but as Mr Victor told "poor" hobbyist generally collect the required slowly and made a sustainable collection!!!

    Again same time I have seen tanks made with very minimum cost(* you have pressurized CO2) can be considered worldclass!!! But definitely you need to be expertise after years and years of experimentation to achieve that level...
  7. ghostsword

    ghostsword Aspiring Aquascaper Staff Member

    Apr 20, 2010
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    Cape Town, South Africa
    I do not think that it is that expensive.. Do you have to have a rimless tank to have a aquascape? Does it have to be optiwhite? Do you need glassware? Do you need that much light? Do you need CO2?

    I think no to all of the above.. :)

    The aquascape is as expensive as you want it to be.

    ~Grab a tank, drop some wood in there, some moss and ferns, and with good eye you can have a better aquascape than someone that has a full ADA setup.

    This tank cost me about £100 second hand, spent £30 on soil, £15 on rocks and no more than £20 on plants. Lights were £50 (second hand), jbl filter e1200 was £100 and ferts no more than £5 a month.
    Alentejo-IAPLC 201202 by GHOSTSWORD, on Flickr

    - £315 -- Considering that I can reuse most of it for another scape.. :)

    Fish are the tricky ones, but no more than £25 for the lot. Put guppies if you have to..
    Jurijs mit JS likes this.
  8. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 4, 2010
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    North Dakota, USA
    In my experience it doesn't have to be expensive. However, I think people tend to learn the cheaper ways of doing things only after wasting a boatload of money. I don't want to even think about all the money that I've spent...let alone what wasn't necessary. I've spent money on CO2 reg. that was an over priced POS, an overpowered lighting setup, a CO2 reactor that seriously slowed flow, inadequate filter, unnecessary additives, knock off lily pipes that broke, doing way too much business with a plant and fish supplier that had poor quality/health livestock...the list goes on.

    Viktor really hit it, beginners want those big fancy setups. I sure did...now I have one :) but it was completely unnecessary when starting out. I went hightech before I really knew what I was doing. I don't use ONE single thing from that setup other than hardscape anymore. I now know where to spend the money.

    IME, it is good to spend more on something of high quality instead of spending less on something of poorer quality and then buying the better thing later anyways.

    The "bug" can be expensive. Getting multiple tanks, trying different plants, different equipment, etc. I've finally hit a point where I am slowing things down and investing in a couple really great setups versus several mediocre ones.
    CatfishSoupFTW likes this.
  9. CatfishSoupFTW

    CatfishSoupFTW Aspiring Aquascaper

    May 25, 2011
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    agreed, everything comes from experience, and that boatload of money spent is trial and error, as well as good sales pitch from an LFS sales rep. I feel that some people claim it is only expensive because beginners want it to. but I dont agree. I feel that they either spend to much for the lack of knowledge or maybe in a rush. regardless, even if you start out only dropping 200 bucks on a barebottom set up, if you really want to try and make something out of it, the expenses become inevitable imo.
  10. ghostsword

    ghostsword Aspiring Aquascaper Staff Member

    Apr 20, 2010
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    Cape Town, South Africa
    Well said Shadow... :)

    One should learn how to walk before running.

    For example I got someone coming to my home on Sunday, wife's coworker, to buy one of my tanks. Got two tanks high tech and two low tech. They want the high tech without having a tank before.

    So against business sense I will have to explain to them that the high tech is actually high maintenance.

    Do they have the fortitude to do weekly water changes? Do they understand how CO2 works? Lighting period? Etc. those are the first mistake newbies make, and usually they are expensive.

    I will try to get then to buy a low tech tank to start, just moss, ferns and crypts, a 50l tank to start of will be about £100, with light and hang on filter. They will however try to buy the hight tech tank with a carpet for about £300.

    And this is where the idea the hobby is expensive comes from. Lack of understanding of what actually works and how it works.

  11. Supercoley1

    Supercoley1 Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 11, 2008
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    Lincoln, UK
    +1 I spent nearly £2k on setting up my first tank and that was just a second hand Fluval 125. Upgrading lights, trying to buy cheap stuff, buying unnneded equipment like UV sterilizers etc. etc

    That £2k also includes spend after learning things like downgrading the lights I upgraded, replacing the multitude of cheap CO2 options with pressurised, buying an Eheim instead of the dodgy Tetratec.

    I could easily set that same original tank up now for £600 all in so £1400 was wasted so to speak. I did of course recoup some of that waste in selling on things but I would say only £200-£300 return there.

    The new 140l optiwhite and DIY uber-LED lighting (work in progress) will probably come in under the £350 - £400 region. Add the filter, CO2 and Heater and that would rise to something in the £700 region.

    So yes it's expensive but only a similar expense as following your football team. Season tickets are VERY expensive :)

    Happy days. lol
  12. astralis82

    astralis82 New Member

    Apr 2, 2011
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    My first love was basketball, nothing could stop me or make me to take other point of view,because it was my way for calm myself,..than I got injured,my world stoped. When finding this aquarium oasis, for me it just restore that feeling I've had, since b'ball. So,there's no price for me that enough to just quit from something that make me peaceful again. It is my zen. Hope you got me.
    Jurijs mit JS likes this.

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