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How to Reduce the Cost of Running my Marine Fish Tank Aquarium

There’s no doubt about it, keeping a functioning, healthy marine fish tank does increase your expenditure on your monthly electricity bill, and our friends over at Swell UK advise us that it is one of the biggest negatives about modern fish keeping. But there are ways to reduce your aquarium running costs that may appear a little more expensive at first, but can save you plenty of your hard earned dough in the long run.

marine-fish-tank-swellCosts of Fish Tank Lighting

This is probably the big one. Lighting your marine fish tank is essential for bringing out the bright and beautiful colours of your coral reef, helping it grow and giving your fish the light to enjoy their day by. It’s not something any aquarium keeper would be prepared to compromise on when viewing their tank, and we totally get that.

But there are a few things you can do to help with energy efficiency.

  • Time your lighting – Unless you are sat in front of your aquarium all day and all night, there are surely some times that you can afford to switch the lights off. Many tanks with integrated lighting have a dial timer (operated like your home boiler) that means you can automatically switch them off at night, or when you leave the house. It is best to have them on in the day, and then off when you go to bed to create a more natural day/night cycle for your fish and corals.
  • Still on T8 Lighting? Upgrade to T5 – Many older tanks still run on T8 Fluorescent lighting tubes. These things still work well but in modern terms, they have long since been surpassed. Newer T5 bulbs unfortunately require a new hood or ballast to operate, but once installed use less electricity by far, and generate less heat, meaning you might save money on the use of your aquarium chiller too!
  • Or even better, opt for LED Lighting – These LED strips and tiles are taking over modern marine tank keeping, and with good reason. The light they generate is able to penetrate the water much deeper than T8 and T5 lighting, wasting almost no electricity on generating heat as a by-product, and have a lifespan of years, if not decades in comparison to fluorescent tubes which often need changing every 6 months to a year. The range of aquarium LEDS is constantly growing as more brands realise the potential, bringing down the price too.
  • Jump straight to LED – This is now an option for operators of T8 lighting systems, since Arcadia developed their range of LED strip lights that fit straight into T8 lighting hoods and sockets, instantly making your setup more energy efficient. Look for Arcadia Classica T8 LEDs!


A simple way to lower costs, think about the way your buy your marine salt. If you have been buying and using it as you need, you might have spent a fortune on petrol or delivery costs, as well as paying a little more than you had to in total considering that salt, like most things, is cheapest when bought in bulk. Take a look at some of the deals by retailers like Swell UK and safe yourself money, and hassle in the long run with a large 25kg bucket rather than a 1kg box bought 25 times.

Regular water testing

This might sound like a silly one, as testing your water regularly will obviously use more test kits which cost money. However by doing so, you can see problems with your water chemistry well in advance, which may save you even more money by avoiding expensive and prolonged treatments – ‘a stitch in time saves nine!’