All too often new aquarium owners have a bad first experience with their first aquarium and end up giving up almost before they get started. Considering these basic factors and planning ahead will help potential new aquarium owners avoid common pitfalls. Even for the experienced aquarium owner, planning is a good idea.
Two of the most important and basic issues to consider when setting up a new aquarium are cost and size. In both cases, people usually underestimate what is needed, and may make compromises that cause problems later.
Potential aquarium owners often see the price tag on a special package deal and assume they can get started for a few dollars. Don't be fooled into thinking you'll get started in the hobby for fifty dollars or less. Realistically it will cost $150 to $200 to get started with decent equipment. If that investment is too steep for your budget, it is wise to save until the funds are available to get everything you need. A good way to start is to make a checklist of what you need.
Make a Checklist
Expenses include the aquarium and stand, hood and light, heater, filter, gravel, decorations, water treatment, net, and cleaning supplies. All that in addition to the fish, as well as their food. Make a thorough checklist and go online or to a pet store, then write down the costs for all the items you are interested in. Sit down and determine what your bottom line cost is before you make your decision. You may be surprised to see what the actual total cost is.
If your budget is very tight, another option is to ask for help. Take your checklist of what you need and let your friends and family know that you'd like items from that list for your birthday, graduation, or as a holiday gift. That way you can get started without having to opt for inferior equipment, and your family can get you something they know you really want. Maybe they will surprise you and give you the items without waiting for a special occasion.
Another option is to look for used equipment. Be aware that used tanks may leak, and heaters or filters may not work at all, and it's difficult to test them out before buying.
So ask questions up front, and don't pay more than 50% of the original price for anything. Don't be too afraid of dirty glass or decorations, as that can be cleaned pretty easily. However, scratches and cracks cannot be rectified, so check used equipment closely for damage.