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How much aquascaping really cost

Discussion in 'General Aquascaping and Planted Tank Discussions' started by ghostsword, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. viktorlantos

    viktorlantos Aspiring Aquascaper

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    You can build beauties from small budget, however to do that, you usually will spend much more to learn the basics and build good quality auqascapes. You probably will do a few tanks to achieve a good result. So it is not fair to say you can have the same tank on a very low fee. That's just not true. Everyone will spend much more to do better, but it not means it need to have the most expensive brands.

    I am with George on that, the most frustrating thing if i see a magazine or visit an art gallery and i see fake prices there. Come on. Maybe the only thing what catch me first on that tank is a nice diffuser or a lily or the sexy sleek lighting. I am not intrested about the cheapest copy of that, but i really look after the pricing, so i can decide if i can buy that or not. Just like my dream Vitrea light what i've seen at Interzoo, but cost a fortune (more than George's tank ;) ). However i am still in love with that.

    The Art Gallery presented some of the aquariums in their best form. To do that yeah maybe a lily needed, the best glass needed other add-ons needed. And yeah at the end this may become expensive. Just like any other quality stuff in our life.

    I do not think people would be shocked about these prices. In an art gallery there are mainly just expensive things. Maybe a paint on the wall cost more then a large quality setup. ;)

    Hundreds of Millions in the world buy Apple stuff which is extremely overpriced but they dominate the market for today in many areas. Why? Probably as there are many guys who willing to spend a lot more to have a well crafted stuff. Packaging matter a lot, just like design. I am not an apple fan but have a phone from them. I am glad i have it. It is good to have options to choose from and there's a price tag for quality stuff so you can decide to go for it or not.

    On planted tank of course you can do cheaper. Just remove all extras and you're there, but i am very happy that i can see tanks which looks amazing not just as an aquascape, but an excellent presentation and look, which fit even to an art gallery ;)

    I really wonder on DIY guys why it is obvious that a newcome guy would like to heck all the pieces together. Produce a lily or build a filter and a light before spend time in aquascaping. There are many guys who just hate hacking (i am not good in that too). Feels like newcomers are forced more to do DIY things than do aquascapes, which is all about ;) Tell me the price frankly of a new setup and i can decide if i can afford it, do this for less, or build some of it on my own resources.
     

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  2. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    A fair point but I imagine it's at actual costing, a really good optiwhite tank is going to blow the budget twice and then tropica plants which retail at roughly £9 a pot, it's soon going to send the prices through the roof. They strike me a reasonable estimates, but what they really do is highlight the fact that affordable aquascaping is a long way off in this country, especially for those that want quality that won't break the bank. Good quality plants are a long way off, In vitro is the next step for us but that's costly and not widely rolled out so where does that leave us? You can buy through a middle man but often you'll be disappointed because the quality just isn't there. Or try and grow out yourself but who has the room/time/equipment?

    And the prices are increasing all the time too. Soon only the richest will be able to afford a tank.
     
  3. ghostsword

    ghostsword Aspiring Aquascaper Staff Member

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    Fantastic discussion. The issue for me was not the price showed on the art gallery, the time was just not for the price of items, but for the time taken to get there.

    James Marshal tanks, for example, the moss was setup in a way that it looked as if the tanks were as one, when in fact they were three separate tanks.

    George's iwagumi, was outstanding, the detail on the rocks, the alignment and the quality of the plants was just magical.

    Graeme's tank, with the wood and no substrate? Why on earth didn't I think of that? That was miles ahead of what I could come up with.

    The main issue for me is when magazines are showing prices for planted tanks close to £1k. That would scare the newbies. Unless it suits the shops, they then can introduce the more expensive kit as it was the default. :)

    It was very good that the Biotopes that George did had a more sensible price, and for sure many people would follow those up.

    However, if one is serious about aquascaping, then one needs to start investing on the best, within reason. A ADA tank that would cost £300, instead of a basic optiwhite tank that would cost close to £200, then for £100 more what would you have? :D

    I still don't understand the fascination with flass lily pipes, one can easily get some acrylic pipes that would look the same, at at least 1/3 cheaper, but I am new on the hobby, so I may understand it later. I do however understand of paying good money for wood and rocks, recently bought a box of manzanita wood from Tom Barr and cost me just over £100. Not using it, but it is good to have stock.
     
  4. ghostsword

    ghostsword Aspiring Aquascaper Staff Member

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    I purchased very good tropica plants at ADC in London, a pot of Crypt Myoya and a large Echinodorus for £4.75 each, plust a in vitro pot of Staurogyne for £5, very decent prices. :)

    Aquaessentials also has fantastic prices, I purchased some plants from them before, good quality.

    Of course a good optiwhite tank is expensive, but Aquarium LTD do have very reasonable prices.

    Good filters are expensive, and so is good CO2 valves.
     
  5. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    There are a lot of things to consider here.
    Firstly, what is the outcome that people want to achieve? If they want to go all Amano-esque then this puts them on the co2, ferts route and without a doubt they want the beautiful setup as much as they want the scape that resides within it.

    So straight away we need to address the persons desire for aesthetics.

    Are they a horticulturist? Coming from a green house background who just want to grow plants? Then straight away we know all we need are the base ingredients to grow the plants, you could use any old tank/lights combo here but for the person who wants aesthetics this will Never do because they won't have met what they came to achieve.

    So lets look at the 60cm tank as this is the bench mark tank for everyone who enters the hobby and by far the most common type of set up.

    This is were you can split the desires into a diagram that will ultimately dictate the amount of money spent.

    Starting with the tank.
    Ask yourself, what do I want it to look like?
    Amano aesthetics or any fish tank?
    Straight away if you're happy with the any fish tank aesthetic then you're already going to make savings because they're not only more readily available but you're also more likely to be happy with second hand and ultimately I suspect you're more likely to go the low light/tech route and you're what I'd call a horticulturist: You don't much care about the aesthetics of the setup or the "scape" what matters to you is that everything is alive and doing well. Straight away I'm going to be contentious and say low tech/ jungles are not real aquascapes in the modern context and for the purpose of this exercise can be dismissed.

    Lets say you don't fall into the horticulture camp yet are happy with a fish tank, for your its the scape that's important not the box in which is sits, then you're going to make savings all over the show but ultimately you'll still be tied to the highlight ethos and therefore will spend more money over all than your horticulturist kin.

    For the continuation let us assume that you're either unable to get equipment second hand or are simply unwilling to.

    So say you're not happy with a off the peg tank and crave that crisp all in one modernity of an amano set up, what now? Well you have two choices DIY a set up from any old manufacturer, you desire the rimless look so you de-rim an off the peg tank. Using the internet to search around the estimated cost here is £30, but what if you're not comfortable derimming a tank yourself or want optiwhite for that real crisp look? Then you'll have to spend more, the cheapest off the peg rimless I've been able to find is £90, £130 opti white. So here lets split into two camps, those who are willing/capable of diying, camp A and those who aren't or another way, those who don't want to compromise, Camp B.

    So now you have the tank, lets throw some equipment at it.
    First up, co2 rig, For both these cases I'll use a ceramic diffuser here costs will mostly be the same because I do not in anyway at all advocate surplus equipment. The cheapest good regulator and solenoid combo that I'd advocate is from Lunapet and comes in at about £90 depending on trading that day, that set up comes with tubing and a bubble counter, You'll then need a drop checkers and a diffuser. £4 and £8 respectively from ebay. Those that only care about the scape here are able to make savings, plastic diffusers go for around £3 plastic drop checkers I've seen retail at around £2. Those who desire to get equipment out of the tank expect to pay £20 pounds for an inline diffuser. Both groups will then have to pay around £30 for a fe.

    So now we have the tank and the co2. Lights next.
    Camp A are at an advantage here, at their disposal they have lights, reflectors ballasts etc from electricians 2x 24w t5 will set back the enterprising around £40. Camp B have two choices here, as I see it, the new cool arcadia overtanks or Hydroponic grow lights, expect to pay £300 or £80-130 depending on brand/origin. a couple of timers at around £10. As you can see both groups are well spent and we still don't have a filter, heater,substrate,plants, hardscape or ferts!

    So lets deal with some of those.
    Heater:
    Group a, standard heater £20
    Ground B, inline heater £40

    Plants are scape dependant but let us assume it's a dense complex scape:
    Group a. middle man plants £40-60
    Group b. quality plants AF or Tropica £90-300

    Hardscape is difficult because rockwork is relatively hard to come by and again is scape dependant but let us assume it's the ever present landscape rock. 20kg £30-£80 depending on where you buy from.

    Wood work:
    we're back in the camps, a) free - £100 b) £30-£100

    Ferts
    A) ei diy mix 10weeks worth costs around £3
    B) tropica ferts 10weeks worth £12.

    Substrate
    Another tough one because it's dependant but lets assume the whole footprint is planted.
    Group a have many choices, diy substrate, capped tropica, plain substrate, Akadama, diy baked clay, mineralised soil. £0-30.

    Group b will no doubt want an all in one substrate.
    In my experience I used about 14l of ADA in my 60cm so as a quote for all in one I'll aim for this.
    ADA currently works out at £4 a litre if you buy 9l bags, 14l would cost £56, this doesn't take into account that you'd need to buy two bags at £72
    Columbo retails at £34 for 10l, so £3.40 or £48 again, that means nothing two bags will still set you back £68.

    For a 60l a 60cm tank the accepted science is that the filter should turn over the water 10x so 600lph. This often proves to be insufficient so here I'll define the groups by those who don't mind powerheads and those that would rather just use a bigger filter.
    group a a minimum of 600lph filter £60 + a powerhead at around £30 total £90
    B) a big filter 1000lph+ £80-150.
    Camp A) I assume will either use what the filter comes with or will be prepared to diy some acrylic tubes. I cost this with a pipe bender at £30

    Camp b will plump for cheap ebay glass wear at around £40 through to expensive lilys from premium brands so the cost here can be outlined as between £30-350.

    A stand can be diy'd for £40 or off made in the ADA vernacular for £100-250 (this includes a lighting mount).

    Fish, shrimp, snails etc. both camps will expect to pay between £30 -£100

    And once we take into account that these prices are internet prices you can expect to pay double if you buy everything in the shop or around 2/3's second hand but it is worth mentioning that there are false economies to be found in taking the second hand route, filters and heaters especially can be near their working life. Lights too if old can have ballasts due to fail so consider these carefully.
    Plants too can be a false economy, there are a middle man type companies who will take you money give you mush and leave you high and dry and sometimes plants supplied are already in an aquatic state do not have enough energy stored and will fail to change to suit your water meaning you'll have to buy twice, this also doesn't account for human error or a poor kick in at start up where more money will need to be splashed out to replace loses, nor does this list account for buckets, hoses, dechlorinate, dispensers, measuring spoons, easy carbo or any of the supporting accessories nor does it account for postage which can be a silent expenditure.
     
  6. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    An ada 60cm is optiwhite and costs £160 the same tank in optiwhite in most places is around £220, their cube is £70 cheapest I've found is £110 in opti white. Mass production saves the day on that one.

    Acrylic lilys I suspect people don't go in for simply because they're often little more than crude outlets in clear rather than green plastic and lack the characteristic fluted shape of a glass lily, if they were identical in shape then I suppose people would be more comfortable with using them. Even then I'd have reservations, I'd love to see the superior outlets available from people like JBL in clear rather than copies of lilys acrylic is a much more flexible material so I think it should be used to produce superior products in terms of functionality. Intakes especially, cal aqua make the best ones and these are terrible compared to the hideous green plastic eheim inlets!

    True enough. But not everyone has shops they can visit and buy from. There aren't any in my part of the country unless you drive and then they're sub-par.
    I've used every plant supplier in the country at least once, i'd offer review but it's often frowned upon but lets say the biggest and best are often just the biggest.

    I've got an aquariums ltd tank, it's beautiful but the door fell off when It arrived and I've never been able to get a reply about getting it fixed so I've had to reattach it myself and it sits on the wonk.

    Filters yes, co2 valves, no not at all. Buy from Germany and you can get extremely high levels of quality for around the same as we'd pay for far eastern tat. The best regulator I've ever had cost me £50 that's with valves and solenoid and I've had most on the market of those too!
     
  7. George Farmer

    George Farmer Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Hi Tony

    The only real ‘flack’ I was aware of was from you on the LFKC forum. Please do point me in the direction of more!

    LFKC forum link - Aquascaping on Sky1 TV

    Can you also tell me on the show where it states it’s the most expensive tank you will ever buy, please? Here is a link –

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vti-8wVFq4]YouTube - Aquascaping on Sky1 TV[/ame]

    I don’t notice the lowering in volume when I mention the lower costing either. Perhaps you have more acute hearing than I.

    Thanks,
    George
     
  8. Mojojojo

    Mojojojo Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Just another lil update from someone starting out on the long road to having an awesome tank. I scrapped the whole previous tank/upgrade/waste of time and went out and bought a shiny,new Juwel 180 tank and cabinet. Tank - £200 Cabinet - £80 Look on wifes face when I showed up with it - Will let you know when the swelling in my face goes down enough for me to focus.
     
  9. ghostsword

    ghostsword Aspiring Aquascaper Staff Member

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    @ Garuf,

    Your response (Today, 04:29 PM), should be made a sticky, this would clear a lot of misunderstandings that newbies would have. I wish I had read an article like that when I started.

    About the plants that you cannot get on your side of the country, that is a hard one to bypass, I am indeed lucky in London, there are a number of good shops here, ADC in Great Portland Street is very good, with the MA in Morden coming third for plants and in first is Living Waters in Croydon (Aquatic Shop Croydon - Surrey ,Specialising in community fishes and aquarium plants).

    There isn't currently a better shop for plants than Living Waters that I know off, and I have been to TGM. :)

    Maybe I need to reconsider how cheap can a tank be setup actually. :)

    I am helping my brother to setup a tank with crypts and ferns, it will have CO2, but it is only a 40L tank, so I will check how cheap can it go.

    Again, great reply. Thanks for taking the time to put it in perspective.
     
  10. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    I've called living waters and they're preparing me a quote. Prices have gone silly recently, I remember HC costing £2.50 a pot!
     
  11. Jurijs mit JS

    Jurijs mit JS Admin Staff Member

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    Great discussion here,
    A beginners guide would be the better than making the thread sticky.

    Curious about the total cost for camp-a and camp-b





    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  12. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    You work in a shop don't you? Get your calculator out. :-p
     
  13. Barbarossa4122

    Barbarossa4122 New Member

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    I do not remember how much the initial set up cost was but, I spent around $ 3K and counting in a little over a year on 3 heavy planted tanks (10g,30g and 55g).
     
  14. ghostsword

    ghostsword Aspiring Aquascaper Staff Member

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    Wow, that is really a lot of money.

    3K? ouch..

    I have spent more about £500, cheapskate me. :) The most expensive was the CO2 bits and the 4xT5 pendant, all the rest was cheap.
     
  15. Barbarossa4122

    Barbarossa4122 New Member

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    Lol, yeah it's a lot. 3 tanks, Eco , 8 HOBs, 3 Renas canisters, 3 t5ho fixtures, 2 co2 set ups(3 co2 cylinders, 2 5lb and 1 10lbs) 5 heaters, 2 uvs, 5 Koralias, pounds of dry ferts and gallons of liquid ferts, many bottles of Prime, medication, all kinds of filter media and so on. I have every receipt saved. I am not even counting the electric bill. Btw, I am not whining, just stating the facts. I love this hobby.
     
  16. Jurijs mit JS

    Jurijs mit JS Admin Staff Member

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    Something I maybe should do too, no idea where my money goes to every month :pirate:
     
  17. Barbarossa4122

    Barbarossa4122 New Member

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    Lol, I know every penny but, my wife has no clue.
     
  18. Supercoley1

    Supercoley1 Moderator Staff Member

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    I've said this a few times but no harm repeating it :)

    My 125Ltr actually cost me circa £2000 turning it into a great setup. That includes tank, inhabitants equipment and substrate. The complete lot.

    However a lot of that was buying things along the way of learning, trying new plants etc, trying not so good equipment etc.

    So I can concur with Juri that if I were to setup the same tank with the exact equipment I finally used then it would be in the region of £600. That £1400 was wasted really on unneeded things and trying to buy cheaper items that weren't up to the job etc. THese of course were resold but obviously at a big loss.

    My CO2 system was under £100 using welding regulator and disposable CO2 bottles. Could have done a FE setup still using welding regulator for a similar price. The £600 also includes a light upgrade when we all thought we needed super highlight. The way we think of needing less light these days that upgrade was unnecessary so we could knock a further £50 and say that I could now setup an identical tank from scratch for £550. Take away the lily pipes and use the stock inlet outlet and thats another £50. So £500 to do a 'hitec' planted setup.

    Still a lot of money compared to buying a fish tank complete with filter for circa £150 and then just putting gravel and decor in.

    I guess for many they may already think it was pricey to start with if they are spending in the region of £250 for their setup. That does make the planted version look pricey at double.

    AC
     
  19. Barbarossa4122

    Barbarossa4122 New Member

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    Hi,

    Same here.
     
  20. ghostsword

    ghostsword Aspiring Aquascaper Staff Member

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    I have been lucky, the forums and coming late into the hobby has saved me money, I did research a lot and asked many stupid questions. No more than £600 my tank cost. I don't have lily pipes yet, so money saved there.

    My nano of 8L was under £100.

    But i also know how can 3k be spent, lights, filters, good glass and good substrate is very expensive.
     

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