Holy Monkeys....is it really this expensive?


I got nothin'
So, as you know, I'm getting back into this...

10-15 years ago when I did this, I was considerably poorer than I am now. I can't imagine a bag of aragonite being 40 freakkng bucks and a skimmer being 250.

So what gives man? I almost am not going to be able to do it, because it's too blasted expensive.

It's looking like 500-1000 dollars to get this thing up and running. And it doesn't look like I'm going to be able to drop that much cash.

I can't recall this being so expensive.


Active member
I just started about 2 months ago... I have since spend about $4000 and my tank is still dry.

these are what i got.. it's not even complete yet. But enough to start cycling soon.. I imagine at least another $1000 with APEX controller, Chiller, CUC, starting fish, food, and little things here and there..

-100 gal
-40 gal sump (custom made)
- two mr1 reactors
- Reef Oct. Skimmer
- Kessil LED (2 360WE, 2 150W)
- Heater
- 2 WP40
- tunze ATO
- PVC (valves alone costed $200)
- bunch of rocks, sand, and small stuff


Active member
You can do considerably better by buying used. Much will depend on how high end you want to go with your equipment. If you go with Ecotech, Tunze, etc. your going to drop quite a bit of cash. You can be just as successful with less expensive brands.

Unfortunately, this hobby isn't 'cheap'. Wait until you see the price of some fish and corals.


Active member
and because my tank is set up in the living room, I can't have a bunch of Brute cans or ugly containers laying around.. So I had to get nice looking water reservoirs too.

lot of people sell their entire setups used. Probably can score one <$1000. Just keep your eyes open on local section and CL


I got nothin'
Yeah I was looking at that too.

I remember when you could get a standard red fire fish for 10 bucks and a purple for 25....

I guess the good ole days are over.


New member
I pieced my system together with a few things I already owned, which helped, as did buying used. That said, I am running a 40B ("only") with a cheap skimmer, used lights, and 75% dry base rock with basic fish, and I have a bit over a grand invested. Probably 1500 if you include my RODI, but as far as my wife knows, it's only been a few hundred bucks of my own "fun" money. Shh don't tell her ;)

Your lights and skimmer are going to suck the worst, but you can get by a lot easier buying dry rock and sand, and just seeding them with a few good pieces of rock after your cycle is complete. After that, you can piece it together as you like. Also, you can buy lights and a skimmer after or while your tank is cycling to delay the costs a bit. There are some really good "minimalist" tanks on here that are gorgeous, yet run really cheaply.


I got nothin'
I think what I am going to do is just do this is stages and buy stuff slowly. ill start a build thread on here and see how it goes!!


New member
Craigslist, local facebook groups and local clubs...great way to find used equipment. Someone is always upgrading, downgrading or getting out of the hobby. My hardest part is always trying to talk myself out of a deal and reminding myself there is always going to be another deal down the road.


New member
I don't even want to add up all the money ive spent on this hobby.... 180RR and the stand, trigger sump, 3 radion Gen2's, 2 MP40's, mp10, 200lbs of rock, tunse top off... the list goes onnn and ooooon and that doesn't include the 1000's ive spent on coral or fish.


New member
It's better to buy used equipment on CL and pretend you have memory loss when being asked for how much. If you want to save some $$$ go smaller tank like 40B.


NEO Reefer
Obviously the size of the tank is one aspect of the cost. I stay in the 48" footprint to help minimise costs. CL is your friend as well as local groups on the forums here. You can find good quality equipment used at very good prices.

I got my 120g tank on CL. It never had water in it. It came with a new mag24, a new protein skimmer and pump, 300# of caribsea aragonite sand, the stand, 3 hob overflows for $400.

Traded the stand for a better skimmer, sold the hobs, sold half of the sand. Used my old 55 for the sump. Spent an additional $1700 on rodi, LED lighting, lumber, PVC, glass and brutes and rock.

In the end a nice little in wall reef was born.






Usually confused...
The best advice is to always pay cash (no receipts for the wife to find) and everything costs between $25-$100. Everything! No matter what it is, you only paid max $100...


New member
If you are willing to to it all yourself than a decent size tank can be well equipped without spending a fortune. Your probably going to see $500 disappear real fast though unless you are running a very small tank.


New member
Buy everything used, soak in water/vinegar mix and it will look brand new. You don't necessarily need a skimmer unless you wanna have a lot of fish or sps. I have a 65gal mixed reef with two fish and tons of corals including sps with no skimmer for years. Look into the DIY forum and you will find you can build a incredible filter in a rubbermaid container for next to nothing refugium included. Lighting is the single most expensive thing you will buy and thats pretty cheap unless you buy an LED fixture.