Fish tanks are not a frugal choice, as I've written before. However, some people will be insistent on getting fish tanks anyhow, insist that that is their one luxury that they "cannot possibly do without". You know, everyone does have their "luxuries". Mine, perhaps, is internet. Even if I wouldn't be blogging and wouldn't be using the internet to save myself money, its a luxury that I wouldn't want to do without. But I digress.
Everyone has their luxury that they "need", in order to live a happy life and not feel deprived. If you or your loved one decides that that is their one luxury, make sure you don't overspend on that fish tank.
Do not pay full price for a fish tank or any of its equipment. Fish tanks are expensive; why make them more expensive than necessary? Fish stores know that they can charge an arm and a leg for products that you can easily get elsewhere; they assume that you will assume that they are selling "specialty equipment" and can only purchase it there, when the fact of the matter is that they are often selling dollar store equipment, sold as "specialty items", but more on that later.
Before going fish shopping, go do a search on Craigslist (or Freecycle, or any local online list); see if anyone has any fish tank or fish equipment for sale. Many times people start off with fish, realize its a big headache, and sell all their equipment at a loss. Their loss, your gain. You can easily buy a tank, filter, air pump, thermometer, etc... this way.
If you do not see a fish tank for sale that way, you can also have a glass-cutter build you your own fish tank. Individual pieces of glass held together by silicon make fine fish tanks. So, you won't have a beautiful matching stand for your tank. Put a second hand (or dumpster find) end table or a desk and put your fish tank on that. Voila! A fish tank at a fraction of the cost of what it would be to buy in the specialty store.
If you can't find equipment for the tank second hand, at least you will have saved yourself the cost of equipment.
As for the "other stuff" (we'll get to the actual fish in another post), the store my husband worked at sold a "grabber" so you can fuss around with the tank without wetting your hands. This "grabber" was being sold for 15 dollars. My husband found the same exact thing at the dollar store... for 99 cents.
The store also was selling plastic plants to decorate fish tanks. At the store, these plants cost 15 dollars. Again, the dollar store sold the exact same thing for a dollar. Why people are willing to pay outrageous prices for things easily bought for a dollar is beyond me. Ok, its because they don't realize that the fish store isn't actually selling "specialty items". Its the same darn thing!
Oh- and a word about fish tank plants. Get the plastic stuff. The real plants are cheaper (than the going price in fish shops, not cheaper than fish stores), but most fish will end up eating your real plants, and your half eaten greenery will look worse than artificial seaweed.
Tune in next time- how to not waste your money on actual fish. Getting your money's worth with fish.