Ten ways for aquarists to save money!

We'd all have more tanks if we could. But if you're anything like us, you'll have discovered that all that electricity, feeding, hardware, as well as all those plants and fish, soon starts to add up.

Anything that helps ease the running costs of a hobbyist is welcome, right?
New PFK staff writer Steve Baker looks at ten ways that you can shave the odd few pence here and there from your monthly bills...

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

Some like it hot – But you might be surprised at how cool your tropical fish can go. Though the tropics don’t have seasons as we know them, they do have temperature fluctuations through the year.

In the Pantanal, Brazil, it is not unknown to get a frost in the evening at certain times of the year and when fish are roaming the shallow, flooded fields they encounter temperatures much lower than you may expect.

During June to August average temperatures can be as low as 18°C. So, check up on the demands of your fish, you may be ok to turn the heater down from 27°C to 24°C or even 22°C and that would make a large difference to the heater usage (but do it slowly, One degree per day).

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

Wasting light – If you aren’t growing plants there’s little point having the light on when you’re not watching. Many people will have the light on while they are out or at work, maybe leaving it on for the fish but many don’t really need it at all. We want it to see the fish. No matter what lighting you use it’s going to be cheaper if it’s on less.

Efficient equipment – I’d never looked at wattages before as closely as I do today. There is a real balance to find here.

Most budget equipment is based on old technology, nothing wrong there, it’s tried and tested, and teething problems have been ironed out making it cheaper and easier to produce. The downside is that more up-to-date technology does push for efficiency so you may find that buying a modern, new tech external filter will save you running costs and return the price difference (from a budget filter) within just a few years.

Plus lighting - LEDs are always going to save running cost over older T5 and T8 lighting for equal brightness.

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

Scavenging the floor – It’s well covered that you can collect your own leaf litter and wood from the right trees so research which ones can be used and make sure they are well dried. Soak leaves in boiling water to kill any bugs, pour boiling water over branches and twigs. You can boil up Alder cones to make your own blackwater extract (humic and tannic acids) too.

Buy in bulk – I wouldn’t suggest buying big tubs of food. By the time you're halfway down, who knows how many vitamins have broken down? Still, many other things can be bought in volume to offer better value.

A bag of universal filter floss will save lots compared to purpose cut, manufacturers replacement floss. Starting a tank? Why not buy filter maturing bacteria from the pond department? It costs less and goes further while doing the same job which is also true if you look at pond medications, additives and sponges.